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Re: [css3-color] XSL FO SG comments on "CSS Color Module Level 3" WD

From: marbux <marbux@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 1 Sep 2008 16:59:56 -0700
Message-ID: <2c60d980809011659l9b0b677l6559fb031afbd4f5@mail.gmail.com>
To: www-style@w3.org, w3c-xsl-fo-sg@w3.org
On Mon, Sep 1, 2008 at 11:04 AM, Tony Graham
<Tony.Graham@menteithconsulting.com> wrote:
>  - In the 'interoperable' definition, "must one or more" should be "must
>   be one or more".

There is a more serious problem with the both the term "interoperable"
and its definition. It is in my opinion the wrong term in context. For
purposes of harmonization with other standards/standards development
organizations and applicable law, I suggest "compatible" instead,
since the definition in fact identifies a test for the fidelity of
compatibility.  See

"Interoperability" is a term defined by competition law in the
European Union, in Commission Directive 91/250. That definition
received a high judicial gloss in Commission v. Microsoft (European
Community Court of First Instance, Grand Chamber (en banc) Judgment of
17 September, 2007),
   E.g., para. 226:

"Thus, as the Commission explains … the 10th recital to Directive
91/250 … does not lend itself to the 'one-way' interpretation
advocated by Microsoft. On the contrary, as the Commission quite
correctly emphasises … the 10th recital to Directive 91/250 clearly
shows that, by nature, interoperability implies a 'two-way'
relationship in that it states that 'the function of a computer
program is to communicate and work together with other components of a
computer system'. Likewise, the 12th recital to Directive 91/250
defines interoperability as 'the ability to exchange information and
*mutually* to use the information which has been exchanged'."

The court went on to uphold the Commission's order that Microsoft
disclose communications protocols with sufficient specificity to place
competitors on an "equal footing" with the quality of interoperability
achived by Microsoft's own software. E.g., ibid., para. 230
(discussion), 421 (holding).

(Emphasis added.) Likewise, see also ISO/IEC JTC 1 Directives, 5th
Ed., v. 3.0, Annex I (pg. 145 in the PDF version), Annex I ("eye"),

"... interoperability is understood to be the ability of two or more
IT systems to exchange information at one or more standardised
interfaces and to make *mutual* use of the information that has been
exchanged.  An IT system is a set of IT resources providing services
at one or more interfaces."

(Emphasis added.) The legal definition of "interoperability" traces
ultimately  to competition law prohibiting unnecessary restraints of
trade, such as the international Agreement on Technical Barriers to
Trade's Article 2 section 2.2,

"Members shall ensure that technical regulations are not prepared,
adopted or applied with a view to or with the effect of creating
unnecessary obstacles to international trade. ..."

Obstacles to interoperability are frequently "unnecessary" within the
meaning of the Agreement and competition law around the world.

Other provisions of the Agreement make the prohibition applicable to
the work of voluntary standards development organizations throughout
the territories of all Member nations. See e.g., Article 4 section 4.1
("non-governmental standardizing bodies"); Annex 3 ("[t]he
standardizing body shall ensure that standards are not prepared,
adopted or applied with a view to, or with the effect of, creating
*unnecessary* obstacles to international trade").

(Emphasis added.)

User agents do not exchange information with each other and
qualitatively have for the most part a 1-way relationship with servers
in regard to the quality of the "mutual use" of information. (There
are obvious exceptions like HTTP requests and transmission of data
entered in HTML forms). The mutual use of information is not "equal"
at each end of the server/UA conversation. UAs process more kinds of
information than they transmit.

Incorrect terminology should, in my opinion, be avoided, particularly
when dealing with subjects susceptible to adjudication. E.g., the
European Commission is currently investigating a complaint against
Microsoft initiated by Opera in regard to Internet Explorer and
interoperability. See e.g.,
("[t]he complaint alleges that there is ongoing competitive harm from
Microsoft's practices, in particular in view of new proprietary
technologies that Microsoft has allegedly introduced in its browser
that would reduce compatibility with open internet standards, and
therefore hinder competition").

In my opinion, "compatibility" --- the qualitative degree to which one
information technology system can properly process information
provided by another IT system --- is the correct term in context, with
the tests called for defining the degree of fidelity required.

>  - "thought of conceptually" is a tautology.

Suggest "conceived as" instead. It works in context.

Disclosure: I am a civic-minded retired lawyer with no commercial
interest in subjects under discussion on this list. I take no position
on the merits of the Opera complaint and raise it only to call
attention to the fact that the term "interoperable" is involved in an
ongoing and relevant regulatory investigation, warranting caution in
use of the term.

Best regards,

Paul E. Merrell, J.D. (Marbux)

Universal Interoperability Council
Received on Tuesday, 2 September 2008 00:00:31 UTC

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