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Yes. Only I can't think of any reason eBay or Google
would raise a lawyer's paranoia quotient. eBay goes
to great lengths to police the actions of it's users.
Google just relies on a PageRank algorithm (possibly
patented) that is an opinion meter and even if it
seems odd, it also works for most topics. It will
have strong competitors, so other than the patenting
of the algorithms, I don't see a problem here.
Napster is a different case. They set out to enable
theft from day one. And they got their heads handed
to them for it. And now, people who bought into the
'free lunch' scheme based on theft of intellectual
property protected by copyright law are also being caught.
That's a heckuva bad place to put the customers. No
one is above the law, but one can spend a lot of
money postponing the day of reckoning.
Sad thing here: the artists. These folks can really
do well in a system that funds back some monies for
promotion but leaves them in complete control of
the product. Napster didn't evolve to that. MP3.Com
sort of did. The ManyOne network may turn out to
be the next generation there.
But this drifts away from the topic into areas I am
only tangentially interested in. Indemnity issues
are just a part of the overall set of problems that
can be made better with code registration of standard
software objects where the standards themselves are
the guarantors of royalty-free implementation. For
XML, this can result in not a change to the XML
specification itself, but the use of certain productions
normatively in legal specifications. Of particular
interest could be the schemas and the namespace
xmlns declarations that are meaningful in the context
of a wrapper application such as XHTML, X3D, SVG and
so forth. The rendering languages are fairly
easy to sort out but they do have the problem of
their object models: do they have one or not and
if not, how to determine the meaningfulness of
their combinations and warranty the reliability of
their implementations. For this to work, the
namespace productions can be used as legal
symbols and as URLs. As Alaric points out,
RDDL or RDF can have a role here, and yes, the
semantic web. In fact, this is one area where
the semantic web can really come into its own as
a layer describing the object model relationships.
The data languages are easier but also where most
standards are today. As Jonathan noted, the use
of schemas, to which I add, and normative references
to these, warranties these if the datatypes are
accounted for. It is better if the namespace
is owned by a standards body, but that isn't
required as long as the namespace owner steps
up to warranty on the data itself.
This is quite doable and could be the future model for
large scale collaborative internet systems and the
software industry in general.
XML will continue to be meaningless. Applications of
XML will not be. That isn't different from what we
have today except where the application specifications
have no object model to enable one to determine the
The more I think about it, the more I realize that
many of the flaps in the industry today are really
symbol grounding problems. If we can make progress
in XML with that issue without losing the essential,
I agree, nature of XML as a syntax-only specification,
we can improve our lives and the lives of our customers.
We can stop some of the wasteful litigation. We can
push the quality of our products higher by ensuring
that when used in combination, they are consistent.
XML Doesn't Care. So we have to. This IS a way
of managing the lawyers by giving them what they
From: Elliotte Rusty Harold [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
At 4:09 PM -0500 8/13/03, Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:
>As for companies that move ahead without managing their
>risks, the fast moving Internet world is still writing
>off the costs of their losses. Excuse me, the losses
>of their investors are being written off. Many of their
>managers retired on the money they took from them.
Some of them, yes, Napster comes to mind. It's a fact of life that
businesses fail, especially in a free-wheeling, fast-moving area like
the Internet where the laws are way behind the times.
However, there are also many businesses that have succeeded despite
going in directions any typical lawyer would try to prevent. eBay,
Paypal, and Google are three examples (now two since eBay bought
Paypal.) None of these could have gotten off the ground if they had
been conservative about not getting sued. Napster would not have
succeeded as a business if it had listened to the lawyers from the
beginning. It would never have been started. Laws and lawyers will
kill some companies with new ideas, but they won't kill all of them.
And the companies that do succeed are far more likely to be the ones
that manage their lawyers than the ones that let their lawyers manage