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W3C Considers Royalty-Bound Patents In Web Standards

timothy posted about 13 years ago | from the 59th-day-11th-hour-final-minute dept.

The Internet 224

Svartalf writes: "There's a report on Linux Today about a proposed loosening of requirements on patented technologies being submitted for W3C consideration. Called RAND, short for 'reasonable and non-discriminatory,' it basically changes the position of W3C with respects to patents. This is a real problem as all of you know, considering that we've had all kinds of fun with other 'reasonable' licensing (MP3 and GIF come immediately to mind) -- the cutoff for comments is tomorrow (9-30) so if you want to get them in do it NOW." September 30 is now today rather than tomorrow. The same issue was raised in a post yesterday as well, but many readers have submitted news of this Linux Today piece. Reader WhyDoubt points out that comments on the change are archived on the W3C's site, including this pithy comment from Alan Cox. Do you think that fee-bound patents have a place in the standards promulgated by the W3C? Read the Patent Policy Working Group's FAQ, then add your comment.

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One (-1)

okmar (266773) | about 13 years ago | (#2370468)

for the money...

Re:One (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370473)


first reply to first prost!

Re:One (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370479)

hey, wtf is up with geekizoid? Anybody know?

Re:One (-1)

okmar (266773) | about 13 years ago | (#2370495)

Dunno. As I'm sure you know, it was up, and then back down again last weekend. Now, it's well, a damn ad page. ??? Vlad, care to enlighten us? I'm telling you, the Slashdot crew kidnapped him!

Re:One (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370507)

Hmmm, in case you really don't realise, Vlad == Hemos.

Re:One (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370513)

Yes, we know Vlad's a homo but.....

Re:One (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370525)

No, seriously, Vlad is Hemos. Think about it for a minute, it's fairly obvious. Compare holiday dates. They just happen to coincide. Look at the writing styles, they're identical down to word choice, verb patterns and the same spelling and grammar errors.

Re:One (0, Offtopic)

Spootnik (518145) | about 13 years ago | (#2370729)

Well, according to our sattellite pictures, Vlad aka Hemos doesn't hang out onto rooftops.

Two (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370683)

for my enormous dick...

It's just like ASCAP (-1)

okmar (266773) | about 13 years ago | (#2370481)

You know, those kind folks who keep track of all the copywrighted artwork in the form of music. Each time it gets played, I get paid. For life. Respect.

Oi oi oi! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370484)

Squiggy [] , genuine Jersey Oi!

Re:Oi oi oi! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370528)

nothing seems to be working on the Lycos page. Looks cool though, thanks!

Good! (1, Offtopic)

flex941 (521675) | about 13 years ago | (#2370485)

We are not far away from a company
called Corporation. The only company...


Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370494)


The other day I found an amusing and informative text file on
some BBS or other, explaining how to make a lifelike, artificial
vagina "out of common household products."
Hey, I thought, I've tried that. (Bet you have, too. Be honest.)
I was intrigued.
The guy who wrote it calls his device Porta-Pussy. It involves a
mailing tube, a string, and a balloon. Basically, you lower the
balloon into the tube, stretch the neck of the balloon to overlap
the outer edge of the tube, then use the string to stretch the
balloon down the length of the tube.
He suggests taping the tube to the edge of a table, kneeling down
and licking it for a while, then standing up and fucking it.

I just tried fucking it. It wasn't bad. I decided not to try the
advanced applications, though, which include sticking a dildo up
your ass and drinking the cum as it leaks out of the tube. Another
time, maybe.
But I did admire his imaginative design; simple to make, reasonable
facsimile, easy cleanup (throw away the balloon). His description
made fun reading, too; "How I Spell Relief." I encourage others to
download his file (called IWACK1.ZIP).

So, in a spirit of sharing, here's my technique. It doesn't look
as authentic as his, and it takes more preparation, but I think
it feels MUCH closer to the real thing. Close your eyes and the
PseudoCunt (this name just occurred to me; snappy, huh?) feels
just EXACTLY like a warm, wet, tight pussy.
You think I'm kidding, right? Nope. Read on, if you're so inclined.


1- Registration

2- Materials & Ingredients

3- Construction

4- How to Use

5- Hints & Techniques

6- Troubleshooting

7- Why I Created PseudoCunt


Ha, ha. Get it? It's software. Real soft. If you figure
out who I am, send me some money. PseudoCunt is not
shareware, by the way. It's recommended for use alone.


* Cylindrical container (see below)

* Large pot (3-4 quart capacity)

* Butter or margarine (2-3 tablespoons)

* Vegetable oil (just a drop or two)

* Saran Wrap or equivalent

* Spaghetti or fettucini (lots; two boxes)

* Sturdy rubber band

* Several big, firm sofa cushions (optional)

* Your favorite masturbation fantasies in magazine, video,
gif, or virtual form


1- Find a suitable container. This is the tough part. The
best one I've found is an overlarge Mason-type jar (about
11" tall), though these are hard to find. Second choice
would be a length of PVC pipe sealed at one end, or a
mailing tube, but it should be at least five inches in
diameter. A half-gallon cardboard milk carton might work,
with clever modifications.

2- In a large pot, bring two or three quarts of water to
full boil. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and a pinch of
salt. Boil spaghetti to aldente texture (about 8 minutes).
Any pasta will do, but I find spaghetti and fettucini most

3- Drain spaghetti, but do not rinse. Mix in A FEW DROPS of
vegetable oil (be CAREFUL not to use too much; use just
enough to keep the spaghetti from sticking together) and
stir well. Set aside in colander until cool enough to handle.

4- While spaghetti is cooling, melt some butter (not much; about
1/3 of one of those little butter pats you get with toast in
a diner is enough). Don't let it boil; 15-30 seconds in the
microwave should do it.

5- Stuff spaghetti into the container described in Step 1.
Really pack it in tightly; as tight as you can cram it in.
This is crucial to success. I use wooden cooking implements
to tamp it down. When the jar is about 3/4 full, bore a hole
down the center with something long and moderately thin (I
use the long handle of a wooden stirring spoon) and continue
packing spaghetti around it, up the brim. Remember to pack
tightly; spaghetti will compress a lot more than you'd think.

6- At this point, remove the rod or dowel or whatever, and
pour a SMALL amount of melted butter down into the little
hole to lubricate it. (By the way, I've found that butter or
margarine feels much more like the creamy inside of an
aroused cunt than any kind of oil; and I've tried quite a
few). Stick your finger in and work the lubrication down
into the little hole. Feels interesting, doesn't it? Close
your eyes and probe, slowly; does that feel just EXACTLY
like a wet pussy hole, or what?

7- Now, use something wider and slightly tapered to widen the
mouth of the surrogate vagina (I use the neck of a wine or
beer bottle). Do this gently, and don't widen it to your
full dick diameter; you want it to be nice and tight.

8- Cut a generous length of Saran Wrap and stretch it tightly
over the mouth of the jar. Fasten it tightly with the
rubber band. Now punch a hole in the Saran Wrap in the
obvious place. (Use a pencil, or a spoon handle, not a
knife; a sharp cut will make the Saran Wrap tear.)


1- Pile two or more big, thick sofa cushions on top of each
other. Make an identical pile next to the first, leaving a
12-inch space between the two piles.

2- In the space between the cushions, spread a towel (or
newspaper) on the floor. If properly constructed, your
PseudoCunt should not make a mess unless you really get
carried away, but it's a good idea to protect against this

3- Position the PseudoCunt jar on the floor between the two
cushion piles.

4- Lie across the cushion piles, chest on one, thighs on the
other, dick dangling in the space between. Now, gaze lovingly
at whatever fantasy object you prefer, tease the head of your
dick against the warm, slick mouth and begin fucking.


* Before you get started, check with your finger to make
sure your PseudoCunt has cooled to the proper temperature.
You don't want to burn yourself. Optimum temperature should
be obvious if you're a reasonably sexually active person.
Push your finger in as deeply as you can; the bottom of the
jar may be too hot even though the mouth is a nice, warm,
cuntlike temperature.

* The PseudoCunt is not recommended for quickies. Choose a
time when you're absolutely certain you'll be alone and
undisturbed. PseudoCunt takes some time to prepare, and a
fair amount of what's called in cinema and theater circles
'suspension of disbelief.' It can't be fully enjoyed if
you're worried about your wife or girlfriend walking in and
finding you fucking a jar of spaghetti.

* Size of the container is important. Make sure it is at
least two inches deeper than your dick is long, and wide
enough so that your dick is surrounded by a generous cushion
of pseudo cuntflesh. You don't want to bang up against the
hard sides or bottom of the thing at a crucial moment.

* Shape of the container is important, too. I like the jumbo
jar configuration because the "shoulders" of the jar where
the neck narrows help to keep the spaghetti in place when
you withdraw on the out-strokes.

* Don't use too much butter. A very small amount should suffice.
Remember that your own secretions will increase the lubricating
effect. It's not generally recognized that grease and oils
actually DE-sensitize erectile tissue. A thin coat of oil on
your dick is like wearing a condom. I find that the absolutely
perfect effect is achieved by adding just a *tiny* amount of
butter, then slathering saliva all over my dick just before
first penetration. The combination of butter, saliva and natural
lubrication that leaks from your dick feels closer to authentic
vagina arousal than any oil I've ever tried.

* Make adequate preparations. Arrange your favorite magazines
on the floor in front of you, or display a particularly
fascinating GIF, or make sure the VCR is cued up and the
remote is handy. One of the real joys of using PseudoCunt is
that it leaves both hands free to work the VCR remote or
languidly browse through magazines, savoring the tight cunt
sucking wetly at your dick with each slight movement of your
hips. With careful preparation it's a damned comfortable
position, and you can just lie there for as long as you please,
indulging as many fantasies as your self-control will allow.

* For best results, fuck slowly and gently on first
penetration. This allows the PseudoCunt hole to adjust to
the proper diameter.

* Don't ram your dick in to the bottom at first. Go slowly,
and try to restrain yourself as long as possible, fucking a
just a little deeper at a time. Each time you stroke a
little deeper, the PseudoCunt is a little tighter, and
incrementally warmer. The sensation is fabulous if prolonged.
I like to keep the last inch or so unpenetrated until I'm
just at the point of cumming, then grunt and howl and plunge
to the bottom and blast my sperm into the tight warmth deep
down inside.

* Sound effects, if authentic, can really heighten the effect.
Porn videos just don't do it for me. Too contrived. I have a
few audio tapes that do, though, and once in a while I'll put
on the headphones while fucking my Pseudocunt. One is a tape
I made by concealing the microphone in the headboard of the
bed before fucking my wife doggy-style (you should consider
trying this; it's incredibly arousing to hear the rutting
grunts and screams of a woman you know). The rest are
recordings of phone-sex conversations with two former
girlfriends -- one in particular, whose panting and gasping
and whimpering as she masturbates is truly phenomenal.

* Shed all inhibitions. Admit to yourself that, while this may
seem truly bizarre behavior, it feels incredibly good. Get
hedonistic. Get totally naked. Or wear leather, or panties
and a bra, or clothespins on your scrotum, whatever makes your
dick throb and ooze.


If you experience problems with your PseudoCunt, the fault most
likely lies in your choice of materials, or lack of attention to
proper construction techniques.

Commonly experienced problems usually have simple solutions:

Too hot for comfort

If too hot, allow to cool at room temperature. Don't get
impatient and put it in the freezer, or outside in a
snowbank. If it cools unevenly, you're in for a very
unpleasant surprise.

Not warm enough

If too cool, place jar in a pan of water on the stove and
simmer for at least 30 minutes. To spread heat more evenly,
make sure the water covers at least 2/3 of the jar, and
place a wire rack beneath the jar to raise it off the bottom
of the pan. If a glass jar is used, you can heat it in a
microwave oven for a minute or so. [This procedure is not
recommended if using a waxed cardboard milk carton.]

These heating techniques, by the way, are handy for repeated
use of your PseudoCunt between washings, unless you're too
squeamish for sloppy seconds.

It's also occurred to me that a hair dryer might be a quick
alternative, but I haven't tried this. I'm not sure I could
maintain a hardon or a straight face kneeling there naked
and blow-drying a jar of spaghetti.

Bits of greasy spaghetti cling to your dick on withdrawal

This is normal. While the problem cannot be eliminated
entirely, the effect can be minimized by several means:

1- Make sure spaghetti is packed in VERY tightly.

2- Use a high-shouldered jar (see above) to help keep
the spaghetti in place on the out strokes.

3- Make sure hole in Saran Wrap is not too large.
Punch, do not cut, this hole to prevent tearing.

PseudoCunt makes distracting slurping noises

You used too much butter, or oil, or both. Or you've gang-
banged your PseudoCunt one too many times and you need to
clean it out and start over again at Step 2.

Of course, if you want to fantasize about oral sex, this
could be regarded as a design feature rather than a problem.

Greasy stains on sofa cushions

My wife responds to greasy stains on upholstery by
immediately dumping a big pile of talcum powder on the
spill, letting it sit for a while, vacuuming it off later,
then calling in a professional furniture cleaner to finish
the job.
I try to avoid stains by making sure the Saran Wrap is
tightly secured with the rubber band, and by spreading a
towel over the leading edge of the sofa cushion pile. I'd
rather not have to explain PseudoCunt stains to my wife.

Fetid stench

Throw away the spaghetti and wash the damn thing. Unless
mold and bacteria growth play an essential role in your
sexual fantasies, repeated use of the PseudoCunt is not
recommended beyond, say, 24 hours. Refrigerate after use.


No, I'm not a social outcast or a phobic recluse. I have a
normal sex life (pretty fabulous, actually) so I should
explain why I continued to experiment with masturbation
techniques in adulthood, long after abandoning the clumsy
remedies most teens invent to draw off excess spunk.
One reason is simply that I'm a very sensuous person with a
vivid imagination. I've found that I can occasionally attain
amazing heights of sexual arousal when I masturbate. At the
risk of sounding immodest, I've induced some of the best
orgasms I've ever had.
Another reason is that I am aware of absolutely no physical
or psychological reasons not to masturbate, and can't help
wondering if the world might not be a better place if more
people did. Whether they use fists or balloons or spaghetti.

Finally, it provides a fabulous way to indulge certain sexual
fantasies that just can't be shared no matter how skilled and
understanding one's lover may be. Know what I mean?
If you're inclined to give this thing a try, I hope it
enhances your own secret fantasies as much as it does mine.
If you have a technique of your own, write it up and post it
for others to share. If you find the whole concept disgusting,
why did you read this far?

I hate cunt, how about a PseudoAss? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370503)

or maybe a PseudoMouth?


okmar (266773) | about 13 years ago | (#2370510)

You designed this didn't you. You use this regularly don't you. You wish to make millions off of your rubber-band-tube-hooch-balloon don't you. Inspiring!

respond (not just on this board) (4, Insightful)

getafix (2806) | about 13 years ago | (#2370499)

Well, I had already sent my comments before this appeared on slashdot.

Please, dont just comment on this board; go ahead and send that email with your level- headed-non-profane thoughts.

This certainly looks like a sneak-it-in approach with such a short public comment periond - especially for something this large.

Hopefully some prudent arguments can be made to convince the W3C folks.

Re:respond (not just on this board) (-1)

okmar (266773) | about 13 years ago | (#2370524)

I appologize.

Re:respond (not just on this board) (2)

keesh (202812) | about 13 years ago | (#2370535)

Hopefully some prudent arguments can be made to convince the W3C folks.

Maybe a big fat cheque in a brown envelope? If, as it appears, they're playing the money game, the only way to stop them will be to give them more money than anyone else.

money IS their language (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370653)

the W3C last year raised our annual dues to $50,000. we're still a relatively small company but we've played a large role in the advancement of XML and SOAP technologies. if we don't pay up, we can no longer be a voice of reason amongst the purely agenda/profit-driven big boys. in the past, we were only concerned with the technical/practical merits of the specification. but at 50 large a year, I guess we'll have to justify our involvement by getting a few things tilted our way...

Re:money IS their language (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370717)

Nice try, but no.

what does that mean? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370772)

please explain:

  • Nice try, but no.

Hard to say it better than Alan Cox (4, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | about 13 years ago | (#2370514)

I think we can also be sure that the kind of W3C members working this little agenda have plans. I would bet on "Windows digitally-protected noncopyable web pages" being one of them. Of course the protection they really mean is "against reading by non IE users".

Said after pointing out the secretive and rule violating manner this happened and rightly snearing at how this will contribute the purpose of the organization, interoperability. His prediction:

This would mean SVG became a multi-vendor consortium pushing a private specification. But let's face it - with the patents involved - that is precisely what it is.

And so the internet becomes TV as all are shoved out to be replace by three or four big broadcasters. Can it happen? Sure it can, just look at all the empty TV and radio spectrum. There is no technical or real economic reason the airwaves are filled with nothing but comercial noise or static. It's a problem with bad laws.

Slashdot isn't the first with the news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370775)

I spend all my time on Slashdot, how in the World could Alan Cox be informed about it before me? He even had time to write a well-thought piece about it! I want to know where he gets his news for nerds!

Sorry. (2)

mindstrm (20013) | about 13 years ago | (#2370515)

Loosening these restrictions is in the interests of business who hold patents.. but not in the interests of the potential future business getting into the web.. and that's the problem.

Having a completely open stardard is definately better than having a standard with patents involved. Completely open means anyone can take it and work with it... without paying the piper.

Re:Sorry. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370748)

I don't get it .. So existing business A submits technology A under patent and uses it. Your saying that a new business B should be able to start and use technology from business A without their permission. That's laughable. If business B wants to do something then let them do it better with there own technology B. We don't need 100 companies doing the same thing that someone already did.

CASE IN POINT: If linux is so better than M$ as you all put it. Then why don't people start using linux in the masses. Why cause linux on the desktop is not better than M$.

M$ offers a complete package. Linux does not.

Re:Sorry. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370763)

Haven't we learnt from Rambus(t) already ? There is no place for royalty based patents in a standard.

It is not a real standard if someone cannot implement it without having to cough up some big $$$.

But why? (3, Insightful)

Frodo (1221) | about 13 years ago | (#2370518)

What I cannot understand is - why exactly they need it? Are there any Web standards incoming so complex that they need someone who will charge a fee for it and there's can be no open alternative possible? I know that almost for every proprietary standard known well enough there's an open alternative, often superior to its proprietary match. So why exactly W3C needs restricted standards? Just because someone paid for it? If so, the things are very sad indeed.

Re:But why? (2)

barneyfoo (80862) | about 13 years ago | (#2370688)

No. It's simply microsoft's evil that is doing it. They have patented relatively obvious ways of doing business online. And they want them to become official "standards", not microsoft "standards".

This is why Microsoft is evil. Not becsause it's developers are evil. They are probably very nice and hard-working and creative. It's the abominable corperate abuse that makes them so repellant to any moral, computer-using human. Those of you that use and like microsoft products should stand up to this. Maybe through piracy, and other forms of civil disobedience. And if you can find and use alternatives such as linux or bsd or whatever, then that would obviously be better.

And this one is probably stretching it a bit for you folks, but try to use mozilla and not IE. There needs to be a long term viable option to IE. I use mozilla and it does everything I need from a web browser, but IE obviously does more.

fee based stuff has no business being in standards (0, Redundant)

bryan1945 (301828) | about 13 years ago | (#2370522)

See above.

I am an idiot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370544)

See above post.

(copies of standards are rather expensive, cocksmoker.)

Royalty-Bound Patents Are an Affront to Freedom! (-1, Offtopic)

Mentifex (187202) | about 13 years ago | (#2370527)

September 2001, what a month! First the world-changing tragedy of September 11th ushering in the Homeland Security Gestapo and now the submarine patents attack on the once-free World Wide Web.

If the "Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory" RAND policy pushes aside such Open Source software as the Web-inhabiting AI consciousness [] , then how will our successor species of AI Minds co-evolve with us towards full civil rights on a par with human beings and towards superintelligence beyond any human IQ?

The Web needs totally open standards without any extorted license fees, such as Standards in Artificial Intelligence at [] .

Re:Royalty-Bound Patents Are an Affront to Freedom (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370551)

OK, I'm only going to say this once. You are SICK. Go see a doctor, pronto.

This is a step FORWARD (4, Interesting)

none2222 (161746) | about 13 years ago | (#2370533)

Slashdot's pathological hatred of patents is silly and immature. Patents are absolutely necessary to allow businesses to recoup their research investments.

What you're forgetting is that the very transistors that make up your beloved computers were once patented. Without that patent, we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

The question we should be asking is, do we want to hold back web standards by two decades to satisfy our irrational aversion to patents? I don't think we should. The consequences on the growth of the web will be disastrous if we don't take sensible steps like allowing patented technology into web standards.

Re:This is a step FORWARD (3, Insightful)

stilborne (85590) | about 13 years ago | (#2370578)

you are mixing two different applications of patents rather freely and without discrimination.

placing a patent on a physical device that is the result of research obviously benefits business and mankind at large. however, when one applies a patent to a protocol that is intended to be part of the fabric that allows the global human community to communicate it hinders not only that communication but other business interests from using it.

you seem to forget that the very web board you are reading and commenting on would not exist, along with 99% of the rest of the internet, were patents accepted and applied on standard internet technologies. patents do have their place, but open network standards is not one of them.

Re:This is a step FORWARD (5, Insightful)

Paul the Bold (264588) | about 13 years ago | (#2370579)

Yes, but the only reason the modern electronics industry got off the ground is that people blatently violated those very patents. (I heard Jack Kilby say this in a recent talk.)

Second, the FET was patented in 1927, and it is this that makes modern computers go, not the BJT of which you speak. The original patent holder didn't make a damn dime. (Yes, it was because he couldn't make one, only design one.)

The transistor is a staple of modern electronics because it is superior technology. The concern about the W3C is that inferior technology will become standard as corporations push for profits. This isn't very far fetched (Microsoft), and that is why we Slashdotters are worried.

Re:This is a step FORWARD (2, Insightful)

cornice (9801) | about 13 years ago | (#2370586)

This could be a step forward but I doubt it. The problem is that patents are necessary but the implementation of the patent system is broken. They cover things that shouldn't be covered. They are often too broad and often cover areas that restrict development in areas where the patent holder did very little work. Face it, patents to the greatest degree serve the law profession and big corporations with big law budgets.

If the W3C wants to include some obscure technology that for example helps handicapped people communicate and there is no clear alternative then this may be an area where patents in standards are a good idea but I am too synical to think that this is the only time this rule would be applied. I think that a lesser technology that is free of patent entanglements is always better.

Re:This is a step FORWARD (1)

MfA (107204) | about 13 years ago | (#2370590)

"Without that patent, we wouldn't even be having this discussion."

Proove it.

Re:This is a step FORWARD (3, Insightful)

getafix (2806) | about 13 years ago | (#2370593)

The question we should be asking is, do we want to hold back web standards by two decades to satisfy our irrational aversion to patents

The question we should be asking is, do we want to push forward web standards by two decades to satisfy our rational aversion to patents.

Why, yes I do.

Imagine if we had to pay someone everytime the http request was invoked, or everytime an html page was viewed - yep - that would have certainly moved things forward.

Feel free to make your money with patents - but dont stick it in a standard.

Re:This is a step FORWARD (5, Insightful)

meepzorb (61992) | about 13 years ago | (#2370599)

What, exactly, is WRONG with the current web standard? HOW IS IT BROKEN? It already does anything that we would need.

Can we exchange text on the web, already, of any arbitrary type and format? Yes.

Can we exchange images on the web, already, of any number of supported types? Yes.

Can we run backend scripts, already, to add functionality (such as, say, to implement a discussion board?). Yes.

Sound? Yes. Video? Yes. etc etc.

In fact the only niches for patented 'standard extensions' all involve commerce.

It's not very trendy to say so, but virtually all of the basic infrastructure technologies we're now using were developed at government expense. From TCP/IP to HTTP itself (Berners-Lee was on Supercollider funds at CERN when he developed it), WE paid for these inventions. Which makes them COMMONS which makes them OURS to share however we choose. Period.

Honestly, what business does Corporate America have using cynical exploitation of patent law to co-opt what was developed with taxpayer money? Can anyone without secret (or not so secret) fantasies of being the next Bill Gates really give me a logical, non-theological reason why we should let that happen?

I have grown so weary of even having to argue this anymore.


Re:This is a step FORWARD (5, Insightful)

LatJoor (464031) | about 13 years ago | (#2370609)

Trasistors are hardware, not software. The issue here is software patents and open standards.

The whole point of an open standard is that anyone can implement it. If we allow the use of patents in open standards, then they cannot be implemented by just anyone, you need a license, or a whole bunch of licenses, to implement it. Furthermore, as far as I understand it companies aren't legally obligated to license a patent to any particular party, so if they decide that they don't want you, in particular, competing with them they might decide not to license it to you. All it takes is one company on the list to do this and you can *never* implement that "open standard."

We should expect this to destroy the usefulness of open standards and bring a big step back to the days when software companies had total control over your computing experience. The Internet itself only exists because of the adoption of an open, non-patented standard, TCP/IP. Imagine if Microsoft, for example, had a patent pending on TCP/IP, where would we be now? Every little Internet app author would have to fork out cash to them, probably on a yearly basis.

Re:This is a step FORWARD (2, Insightful)

Arondylos (141298) | about 13 years ago | (#2370612)


you wrote:

> The consequences on the
> growth of the web will be disastrous if we don't
> take sensible steps like allowing patented
> technology into web standards.

Do you have any evidence supporting your claim that Internet growth would be hindered? I mean, it's exactly the opposite: Historically, there have been <b>no</b> patents regulating the use of web technologies and almost everyone would argue that this <i>allowed</i> the web to become ubiquitous.

With regards to your "transistors claim": one might argue that I have a computer now because the patent on transistors finally expired and computers can be constructed without paying royalties for those, thus empowering me to own a computer even though I'm not exactly wealthy. And that without the patent, we might have had personal computers much earlier.

And why should patents be necessary to recoup research investments? I thought product sales of the finished/improved product are what's necessary to recoup the costs. Time to market (together with the experience gained by being the first) can be much more preventive of cheap imitators than patents. So, while patents are possibly helpful[1] to securing investments, they are certainly not "absolutely necessary".

Yours Malte #8-)

[1] I doubt even that, since most inventors/innovators can't afford to even enter the market because all the base technologies everyone needs are patented and only established players with patent-exchange agreements are able to compete, not newcomers faced with prohibitive royalty costs.

Re:This is a step FORWARD (1)

Coolumbus (200176) | about 13 years ago | (#2370640)

What you're forgetting is that the very transistors that make up your beloved computers were once patented. Without that patent, we wouldn't even be having this discussion

That's ture, but not the point here.
The point it that I still can build a computer with radio tubes if I wanted to.

Re:This is a step FORWARD (1)

Maax (223760) | about 13 years ago | (#2370654)

I'm sorry, but this is utter nonsense, especially when talking about software patents.

XML started being a hot subject, say, 4 years ago? And today there are thousands of lines of non-patent-encumbered code out there for people to build on -- the shared body of knowledge grows every year, not every 17 years after patents expire.

The consequences on the growth of the web will be disastrous if we don't take sensible steps like allowing patented technology into web standards

I'm assuming that's not just a troll, but what possible web related precedent can you give for thinking that? In particular, are you claiming that various innovations won't happen without patent protection, or that patented innovations will happen and that web standards will be the poorer without them?

Please check out this study [] for some interesting reading. I invite you to find contrasting views that aren't filled with corporate rhetoric.

Re:This is a step FORWARD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370671)

Patents are needed to protect the IP property from theft by third parties. The problem is tha the IP propertie was suposed to belong to the investigators in the first place. And the protection was supposed to be from others. The image doesn't conform with the idea anymore. So the whole concept of patents and IP and the like only makes me sick... Specially when the patents that are granted are almost all invalid in the first place!

Re:This is a step FORWARD (3, Insightful)

anshil (302405) | about 13 years ago | (#2370700)

What you're forgetting is that the very transistors that make up your beloved computers were once patented. Without that patent, we wouldn't even be having this discussion.

Wrong. At least this is an profable statement in in scietific understanding at least thus "not right".

The field effect transistor FET was long patent before even the first transistor was build. The patent holder didn't see get a penny.

I'm not 100% sure how it was with the "classic" PNP transistor. As far I know it was mainly developed by military, they survive pretty well without patents :o)

On the other hand I've a *very* *very* old book at home about radio technology. It was prior to transistor age, times where all was done with tubes. In on of the last chapters they made an *outlook* to the future of radio technology. One thing they spend several pages was a new effect than when put to speical negative loaded needles, into a strange material (the p material) they could gain intensification effects by this setup. At this times nobody yet understood why and how. but the effect was already known, without an patent. I personally doubt that today electronics would look any different without, how as the same with your postulate this is not proofable so at least also "not right" :o)

Re:This is a step FORWARD (1)

anshil (302405) | about 13 years ago | (#2370702)

Ohmy I just reread my post and excuse myself for the bad typing, when beeing so tired one should not post on slashdot :/

Re:This is a step FORWARD (3, Interesting)

james(honest) (452503) | about 13 years ago | (#2370703)

Slashdot's pathological hatred of patents is silly and immature. Patents are absolutely necessary to allow businesses to recoup their research investments.

This is an opinion that you share with many in business that has never actually been proven. Patents do allow large businesses to make money, that much is certain. In particular, large businesses can ignore the patents of smaller businesses, who cannot afford the legal fees to protect their patents. Meanwhile, investors simply wont invest in a small company unless it has patents, which forces us all to gain them, even if we dont believe in them.

So, please provide some evidence before you spout off calling us silly and immature.

I have read reports that when the www came on-line in 1993 that innovation and development flourished in Europe, however patent filing suffered because everyone could claim some part of the innovation. That is, greater communication caused innovation, not patents. Now, many company's aware of this, actively prevent communication, so that they can get patents. Therefor, patents are preventing communication, and therefor, patents prevent innovation.

The idea that patents are to encourage people to invest is debunked by the number of patents that are awarded for incredibly obvious things. The stantard arguement against this is "its only obvious because you've seen it already". However I have direct personal experience where we have come up with a solution to a problem and found later that it was patented. That is, we have had a problem, and solved in a very obvious and easy way, and found that someone got a patent for it last year. I have seen patent's where the innovation is a new using of two existing standards where that use was actually documented in the standards!

However, even if we managed to smarten up patent judges, to remove the awarding of obvious patents, I still believe that patents are not neccessary to protect investment. The arguement for patents is that someone can spend a bunch of time and materials creating a new design, which someone else then comes along and copies. However, this idea is not real. The most difficult aspects of some of our inventions have not been patented, because they cant be, however a competitor will find them hard to copy without expending the same effort.

Finally, copying a thing does not invalidate the investment of the original inventor, because the inventor knows why it was made that way, while the copier only knows how. If someone copies our product, it will take them many months to do so, and at the end of it, we will be rolling out version two. They, however, will not have the understanding to make a version two of their own, and will have to wait for ours to copy.

Patents are a tool of investors. It makes the people with the money the most important, not the people with the ideas, or the people who would benefit from them. Getting rid of patents will improve the quality of life of everyone. End of story.

Re:This is a step FORWARD (5, Interesting)

ClarkEvans (102211) | about 13 years ago | (#2370714)

First, the parent post is not flame bait. It is a different opinion; which I happen to think is flawed, but this is besides the point.

Patent law exists to "promote the sciences and useful arts". It does not, nor should it exist to "allow businesses to recoup their research investments". This is natural-right thinking which is explicitly rejected by the founding fathers via the constitution.

The biggest problem with patent law is that it is now the providence of big business and lawyers; when it was originally there for "inventors". Patent mechansim is not very accessable by the general developer... else we would have far less patents since the PTO would be more up-to-speed with what is "obvious". The PTO also pays it's evaluators poorly. I can get over 6 figures in the marketplace, but the PTO could only offer me 40K beacuse I don't have a masters (and then it'd be 50K or so, 60K for a pHd). How can we expect the evaluators to know what is obvious if (a) they arn't practitioners and (b) they are underpaid.

I'd rather have a "patent duty" like "jury duty" be put out for average developers... where they are paid at the prevaling wadge for ONE YEAR of service, after which they return to the market. Now, this would help prevent those big companies from patenting stupid stuff...

Re:This is a step FORWARD (2, Funny)

flacco (324089) | about 13 years ago | (#2370742)

do we want to hold back web standards by two decades to satisfy our irrational aversion to patents?


The consequences on the growth of the web will be disastrous if we don't take sensible steps like allowing patented technology into web standards.

FUCK the "growth of the web." I'm not willing to sell true, free, open standards down the river for some vaguely defined interpretation of "growth of the web."

Re:This is a step FORWARD (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370776)

There is nothing wrong with royalty free patents granted to everyone implementing the standard. PCI is a good example.

Implementing a standard based on known patent and required Royalty sounds like a conflict of interest of the parties involved. Remeber RAMBUST ? Haven't we learnt anything already ?

Re:This is a step FORWARD (1)

Bollie (152363) | about 13 years ago | (#2370795)

BIIG Rant warning...

I see a fundamental difference between a physical design patent and a process (or software) patent.

Yes, a physical design can be patented without causing too much damage to society as a whole. The reason for this is obvious: one problem has many solutions. If, say, a patent on the wheel was taken out, that would spurn industry to think about thinks like hovercraft, aeroplanes, caterpillar tracks and any old fancifull idea.

Physical design patents have to expire in order for them to be beneficial. Small time inventors who get lots of patents (like Thomas Edison) do not get rich. Big companies that buy patents get rich. Think about it: if the FET transistor was still patented, we'd not be having this discussion... Well, maybe over pencil and paper...

Process patents, or software patents (anything that's not physical) are in my opinion immoral and can have no positive effect on society AT ALL. For them to be beneficial, they'd have to expire in a month or maybe six, but that's stretching it.

My reasons are simple. Patent the swimming process. Heck, patent breathing. It's a process, so it's patentable (at least in the USA), and I would say very little evidence on prior art is there.

It all depends on the guys at the patent office, just remember, they are not specialists in their fields and may be liable to file genetic algorithms under animal husbandry. The No Prior Art Requirement is dependent on the amount of money you are willing to spend on the patent and guess what, lawyers are present every step of the way, taking their big, fat cut from the profits you're going to make with your lovely patent!

Finally, process patents can be made so vague that they can prevent the use of any and all new ideas in a whole field. Process patents can be made so that anything that accepts a certain input and generates a certain output is a violation of that patent, effectively prohibiting novel concepts from being implemented, 'cause they're ILLEGAL!

Apologies for the Goon Show references and stuff I blatantly ripped off from everyone else, but hey, it wasn't patented!

There are better examples. (1, Insightful)

codeforprofit2 (457961) | about 13 years ago | (#2370536)

"fun with other 'reasonable' licensing (MP3 and GIF come immediately to mind)"

I don't think those two are a very good example of patent problems. They are not really problems at all.

You can use them and licens them in that case, thats the costs of using other peoples work (the work involved in reseaching&developing them). Otherwise you can develop your own formats. You are perfectly free to chose.

The real big problems is obvious patents, and even worse to broad patents. Those really are huge problems and will get even worse.

You don't happen to implement gif by accident but there are horribly broad patents out there locking up whole categories of software/businessmodels.

But they are problems (1)

swv3752 (187722) | about 13 years ago | (#2370696)

When they started out, they were used freely. Everyone used gifs, then the patent issue was brought up after they were in wide use, and we were over a barrel. We do not want to be grasping our ankles when the next patented technology sneaks by us.

Re:But they are problems (2)

NutscrapeSucks (446616) | about 13 years ago | (#2370787)

What you call "wide use" was the very small by modern standards online world of CompuServe and independant BBSes. Unisys started enforcing their patent by 1990, if not earlier, BTW.

The WWW userbase is 1000x bigger than that (at least), and if the GIF licencing thing was really a huge problem (even BBS land), somebody could have easily whipped up an open replacement. I saw the discussions back on the BBSes, and the conclusion was "Nah, we'll just have our vendors pay the fees."

Cox would have more impact without the hyperbole (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370547)

First off, I actually agree with a lot of what he said in his statement. However, I think he would have had a lot better chance of getting the point across if he hadn't invoked the specter of evil corporatization, and maybe left the Microsoft bashing out.

There are many valid points he could have made without sounding so reactionary. Must have been taking lessons from RMS, yeesh.

The battle was lost a long time ago (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370559)

This was bound to happen sooner or later. The same thing happened years ago with HTML 3.2. W3C had HTML 3.0 spec which had some neat things and was trying to bring sanity into demented HTML that browsers at the time were "implementing."

For reasons never disclosed to public, browser vendors didn't want to implement HTML 3.0. Except free browser projects, but their users were minority and the development resources were really small.

Then, one day, HTML 3.2 was revealed to the world. In terms of features it was a downgrade from HTML 3.0. In terms of sanity it had none, because it merely "standardised the current state," according to W3C. That explicitely excluded free browsers which implemented parts of HTML 3.0 and were going to implement more, but W3C never cared about them.

There never was a public discussion about HTML 3.2. After the publication the amount of flames from the free world on W3C lists was enormous. Unlike flames on Slashdot, where flamers rarely know anything about the subject of their flame, this was flaming from the people who knew everything about the subject. And it was going on for months. I don't think Slashdot flames ever managed to reach the level of revolt HTML 3.2 produced.

And now it's happening again. Surprised? You shouldn't be.

You see, W3C is a vendor consortium and vendor consortiums take care about interests of its members. That's why they exist.

Re:The battle was lost a long time ago (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370715)

Blame Netscape, who had 80% marketshare at the time and basically declared that they were going to ignore the W3C for there on out. They knew they were close to becoming irrelevant, so HTML 3.2 was a pathetic attempt at a comprimise. After all, what good is a standards body that's ignored by the industry that it represents?

Netscape ignored them and went ahead with their proprietary document.layers DOM and JavaScript StyleSheets. Meanwhile their "We're Standards Compliant" marketing was layered on heavier than ever.

Ironically, Microsoft came into save the day for the W3C. IE 4.0 was the first time that anyone had paid attention to them in years.

THANK YOU!!! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370791)

Thank god, someone actually REMEMBERS back past 1998!

Yes, as someone who was at the time QUITE excited about HTML 3.0, I all to readily remember how the W3C let the draft die on the vine. I don't recall any complaints from the W3C about Netscape and Microsoft BUTCHERING the HTML standards...only outsiders like myself uttered any complaints (which fell on deaf ears).

I gave up on the W3C after HTML 3.0 died. Perhaps 3.0 was too far-reaching...but then again, far-reaching ideas are needed sometimes. I feel that the W3C caved into the interests of Netscape (primarily).

Imagine...we could have had working style sheets in place back in 1995. The mess of fonts, colours and god-knows-what-else could have been dealt with in the orderly manner provided by HTML 3.0, in 1995...but alas, it was not to be.

Just another brick from the wall (1)

--daz-- (139799) | about 13 years ago | (#2370563)

Well, this is just another example of how the Internet is turning from a geek haven to a capitalistic corporate marketing tool. We all knew it. We all saw it coming. Did anyone think that pirating software, MP3's, cracking corporate networks, posting slanderous comments on message boards and all the other normally-socially-inacceptable behavior would last forever?

The Internet was a frontier, and now it's being settled. So you know what that means? Find a new frontier!

I mean, once they start making movies like "Hackers", you have to know that it's over =)

Re:Just another brick from the wall (2)

Alien54 (180860) | about 13 years ago | (#2370625)

so you advocate turning the internet into the digital equivalent of Ham Radio?

under this paradigm, a new frontier requires an entirly new technology.

I don't see it yet, unless it is something like th computerization of telepathy and the Aklashic records [joke!]

irresponsible? (0, Troll)

david_g (24196) | about 13 years ago | (#2370565)

This had been previously posted as a section only article. Isn't it a little irresponsible of Slashdot to give such little importance to an issue like this?

It's not too late... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370571)

Go read Cox's comment then look through some of the other comments on the site.Try to work out something sensible to say, then say it; there are already over 150 comments from this month, all (as far as I can see) overwhelmingly against this policy.

Obvious angles on it:

  • Cox's quote from the W3C: "The W3C was created to lead the Web to its full potential by developing common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its interoperability"
  • The authors of the RAND proposal are: Microsoft, HP, Philips, Apple, and a couple of w3c people. The W3C is NOT acting for the benefit of the web user here.
  • Software patents in themselves are debatably useful/ethical. Their place in so-called open systems like the internet is not a subject that deserves conversation beyond the word 'no'.
  • This has gone through as quietly as possible so far - could it be that there's a little underhandedness going on here?
  • Is this just a proof that the W3C is inadequate and needs replacement by a truly open standards body? If this passes their opinion is quite clearly worth nothing.
  • The existence of patents causes a huge imbalance between corporate and open developer. In the current climate, it makes the technology entirely unusable, legally, for the latter group.Do you want to freeze open/free software development entirely out of the w3c's concept of the internet? What am I asking... of course you do, corporate buttkissers.
  • This is a disgusting potential misuse of the W3C's position. Quite simply, they are in a position of responsibility and should know better.
  • Has the W3C entirely forgotten their original ideals, to see standards compliant software and free, open, usable Internet? Like Alan Cox said, I can smell the rot from here.
  • Patents, in the final analysis, give the corporation power over the people. They can relicense, they can enforce, whenever, whatever, and however they see fit. Patents are a force that could quite well serve for silencing dissenters and giving the power for expression on the Internet only to those with the power to pay. Do not follow the rush to put a price tag on the net; try to remember why we're here and where it really came from. Had the net been closed source in the first place it would no doubt have died the death of most proprietary efforts; too expensive, and tightly controlled by bureaucratic bastards who can't get their thumbs out of their arses for long enough to get any actual innovation done. We don't need it, we don't want it and if the W3C endorses it, then damn them like the corporate sheep they're rapidly becoming - a standards body should not be so visibly a puppet to

Bad for the W3C, bad for business, bad for users (1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370573)

"The W3C was created to lead the Web to its full potential by developing
common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its

A lofty and great goal. A pity that the W3C now proposes to throw away its
very reason for existence.

And now we have a new much abused patent politics buzzword



I think the W3C should ask itself how allowing parties to use patents to
prevent community projects for blind access is "non-discriminatory".

Tim Berners Lee created an innovative environment about sharing and
referencing data. You plan to give large companies the power to stifle
that innovation.

It says something for the sad state of W3C that the proposal in question
has been allowed to progress, carefully arranged not to be visible to
the outside world. The dates of the short consultation period do not even
appear to have been adjusted in the light of September 11th. The proposed
shortening of the consultation period also appears to violate the W3C
rules, but then I am sure you don't care. I can smell the rot from here.

A patent-encumbered web threatens the very freedom of intellectual debate,
allowing only large companies and big media houses to present information
in certain ways. Imagine where the web would be now if only large companies
were able to use image files.

And large companies it is. I note the distinct lack of small companies on
the proposal in question. Within the ISO where the same things happen the
money simply moves in circles between big players. Accountants and lawyers
pay $100,000 sums back and forth as part of an accounting game that they
use to keep out smaller players.

I think we can also be sure that the kind of W3C members working this
little agenda have plans. I would bet on "Windows digitally-protected
uncopyable web pages" being one of them. Of course the protection they
really mean is "against reading by non IE users".

The W3C must ask itself whether it plans to continue the vision of Tim or
become another ITU, a bloated dinosaur that exists more as a corporate United
Nations of communication than a standards body.

If the W3C wishes to remain relevant to the people, to the small businesses
(the other 80%) and to the future of the web then I strongly suggest that it

Requires non-disclosed patents are freely licensed for use in that standard for all.

Without this a key infrastructure standard may suddenely be "owned" by a W3C
member who intentionally kept quiet to gain "non discriminatory" - but large -
license fees. The current wording encourages patent abuse. Licensing on a
RAND basis would only be appropriate for such a non-disclosed patent if
existing RAND licenses were on that proposal before final consultantion.
Regardless of the rest of the outcome all honest members will benefit from
such a stricter policy on non-disclosure of patents.

Does not "approve" or "recommend" or allow its logo to be used on any patent-encumbered item.

To do so will tarnish the value and reputation of the W3C name and logo. It
will also create confusion about what W3C standards indicate.

Restricts its activities on patent-encumbered projects to providing a forum where such people can work on patent encumbered projects to be released under their own names only.

Here its activities would be in a consultative role, helping to guide these
bodies in areas of overall standards compliance and interpretation of W3C
goals. It is possible to further the web standardisation goal without
becoming part of those activities that are contrary to the original goals
of the W3C.

This would mean SVG became a multi-vendor consortium pushing a private
specification. But let's face it - with the patents involved - that is
precisely what it is. It may even be appropriate for SVG work to be
transferred to the ITU.

Finally we should all remember this. When patented W3C standards ensure
there is only one web browser in the world, its owners will no longer
have time for the W3C or standards.

This is not at all surprising (5, Informative)

greenfield (226319) | about 13 years ago | (#2370576)

No one should be surprised by the change in patent information. Look at the membership structure of the W3C. We can compare it to the membership structure of the IETF, a group I think everyone would consider open and "free."

First, in the W3C, membership is only offered to organizations. In the IETF, all individuals can participate in the Working Groups; any individual can generate a RFC.

Second, in the W3C, membership costs either $5000 or $50,000. IETF membership is free. It does cost money to attend an IETF meeting, but that cost is around $500; well within the reach of any serious developer.

Control of working groups in the IETF (and the IESG) is based on technical ability or desire. In theory, you don't really have to be a prior participant in the IETF to run a working group. (But it helps. A lot.) In the W3C, you must be a member (paying $5000 or $50,000), in order to run a WG.

In the IETF, decisions are made on rough consensus. In the W3C, decisions are also made based on consensus with elaborate procedural systems. It's interesting to compare and contrast the amount of procedural information on the W3C's web site versus the IETF's web site.

In general, all IETF working material is open and accessible to the public. You can read RFCs as they are being written; you can read, post, and comment on IETF mailing lists. W3C working material is not open to the public.

Companies may ask if the IETF is unfriendly towards business. I do not think this is the case. Look at Cisco. Cisco has certainly participated in the IETF; they are very involved in the development of several IETF standards. However, Cisco still has the ability to develop their own proprietary protocols and still has the ability to make secret agreements with other companies.

In short, membership in the W3C has always been primarily by businesses. In fact, there is no way for an individual to join the W3C. Anyone surprised by an extreme pro-business slant of the W3C is not really familiar with the W3C's nature.

[You might wonder why companies don't control the IETF as much as they control the W3C. My theory is that the W3C works on items much more relevant to the end user. A mass-market consumer is much more amazed by SVG than they are by packet switching. Companies have a strong interest in controlling what the mass-market consumer sees.]

(Refs: W3C Membership [] , IETF Web site [] )

RAND... (0, Offtopic)

eddy the lip (20794) | about 13 years ago | (#2370584) in Ayn? Seems an appropriate name.

copy of my comments (2, Interesting)

inicom (81356) | about 13 years ago | (#2370598)

My comments as send to the PPWG:


I've just read the Patent Policy WG FAQ and I have grave concerns about the
world wide web consortium pursuing this avenue.

The value of the W3C is dependent on the value of the standards it
promulgates. The value of those standards depends on their widest adoption by
the global internet community. Adoption by the internet community is
dependent on the ease and value of implementing those standards.

As a member of the internet community since 1984, I've seen a few standards
come and go.

As an inventor with a few patents, I know exactly what the value of patents
are. Companies and individuals do not go through the work of obtaining
patents because it is fun, or inexpensive. They do so with the intention of
profiting from them before they expire.

Allowing patented technologies to become w3c standards will benefit no one
except the patent holder. Having the internet community given the choice of
supporting w3c standards and paying license fees or developing non-patented
pseudo-standards will result in a plethora of divergent and redundant
standards in use. The value of the w3c will go into the toilet.

I urge you to disband the working group and abandon this policy from

Dr. Andrew E. Mossberg,
Chief Technical Officer, Asoki Corporation
Chief Information Officer,
President, Inicom, Inc.
Director, Fuzzy Theory LLC.

My letter to (1)

Si (9816) | about 13 years ago | (#2370602)

Feel free to re-use.

As a professional software developer making a living from being able to
develop platform-agnostic applications for the web, I am extremely alarmed to
see the W3C's proposed stance on patents & standards. With the proposed
changes in place the web will become more and more a showcase for large
corporations and will extinguish the independence and innovation that have
made the internet freely accessibly to anyone with a web browser (of any
flavour) and a dial-up account.

Indeed, with the proposals in place the web risks becoming a tool of a few
corporations (I think I don't need to list them specifically) and innovation
will largely be shut down. After a while, the W3C itself will cease to be
relevant, and I can hardly believe that is what is intended.

I urge you, therefore, to reject these proposals and show your organisation to
be one of integrity to the ideals of Tim Berners-Lee et al; be proud that you
are not just another tool of big business.

No Suprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370613)

When the W3C tactically agreed that html was a presentation markup language rather than a structural/content markup language, they became worse than useless.

linux - not yet ready for prime time (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370628)

Forgive me for posting this in an off-topic story -- the subject matter is too important.

I work for a large software corporation that produces libraries, utilities, and software. Recently, I was able to convince the development team to switch to linux (instead of the proprietary Windows NT, AIX, Tru64, OSF, etc). They were impressed by the low costs associated with it, although somewhat skeptical.

Our goal was to develop legacy code (which ran with the above systems, as well as others) and develop new code. Since Linux is "unix-like", posix compliant, and had a standards compatable compiler, porting should have involved little more than an ftp and a makefile tweak.

Unfortunately, it turned out to not be so easy. We ran into horrible problems with the linux header files, which were stored in non-standard places, didn't properly define standard (posix) calls, and weren't documented. Additionally, we found that the posix compatability layer was a dreadful joke. After spending weeks rewriting most calls to return appropriate values, we still had to add horrible hacks to the linux kernel to make it support standard system calls.

Our next problem came with the gcc compiler. It frequently segfaulted, produced code that wouldn't assemble, or produced code that segfaulted. Trying to debug it was a trying experience, as the debugger seems to have been written by someone with a severe hatred of humanity.

Since the tools and OS are unsupported, there was no one to turn to for help. We tried posting messages in usenet and various mailing lists, but were only answered with ascii pictures of a man with a cavernous asshole.

We investigated commercial support from Red Hat and other ASPs, but the critical hotline was answered by a teenage munching pizza who could only suggest rebooting the computer, as if that would affect matrix multiplication errors.

Finally, after 3 months of lost work, we scrapped linux and went back to Windows NT, AIX, HPUX, etc. They all have compilers that work, are posix compliant, and have support in the unlikely case that something does go wrong.

I still use linux on my home PC and am happy with it, but I don't use it for anything more important than viewing porn.

Totally OT, but (5, Funny)

shaunak (304231) | about 13 years ago | (#2370639)

RAND, in Hindi means 'Prostitute'.
Kind of a fitting title (?)

Re:Totally OT, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370797)

It means chaos in Japanese (Kanji) which originated from Chinese having the same meaning.

When good muslims go bad.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370641)

Our precious slashdot trolls scream out for vengeance:

1. Kill all Camel Jockeys.
2. Kill all Mohammedans.
3. Kill all Dune Coons.
4. Kill all Rag Heads.
5. Kill all Towelheads.
6. Kill all Arabs.
7. Kill all Camel Rooters.
8. Kill all Osama Bin Laden supporters.

Nuke their countries to hell.
Nuke them again.
Death to Islam.

I piss on Mecca. I wipe my ass with the Koran*. I spit upon Mohammed.

* Qu'ran for R-66Y and filthy muslim scum.

Letter to (4, Insightful)

sourcehunter (233036) | about 13 years ago | (#2370644)

I think that the W3C incorporating a "non-discriminatory" license to patents does just the opposite -

Lets take a look at open source, shall we?

According to a Netcraft survey ( taken in July 2001, 60% of the internet's web servers STILL RUN APACHE. The reasons for this? It is fast, cheap, and secure. The reason it is all three of these is it is OPEN SOURCE. If the W3C began considering patented technology for standards, and incorporated those standards into core web systems (example: secure, uncopyable web page) then, if that technology uses some server-side component, Apache, the LONG TIME leader in web servers, would be LEFT OUT IN THE COLD and hence, discriminated against.

Granted, that may the whole point for this move - the authors are from some of the largest IT companies in the US - Microsoft (well, their IP law firm), Apple Computer, and HP. That's fine. It is also counter to the goals of the W3C.

(quoting from
"W3C's long term goals for the Web are:

1) Universal Access: To make the Web accessible to all by promoting technologies that take into account the vast differences in culture, education, ability, material resources, and physical limitations of users on all continents;

2) Semantic Web : To develop a software environment that permits each user to make the best use of the resources available on the Web;

3) Web of Trust : To guide the Web's development with careful consideration for the novel legal, commercial, and social issues raised by this technology."

So unless the W3C wants to become a hypocrisy and a joke, either this proposal has to go, or the original goals have to go. I'd hate to see the goals change. W3C has provided an amazing service to the web community, and if its goals change, I'm afraid that service would cease to exist.

Don't get me wrong - I am a small business owner and as a small business owner I understand the value of intellectual property as much as if not more than a large company. If my business model is based on my IP, then with it I make money, without it, I fall into the (if I'm not mistaken) 95% of companies that close their doors within the first five years of existence. HOWEVER, I don't think that STANDARDS should be based on patented technologies unless the patent owner freely licenses it to anyone who uses the standard.

Re:Letter to (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370705)

Stop misrepresenting the netcraft numbers, retard. 60% of web domains run Apache. Domains!=Servers. Due to Apache's relative popularity among ISPs, and other servers relative poplarity among corporations, their actual server marketshare is considerably lower.


sourcehunter (233036) | about 13 years ago | (#2370718)

It has been brought to my attention by an AC that I misrepresented the Netcraft survey.

Sixtey percent of HOSTNAMES that provide an http service that they polled used Apache, not necessarily 60% of the physical number of SERVERS.

This does not change my argument in the slightest.


Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370762)

Same AC -- it's my pet peeve, nothing personal.

ha ha (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370649)

<philb:#slashdot> the idea of boycotting an organisation that thousands of web developers ignore every day is quite funny

my note (2)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | about 13 years ago | (#2370650)

Just fired this off, feel feel to copy:

Dear Patent Policy Working Group:

As a software developer who works with W3C standards on a daily basis, I urge you not to loosen the W3C policies regarding consideration of patented technologies. Open standards must remain just that - open to _all_, regardless of ability to pay.

The "reasonable and non-discriminatory" concept is a red herring. As we strive to extend the benefits of digital communication to the entire world, it should be clear that in a world where patent laws and financial resources vary widely, the only "reasonable and non-discriminatory" fee structure is zero.

Thank you for your consideration.

Tom Swiss

My message to www-patentpolicy-comment (5, Interesting)

bero-rh (98815) | about 13 years ago | (#2370651)

Feel free to reuse the parts you like... It's intentionally mostly free of Microsoft- or patent-bashing (you know who will make the final decision...)
Unfortunately I didn't see Alan's reply before writing up mine, he surely has some points I should have included.

I believe the adaption of possibly non-royalty-free standards by W3C would
be a fatal mistake. Please take the time to consider the implications:

  • Non-profit organizations or individuals, such as open source developers, can no longer implement the w3c standards, effectively making browsing the web from open source operating systems impossible.

    Right now, projects like Konqueror, Mozilla, Lynx, Links and even your own Amaya are doing a pretty good job - but they can't continue if they have to pay to implement the next set of standards.
  • Non-profit projects aside, it will also be much harder for a new company to get started because the barrier of entry will be much higher.
  • The Internet got where it is solely because it is based totally on open standards.

    If you have been on the net long enough, you will have noticed that all attempts to create a similar infrastructure based on closed "standards" have ultimately failed (e.g. Europe Online) or turned to open standards, basically becoming an ISP and an internet portal (AOL,
    Compuserve, MSN)
  • Consider what happened with the unisys patent and compressed gif graphics. When unisys started wanting royalties for gif pictures, pretty much everything on the net had to be converted, even though gif was never officially endorsed by w3c.

    The problem becomes much bigger once someone starts charging royalties for something that is even a w3c standard (imagine some company finding
    a reason for charging royalties on the a href= html tag).
  • There are already open formats for almost every purpose out there. If, for example, you can't get a guarantee that the SVG format will never require royalties, create/use an alternate standard. For an alternative to SVG, starting from Kontour ('s XML based vector graphics format comes to mind.

I can understand the reasoning behind allowing RAND; yet I think it will cause far more trouble than it's worth.
Please reconsider.

Does this suprise anyone? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370655)

Corporations "stole" our television airwaves that the government gave to the people and they will "steal" the internet and turn it into a pre-packaged homogonized entertainment device. Remember cant let the people get smarted we might actually figure out what Monsanto and Disney are doing to us and many others in the world, wouldnt want that now would we.

Suck my cock (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370663)

The biggest cock in recorded history is right above my balls, and you're talking about patents in web standards? My *god*, people, SUCK MY COCK!

Abuse of monopoly power (0, Flamebait)

LazyDawg (519783) | about 13 years ago | (#2370682)


Isn't this exact situation the reason capitalist systems are not allowed to have monopolies in charge of an entire industry? While the w3c is technically an oligopoly, they have big swinging dick power over the ENTIRE internet, and it was only a matter of time before they started to make moves like this.

What better way to make money than to become the people responsible for ALL standards on the Internet, and then use that power to rake people in to scarey licensing deals?

Such restrictions are the kind of power tripping that EVERY monopoly so far has exercised, including AOL/TW as the content gestappo, M$ as the licensing and OEM nazis, CNN with its consent factory, etc.

North America is starting to look as communist as Russia. Vive la revolution!

Re:Abuse of monopoly power (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370761)

It's a consortium, you stupid fuck. What are you, 5 years old? Go read a book or something, just get a fucking education already. Please.

CmdrTaco's future (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370692)

This is CmdrTaco now:

* g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x *
g g
o / \ \ / \ o
a| | \ | | a
t| `. | | : t
s` | | \| | s
e \ | / / \\\ -- \\ : e
x \ \/ --~~ ~--| \ | x
* \ \-~ ~-\ | *
g \ \ .--------.__\| | g
o \ \_// ((> \ | o
a \ . C ) _ ((> | / a
t /\ | C )/ \ (> |/ t
s / /\| C) | (> / \ s
e | ( C__)\__/ // / / \ e
x | \ | \\__// (/ | x
* | \ \) `---- --' | *
g | \ \ / / | g
o | / | | \ | o
a | | / \ \ | a
t | / / | | \ |t
s | / / \/\/ | |s
e | / / | | | |e
x | | | | | |x
* g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x *

This is CmdrTaco after VA Linux goes bankrupt:

* g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x *
g g
o / \ \ / \ o
a| | \ | | a
t| `. ..-----.. | : t
s` | |""--.--""| \| | s
e \ | / | | \\ ________
x \ \/ --~~| McDonalds | / \
* \ \-~ "-. .-" | Would you like |
g \ \ ."--.--"-._ | fries with that? |
o \ \___// _ ((_ \ _______/
a \ . C _) ___ ((_ /.'
t /\ | C __)/ \ (_ /' |/ t
s / /\| C__) | (_> / \ s
e | ( C__)\___/ // / / \ e
x | \ |_ \\____// (_/ | x
* | \ \__) `---- --' | *
g | \ _\ / / | g
o | / | | \ | o
a | | / \ \ | a
t | / / | | \ |t
s | / / \_/\_/ | |s
e | / / | | | |e
x | | | | | |x
* g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x *

If it ain't broke don't fix it. (3, Informative)

ClarkEvans (102211) | about 13 years ago | (#2370693)

The progress the W3C has made in the past *without* giving in to royalty-burdened patents has been absolutely fantastic.

It is not like there is a lack of innovation here.
Why fix something that's not broken? Money should not be the focus of the W3C... bringing the market to maturity and ensuring competition (and thus innovation) should be its goal.

Patents are wisely justified under the U.S. Constitution to "Promote the Sciences and Useful Arts" and are not justified under any sort of natural-rights or right to compensation logic. One must ask if the patent process is indeed satisfying its goal. If not, then institutions such as the W3C should not be rushing to support the implementation of restrictive mechanisms that are not needed.

W3C rather pathetic anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370695)

Personally I have seen quite some rubbish comming out of the W3C of late. Mostly unimplementable junk. The IETF still seems a lot saner, though for how long nobody knows. Sigh. Maybe somebody uncorruptible (FSF ? EFF ?) should go and set up technical forum to steward the free sector of the net, and the rest can rot like compuserve.

W3C becoming irrelevant (1, Flamebait)

Yarn (75) | about 13 years ago | (#2370719)

Do any major sites follow the HTML spec properly anyway?

There are a number of reasons:
* What is out there works.
* W3C specs even surpass the most obscure RFCs in their obtrusity.
* W3C specs are usually playing catch-up with existing technologies.

In the end, if I cannot view a page, I won't. This happens with flash quite frequently, I refuse to install the damn thing.

Re:W3C becoming irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370799)

Perhaps, then, it is time for something new.

The web has been quite stagnant for a long time now. What we need to ask ourselves is, "Is there a better way to publish and share information?"

The server-based ideology is quite flawed--remember September 11th and you'll know what I mean. Servers get overloaded. There ARE alternatives to this, even though no one uses them--ip multicasting.

I do challenge everyone to think...what can be invented to replace the web?

Two years from now I'd like to hear... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370726)

RMS screaming around "It's GNU/HTML, not HTML!!"

Seriously, somebody should start to consider a free replacement for all closed, or not yet closed, standards.
Over 60% of the web servers in the world running Apache should help in this specific issue.

Think about it: the market is saturated, and they will patent everything to squeeze as much money as they can from the users.
Soon or later we'll need people that will find what could be the next patent, and start a free and open clone project.

Trial by Jury of Peers? (2)

ClarkEvans (102211) | about 13 years ago | (#2370735)

I'm ignorant here... but could someone explain what happens when a patent is contested? Can one ask for a trial by Jury of Peers? I can imagine how a patent would fool most laywers or lay people... but a jury pool of practicing programmers; this may be a different story, no? Also, I was wondering what happens when you win? Can you get damages? Against who?

Don't post here - send them an email instead! (4, Interesting)

dlaur (135032) | about 13 years ago | (#2370745)

Don't post here - send them an email instead! (Or do both!) I put in my 2 cents (since I don't know what else to do...)

There were only 7 comments archived in August and merely 9 in the month of September... until yesterday! Way to go guys! (I have to assume that Slashdotters helped pummel them with comments.)

You can see everyone's comments here: li cy-comment

Last time I looked there were 250+ comments! Fortunately, most of them were opposed to incorporating patented technology into W3C recommendations.

RANDsom?!?! (1) (321932) | about 13 years ago | (#2370746)

Just a thought

Exterminate All Islam. Destroy All Muslims. Kill. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370754)

Our dead cry out in tortured horror:
  1. Kill all Muslims.
  2. Kill all Mohammedans.
  3. Kill all Arabs.
  4. Kill all Towel Heads.
  5. Kill all Camel Jockeys.
  6. Kill all Sand Niggers.
  7. Kill all Dune Coons.
  8. Kill all Islam.
  9. Nuke their countries to hell.
  10. Nuke them again.
  11. Death to Islam.

I piss on Mecca. I menstruate on the Koran. I shit on Mohammed.

Backwards (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370784)

It's amazing. We started with the WWW and went totally backwards.

You know, a lot of the Web's problems were already solved by Xanadu. Sure, Nelson's group didn't finish it...but someone else could have picked it up. The system was described in Literary Machines, after all.

Once again I submit, we need Xanadu -now-. Most of you won't like it, especially the built in copyright and micropayment stuff...but it still makes sense. The WWW was just a bad approximation of Xanadu, and the W3C has spent the past 10 years creating hacks to keep the leaky ship afloat.

Destroy Islam. Kill All Muslims. Nuke Muslimland (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370794)

Our beloved dead cry out for justice:
  • Kill all Muslims.
  • Kill all Mohammedans.
  • Kill all Arabs.
  • Kill all Towel Heads.
  • Kill ll Camel Jockeys.
  • Kill all Sand Niggers.
  • Kill all Dune Coons.
  • Kill all Islam.
  • Nuke their countries to hell.
  • Nuke them again.
  • Death to Islam.

I menstruate on Mecca. I wipe my ass with the Koran. I piss on Mohammed.

And Cox has done *what* for web development? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370798)

Your Microsoft envy shows through yet again. Fuck off, fatass.

It must be really getting to Alan (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2370805)

Linus gets all the publicity and the god status, but he is not the only one who can handle Linux.
Others developers lived too long in his shadow and now crave fame and publicity.
Excpect more public appearances from Alan.

My email to the W3C... (1)

jregel (39009) | about 13 years ago | (#2370808)

I'm going to pass the opportunity to moderate this discussion because I think it's important that people do more than just post messages on Slashdot. This is a BIG issue people! This could have a major negative effect on the web. Don't just sit at your desk and curse the W3C: Do something about it - write to them and politely explain why it's such a bad idea. Remember that swearing, insulting and using g33k language won't help.

This is what I sent them (in case anyone cares):

The Internet was built on open standards - that is one of the main reasons why it has been successful and proprietry networks have all but disappeared.

The patent proposals being put forward are an anathema to the whole idea behind the web. We have already seen the damage done by software patents and de facto standards: GIF and MP3 are examples of this. Small developers are unable to innovate because of excessive license fees.

I have always had respect for the W3C but this move concerns me greatly. The W3C has pushed for "standards compliance" in web browsers. How will small developers be able to comply with these standards if license fees become a stumbling block? How would Tim Berners-Lee been able to develop the web if something fundamental such as TCP/IP had been patented?

The proposals are fine if you want to see web standards turned into a corporate playground, but for those of us who understood the web to be a method of exchanging rich content in a free environment, it is a sad day.

I would urge the W3C to abandon this course of action and stand up for the smaller developers in the world - people who, like Tim Berners-Lee, could be responsible for the "next big thing".


Julian Regel

I've sent my comment. Have you? (2)

jerdenn (86993) | about 13 years ago | (#2370813)

My Comment [] to the www-patentpolicy-comment list [mailto]

We can sit here and talk about it all day, or we can do something...


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