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Re: [xml-dev] [Fwd: W3C ridiculous new policy on patents]
- From: Jonathan Borden <email@example.com>
- To: "Simon St.Laurent" <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com
- Date: Mon, 01 Oct 2001 13:42:21 -0400
Simon St.Laurent wrote:
> On Mon, 2001-10-01 at 12:00, David Brownell wrote:
> > I think a lot of us were surprised to see this proposal get
> > so far along without getting noticed. There's something
> > about what W3C did (and plans to do) with respect to
> > this proposal which doesn't smell right.
> It doesn't seem likely to smell good to developers distributing their
> code for free, certainly.
> I'm not sure if it's:
> a) time to leave the US for less patent-friendly places
> b) time to ignore W3C work entirely as I won't be able to implement it
> I guess vendor consortia will inevitably serve the interests of vendors.
We might recall the early days of the WWW when the web was in competition
with something called "gopher", anyone remember gopher? If not there is a
reason: When the WWW was just starting, gopher was significantly more
popular and then the University of Michigan asserted its intellectual
property rights on gopher indicating that it was to retain the future right
to license its use (or something to that effect). Blink. Gopher died, and
largely forgotten. At the same time lynx and mosaic were being freely
distributed, and these days Sun is having a really hard time giving Solaris
away for free.
Until now, the WWW has managed to do an excellent job at walking the fine
line between open source freeware and vendor interests. The new Semantic Web
activities and the RDF WG are conduction their business entirely out in the
open in a most refreshing fashion.
Yet this new direction is disturbing and in the long run will not help
vendors nor users of the internet and www. Imagine the TCP/IP or HTTP
protocolsl were patent encumbered, we would be using _something else_
because there is always something else.
If the W3C wants to succeed it must take a strong stance on the
recommendations it publishes, much as the IETF has done -- witness S/MIME,
arguably it has taken longer to get an acceptable security protocol
established but that is a short term issue, it is the long term that is what
we need to look at.
Tim, I am cc:ing you personally because I know your heart is in the right
direction on this issue, and I would like to urge you to put your foot down
and take a strong stance on this issue. The strength of the W3C
recommendation lies in its usefullness as a guide to implementation. I
predict that if following such recommendations _might_ expose people to
future legal action, then people will simply go elsewhere, just as people
went elsewhere when a mere perception of risk became attached to gopher.
Learn from your own success.