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RE: [xml-dev] RAND issues

<aside>Software patents bother me too but we have explore 
all sides of this.  I think it does come down to 
where the patents are applied, so in some cases 
RAND could be a healthy thing.  Better to have some 
policy than to pretend it isn't an issue regardless 
of the outcome.</aside>

MPEG/MHEG spits in the the W3C's general direction. 
They are quite capable and willing even to take 
their ball and go home to a very luxurious court 
when they don't get their way with regards to technology 
that touches their patents.  They can do that and 
never feel a pinch of restraint because the W3C 
has not historically affected them.  MPEGs are hot.

They don't want the W3C imprimatur nor do they need it. 
They operate with a patent pool that is very lucrative. 
They operate in an environment in which the numbers 
of files that are created using patent bearing technology 
are one of the hottest types on the web today and likely 
to grow as the bandwidth continues to support ever larger 
and highly integrated multimedia.

My guess is the outcome of this controversy will be 
the cheapening of the W3C imprimatur.  This is a situation 
where the software developers, thralled, open, or merely 
independent will be ignored in the medium term.  The 
markets will decide and they are likely to decide based 
on the quality of the content.  For every specification 
that the W3C and open source members can come up with, 
the patent-bearing developers can come up with two and 
if standardization through the W3C is unavailable, they 
have alternatives.  In effect, if the RAND is stalled, 
the W3C will have overplayed its already weakening hand 
and will become a monastery doing useful piece work.  

This is real balkanization but is it any more serious 
than having RealPlayer files and mpegs?  Is it worse 
than having Java support given it is a wholely owned 
Sun product?  Is it worse than all of the PDF files 
or the Flash files? Is this a case where a cadre of 
web developers who have benefited from the research 
of their predecessors in a bubble market are now faced 
with the real costs of that development continuing?

While that cadre can be very vocal, an industry and 
a global economy faced with a recession that the 
philosophy of that cadre helped engender are not 
likely to be given much credence even if given a 
lot of press.   Look up the quote from the CEO of 
Intel about the need for companies to profit by 
their intellectual property.

The web is simply plumbing.  Water still flows from 
the tap for the cost of the utility hookup.  Filters 
cost money.  Bottled water costs money.  Their is 
no patent on water, but the packaging and piping costs. 


-----Original Message-----
From: Tim Bray [mailto:tbray@textuality.com]
Sent: Thursday, October 04, 2001 7:22 PM
To: xml-dev@lists.xml.org
Subject: RE: [xml-dev] RAND issues

At 02:19 PM 04/10/01 -0500, Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:
>This position eliminates most MPEG/MHEG liaison efforts, yes?

If those standards are encumbered in such a fashion that they
can't be implemented without paying royalties, then, yes, I
believe the W3C should steer clear.  If the people who are
promulgating these things want the benefits [rapidly-expanding
market, serendipitous arrival of new software tools out of
the blue] enjoyed by developers in the Web context, then 
there's a price for that and it's spelled with two letters: RF.
If they want the imprimitur of the W3C, for whatever that's 
worth, I think the price should be the same. -Tim