On Allowing RAND licensing to be used by W3C standards

Don't do it.

A "standards body" publishes standards for the good of the users.  An
"industry consortium" publishes standards for the good of its members,
not necessarily the users.

Allowing RAND-licensed patents to be required parts of a W3C "standard"
moves the W3C out of the "standards body" column and into the "industry
consortium" column.

As a consultant on networking matters, I have to advise my clients about
which technologies they can rely on to meet their business objectives
with a minimum of unpleasant surprises.  I rely heavily on
standards-based, royalty-free solutions as one of my main tools in this.

I assure you, I will never recommend the use of a W3C standard that has
RAND licensing.  Hard experience (the LZW patents, for example) has
shown that "reasonable and non-discriminatory" licensing is anything
but.  Basically, any company that is too small to have a full-time IP
legal staff will be frozen out of any development.

The main purpose of this recommendation seems to be to support
Microsoft's jihad against Open Source software.  If it goes through, I
quite confidently expect "serious" Web standards work to migrate rather
quickly to the IETF.

Steve Smith                                           sgs@aginc.net
Agincourt Computing                            http://www.aginc.net
"Truth is stranger than fiction because fiction has to make sense."

Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 20:22:54 UTC