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RE: [xml-dev] Re: W3C ridiculous new policy on patents
- From: "Bullard, Claude L (Len)" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- To: Jeff Lowery <email@example.com>,'David Brownell' <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com
- Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2001 13:52:51 -0500
I agree but I am also not offended by it or surprised. The
web developers have a long history of ignoring the rights
of others under the banner of "we are more equal pigs".
That only worked while there was an abundant supply of
pig food. When the supply runs low, a fight in the
barnyard is inevitable.
Those who predicted balkanization based on XML were defending
the primacy of HTML (weirdly enough, the speech I remember most
vividly was one of the inventors of VRML who did not want to
see a non-markup language turned into one). The question is
one of what kind of commonality and who decides. This undergirds
many discussions. XML 1.0 only asserts a low-level commonality
(syntax, DTD, some reserved characters, etc). Everything else
is being added-in via application languages (XPath, XSLT, XML
Schema) and abstract specifications (Infoset).
The tragedy of the commons concept was first mentioned in the
context of the "Public Assets Private Profits" article by David
Bollier and in that article, he has difficulty working out
when something is public and when the public has appropriated
it for its own without regard to the rights of the owner.
The majority are not enabled to deprive a minority of its
rights. The W3C cannot be a "more equal pig". It has
to accept and respond in a mature way to its obligations
as a barnyard citizen as well. No, the corporations cannot appropriate
the commons, nor can they use the W3C as their representative
to do so. No can underfunded developers plead for more
rights than they would or could grant the corporations.
Consent by contract cannot not be achieved with a gun to the
head of the consenting party or a velvet gloved fist.
It turns the W3C into a den of pirates.
Berners-Lee is irrelevant to this. He has no power legal or
otherwise beyond persuasion to garner that power of appropriation.
Appealing to him to settle this issue is like asking Elmer Fudd
to solve a quarrel between Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck: Looney Toons.
If I were TimBL, I would look directly back at the membership and
say, "This is a legal issue and you must choose legal means.
Don't confuse it with a moral issue when in effect, there is
no morality here other than your own best judgement. The
RAND policy is a means to express your own best judgement
on a case by case basis."
From: Jeff Lowery [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, October 10, 2001 1:33 PM
To: 'David Brownell'; Bullard, Claude L (Len); email@example.com
Subject: RE: [xml-dev] Re: W3C ridiculous new policy on patents
> The W3C labels fields as part of the commons. You
> can still harvest from Farmer Z's field, if he/she lets you;
> likely you'd have to pay to do that. W3C needs to be
> preventing Z's field from being labeled "commons" if
> it's not actually commons.
This commons idea keeps cropping up in various contexts, don't it?
The commons idea is under threat not only from technological imperatives
(you must use this to use that), but also economic ones (you must pay this
to use that). Hmmm. In either case the commons is encumbered, and ceases to
be "common", and becomes more of a governed resource.
Is this encumberance a necessity due to technology's need to be more
sophisticated and interoperable, or is it private or narrow interests
pushing for their particular world view: one driven by technical or economic
I want to be careful about pushing this analogy too far, because we don't
have a fixed resource: the commons can grow. But it can only grow so far as
the fencelines. At that point you either pay tolls or pay deferrence to the
competing fiefdoms. Ack.
So when you, Len, say that the balkanization Cassandras have been proven
wrong, I wonder where your perspective lies? This balkanization seems almost
a necessary (and regrettable) stage reflecting a loss of innocence in XML
land. Maybe Berners-Lee can rule over this evolving morass, but it may take
more sophisticated governance than a kind or confederacy can offer.