W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org > September 2001

W3C patent policy

From: Eben Moglen <moglen@columbia.edu>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 20:16:07 -0400 (EDT)
Message-ID: <15287.46535.662795.498768@moglen.law.columbia.edu>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
I write on behalf of the Free Software Foundation to oppose the
the W3C's adoption of a patent-friendly standards policy.

The World Wide Web cannot exist as a global and uniformly-available
facility of human society without free software.  Apache, Perl
PHP--and literally hundreds of other immediately recognizable aspects
of web technology--have been outgrowths of the free software
production model.  Without free software, the web would be a
commercialized outgrowth of a few proprietary software producers, and
it would be incapable of serving, as it now does, as a force for
global egalitarianism.

Because the Web employs no technology not based around completely open
standards, software implementing every single facility of Web life can
be produced in the free software model, and is therefore available for
free modification and improvement all over the world, supplied at the
marginal cost of distribution to any programmer--no matter how
financially constrained--who wishes to produce new facilities and
opportunities for users.

"Reasonable and non-discriminatory" licensing of patented technology
embodied in W3C standards will eliminate free software production from
any area of Web facilities subject to those standards.  Such standards
will therefore provide a basis to "embrace and extend" the Web under
proprietary control, excluding competition from free software,
limiting technical innovation and risking the social utility of the

W3C standards should not incorporate any patented technology.  If
patented technology is, for whatever reason, absolutely necessary to
the articulation of Web standards, only such patents should be
considered for inclusion as are licensed under terms compatible with
section 7 of the GNU General Public License (GPL), which is the
worldwide standard in free software licensing.  Patents licensed
compatibly with GPL can be practiced without royalty or recordkeeping
obligations, and are thus useful in software that any user can modify
or redistribute.  The W3C patent policy should not be RAND, it should
be GPL.

 Eben Moglen                       voice: 212-854-8382 
 Professor of Law                    fax: 212-854-7946       moglen@
 Columbia Law School, 435 West 116th Street, NYC 10027     columbia.edu
 General Counsel, Free Software Foundation   http://moglen.law.columbia.edu
Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 20:17:07 UTC

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