MozillaZine

Microsoft Details Changes to Internet Explorer in Wake of Eolas Suit, Mozilla Foundation Issues Statement

Tuesday October 7th, 2003

In August, Microsoft lost a patent infringement lawsuit filed by Eolas Technologies Inc., a spinoff of the University of California. The jury in the case decided that Microsoft's support for ActiveX controls, plug-ins and Java applets in its Internet Explorer browser infringes on United States Patent 5,838,906, owned by the University of California and licensed to Eolas in 1994. Microsoft was ordered to pay $521 million to Eolas and the University and also change the way Internet Explorer works. The software giant is appealing.

In the wake of the ruling, the World Wide Web Consortium held an ad-hoc meeting on the patent and later set up a Patent Advisory Group to investigate the issue.

Yesterday, Microsoft published some documents outlining the changes it will make to Internet Explorer to stop the program from infringing on the patent. These changes — which essentially amount to forcing the user to press an OK button before loading each ActiveX control — are accompanied by some steps that Web developers can take to allow their controls to continue working normally. These include providing any data required by controls inline (the patent only covers plug-in—like technologies that access external data) or creating controls using a script. Apple has supplied similar guidelines for avoiding the changes when embedding QuickTime movies, Macromedia has some advice for sites that use Flash, Shockwave or Authorware and RealNetworks is providing information for those who embed RealMedia presentations in their pages.

The Mozilla Foundation also issued a statement on the Eolas patent yesterday. Noting that the "matter highlights the degree to which web browser software is critical to the user experience of the web," Mitchell Baker assures Web developers that the changes proposed by Microsoft and others should be backwards-compatible with all current and future Mozilla browsers. To the best of our knowledge, Mozilla's plug-in implementation will not have to be changed as the ruling only applies to Microsoft. It is not yet known whether Eolas plans to take action against the Mozilla Foundation.

Thanks to everyone who has sent us information about this issue over the last few weeks.


#1 Reply

by Racer

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 7:55 AM

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I would think that the Netscape product would bear the brunt of any such litigation. However, even if Mozilla was targetted, it wouldn't have nearly as much liability due to limited use. Also, attacking an open source (soon to be not-for-profit?) project would not only be bad for the pocketbook, but would be a bad PR move as well.

Finally, if a decision was made to modify Mozilla to accommodate the patent (similar to how IE did it), the fact that Mozilla is open source would make it easy for an extension that undoes any such modification. Not that this would be a good thing, but I think it at least mitigates the impact on the user experience.

#14 Re: Reply

by AlexBishop <alex@mozillazine.org>

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 2:36 PM

Reply to this message

"Also, attacking an open source (soon to be not-for-profit?) project would not only be bad for the pocketbook, but would be a bad PR move as well."

I would say being known as 'the comapny that made me have to click OK whenever I visit a page with Flash' would be pretty bad PR. Doesn't seem to have stopped Eolas so far.

"Finally, if a decision was made to modify Mozilla to accommodate the patent (similar to how IE did it), the fact that Mozilla is open source would make it easy for an extension that undoes any such modification."

I'm sure developers will be queuing up to write an extension that could make them liable for millions of dollars (possibly with punitive damages as well).

Alex

#38 Re: Re: Reply

by bogado

Wednesday October 8th, 2003 9:24 AM

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If the person who made the extension lives in the US.

#31 Re: More info.

by aha <aha@pinknet.cz>

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 9:02 PM

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In interview with Mr. Doyle of Eolas on eWeek <http://www.eweek.com/arti…le2/0,4149,1304249,00.asp> he said this: "Doyle: I think the key word there is "expensive." We have from the beginning had a general policy of providing non-commercial users royalty-free licenses. We expect to be paid for the commercial use of our technologies.

We released our browser back in 1995 to the world free for non-commercial use, so that should be an indicator to people that the open-source community shouldn't have anything to fear from us. The extent that those products are used commercially by others or resold commercially, sure we expect to be talking to people who are making money through the use of that technology."

#41 Only if Eolas puts its license where its mouth is

by tepples <tepples@spamcop.net>

Wednesday October 8th, 2003 12:48 PM

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I'd believe Eolas if its legal department said something to the effect: "We license our patent royalty-free for use in any computer program published under an OSI approved license."

#2 Anyone else...?

by FrodoB

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 8:30 AM

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Does anyone else feel slightly dirty for actually supporting Microsoft in this matter? I mean, Microsoft's argument here is probably 100% true, even though Eolas' case could very well be a jump-start for other browsers (the CEO and sole employee of Eolas said breaking Microsoft's Web dominance was a chief goal). Clearly, plugins were already thought of before Eolas' patent, as Netscape had them within months after this patent was granted, and there's no way the architecture (which was completely new and unknown at that time) could have come together in a few short months.

In any case, I doubt Mozilla wants to win because of litigation. Especially one that could be unfairly applied only to Microsoft (if the Eolas guy is telling the truth about trying to break Microsoft).

#4 Patent

by luserSPAZ

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 10:06 AM

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If you look it up, the patent filing date is actually from 1993 or 1994, which does predate browser plugins. Nobody has been able to invalidate it, and they certainly have tried. I just don't see how this will hurt Microsoft. It will make things more inconvenient for users and web page authors, but Microsoft really comes out ok.

#5 Re: Patent

by Tanyel <tanyel@straightblack.com>

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 10:34 AM

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Although there may have been no plugins before this patent, I assume there were programs accessing dynamic link libraries before this patent. So, why are Netscape plugins not immune to this attack?

#10 Re: Re: Patent

by jgraham

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 11:34 AM

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At a rough guess, they're not. However, there is an important distinction between patents and trademarks - in order to enforce a trademark, you must go after all parties who violate your mark, but you are not required to sue anyone who uses your patented technology, or license it under the same terms to all parties. This sounds odd, but it really makes a lot of sense; for example one may choose to charge for the use of some technology when used by companies, but distribute it to free for non-profits. Equally, one may choose not to license a particular technology to a party that it felt to pose a business threat, or for any other arbitary reason. Therefore, although Netscape plugin technology may violate this patent, the holder may choose not to go after AOL/TW or the Mozilla Foundation.

Whether or not this patent applies to Netscape, the best that can possibly come of this issue is an increased awareness of the special issues surrounding software patents. In this case, there have been several independent implementations of an idea that is a pretty obvious extension of the idea of loading remote images in a document. Moreover, the only remarkable thing about this patent is that the owner has chosen to enforce it. Microsoft, for example hold a <a href="<http://patft.uspto.gov/ne…5860073&RS=PN/5860073>">patent on CSS</a>, which they could potentially use against Mozilla (this makes it all the more galling that the Marketing department won't let the IE group release a less broken CSS implementation). One of the <a href="<http://patft.uspto.gov/ne…1,211&RS=PN/4,821,211>">patents</a> that IBM have claimed SCO are infringing describes itself as being for "navigating among program menus using a graphical menu tree" (although the specifics of the patent restrict it somewhat). Big software companies hold a *lot* of patents, but they choose not to enforce them. If, for whatever reason a patent war broke out, then it would essentially be a disaster for everyone - all software innovation would stop because almost anything that was written would violate one patent or another. The only possible winners from this situation are big companies who hold so many patents that they are effectively at stalemate with each other, and speculative companies like Eolas who have no interest in the actual technologies, so are not in violation of any other patents. Software patents as they currently stand do not create innovation, but have the potential to destroy it.

As an aside; I fail to undersatnd why a dialog box without a [Cancel] button makes downloading embedded content any less automatic than having no dialog box. But then I am not a lawyer and my grasp of law could be termed 'non existant'. The examples of patents above are specifically US patents, although that is not my native country.

#12 Re: Re: Re: Patent

by jgraham

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 11:36 AM

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Sorry, I always forget that different linking rules apply to the main text of an article and to the comments.

#16 Re: Re: Re: Patent

by AlexBishop <alex@mozillazine.org>

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 2:39 PM

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"As an aside; I fail to undersatnd why a dialog box without a [Cancel] button makes downloading embedded content any less automatic than having no dialog box. But then I am not a lawyer and my grasp of law could be termed 'non existant'."

Or maybe even non-existent. :-) I think the patent only covers active content that loads automatically. Forcing the user to press OK makes it not automatic. A minor detail, yes, but the legal system is built around such details.

Alex

#36 minutiae

by djk

Wednesday October 8th, 2003 5:56 AM

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> ...but the legal system is built around such details.

I think the word you want is 'minutiae' rather than 'details'. :-)

#37 Re: minutiae

by jwilkinson

Wednesday October 8th, 2003 8:16 AM

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> > ...but the legal system is built around such details. > > I think the word you want is 'minutiae' rather than 'details'. :-)

I think the word you want is 'assinine' ...

#29 Re: Netscape vulnerability

by MarkHB

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 6:46 PM

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I've got to wonder... given the timeframe in which this patent was granted, it seems plausible to me that NSCP might have licensed it, especially if Eolas came to them during the 2.0 development cycle while Barksdale & Co. were rolling in those record-setting IPO dollars. Microsoft didn't have a browser at that point -- Spyglass Mosaic, rebranded as IE 1.0 (check "About Internet Explorer" sometime), shipped as part of the Win95 Plus! package in August '95 -- so this patent might have slipped by them or been blown off in the rush towards IE 4. But, Netscape might have licensed it, and that license may still be valid, and in the hands of either TW or Mozilla.org.

#3 The good and bad

by MTO

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 9:05 AM

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As long as it doesn't apply to Mozilla products, it can actually be good news for us, as user experience in Internet Explorer will become much more user unfriendly therefore making Mozilla products much more interesting.

Anyway, bad thing is for those of us who have "active" content in our pages. I have one with hundred's of different flash files. It's going to be a nightmare to change all the pages.

#17 Re: The good and bad

by AlexBishop <alex@mozillazine.org>

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 2:40 PM

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"As long as it doesn't apply to Mozilla products, it can actually be good news for us, as user experience in Internet Explorer will become much more user unfriendly therefore making Mozilla products much more interesting."

Until Eolas sues the Mozilla Foundation anyway. Get past the 'what's bad for Microsoft is good for us' mentality. This is bad news.

Alex

#39 Re: Re: The good and bad

by bogado

Wednesday October 8th, 2003 9:29 AM

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Eolas seems to have stated that they will not going to go after mozila or any other open sourrce product. But I do think this bad any way.

#6 What about software patents-free countries?

by jezuch

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 11:02 AM

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Is this crap only valid in US or do US patents have also power in Europe (for example)?

#7 Saving the Browser

by kwanbis

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 11:30 AM

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from <http://www.ozzie.net/blog…/12/savingTheBrowser.html>

Some months back I became aware of the patent US 5,838,906 and the Eolas lawsuit against Microsoft, and followed a bit of conversation on the Net related to it. As many, I believed the issue would quickly go away because of ample prior art. Regrettably, this seems not to be the case.

It now seems that perhaps the browser itself and the browsing experience may have to be nontrivially modified as a result of the judgment. Although a bit late, if some of us perhaps dust off our old code, is there a chance that we could still save the browser through demonstration of clear prior art?

For my own interest, and for the record, I recently spent a little time pursuing my intuition that Lotus Notes R3 might be viable prior art relative to the patent in question. I am not an attorney, and I am surely not well versed in the nuances of the case, but it seems to me after initial investigation that there is indeed quite a bit of relevance.

continues ...

#8 More reading for you

by gadfly

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 11:32 AM

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There's a good article at: <http://www.eweek.com/arti…le2/0,4149,1304249,00.asp>

In it Michael Doyle, founder of Eolas, says that his move in suing microsoft is to make more competition in the browser market -- not to change the browsers. Could be a good thing.

Doyle: "...We have from the beginning had a general policy of providing non-commercial users royalty-free licenses. We expect to be paid for the commercial use of our technologies. We released our browser back in 1995 to the world free for non-commercial use, so that should be an indicator to people that the open-source community shouldn't have anything to fear from us. ... Our objective is to increase competitiveness in the marketplace, not to decrease it."

#11 Re: More reading for you

by gadfly

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 11:35 AM

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by "could be a good thing" I meant that if Microsoft shoots itself in the foot and makes its browser even worse (and mozilla really does get a non-commercial license) then it could be one more nail in IE's coffin, or even better a wake-up call to fix IE (I favor diversity).

Enough cliche's for you?

#23 Re: More reading for you

by mlefevre

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 3:07 PM

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Doesn't matter a great deal what their intent is.

The result they want is for browser/plugin makers to pay them a lot of money - and that might possibly have the side effect of making more competition.

However, if Microsoft chooses to work around their patent instead, all they achieve is annoying a whole bunch of people.

#42 Re: More reading for you

by dabean

Wednesday October 8th, 2003 3:47 PM

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But what about Netscape/AOL, they used to distribute a commercial paid for browser way back when. Before offering it as a free download. You could even argue that the Compuserve and AOL Mac clients constitute commercial browser distribution (moz based too).

Now what about Opera? - Commercial = yes - licensed = ??

Or what about Redhat, Suse et al linux distributions? Or Apple Safari?

#9 Saving the Browser

by kwanbis

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 11:33 AM

Reply to this message

from <http://www.ozzie.net/blog…/12/savingTheBrowser.html>

Some months back I became aware of the patent US 5,838,906 and the Eolas lawsuit against Microsoft, and followed a bit of conversation on the Net related to it. As many, I believed the issue would quickly go away because of ample prior art. Regrettably, this seems not to be the case.

It now seems that perhaps the browser itself and the browsing experience may have to be nontrivially modified as a result of the judgment. Although a bit late, if some of us perhaps dust off our old code, is there a chance that we could still save the browser through demonstration of clear prior art?

For my own interest, and for the record, I recently spent a little time pursuing my intuition that Lotus Notes R3 might be viable prior art relative to the patent in question. I am not an attorney, and I am surely not well versed in the nuances of the case, but it seems to me after initial investigation that there is indeed quite a bit of relevance.

continues ...

#13 Danger : may this be opportunity for MS instead???

by eflorac

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 2:32 PM

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Think about it : MS obviously could have bought Eolas to get rid of the problem; they didn't. Obviously they DON'T want to license the "Eolas technology". What will happen then? Will they abandon the web battlefield? Sure not. Here what they may do : integrate more tightly "windows media streaming" technology into the browser, so that it doesn't infringe Eolas patent. Then, make some deals (big money?) with Macromedia and perhaps some others to integrate their technology directly into the IE browser : if Flash is part of IE and not a plugin, there isn't any Eolas patent enfringement, right? Now do you see what may happen? using anything but Windows Media and the integrated Flash or whatever with IE will be a pain in the *ss. corollary : instead of IE losing ground, we'll see all others media streaming technology and "not IE-integrated" plugins disappear, swept out of the web in a few months. That is, our worst nightmare : a pure Microsoft WWW.

Eolas is the most dangerous Microsoft ally ever in the browsers war!

#18 Re: Danger : may this be opportunity for MS instea

by lazytiger

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 2:42 PM

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Oooo.... I like this theory. You may be on to something here. It sounds evil enough to be the truth about Microsoft's plan.

#19 Re: Danger : may this be opportunity for MS instea

by AlexBishop <alex@mozillazine.org>

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 2:44 PM

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"Here what they may do : integrate more tightly 'windows media streaming' technology into the browser, so that it doesn't infringe Eolas patent. Then, make some deals (big money?) with Macromedia and perhaps some others to integrate their technology directly into the IE browser : if Flash is part of IE and not a plugin, there isn't any Eolas patent enfringement, right?"

I don't think it works like that. Integrating Windows Media (which is already integrated to an extent) and Flash would not make the problem go away. Also, Microsoft do have an incentive to persuade third-parties to (independently) build on the Internet Explorer platform.

"Eolas is the most dangerous Microsoft ally ever in the browsers war!"

Yeah, I regularly get sued by my allies and have to pay them $521 million.

There is no Microsoft-Eolas conspiracy. This is bad news.

Alex

#35 Re: Re: Danger : may this be opportunity for MS instea

by janahan

Wednesday October 8th, 2003 5:15 AM

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Alex, if you are saying that integrating flash, and other technogies will not avoid this patent, then it will also apply to JPEGS, and other pictures. remember even though these objects are "intregrated" they are still likely to be processed by separate DLL's and according to the W3C specs, shoudl be refered to by the object tags. This would be a real danger indeed if JPEGS, PNG and GIFS were also subject to this patent. So would the "bgsound" attrib that microsoft allows in IE's body tag.

Therefore I am thinking the previous poster was valid to say that integrating the Flash technologies would "solve" the problem. This in turn is bad as it would stiffle any competition. And the end result would be the horror of a MS dominated web. And if anyone tries to pull a monopoly investigation to that, they have the perfect alibi.

Eola is certainly no friend of Microsoft, but they may have unleashed a very bad precedent.

#15 Nothing *has* to change...

by lazytiger

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 2:38 PM

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does it? The issue is that Microsoft has to pay, what, like $1.47 or something per copy of IE. They already owe $521 million in fines for existing copies. If they simply chose to pay the fine and future royalties - taking it on the chin for the team - then everything could go on unchanged, right? I don't see any problem with IE paying someone for me to use IE. :) I use Mozilla, anyway. Really, isn't internet usage kind of saturated? How many *new* copies of IE come into existance in a given time frame? Does it count if an old copy ceases to exist when a new copy begins to be used? I don't understand why this is such a big problem, other than the fact that Microsoft is a money hoarding machine and simply refuses to pay for the license. They refused to settle before the ruling. Maybe this all could have been taken care of and forgotten, but Micro$oft proclaimed "not on our dime."

Please correct me if I'm wrong... I don't understand the real issue here.

#20 Re: Nothing *has* to change...

by AlexBishop <alex@mozillazine.org>

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 2:48 PM

Reply to this message

"I don't understand why this is such a big problem, other than the fact that Microsoft is a money hoarding machine and simply refuses to pay for the license."

So if they sue the Mozilla Foundation and win, will you be saying, "I don't understand why this is such a big problem, other than the fact that the Mozilla Foundation is a money hoarding machine and simply refuses to pay for the license."?

"They refused to settle before the ruling."

Maybe they thought they could win.

"Maybe this all could have been taken care of and forgotten, but Micro$oft proclaimed 'not on our dime.'"

Maybe Eolas' demands were unreasonable.

Alex

#21 Re: Re: Nothing *has* to change...

by lazytiger

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 2:52 PM

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Well, it was just a thought. I don't care if Microsoft in particular gets sued, but of course that sets a bad precedence to say the least. I know this is bad news for everyone and I don't think Microsoft acted irresponsibly. I'm just saying, if they *wanted* to, they could have taken one for the team. :) Of course, that would set a bad precedence, too.

"Help, help! We're being repressed!"

#22 Reality Flash: This is bad news

by AlexBishop <alex@mozillazine.org>

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 2:56 PM

Reply to this message

This is a patent that has the ability to drastically change the user experience of the World Wide Web for the worse. The ruling sets a dangerous precedent. It is bad news.

Microsoft is not evil. Sure, they may be monopolisitic, arrogant, at times unethical but they are not evil. If you want an evil company, try a petroleum firm or DeBeers or something. Microsoft losing a lawsuit is not always a good thing. It does not make Eolas a hero or the Brave Company That Saved Us All From Microsoft. It makes them what they are: a business that seems quite willing to damage the Internet to achieve its goals (whatever they may be).

This is bad news. You had better hope for the sake of a future Internet unencumbered by patents that Microsoft wins the appeal.

Alex

#25 "this is bad news"

by jedbro

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 3:30 PM

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"this is bad news" Thanks, I think I got your point on one of your other 20 posts :)

While I understand where you are coming from, I think only time will tell had bad this can get.

#26 Re: Reality Flash: This is bad news

by jgraham

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 3:42 PM

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Will it be bad if the Mozilla Foundtation are asked to pay for a license? Yes, clearly it will. But, unless I have missed something critical, that hasn't happened yet. So at the moment it's not clear whether this is as bad as it seems or not. It is certianly an inconvenience for Internet Explorer users but, at the moment, that's all that it is. There is no need to panic yet. If Eolas do decide to go after the smaller players then it will be a real problem (in this situation, would the Open Source nature of Mozilla be an advantage? After all even if the Mozilla Foundation were to go bunkrupt over some hypothetical settlement, others could continue to maintain and distribute a sutiably modified form of the products).

Unfortunately, the idea of an internet unencumbered by patents is a delusion. In reality a huge number of pieces of the internet are subject to patents and the reason that we don't notice is that people choose not to enforce them. However, that's an unmaintainable state, and thinking that if this appeal is won, the problem of patents on the internet will go away is unrealistic. The fact is that the best possible outcome in this case is that legislators will become aware of the problems caused by this type of patent and make the problem disappear at it's root, by making this type of 'innovation' unpatentable. This may be wishful thinking, but it's natural to ignore or misunderstand a problem when it is entirely theoretical, but take very rapid action to combat it when the problem directly affects you.

#30 Re: Re: Reality Flash: This is bad news

by gadfly

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 7:49 PM

Reply to this message

jgraham said "...making this type of 'innovation' unpatentable..."

This is indeed the real issue at hand. Should software innovation really be patentable? Music can't be patented, but machines can -- where do virtual machines stand?

#24 This is stupid

by elempoimen

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 3:11 PM

Reply to this message

You know, this is really foolish...the whole thing. Next thing you know, Tim Berners-Lee will be suing us all for not asking permission to use "his idea".

When did Intellectual Property stop being for the good and advancement of mankind and begin being a cash-cow, pay-per-admission-only brain trust?

#28 Re: This is stupid

by jgraham

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 3:56 PM

Reply to this message

>When did Intellectual Property stop being for the good and advancement of mankind and begin being a cash-cow, pay-per-admission-only brain trust?

Without knowing enough history to back this up, I'd say it's always been this way. As far as I can see, the reason capitalism is supposed to work is that basic human greed is exploited in a way that may lead to benefits for society as a whole. However, there is no guarentee of the link between greed (typically expressed as the desire for money, particularly in the case of comapanies) and the advancement of society, even with laws designed to foster this link. Individuals can exploit Intellectual Property to make money, and so they do so. If society doesn't advance, there need to be rules governing the way that this Intellectual Property may be exploited so that society does benefit. For example, I heard that after the initial development of Penicillin, no company was willing to market it because it was not covered by a patent, so they felt they could not make money out of it. Those companies were playing by the fundamental economic rules of our society, but clearly did not act in the best interests of humanity.

#27 No affect on Mozilla Foundation

by jedbro

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 3:51 PM

Reply to this message

As I understand from the E-week article, this wil definitally NOT be a threat to the Mozilla Foudation. <http://www.eweek.com/arti…le2/0,4149,1304247,00.asp>

This could however have an effect on commercial users who make money off of the tecnology in mozilla. The CEO specifically said Open Source should not fear them.

This could however go badly against opera.

I think this is good in the fact that MS got their ass spanked. But where this really get's bad is MS's decision on the royalities and future of IE. 1) This coul give a great chance to 3rd party browsers or 2) Could make MS have a stronger hold on the web by enforcing their own technology.

Just my opinion, I really have no clue

#32 Re: No affect on Mozilla Foundation

by Canar

Tuesday October 7th, 2003 11:14 PM

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Still, though, as they have gone after MS, shouldn't the Moz. Foundation open up a dialog with them about the issue, to at very least determine Eolas's position very specifically?

#33 One problem: the suggested fix doesn't work

by Gerv

Wednesday October 8th, 2003 1:45 AM

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I've written a test page <http://www.gerv.net/hacking/eolas/> which embeds Java and Flash as recommended in the "workaround" documents from MS and others. However, the new IE still gives me the popup. Can anyone else confirm this?

Gerv

#40 Re: One problem: the suggested fix doesn't work

by iarnell

Wednesday October 8th, 2003 11:04 AM

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Confirmed. Both the Java and Flash links give me the popup.

#44 Re: One problem: the suggested fix doesn't work

by slash

Thursday October 9th, 2003 2:32 AM

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Tried moving the script tag that pulls in the external Javascript into the <head> ? The MS pages imply that anything in the body is thought of differently to the stuff in the head....

#34 Web standards affected as well

by joezespak

Wednesday October 8th, 2003 3:26 AM

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A lot has been discussed so far, but I'm surprised that nobody seems to realise the threat to Web Standards which comes from the most obvious work around as suggested by MS, Macromedia, Apple and Real (amongst others).

We all know that the migration to the Semantic Web benefits most from well-formed html or even XML; separation of content and presentation and all such.

The suggested work-around (replacing object elements by a lbunch of document.writes() from Javascript) doesn't help here in any way. Especially the chances of specifying alternate content, as per object-tag spec, will be gone. Automated indexing of this kind of content is not trivial any more.

As for well-formedness of html pages, the result may be not entirely bad, since the scrip source must be external to the page source.

Finally, as I understand it, document.write() is a deprecated mechanism of HTML generation in XHTML already...

Joe.

#45 Re: One problem: the suggested fix doesn't work

by slash

Thursday October 9th, 2003 2:35 AM

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Alternate content - I think this is why Microsoft specified the new 'NOEXTERNALDATA' param on object tags. Any standards compliant browser will ignore that, and the object will work. The new IE will take it into account, and presumably the content can be fiddled back in with a piece of Javascript that looks at the AXCompat token in the user agent. So, your pages won't validate, but MS seem to have kind of done us a favour here.

However, has anyone else noticed that this essentially means XHTML2 is DOA? In XHTML2, *everything* is an object.. now, of course, people have been able to link in images to webpages using plugins before (in fact, getting png transparency to work in IE requires ActiveX iirc), but it's never been mandatory. I think this just iced XHTML2.

#43 Re: Web standards affected as well

by zontar

Wednesday October 8th, 2003 4:44 PM

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> Finally, as I understand it, document.write() is a deprecated mechanism of HTML generation in XHTML already...

Yep, there was some discussion of this on W3's www-html list back in June. A much better solution is to use DOM element-creation and manipulation methods (or Load and Save, whenever that gets finalised and then supported). Unfortunately, document.createElement("object") doesn't seem to work very well.