mozilla.org Comments on W3C Patent Policy Proposal
Wednesday October 10th, 2001
mozilla.org today posted a response to the World Wide Web Consortium's Patent Policy Draft. Many in the open source community oppose the W3C's current proposal on patents, as they feel that it will allow corporations to control standards, rather than an independent W3C. You can also view the other responses, as well as post your own.
#1 AOLTW involvement
Wednesday October 10th, 2001 3:47 AM
It is gratifying to see that out of the many responses to this issue, some can be well thought through and very persuasive. I am also glad to see the position taken by the signatories in opposing RAND licensing. It would have a very negative impact on all open-source projects as they may be liable for some form of fee, and paying any kind of fee per copy of moz would be far too costly to think about.
This issue doen't just affect mozilla.org, but also AOLTimeWarner. As major participants in the W3C they have gained massively through the years from effective, open, free, unencumbered standards. This all stands to disintegrate in front of them. The concept that, for example Microsoft develop Passport into a decent authentication system and get it approved by the W3C is entirely possible within this proposal, and indeed before it. The difference occurs when Microsoft are able to control how this "standard" is implemented and distributed.
If this policy change occurs, we could find ourselves in the LZW position, where a standard exists, is very popular and suddenly, with the next version there are restrictions in place(I know this isn't what happened with LZW but the effect is the same), or some future XML technology includes patented ideas. This would not only undermine peoples confidence in RAND licensed "standards" but in the RF standards as well. It could also have the effect of certain companies "controlling" parts of the web which use certain technologies. The situation whereby AOL customers cannot access a Microsoft site because of Microsoft using "standards compliant" web pages may seem like a joke now but in the future it actually could happen.
I would take this opportunity to call on any staff@aoltw to attempt to put pressure on your company to officially oppose the RAND licensing proposals because it will be harmful for the web, their customers, and ultimately AOLTW shares when the currently "open" web becomes the "Reasonably opŁn" web.
It's worse than that: if someone comes up with a patent covering something that's *already* a standard, and RAND goes through, that will automatically be covered, and suddenly become non-free...
Humbly, I think you might be a bit naive to imagine that AOLTW might be opposed to patented web standards. While it might annoy the big "content" companies to have to pay each other fees, that would be a small price to seize control of the Web and eliminate all those pesky people/organizations/sites that don't toe the party line. The way it usually works out in any case is that the very large organizations end up cross-licensing their patent portfolios, so the net cost to them is zero, while the little guys can't play that game and disappear.
#4 Rape and Abuse for Nickels and Dimes
Wednesday October 10th, 2001 5:57 PM
With mere minutes before this week's Enterprise on the east coast, I just wanted to say I just finished reading the official mozilla.org postion to RAND (Rape and Abuse for Nickels and Dimes) is extremely eloquent, sussinct, clear, and unyeilding while still remaining respectful and respectable. Good job.
The response makes a much better argument than the others I've read, presumably because the Mozilla.org members had the time to create a quality document. (Responses from many other "leading lights" were understandably rushed, in an attempt to make the record before the initial deadline.) It's obviously very well-researched. My thanks go out to the authors.
Let's hope the W3C does the correct thing.
#6 Royalties unfair to in the third world?
Friday October 12th, 2001 11:04 AM
It occurs to me that any move away from Royalty Free licencing would have a disproportionate effect in regions where prices are lower than the USA (notably in Eastern Europe and the developing world), because the "Non Discriminatory" licence-fees would be a greater expense in relative terms.
Developer licences, and more importantly, end-user licences could be a huge burden where the average income is a small percentage of that in "the West".
#7 Apple and HP have changed their mind.
Saturday October 13th, 2001 2:22 AM