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W3C's RAND Point Man Responds

Roblimo posted more than 12 years ago | from the money-vs.-freedom-yet-again dept.

The Internet 111

Daniel Weitzner is Chairperson of the World Wide Web Consortium's Patent Policy Working Group,the body that is deciding if it's okay to charge "Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory" (RAND) license fees for use of W3C-endorsed standards that are covered by patents or other trade restrictions. We sent him the questions you asked back on October 8. Here, at long last, are his answers.

Why should standards be for sale?
by Fleet Admiral Ackbar

My question is - There have traditionally been two types of standards. The first type is an agreed standard, such as the RFCs. The 'market' has no say, but there is a presumed compensation in the availability and usability of said standard. The second type is a 'de facto', or 'market' standard. This standard is decided by people voting with their checkbooks.

So, "we" get what "we" want, but we have no guarantees of availability, usability, or definability.

Doesn't the idea of charging to use the standards combine the worst features of both? Doesn't doing so severely compromise the respectability of the process?

Weitzner:
Internet and Web standards (some might say specifications, but I won't quibble) have tended to be a mixed product of market-driven and agreement-driven selection. In both W3C and the IETF, specifications only advance when they show indications of being widely-deployed (there are exceptions) and generally agreed-to. Adding a fee for implementers would certainly have some impact on this process, but I'm not sure it's the one you point to.

You suggest that the potential to earn license fees on a particular standard would drive its adoption. It seems equally possible that standards for which one has to pay a fee would see low levels of deployment, which could prevent a spec from receving full standard status. The IETF, which has some experience with standards that have license fees associated with them, won't advance a spec too far on the standards track unless it's clear that license fees are reasonable 'enough' to allow broad implementation. After, a number of commenters on Slashdot and www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org have suggested that there would be no open source implementation of RAND standards at all. That would certainly have an impact on the level of deployment.

The Patent Policy WG draft proposed included two possible licensing modes:

(1) Royalty-Free: specs produced in this mode would have as a requirement that they be implementable royalty-free. If information about patents came to light that indicated the spec could not, in fact, be implemented RF, then the WG responsible would either have to take some action (design around, secure RF licenses, etc.) to make it RF, or switch status to a RAND group.

(2) RAND: RAND specs would have to be implementable on a RAND (which could include a zero royalty) basis.

The Patent Policy WG (PPWG) included RAND as an one of the two options for several reasons:

(a) There is evidence that in other technology arenas RAND standards work perfectly well. For example, CD players, TVs, phones, all come with significant patent royalty obligations for their producers, but these devices are nevertheless widely available at seemingly affordable prices.

(b) Disallowing technologies which may only be available for a fee (RAND terms) would deny the Web access to the best technology available.

(c) If W3C adopts an RF-only model, then many important Web technology standards may end up being developed at other standards bodies or industry consortia.

W3C is now in the process of assessing whether the RAND-RF balance we struck in the Last Call draft is the policy we should adopt. As chair of the PPWG, I can't predict the outcome, but can tell you that this issue is being seriously debated. When we put out another draft policy, the public will also have a chance to comment more (if that's possible :-) ) on this subject.

abuse of fees and rights?
by Alien54

How do you propose to police, if at all, the potential of abuse from the imposition of fees, so that the interests of all parties, especially simple users and developers are protected.

Examples of abuse that I would want to avoid include the Fiasco with the licensing fees for implementing .GIF files many years AFTER they became a standard, and the recent action by MS to enforce a two year upgrade cycle for use of their software in businesses, when many companies are much more comfortable with a three or four year upgrade cycle. (ZDNet has had several articles critical in the extreme of that action)

I would very much prefer the situation to be similar, say, to domain name registration, where many parties can provide that service.

Weitzner:
One approach to abusive or unfair licensing practices would be to rescind the Recommendation. It's clear that having a W3C Recommendation that would require patented technology increases the value of the patent to the patent holder substantially. So, if the patent holder is not willing to license its patent in some terms (RF or RAND depending on the policy we adopt) then we should consider rescinding the Recommendation as it cannot promote interoperability. W3C is discussing a mechanism to do this.

I don't understand the DNS analogy. Yes, there is competition being introduced into the domain name registration space, but patents are, by their nature a monopoly. Requring either RF or RAND licensing, which is what the proposed policy does, is a mechanism to require that particular patents held by particular entities are available on at least some 'reasonable' terms. (See the answer to question #5 and #10, too.)

standards vs patents
by jeffy124

It's always been my opinion that standards are something developed for the general free use of the public. Standards are often decided upon by organizations such as NIST, IEEE, academia, etc.

Patents on the other hand aren't standards in my opinion. Commercial companies have traditionally been the ones pushing for patents and when they obtain one, they charge users of it a license fee.

A lot of patents are very useful and deserve to be standards, but I feel they should have the fees removed before it can be called a 'standard.' The patent can still stand after something has been standardized, but I dont think people should be charged to use it.

What's your call on opinions like mine that are carried by many individuals here at slashdot?

Weitzner:
To me, the fundamental question is: what approach to patents and standards will best serve the goals of building, maintaining and expanding the Web as a universal information space? That Web standards have been implemented royalty-free until how. I believe it's clear that the Web would not have the reach or the accessibility it does if we had to rely on the more traditional, patent-driven standards to work, but it's ultimately hard to predict what would happen if the world were different.

Some have asked, 'if it ain't broke why fix it?' But the relationship between patents and Web standards is increasingly broken. At W3C we've had several specs with threats of license fee demands. And, there are an increasing number of patents surfacing where the licensing intentions are not clear. So we have to take steps to provide a licensing environment that meets our goals rather than just relying on a series of historical accidents and well-placed good will that has worked in the early days of the Web. This means that we can't do nothing, we can't refuse to acknowledge the existence of software patents. We have to find ways to make sure that where there are patents that essential to implement a given Recommendation, that they are known and available on terms that make widespread, diverse implementations possible.

A bit naive?
by sphealey

In it's Response to Public Comments [on RAND], W3C states W3C takes no position on the public policy questions surrounding software patents. Isn't that statement at best naive? The Internet and Web were originally designed with the idea of free and open communication. Today, there are powerful forces that would like to see open communication closed down and the Web turned over entirely to commercial pursuits. If a RAND policy is adopted for Web standards, won't the next move by those commercial entites be to create as many propriatry standards as possible and force them on the entire Web community (using hammers such as DMCA), like it or not?

Weitzner:
Here are the considerations that went into the scope of the W3C Patent Policy and why we don't take up the software patent policy debate:

First, we are a technical standards organization, not lobbyists or, for the most part, lawyers. We think that we are pretty good at developing standards, but don't view it as our mission to lobby to have laws changed. Therefore, we need a patent policy that deals with the present-day reality of software patents, which exist in a variety of forms in a variety of countries (not just the US) around the world.

Second, we are an international organization, so even if we succeeded at changing US patent law, or the law in another country, as long as any country has software patents we have to deal with them.

Your question seems to suggest that we are being 'naively' dragged along in a larger campaign to make the Web into a more closed, proprietary environment. I think that you are right to point out that the Net is subject to a greater range of regulation than it was five or ten years ago, but you're mistaken to suggest that the patent policy we proposed is in support of that trend. To the contrary, as I've said in question (3), even the policy as proposed in August would go a long way to make it more certain that core infrastructure standards can be implemented on a royalty-free basis. I agree that any Web standards that are legally required for all Web software (or even just key tools such as servers or browsers) should be implementable on an RF basis.

[See my answer to #12, too.]

Who will define 'reasonable'?
by drew_kime

What's reasonable for me, or for any other small, independant developer, is probably not what's reasonable for, say, Adobe, Microsoft or Macromedia. So will they be allowed to pay "unreasonabley" low liscensing fees, or will I be asked to pay "unreasonably" high fees? It seems that "reasonable" is in the eye of the beholder.

Weitzner:
Reasonable is measured in light of prevailing license rates paid in the market. Question number 10 does a nice job of illustrating how this might work.

Why follow other standards bodies? by sphealey
In its Response to Public Comments, W3C made the following statment:

4. Is RAND licensing common for bodies like W3C? Yes. A RAND license is common among standards organizations.
One of the strongest criticisms of organizations such as ISO and ITU is that they charge exhorbitant fees to even read, much less implement, their standards. Some government entities have even gone so far as to incorporate proprietary standards into laws, such that individuals have to right to read the laws that they can be jailed for violating (e.g. Veeck vs. City of Austin).

The Web and Internet have always been unique in having their standards freely available for review and implementation. Is it a good thing for W3C to seek to emulate the "closed source" standards bodies?

Weitzner:
You're not exactly correct about all Internet standards (See my point about the role of RAND licensing in the IETF in #12) but I do think it's important to preserve the openness of W3C and IETF. Even the proposed policy, which would allow RF or RAND standards to be developed at W3C, is far more supportive of the RF tradition than ANY other standards body. The proposed policy provides a way for W3C to decide to do an standard on an RF basis and to hold ourselves to that goal, forcing the spec off the Recommendation track if non-RF patents are discovered and there is no way to avoid paying a fee.

Fork in Standards?
by ProfDumb

If the RAND patent proposal is adopted by the W3C, there has been much discussion in the open source/free software community about forking the standards process, to preserve patent-free web standards. This fork would create a new standards body as a competitor to the W3C.

1.Do you think such a fork is likely if the proposal passes?
2.If a fork does happen, what are the consequences for the web?
3.Should the W3C take the likelihood of a fork into account when considering this proposal?

Weitzner:
Serially:

1. If the proposed policy passes we would do some standards as Royalty-Free standards and some as RAND. I can certain imagine the free software folk would seek to develop alternate standards in those areas where we had RAND standards.

2. A complete fork, that is a competing set of standards for all W3C Recommendations whether RAND or RF, would be very destructive. I'm also not sure that it would be successful in the RF case, because there wouldn't be a practical reason to do it, for most open source projects, except on a boycott basis.

3. Under the proposed policy, I would say that we would have to take the possibility of a fork on particular Recommendation into account before we decided to go RAND.

Finally, you can have as many standards organizations as you like and there will still be patents out there. Forking Web standards development doesn't answer the question of what to do, given that patents are out there. W3C has been burned by this. The only responsible course we feel we can take is to create clarity through an explicit policy.

Can you define "non-discriminatory"?
by BeBoxer

Can you please define exactly what it means for licensing terms to be "non-discriminatory", since the definition has a huge bearing on open source software?

For example which, if any, of the following examples would be non-descriminatory?

A) Fixed per-unit licensing costs. Let's say, for example, $1.00 per unit shipped. While this would be non-descriminatory in some senses, it would also prohibit free software and hence be descriminatory in other ways.

B) Licensing fees only for non-free software. While this method would not descriminate against open source, it could be seen as "descriminating" against closed-source software since they would be the only ones paying licensing fees.

C) Percent-of-price fees. For example, 5% of the price of shipped units. This would seem to be fair since the same licensing terms would apply to everyone, but in practice it would be similar to B) and hence seen as descriminatory.

D) Free for everyone to use. This would seem to be the only license which cannot be viewed as descriminating against someone. On the other hand, I'm fairly certain that this is not what is intended when the W3C uses the term "RAND".

Any insight into this would be greatly appreciated, I'm sure

Weitzner:
The general understanding of non-discrimination in US law is that 'similarly situated parties are treated similarly.' Consider an example from a different legal realm, shipping. Most common carriers (like railroads and truckers) were historically required to charge non-discriminatory shipping rates. So, if you charge Customer A $1000 to ship 2 tons of freight 500 miles, then you must charge Customer B who comes along $1000, too.

If Customer B's load is actually harder to ship for some reason (it takes up more space in your truck, or requires special handling) then you can charge B more without being accused of discriminating. But if you charge B more than A simply because you like A better, or because B might be competing against you in some other business, then that's discriminatory.

The Patent Policy Working Group has on its agenda to consider the precise interaction between both the RF and RAND license models in the draft Patent Policy on the various flavors of Open Source licenses. So, I don't have an answer to that question yet, but it will be answered by the time we propose another draft policy. (I'll take your examples to the PPWG, too.)

RAND
by someone247356

The W3C must realize that ANY fee no, matter how reasonable they may seem, would have the effect of not allowing free and open source developers to participate.

I am sure that you are aware of the fact that the internet as we all know and love/hate it was developed by free and open source software.

Certain commercial developers, have been trying to convert the internet from, "...the greatest democratizing medium..." (ACLU vs. Reno) into yet another commercial morass where they can reap the maximum profit from the unsuspecting populous.

Given that, why would the W3C even concieve of a proposition that favors corporate purse strings over the greater good of the common man, and the internet itself?

We have seen governments try to regulate what we can say (CDA, CDA II, COPA), corporations what we can do (DMCA, SSSCA, DRM) and even ICANN with the warped sense of justice embodied in its UDRP. Does the common internet user now have to be leery of standards bodies like the W3C, which appears to favor corporate interests?

Weitzner:
You're inviting an answer here of the form 'trust us'. That's really not for me to say, though, it's for the community at-large to decide through individual actions. Will independent developers continue to implement our standards, comment on our draft specs, etc?

These questions are going to be answered over time, based on the way our final patent policy looks and how it actually works. I do hope that the independent developer community has reason to continue to work with us, if not trust us. I hope that in the wake of the 2500+ comments we've received that people have recognized that we have responded in a way that seeks more input (by extending the comment period), involved recognized open source leaders (Bruce Perens and Eben Moglen were added to the group charged with developing the policy, and more may be added, too).

Most important, the W3C Process requires that we put out regular public drafts for review and that there will be another Last Call draft before we finalize a policy.

Your reference to Reno v. ACLU does touch a nerve for me, though. I was one of the lawyers who organized the First Amendment challenge to the CDA, resulting in the US Supreme Court overturning the law and enshrining wonderful quotes such as the one about democracy that you cited, into US law.

I'm reminded of 1991 when the US Congress allowed the Internet (at the time the NSFNet) to be opened to commercial traffic. Many advocates of the status quo (research, education, and mostly-benign Usenet chatter) predicted terrible results from allowing commercial content and commercial providers on to the Net. They, those academics and government folk who had the run of the Net in the 80s, felt that the Net should remain a public, non-commercial resource, run by the (US) government.

The switch to commercial use did happen and it's clear that we are all the better for it. Without that, most of us would not be online and there would be no Web, no Freenet, no Napster, and only closed, proprietary email systems like the old Prodigy. The point of this historical digression is NOT that we should accept RAND standards as part of the inevitable commercialization of the Web. Rather, we should recognize that the Net that we know and love will change and can survive change if we handle it wisely.

Define "reasonable."
by overshoot

I chair a JEDEC committee. JEDEC's legal office reserves the right to define "reasonable" in our RAND clause.

Since all of our standards apply to hardware with well-understood costs of manufacture, the royalty structure most often adopted is "fixed percent of OEM price." This is a necessity in a market where semiconductor prices drop with Moore's Law, and a trivial royalty one day dominates the price the next.

In software terms, the same terms would be "fixed percent of sale price." The astute reader will observe that this allows continued distribution of free (gratis) software w/o royalty encumberance, even if it causes RMS to break out in a rash.

The alternatives, as we've already seen, can be as extreme as one-time charges in the millions of dollars. For Microsoft, able to amortize a flat-fee across hundreds of millions of units, the royalty would indeed be "reasonable." For Joe Startup, it would be prohibitive.

So, my question: what prospects do we have that RAND will be clarified, preferably with guidelines such as "percent of ASP," but at least with exclusion of abominations such as flat-fee?

Weitzner:
So far we've decided that we do not have a good mechanism within W3C for assessing or defining reasonableness. Generally that's done in private negotiations or sorted out by a court. We've come to that conclusion because there do not seem to be well-established models for Web software royalties, as there are in your hardware examples. If we adopt a policy that includes a RAND component, and if we discover that the lack of definition is a problem, I am sure that we would reconsider.

What about patents that only exist in the US
by mocm

If the w3c want to use patented technology in standards, what are they going to do about patents that only exist in the promiscuous US patent system and would never be granted in other countries. Or even the other way around. Won't that turn the world wide web into a us only web or at least split it into lots of separate entities?

Weitzner:
The problem you bring up will be one for the patent holder (not W3C, which does not hold, nor plans to hold any patents). Patents can generally only be enforced over implementations sold or distributed in the country where the patent is issued. So, if a company has a US patent that is essential to a W3C Recommendation, then it could only seek royalties for products/services distributed in the US.

International and Third World ramifications
by dpilot

Many parts of the Third World are attempting to join the information age. Typically they are strapped for resources, and so far the ability to get on the internet with minimum barriers to entry has been key for them. The availability of free software has been essential. Not just free for use, but free for them to enter the development process, both to meet local needs and to build their technical base.

Doesn't patent encumbrance of W3C standards constitute another barrier to entry for poorer nations?

Even if we are willing to give them all copies of some proprietary web browser, aren't we still standing in the way of their developing their own technical expertise, because they won't have access to and use of the source code.

Doesn't it come across just a little like (Pardon the inflammatory language, but it exaggerates the argument appropriately.) fat Western capitalist pigs trying to keep the Third World down?

Weitzner:
W3C has worked very hard to be sure that our Recommendations meet internationalization requirements to that the World Wide Web lives up to its name. And, we put a lot of energy into reaching out to countries whose technology sectors are in early stages of development. So while I don't necessarily accept that nefarious intentions in the flaming part of your question, I do think that we have to pay special attention to the result that you predict.

We need open standards
by ansible

People from the W3C have "acknowledged" that the Internet's growth has been due to open standards.

This isn't not even half the story. The Internet would not exist without open standards promoted by bodies like the IETF and W3C (until now).

In the 1980's and early 1990's there were a number of network protocols in use: DECNet, VINES, NETBIOS/NETBEUI (shudder), IPX/SPX, SNA, and more. None of them initially would have been as scalable as TCP/IP. However, if any of them had been truly open, it might have been possible to fix them.

But none of those other protocols were open... and where are they now? Nowhere.

It's the same situation for hypertext protocols. People and companies have proposed substantial improvments onto existing protocols. A notable example of this is Hyper-G, which was then commercialized by Hyperwave.com. It fixes a lot of problems with navigation, and stuff like broken links. However, there was never a free and open implementation, and so it has languished in obscurity for the last 5 years.

My question to the W3C is this: Do they have any evidence that proprietary protocols will foster continued growth of the Internet and the applications that run on top of it?

Weitzner:
Here are two answers:

[snide] What evidence? The IETF, since at least October 1996 when RFC 2026 went into effect, explicitly allowed standards track specs to have RAND encumbrances. The question really is: has the IETF has been irrelevant, useless, and closed since 1996? I don't think that it has, but you may have another view. [/snide]

[more_serious] There's no question that core protocols and document formats have a far greater chance of being widely deployed and well-designed if they can be widely implemented, without payment of royalties. The question is whether that means that every spec W3C does has to be RF? [/more_serious]

Make up of the RAND committee?
by fperez

I would like to ask why this committee is so heavily biased towards the legal side in its makeup. Of course there should be lawyers there, since it deals with legal issues. But these issues have a tremendous impact on technology --in particular on its free exchange. Yet the members come from the IP departments of huge corporations, with little visible representation of technical people from the free software world.

The W3C is setting up a standard which will potentially harm many free software projects, yet is not giving that side any true voice in the drafting committee. I find it hard to believe that this was not a deliberate decision driven by corporate interests.

This attitude is sad, short sighted, and at the very least ungrateful. It avoids acknowledging the extent to which the free software world has contributed to the very existence and success of the internet as we know it.

Weitzner:
In early October we announced that we have invited Bruce Perens (OSI co-founder) and Eben Moglen (FSF General Counsel) to join the Patent Policy Working Group as 'invited experts' with full participation privileges. They've already begun working with the group and I'm really pleased with what they've been able to add so far.

We should have done this earlier. We will, in the process going forward be sure to learn from this lesson and the process going forward will be more open. What's important though is that the final policy will certainly reflect their participation.

Documents for reference:

  • W3C Patent Policy Framework Working Draft - 16 August 2001
    http://www.w3.org/TR/2001/WD-patent-policy-20010816/
  • Backgrounder for W3C Patent Policy Framework - 20 August 2001
    http://www.w3.org/2001/08/patentnews
  • Response to Public Comments on the W3C PPF WD
    http://www.w3.org/2001/10/patent-response
  • Patent Policy Working Group Face-to-Face Meeting Summary
    http://www.w3.org/2001/10/ppwg-cupertino-ftf-summary.html

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firsting post for sfi (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2512682)

and all my homiez back in tsk.

Troll (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2512693)

Post

who cares (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2512710)

and rand sucks anyway she is horrible

Heh. (-1, Troll)

neroz (449747) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512756)

I just have to say, what a pile of shit.
Thank you.

GFY (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2512757)

And he said gently, with much arm waving:

GO FUCK YOURSELF!

its sad (-1, Flamebait)

Count (107594) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512774)

That all of his answeres are 3 times shorted than the questions ... just seems like a lack of effort on his part but whatever...

Is this another Quicktime? (5, Insightful)

forgoil (104808) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512778)

Say what you want, but this is not really about w3s standards, but about limiting the choice in software. I didn't care when Microsoft made a better and integrated browser, but it made me uneasy when they stopped non IE browsers from MSN. The same with AOL/Time Warners actions.

What the industry needs is free standards, so that one companies software/media can work with another companies software/media. And if you want to, you can see the different makers of the different forms of free software as companies as well. So what if I can't copy windows legally nor read their source code as long as I could switch to another companies software and still use my media / plug-ins / etc.

What the free software would need to do (and I don't see you guys doing it;)) is to make more standards. For example for plug-ins for web browsers. Mozilla/Konqi would only profit from this in the long run.

The wider these standards would spread, the harder it would be for closed formats to penetrate the market. So I hope that we can see many more open formats in the future, for graphics, 3d models, sound, video, documents, whatever you might think of. For everything that there is a closed format, there should be a better and open format! See it as a challange.

But all of this is completely useless unless someone is using these standards. Here is where you come in, the reader of my little rambling. Do you use formats that others own, or free ones? Mp3s instead of ogg? GIF instead of PNG? Search yourself...

Re:Is this another Quicktime? (slightly OT) (2, Interesting)

i_am_nitrogen (524475) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512924)

Perhaps it is about time to make Vorbis/OGG a video format as well? You propose a very good idea. Why not (for example) make a non-patent-encumbered version of SVG? Why not design our own formats, and give away the standards in a true Open Source fasion? Many of us have spent our time whining about the unfairness of the big business world, and yet doing little to help the cause of free software other than driving away potential users by calling them morons, idiots, and Microslaves. Perhaps it is time to make the switch from passive to active. Let's have less trolling, bashing, and complaining, and more people doing something useful about it. Let us now begin a new revolution in software, where the tables are turned away from the old system in which free software products are tossed about at the whim of large corporations, desparately holding on to every line of code. Let us, for once, make the standards that they have to use (carefully of course, so as to avoid "embrace and extend").

Oh, and to be fair, I use OGG to do all my encoding, but most of my collection is in MP3's since much of my music was encoded by others. I also use PNG for all my graphics interchange.

BTW: Mod parent insightful

Maybe parent's topic should be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2513210)

...The New Revolution...
on-topic

Re:Is this another Quicktime? (slightly OT) (2)

forgoil (104808) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513259)

Of course all of this would be great for open source / free software, but it would also be great for the whole software industry. I enjoy both free and non free software, and I don't see why everything has to be black and white. Let who ever has the best business idea be the most successful, compete by having the best software, not the most extreme fundamentalist views.

Because what open formats would do is to put the playing field slightly more level. And to loose w3 from the open standards would be a serious blow if you ask me (even though I think HTML is going in the wrong direction).

Another question is if many different formats are a good thing or not. That one, you have to philosophise (is that even a word?) about yourself;)

hmmmm... (2)

johnjones (14274) | more than 12 years ago | (#2514351)

ok lets get this straight patents are different than copyright !

when you say that "most of my collection is in MP3's since much of my music was encoded by others"
does this mean that you have fair use ? have you bought the music and now just have a copy of that music that you bought made by another in MP3 format or have you got a stash of napster/gnutella/friends shares & downloads because if you have not paid then you are breaking the law
(hey in my country it's the law I don't know about yours don't mod me done because of it)

while a lot of so called patents we talk about here are ONLY recognised by U.S. patent office, its really quite silly.
say I produce a product that creates wizzynewformat and that is protected by a U.S. patent I can then sell my product in my country and they have no claim on me in fact they can go jump !

now web standards are global, say in china a company adopt a standard that in the U.S. others have to pay for they can sell it cheaper than other U.S. firms and simply all the content is created in china because its cheaper

how you enforce this so call patents is the problem because well a lot of people don't accept them at all

don't be muddled headed wombats

regards

john jones

Re:Is this another Quicktime? (slightly OT) (2)

Dwonis (52652) | more than 12 years ago | (#2515337)

Perhaps it is about time to make Vorbis/OGG a video format as well?

Join the already-under-way development of Ogg Tarkin [xiph.org] (scroll down).

Re:Is this another Quicktime? (slightly OT) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2515738)

Why not design our own formats, and give away the standards in a true Open Source [fashion]?

Because it would be silly to put all that work into making a standard only to watch it be embraced & extended by some organization with proprietary interests. Too many posters are not seeing the difference between open source and free software—when it comes to making standards for everyone to implement we need standards that can't be taken away.

Re:Is this another Quicktime? (1)

astar (203020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513411)

I think it might be a good idea to limit choice in software in the following way: Instead of RAND, have a standards section of prohibited tech which can not be used in a system that claims to be standard. Put the patent encumbered RAND stuff in this section. This aggressive choice tends to invalidate the value of the patent. This gives leverage for negotiating RF agreements. In the meantime, we can all enjoy the screams of rage from the patent holders. In any case, RAND stuff is available after sufficient time has passed. I am willing to slow down RAND stuff for that length of time.

Re:Is this another Quicktime? (0)

Vulture_ (106594) | more than 12 years ago | (#2515668)

Hmmm....

I use Ogg whenever I have the original PCM data for the file (eg, the original CD), but I don't convert MP3s to Ogg simply because converting between two lossy formats can be hazardous to the health of the material...

I use PNG whenever I have a need for a lossless raster image format. I only produce GIFs if absolutely necessary (and no, supporting archaic Web browsers does not qualify as 'absolutely necessary').

Next question, please. :)

Interesting (2, Interesting)

Ryvar (122400) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512779)

It feels like some of the questions here were slightly dodged, but overall the one thing that becomes readily apparent is that percentage-based licensing is a fair answer to the question of OSS. Bruce Perens onboard can only mean that things will be more favorable for OSS developers than if he were not.

The only thing that I immediately question is the assumption of completely open/free participation in the WWW thus far - the mainstream DNS system hasn't been anything like devoid of money (for full participation - either by domain fees or by paying your ISP for access to their name servers)in the past few years and seems none the worse for it. Many of the people around here (myself included) have their own domains that they pay for, and then host on OSS.

--Ryv

Re:Interesting (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513275)

You do realize that this would be VERY close to force software to be free.

This would destroy the ability of a hobby programmer to make a buck with a good program. (mirc springs to mind)

In the long run I believe it would destroy free software by making it unusuable for consulting companies (unless they do some heavy-duty legal maneuvering)

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2513621)

It feels like some of the questions here were slightly dodged

Slightly? Geez, you call "I don't have an answer for that, but someone will, real soon now." SLIGHTLY dodged?!?!?!

That's like saying that the people on the titanic experienced "dampness" when it sank.

Face it. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2512792)

This won't be stopped.

There is too much demand within the US government to manage, regulate, and police net users. The only good way to do this, and stay out of constitutional trouble, is to let a very small number, like 3, dependent companies monopolize it.

Large companies are easily manipulated by funding and "possible" legal situations. Having a huge number of ISP's allows for far too much independent choice.

ScaredCity et al Rejects PatentDead LieSense Fees (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2512808)

That's right there's NEVER a cover charge at ScaredCity?tm/p? [scaredcity.com]

Plus, you could acquire this new age web address [opensourceworks.com] . Includes a year's free Linus hosting, if you're shrewd enough to follow some simple directions, & are not aFraUD.

Bad example (5, Funny)

vaxer (91962) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512815)

The switch to commercial use [of NSFnet] did happen and it's clear that we are all the better for it.

Excuse me for a moment. I'll respond to this glorification of the September that Never Ended right after I delete another seven pieces of spam from my inbox and close a few airline-trust megapopup ads.

Re:Bad example (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2513125)

well excuse me mr. fancy pants, just who the FUCK do you think you are. let me guess , you and your ilk are the only ones that should be allowed to use the world wide communications medium because you're just so much better than everyone else. that's it isn't it?? i thought so, fuckign dick.

Re:Bad example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2513758)

wow - thanks for illustrating how correct the parent post is. I certaintly haven't forgotten how horrible that time was on the internet . . and it basically trashed a great communication center like usenet . . not enough veterans to teach the newbies how to play with the other children.

Re:Bad example (1)

Cyberfox (17743) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513532)

Greetings,
One sad part is that so few people understand what 'the September that Never Ended' even refers to.

Unfortunately, due to human nature, there's no way to make the medium popular, widely used, and free (speech, not beer) without attracting the kind of people who want to prey on it, and lower the quality of discussion. (Referring to both spam, and the kind of trollop exemplified by another responder to the 'Bad example' post.)

I do have to agree that despite the sheer volume of crap that I get in the email and on the web, making the medium more widely used is a greater good than the bad that followed.

All things change.

Cyberfox!

September that Never Ended (2)

extrasolar (28341) | more than 12 years ago | (#2514056)

From http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/jargon/html/entry/Septe mber-that-never-ended.html [tuxedo.org]

All time since September 1993. One of the seasonal rhythms of the Usenet used to be the annual September influx of clueless newbies who, lacking any sense of netiquette, made a general nuisance of themselves. This coincided with people starting college, getting their first internet accounts, and plunging in without bothering to learn what was acceptable. These relatively small drafts of newbies could be assimilated within a few months. But in September 1993, AOL users became able to post to Usenet, nearly overwhelming the old-timers' capacity to acculturate them; to those who nostalgically recall the period before hand, this triggered an inexorable decline in the quality of discussions on newsgroups. See also AOL!.

I don't care at all about karma...really.

damn! (2, Funny)

turbine216 (458014) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512824)

First, we are a technical standards organization, not lobbyists or, for the most part, lawyers

If this guy's not a lawyer, then somebody should give him an honorary membership in the bar association!! With the way he escapes the questions asked, he could get Charles Manson paroled!!!

Re:damn! (4, Informative)

_Stryker (15742) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512868)

Actually, he clearly says in another answer that he is a lawyer: "I was one of the lawyers who organized the First Amendment challenge to the CDA ..."

Re:damn! (2)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512877)

LOL! Wish I had some mod points.

There's no doubt he's answering his questions at least THROUGH a lawyer. A damn good one at that.

Re:damn! (1)

Alsee (515537) | more than 12 years ago | (#2514321)

we are a technical standards organization, not lobbyists or, for the most part, lawyers

We just work for them.

In the face of patents (2, Insightful)

Crayola (250908) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512831)

Daniel's responses were well considered and reasonable, especially in the face of some of the sharp-and-pointy questions.


The one thing that never quite seemed to get asked was the basic issue that seems (from my interpretation of Daniel's answers) to be driving the whole RAND thing: what are patents doing to the whole standards process, and should W3C just give up when a patent surfaces, or do they work something out under a framework that may involve payments?


I definitely feel that the only hope for open source under a RAND scheme would be via percentage royalties, rather than fixed-unit or developer licensing.

Re:In the face of patents (2)

sphealey (2855) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513431)

Daniel's responses were well considered and reasonable, especially in the face of some of the sharp-and-pointy questions.
Respectfully, I would have to disagree. I found quite a few of his answers, particularly those to questions which questioned the motives of commercial players in this game, to be evasive and non-responsive.

I sincerely hope that there is a chance for openness to at least have a voice in this process, and maybe even to prevail. But the responses given here make it sound as if the fix is already in, and the open Web is history.

sPh

No one builds CD Players in their basement (5, Insightful)

KarmaBlackballed (222917) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512833)

(a) There is evidence that in other technology arenas RAND standards work perfectly well. For example, CD players, TVs, phones, all come with significant patent royalty obligations for their producers, but these devices are nevertheless widely available at seemingly affordable prices.

My CD player is manufactured by a large company. Little guys cannot afford to build these things, so royalty payments are a non issue there.

In stark contrast, much of the software innovation we have all benefited from has come from small players. These inventors and innovators sometimes create their masterpeices at night, in the basement, in the garage, in the den, in the dormroom and then release their wares to the world through web-pages. Most of these folks cannot afford the legal staff to research patent infringement liability risks and pay royalty fees for the right to sell the fruit of their labors.

I suspect that if today's software patent mass-acceptance had started in the 70's, there would be no Linux (Unix would have been patented by AT&T and Linus would have received a nasty letter to cease and desist), No Pkzip -> Winzip, no dBase clones, no SQL clones. Heck, I'm thinking half the algorithms in my computer science text books would be unavailable for general use.

Who's interests are we serving?

Re:No one builds CD Players in their basement (4, Insightful)

gorilla (36491) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513027)

Also these are all hardware devices, which have a finite cost to copy. If you have to pay $20 for the hardware components, then adding on $2 for the licensing isn't a big deal. If you are intending to distribute the software free, then $2 is a big deal.

Re:No one builds CD Players in their basement (1)

jck2000 (157192) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513451)

The tangible products/large manufacturer point is a good one. Note also that his example on nondiscriminatory pricing assumed a non-$0-marginal-cost product or service (his example was shipping).


I frankly would be quite surprised if RAND would be construed to prohibit a patent holder from (i) charging a non-trivial flat fee (e.g., $1000), (ii) charging a fixed per seat fee ($5 per seat, user, copy, etc.) and (iii) requiring restrictions on or monitoring of redistribution -- any one of which would thwart anything remotely like open source.

tangible products (3)

rodentia (102779) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513088)

I was struck by the same analogy. Each of the examples are of tangible products with an established consumer market. Where is the market for web standards? Royalty costs on tangible product development are rolled into the product's cost basis and passed on to the consumer. Viable, consumer-driven, web-based business models are pretty thin on the ground right now. If your cost basis is not vanishingly small, you are effectively doing charity.

W3C has two sources of credibility, without which their standards are not worth two bits: the continued participation of representatives of significant corporations and the goodwill of the web development community (developers, not consumers) who see standards as a Good Thing(TM). RAND dramatically upsets this balance. I will simply not be implementing or using RAND encumbered web standards. Not because I have a moral beef with paying for algorithms (I do), but because if I want to do any more charity I'll volunteer at the homeless shelter.

Re:No one builds CD Players in their basement (5, Interesting)

tramm (16077) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513141)

I suspect that if today's software patent mass-acceptance had started in the 70's ... No Pkzip -> Winzip,
Perhaps you forget the story of the creation of PKZip. The recently deceased Phil Katz [slashdot.org] created an enhanced version of SEA's arc program called pkarc. SEA filed suite in 1989 against Phil who dropped the arc format. He then created the ZIP format, patented it and released it into the public domain with the exception of SEA. BBS users and Sysops converted enmass and now no one knows of SEA. PKWare continues without Phil.

Re:No one builds CD Players in their basement (1)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513157)

Just as an aside, does anyone know when the patents for cd playing devices expires?

Re:No one builds CD Players in their basement (1)

Galvatron (115029) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513179)

Just as soon as the big companies stop lobbying the government to keep extending patent length. Which is to say, never.

Re:No one builds CD Players in their basement (1)

EllisDees (268037) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513539)

Copyrights are what keep being extended. Patents still expire after 27 years. I was just wondering when someone could, in theory, start making cd players in their garage without having to pay royalties.

Re:No one builds CD Players in their basement (1)

Galvatron (115029) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513681)

27? Last time I heard (a couple years ago) it was 17. Back in the 60s, it was 7 years. I rest my case.

Re:No one builds CD Players in their basement (1)

kingpin2k (523489) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513195)

I suspect that if today's software patent mass-acceptance had started in the 70's, there would be no Linux (Unix would have been patented by AT&T and Linus would have received a nasty letter to cease and desist), No Pkzip -> Winzip, no dBase clones, no SQL clones. Heck, I'm thinking half the algorithms in my computer science text books would be unavailable for general use.


I've got to agree on this one. It appears now that the only people able to improve on a technology will be the ones originally resposible for the technology. Patents have become a self-replicating phenomenon. I patent technology A. Person B attempts to reverse engineer technology A for purposes of understanding, improving, etc (admittedly he may also just compete with it). I sue Person B. The rest of the developing community is frightened into not speaking of technology A. I release technology A.2 next year, and so on. It's getting ugly.

... but they can modify it in their basement. (1)

John Macdonald (40981) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513508)

The whole DeCSS issue involves hardware that didn't do what the owner wanted, either limiting the capabilities to what the manufacturer wanted to provide or was willing to provide, and so some of the owners provided alternate support software for the device.

The patent/IP aspect made distributing such mods illegal. An unencumbering "standard" would not have prevented that distribution.

Is a commerical web really better? (4, Interesting)

jjn1056 (85209) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512835)

In question 9, the author makes an analogy which might not be true. He states that in the past, the web was non commercial, and that people were afraid that allowing commercial traffic would ruin it. In 1991 the US congress decided (for the world) that the Internet should become commercialized. The author feels this turned out positively. In the same way web standards today are public and non commercial as the web was in the 1980s. Therefore (according to the author) commercialization of web standards will also turn out good.

The analogy fails because there is a big difference between infrastructure and the costs involved in setting up the web and creating ISP, etc and web standards, which has relatively little cost, with the exception of the time for the people involved and the overhead of administering the standards body. You don't need to turn a profit to create standards, because creating standards is cheap in comparison to running a large ISP, or developing software to impliment standards.

You could say that the web infrastructure is like the rail system. Setup cost is high, so the goverment pays to get it going (or gives cheap loans to biz, but once a certain critical mass is achieved, you can turn the system over to private enterprise, who them provide services everyone benefits from.

You have to wonder though, is the web REALLY better for the 1991 decision? Would it have been better if the web had been setup with a universal national ISP, and goverment funding for people to come up with new interesting ideas? Instead what we have is a pop oriented web, mostly controlled by the people who controlled TV, Radio, Cable, etc, with an increasingly tiny fringe (slashdot for example). How long will that fringe last? Will Slashdot be here in a year?

I'm all for the goverment staying out of private matters, but sometimes Lazarre faire goes to far.

Re:Is a commerical web really better? (5, Insightful)

wytcld (179112) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512999)

From the time the Net became more open in 1991, to the time the commercial interests descended on it in 1994 ("We Must Conquer New Media" - main headline in Advertising Age in about March '94), the content of newsgroups, gopher sites and then Websites both expanded exponentially and maintained (or even improved on) the quality it had inherited from its academic/defense heritage. Openness != commercial. As the commerical deluge snowballed from '94 to '99, quality nearly disappeared. Random surfing, which in the mid-'90s was still rewarding, there being so many gems to stumble across, has also - according to surveys - nearly disappeared. And the general public enthusiasm for the Net, which was based on the exciting experience of quality, has deflated faster than tech stocks. The new commons, so rewarding to those who made early use of it, has become a mere extension of the office, the shopping mall, and the television.

Isn't the memory of that brief window, when the Net was both open and largely built for community rather than commercial values, what motivates those of us working with free/open software? And don't the commercial interests have about as much fondness for truly free/open culture as the Taliban does? Profit motive = prophet motive? Please, I'm not siding against business. I'm just questioning the doctrine that there is no other god, and no other profit. Might not business, in the longer run, be healthier if prevented from devouring too much in the short run? Isn't this a proper function of a standards body?

Re:Is a commerical web really better? (1)

Mr. Fred Smoothie (302446) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513093)

Amen.

I'd mod you up if I hadn't already shot my wad in this discussion.

royalty patents == fork (2, Interesting)

xah (448501) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512839)

I have no problem with patents in W3C standards. I only have a problem with patents that generate royalties. Inevitably, the costs will be passed down the line to users. As more and more royalties complicate W3C standards, the costs will be borne by Internet users generally. This will stymie the efforts to get the rest of the world on the Internet. How will the Internet users of Sierra Leone, for example, be able to pay for this?

I swear, if the W3C puts royalty generating patents in any important standard, there will be a fork. A major fork. If necessary, I'll do it myself, even if I have to learn C.

Re:royalty patents == fork (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 12 years ago | (#2514650)

I'll be right there with ya.

The W3C stands for World Wide Web Commerce, right? ;)

Why not shoot higher? (4, Insightful)

eastshores (459180) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512841)

Why suggest that standards development somehow have to integrate patents into the standard? I firmly believe that there are a multitude of ways to do things correctly. Not always is one way actually better or worse, just different. So why not shoot higher when developing standards. If you find that the functionality offered by a patented technology would complement a standard, then think of a better way to implement the functionality. Lift the standard above and beyond the bar put in place by commercial research. If that were your stated mission I think you would find a large community standing up to help.

Re:Why not shoot higher? (1)

fixe (28769) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513401)

Here here!

And the first step towards this goal should be to fire the majority of the Lawyers at W3C. Why should a techology standard organization be comprised of "mostly lawyers"? Should it be mostly technologists (i.e. software developers)!?

I just don't get it.

Re:Why not shoot higher? (2)

Dr Caleb (121505) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513413)

If you find that the functionality offered by a patented technology would complement a standard, then think of a better way to implement the functionality.

If you need help with this, there are experienced lawyers and engineers currently working for Rambus who can help. :-P

Anybody Got Vaseline????? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2512852)

If we are gonna get reamed, at least
give us some lube.........

Free and open standards. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2512872)

I believe that it is wrong to charge money to institute a standard.

The process should ensure that no patent encumbered standard is ever approved. Part of the process of submitting a standard by a company should be a signing over of all patent rights to the web standards body. The web standards body should then have a policy of not charging for any patents it owns.

If a company doesn't care to do this, then we shouldn't care to allow it to contribute to the standards body.

What really worries me is the underhanded way that this whole issue was almost snuck through by corporations who see every existing free standard as merely a lost oportunity for profit. I think that the web standards committee is already bought and paid for and now they are going to force this through to pay back their owners.

This just pisses me off that 90% of the world doesn't even allow software patents, and yet the US is forcing them onto the rest of the world through tricks like this one. Grrrrrrr.

Web Standards vs. Hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2512882)

(a) There is evidence that in other technology arenas RAND standards work perfectly well. For example, CD players, TVs, phones, all come with significant patent royalty obligations for their producers, but these devices are nevertheless widely available at seemingly affordable prices.

The difference is that you can't fucking have an Open Source television.

Re:Web Standards vs. Hardware (1)

clone304 (522767) | more than 12 years ago | (#2514697)

Why not. Just "open" the tv. You can even order specs from many manufacturers. Most consumer electronics devices are "open source". The difference here is that you OWN that TV. You can take it apart rewire it, replace parts with pieces from your toaster, etc. That's because it's yours.

Now, when Microsoft sells you Windows. It's not really yours. It's licensed to you. And you can't change anything about how it works unless they included an interface to that control. Of course you can always disassemble the binaries and make changes, but, not only is that a bitch, it's prohibited by the license agreement.

So, you see you actually CAN'T NOT have an Open Source television.

W3 meetings and the software patent problem (5, Informative)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512888)

Hi,

I attended the last W3 patent policy board meeting, which was 3 days long, and am now in Europe where I will be speaking at a presentation to the W3 advisory board. W3 has also heard from Eben Moglen and Daniel Weitzner has met with Larry Rosen of OSI. So, they are getting our message. Hopefully they will decide in favor or RF-only, but even then the terms of the patent disclosures may not always be compatible with our licenses, especially the GPL. So, this will be a continuing problem. If things go badly, we'll probably have to increase our presence in the standards business beyond what we do today through the Free Standards Group, by branching out into interoperability standards in general. That may be a good idea in any case.

But the fundamental problem is not with W3, it's with software patents. At my talks here in Europe I'm always pointing out the problems with them and encouraging Europeans to continue to reject them. We need to take action in the U.S., better action than we've been able to muster so far. I think the best approach would be to lobby for a "safe harbor" for Free Software from attacks by software patent holders - something that I think would be acceptable because of the pro-bono nature of Free Software. If the proprietary software businesses want to mess themselves up with software patents, that's their problem - but software patents simply aren't compatible with Free Software and we need to become more assertive about that.

I think this means we need a real lobbying organization. This is not EFF, because EFF's agenda is digital rights in general, while we need to represent Free Software developers over other interests. I think it also needs to be more inclusive than FSF, although of course FSF should be involved.

Thanks

Bruce

Re:W3 meetings and the software patent problem (2, Interesting)

gwachob (17615) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513036)

Bruce-
I agree that the problem is software patents in general. But the sad likelihood is that software patents aren't likely to go anywhere anytime soon. And a "safe harbor" is going to be fought tooth and nail because open source software is perceived to be every bit as much a threat to patent holders (wishing to use patents for offensive reasons) as commercial software. Both unlicensed free/open source and commercial software destroys potential revenue streams to patent holders.

But perhaps if the W3C were to take a stand and say that patent-enforced technologies could not be stamped with the imprimatur of W3C approval, they would simply be passed over for another solution. There are very few "technologies" in the web world for which alternatives cannot be deployed. The reason W3C accepts patented technologies is because their promoters have to most to gain from promoting patented solutions, and there are often no better solutions being promoted with the same vigor out there (this is not true in all cases, of course).

Your call to get the free software world involved is spot on, however, because if the free software & open source world can suggest technologies/standards free of patent (and perhaps get into the business of filing defensive patents), then the need to consider patent-encumbered standards and technologies goes away (see PNG!).

-Gabe

Re:W3 meetings and the software patent problem (1)

andyo (109338) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513207)

And what about the possibility of using even RF patents to enforce digital rights management, which several people have raised before? (For instance, see http://www.oreilly.com/news/oram_patents_1001.html [oreilly.com] .

LSD/UI (3, Interesting)

rodentia (102779) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513214)

Sick acronym, great idea. It is about time for our message to be heard clearly by world governing bodies. We are getting slagged as communists, anarchists, worse terrorists. The legal and just defense of our principles is clouded by these associations among the uninformed in media and policy circles. We need a lobby.

Model it on the NRA. A dues-driven organization focused on lobbying of legislative bodies worldwide, active PR wing, the whole nine yards. It will be a struggle to stay focused on the problem domain and avoid ideological entanglements, but it is worth a shot. This makes tremendous sense to me in the current political climate.

The acronym? Libre Software Developers/Users International.

Re:W3 meetings and the software patent problem (2)

webmaven (27463) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513777)

I think the best approach would be to lobby for a "safe harbor" for Free Software from attacks by software patent holders - something that I think would be acceptable because of the pro-bono nature of Free Software. If the proprietary software businesses want to mess themselves up with software patents, that's their problem - but software patents simply aren't compatible with Free Software and we need to become more assertive about that.

I think this means we need a real lobbying organization. This is not EFF, because EFF's agenda is digital rights in general, while we need to represent Free Software developers over other interests. I think it also needs to be more inclusive than FSF, although of course FSF should be involved.

While proprietary software businesses seem to be gung-ho on the subject of software patents, I think that an overwhelming majority of practitioners in the field (even those who work for proprietary software businesses) are not. Software patents are one of the ways in which proprietary software businesses assert ownership over the work of their employees, and the conflict there falls along classic 'labour vs. management' lines.

This leads me to the conclusion that a lobbying organization such as you describe should not focus on a 'safe harbour' for open-source/free-software developers, but should have a broader agenda of overturning the software-patents/business-method patents status quo in general, as they are harmful to our profession as a whole, not just those who develop free software. Such an organization would be able to find common cause with other organizations such as the ALA and ACM, free-software based businesses, service businesses such as ISPs, as well as an overwhelming number of developers (whoever their employer happens to be).

?A?? Standards. (3, Interesting)

azaroth42 (458293) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512895)

On Reasonableness:
So far we've decided that we do not have a good mechanism within W3C for assessing or defining reasonableness.

And on Non Discriminatory:
So, I don't have an answer to that question yet, but it will be answered by the time we propose another draft policy.

As they don't have a way of assessing Reasonable -or- Non Discriminatoryness (is that a word?), how can they even consider the Non RF track? There's Standards that are Open and Royalty Free, and then there's some things that we can't really define.

Anyone for OpenW3C.org ?

--Azaroth

Re:?A?? Standards. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2513056)

I am all for it (OpenW3C.org). What you noted was exactly my observation. ?A??. It seems that they haven't yet figured out what it is they are talking about. Only thing I am wondering is, what was the need to initiate this activity? Was there a "need" for such a patent encumbered standard? Is it industry driven?

A rant about commercialization (5, Insightful)

Jon Abbott (723) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512930)


Weitzner: The switch to commercial use did happen and it's clear that we are all the better for it. Without that, most of us would not be online and there would be no Web, no Freenet, no Napster, and only closed, proprietary email systems like the old Prodigy.
I remember the web before commercial interests muddied it. Granted, there weren't web sites like weather.com, but look at what those sites have become nowadays. They are nothing more than breeding grounds for eyecandy junk and annoying pop-under advertisements. I have to wade through lots of clutter just to find out the weather forecast. There are a few good reasons for commercial interests to take part in the web, but by and large they've made my browsing experience much less rewarding and far more annoying.

Also, speaking as somebody who has been reading slashdot before user IDs existed, the biggest differences I've seen in slashdot after OSDN financial backing are more advertisements, and now a cheesy OSDN bar at the top. I'm sure slashdot's machinery has gotten bigger and badder as a result, but isn't that just to support more readers, which leads to more advertising?

The problem I see with any commercial interests is that they don't know when to stop marketing. Try not watching TV for a month, and then watch a sports game of your choice. It's so littered with advertisements that it's hard to even focus on what the show is showing! I feel that the web is quickly becoming just that -- a trashed hodge-podge of mostly advertisements for things you Just Don't Want To Buy(tm).

With that being said, is anybody actively developing a gopher server? :^)

Re:A rant about commercialization (4, Interesting)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513065)

Furthering your point, all of weather.com's data for North America comes from the National Weather Service. weather.com exists only to interdict between people and the weather data they already paid for with taxes. I think that is an example of commercial interests fucking up the internet yet again.

Re:A rant about gopher (2)

Dr Caleb (121505) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513481)

When the web started getting most annoying, I longed for the old gopher days. Hope that doesn't date me, but ahhh well. : All those ads clogging up my 28.8 modem were just too much. Gopher I think survived another 6 months after that (about mid 1997ish). Most of my favorite servers like the University of Kiev etc. all had messages something like "This server has been decomissioned...please visit our web page at.." or "This server will be decomissioned on...".

I wonder why MS never came out with "MS Gopher Server" hehehe.

Re:A rant about gopher (1)

spauldo (118058) | more than 12 years ago | (#2515771)

It's been a while, but I think IIS 4 had a gopher server... not sure though, since I only messed with IIS at work (if I were going to run a gopher server at home, it would be linux based).

Here, at long last, are his answers (1)

sdo1 (213835) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512964)

Wow, that's a great way to get influential people to agree to answer questions on Slashdot. Chastise them for taking so long in getting back their answers. Smart.

And it took how long? A month? I'd say that's hardly worthy of the put down.

-S

Net consumers won't pay (4, Insightful)

FrankBough (173822) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512978)

Nothing happens without money - you have to admit that the web wouldn't be anywhere near as big and exciting as it is now if it wasn't for the commercial interests. However, noone would ever have got anything out of it if it wasn't for unrestricted standards that anyone is free to implement in their own way.

The net, like a lot of the latest comms technology is still driven by a 'toy' mentality amongst most consumers. They really want the net and all the cool things on it, but not if they have to pay real money for it. So where 'standards' have emerged that are not in themselves free, it is because free access is available to implementations of them - like Acrobat or Shockwave or whatever.

The reality is that on the web you can still only expect to make money from the people who create content. If you impose cost-based restrictions on the things that view content then you might as well not bother because no-one will use it.

My point is that it is stupid to impose costs on the people implementing the standards (ie the developers). If you must get money from a technology, then get it from the people who use it to make money themselves.

Re:Net consumers won't pay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2513887)

If you impose cost-based restrictions on the things that view content then you might as well not bother because no-one will use it.

This is so true. Ditto! Ditto!

Re:Net consumers won't pay (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 12 years ago | (#2514839)

Outstanding!

There's something Microsoft learned a long time ago: cozy up to the developers, then charge everybody else money.

I got all happy learning VB and Asp (free PWS)...

Of course, they screwed up when they began charging for the MSDN library.

So I have since realized the error of my ways.

Long live Perl! (waiting for Perl 6... please by Xmas please...)

I follow the W3C recommendations (and they are just recommendations mind you) on XHTML because I like to write tight (english, code, and html). But there's nothing forcing me to do it.

Likewise, there will be nothing forcing me to use their newfangled patented standard.

<ramble>true</ramble>

Oh, but wait, what if they patent a hyperlinking system, or an xml schema... and I need to use it? Can they shut down my site for patent violation? What? Whatever happened to the First Amendment to The United States Constitution in The Bill of RIGHTS. By the way, people should not forget that the Bill of Rights was not amended later on, like the prohibition, it was in there from the get-go. It was a deal-breaker. There's a reason for that. It's a fundamental necessity for freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and those were the reasons we had a Declaration of Independence, a Constitution, and a War in the first place.

Now, whatever happened to the $20/per month the Average Person pays for internet access (more or less, mind you)
If 50,000,000 people in the US (low figure) pay that each month, that's, oh, $1 Billion per month, and $12 Billion per year. Now, isn't that enough for some decent content?

I have an interesting solution.

Make the ISP pay. They're collecting the money (the aforementioned 12 billion). They need to distribute it.

Heck, just like a cable company.

Let's say I set up a site, and I say: All AOL IP blocks will be blocked unless AOL pays me $10,000 per month. AOL users coming to my site will get a: "Sorry, AOL has chosen not to provide this service to you. Please select an alternative ISP in the list below, or email customerservice@aol.com and request that they provide access to this web site."

Hummm... I wonder. Then: no ads, no popups, and the customer does not have to pay anything. Forget Micropayments. One check from each of the major ISPs each month. I should be able to manage that just fine.

Oh, and access would be provided to all MIL, GOV, and EDU for free, for good measure...

<ramble>false</ramble>

Two most important answers (3, Interesting)

Mr. Fred Smoothie (302446) | more than 12 years ago | (#2512996)

For me the two most important/controversial answers in the whole set of response were parts b) and c) in the answer to question one:
b) Disallowing technologies which may only be available for a fee (RAND terms) would deny the Web access to the best technology available.
(c) If W3C adopts an RF-only model, then many important Web technology standards may end up being developed at other standards bodies or industry consortia.
It seems clear from part 'c' that a major motivation for what the W3C is doing with its patent policy is to ensure its own continued relevance.

But whether or not the concern is even valid depends on where you stand WRT point 'b', and I don't concur (and I think that the heart of the controversy here and elsewhere is a similar lack of concurrence) with the opinion expressed therein. Do we really need "Standards" like MP3 when we can have Ogg instead? It seems that at this point, as far as standards for audio compression go, Ogg Vorbis is "the best technology available" and it's still improving!

The idea that the best technology won't be available as a Standard-with-a-capital-S under an RF-only policy is that the problem domain the standard refers to has only one acceptably good solution and that necessarily only commercial entities will be able to contribute that solution. I reject both claims.

I think a RF-only standards process is the way to go if the goal of passing standards is at least as important to the W3C as remaining relevant is.

Re:Two most important answers (1)

sinster (518986) | more than 12 years ago | (#2514017)

I agree wholeheartedly.

And this is one of the points that I brought up in my email to W3C: any "RAND" license is automatically going to be unreasonable to open source people. So if the W3C implements the policy, and then later produces a RAND standard, then one of two things will happen:

1) the standard covers some method that no one really cares about, and so it is ignored, or
2) the standard covers some method that people do care about, in which case open source people will develop a competing RF standard that will (given a few years) utterly dominate the niche. The W3C's RAND standard will then be ignored.

In either case, the W3C's effort in developing the RAND standard is completely wasted. The only one who receives any benefit from such a standard is the patent holder. W3C loses. Users lose. Developers lose. Patent licensees lose.

So if any RAND-based standard is a waste of time, why have a RAND policy in the first place?

And this doesn't even get into all the complaints I had about how their RAND policy completely fails to fulfill its goal: ensuring that if a W3C recommendation is encumbered, that it learns about it before acceptance of the recommendation.

Missing the point (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2513009)

I'm afraid the W3C is still missing the point of its own proposal:

Opening for companies to "own" parts of a W3C standard, through a RAND patent, creates a huge incentive to gain patents that the W3C standards can't live without.

In other words: the RAND proposal makes owning patents more valuable. That will, quite naturally give the W3C _more_ patent trouble than before, not less.

That's the way a market economy works.

Period.

Re:Missing the point (2)

sphealey (2855) | more than 12 years ago | (#2514243)

Opening for companies to "own" parts of a W3C standard, through a RAND patent, creates a huge incentive to gain patents that the W3C standards can't live without.
Agreed, but that very point was raised in the questions, and it was skillfully evaded. So I suspect this is exactly the purpose of the RAND proposal.

sPh

Vote. (2, Interesting)

HaeMaker (221642) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513031)

In early October we announced that we have invited Bruce Perens (OSI co-founder) and Eben Moglen (FSF General Counsel) to join the Patent Policy Working Group as 'invited experts' with full participation privileges.
Do they have a vote on the committee?

Re:Vote. (2, Interesting)

djweitzner (527230) | more than 12 years ago | (#2514041)

The Patent Policy Working Group makes decisions by consensus. Invited experts are considered equally with W3C Members in assessing consensus. Note (not particularly in response to your question) that consensus means broad agreement, not unanimity. Under W3C process, those who dissent from consensus decisions have a right to file minority reports, what we call a formal object.

Bitnet (2)

finkployd (12902) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513102)

The switch to commercial use did happen and it's clear that we are all the better for it. Without that, most of us would not be online and there would be no Web, no Freenet, no Napster, and only closed, proprietary email systems like the old Prodigy.

Appearently someone has never heard of Bitnet

Finkployd

what a pawn (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513159)

The switch to commercial use did happen and it's clear that we are all the better for it. Without that, most of us would not be online and there would be no Web, no Freenet, no Napster, and only closed, proprietary email systems like the old Prodigy. The point of this historical digression is NOT that we should accept RAND standards as part of the inevitable commercialization of the Web. Rather, we should recognize that the Net that we know and love will change and can survive change if we handle it wisely.

Why is it clear we have benefited?
all the online entities that aren't making money?
Corporation relizing that they can make money, if the control the development of the Internet and the WWW?
He thinks there was no eMail before prodigy?
Well at least there ensuring the last line in the quote won't happen.
If they do not allow all standards to be open and free from royalties w/o exception some big corporation will find a way to dominate it through closed and/or costly standards.
I got news for ya the Web, Freenet, Napster, exist because of non-royalty driven standards.
You can not have money involved in a standard and expect corporation not to manipulate it.
The more open something is, the more it can handle change.
He talks about new standards that will emerge from Open Source if royalties become to excessive. This is total crap. When 1 company dominates an industry, they will drive the standarded the makes them the most money.
If MS used an open and free standard for there office tools, they wouldn't exist. those tools would exist, but either not by MS, or MS would have to build better ones because as they are now, they couldn't compete.

Re:what a pawn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2513576)

The switch to commercial use did happen and it's clear that we are all the better for it. Without that, most of us would not be online and there would be no Web, no Freenet, no Napster, and only closed, proprietary email systems like the old Prodigy.

Berners-Lee invented the Web at Cern, not at any commercial company. The corporations jumped in after it was already a fast-growing standard, they didn't invent it. Freenet is an open-source project. Napster pretended to be commercial but never charged a dime, Gnutella is free, and heck, email is an open standard, so what exactly is his point?

Exactly, look at AOL. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2515037)

Look at AOL, their own crappy protocol, you're stuck in their cacheing system most of the time, you get kicked off periodically, the software is obscene to use not to mention dangerous to install.

Buying and killing all the good sites because of their own stupid spam makes money ideas.

I just cannot think of all the ways commercialization is good.

Browser Incompatibility (1)

rsimmons (248005) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513166)

There are already too many places and softwares that are only compatible with IE. For instance, Webtrends [webtrends.com] in addition to just generally sucking, only works with IE. This is a problem, since the webtrends marketing department has implanted the idea that webtrends is the best in every pointy-haired boss.

Core Vs. Non-Core (2)

webmaven (27463) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513435)

There's no question that core protocols and document formats have a far greater chance of being widely deployed and well-designed if they can be widely implemented, without payment of royalties. The question is whether that means that every spec W3C does has to be RF?
To a corporation with a patent, a non-core recomendation that then becomes (through the passage of time) a core 'standard' is the mother-lode of licensing fees, if the original recomendation was licensed RAND.

This is an obvious strategy for any entity that wishes to profit from the standard-making process, and does not require underhanded tactics such as 'submarine' patents. In fact, you could probably say that if a profit-making entity didn't believe that a field of endeavor could become part of the core infrastructure, they probably wouldn't be participating in the standards process for the reccomendation in the first place.

Given this, it seems to me that the W3C should not consider RAND licensing terms for recommedations that will (or potentially could) become core standards eventually. And if a reccomendation does not have that potential, why is the W3C enshrining it in a recomendation anyway?

Another round of comments /might/ help (2)

sphealey (2855) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513479)

I would ask all Slashdotters concerned about this situation to read these response, read the W3C Patent Committee's October meeting minutes [w3.org] , and submit another round of comments via the W3C e-mail address [mailto] . Given the answers shown here, I really don't have much hope, but there is some possibility it might help.

sPh

Re:Another round of comments /might/ help (1)

djweitzner (527230) | more than 12 years ago | (#2514085)

More comments to the public comment archive [w3.org] would certainly be welcome. There will be another public Last Call draft released before we make any final decision. Comments on this next draft would be particularly useful. We've heard a fair amount about the current draft already.

These answers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2513638)

These answers explain why this person is not competent to participate in a public standards making body, let alone involved in deciding patent policies for it. The net effect of a RAND policy is that the standard becomes itself a map of land to aquire in patents to aquire fees from an adopted standard. A great example of this is what happened in the Voice Browsing working group where Motorola selectivily and strategically filed for patents for each and every chapter of the Voice XML 2.0 specification.

What RAND means is simply that the dishonest players now have a legitimate mechanism to subvert the process, rather than having to resort to dirty tricks like submarine patents. Giving a dirty and unethical business practice the veneer of endorsement is a shame and one that I personally find disgusting.

When I have cooled down a bit, I am going to write a letter to W3C members I can identify.

rescinding recommendation? (2)

tester13 (186772) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513652)

One approach to abusive or unfair licensing practices would be to rescind the Recommendation. It's clear that having a W3C Recommendation that would require patented technology increases the value of the patent to the patent holder substantially. So, if the patent holder is not willing to license its patent in some terms (RF or RAND depending on the policy we adopt) then we should consider rescinding the Recommendation as it cannot promote interoperability. W3C is discussing a mechanism to do this.

How effective would it be to rescind a recomendation of a technology that has already been deployed/adopted? Am I missing something here? This seems like it had better be figured out before hand.

The Switch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2513755)

I'm reminded of 1991 when the US Congress allowed the Internet (at the time the NSFNet) to be opened to commercial traffic. Many advocates of the status quo (research, education, and mostly-benign Usenet chatter) predicted terrible results from allowing commercial content and commercial providers on to the Net. They, those academics and government folk who had the run of the Net in the 80s, felt that the Net should remain a public, non-commercial resource, run by the (US) government. The switch to commercial use did happen and it's clear that we are all the better for it.

You all at the W3C might be the better for it. Most of us geeks are not. Here are 5 reasons why:
1) 1 browser with screwy ad-hoc proprietary standards runs on 95% of the world's desktops

2) ratio of signal to noise has plummetted, reducing the Internet's value as an information resource

3) The idioternet boom and resulting dotcom bust has replaced the colleague spirit of cooperation circa 1992 with fear, uncertainty and doubt

4) Advertisers have made the web just like the half of the newspaper you throw away every day without reading

5) the morale of every internet geek is in the shitter because we had a treasure in the palm of our hands and threw it away

OSS becomes expatriot! (2, Funny)

Jobe_br (27348) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513891)

The following:


Patents can generally only be enforced over implementations sold or distributed in the country where the patent is issued. So, if a company has a US patent that is essential to a W3C Recommendation, then it could only seek royalties for products/services distributed in the US.

makes me shiver. Will developers that seek to write code implementing RAND standards need to become expatriots [expatworld.org] ? If I recall, the EC still maintains that patents on software [freepatents.org] are a no-go (link: 11/2000) [wired.com] .(more) [google.com] Seems to me that developers in EC countries could then freely create software implementing RAND standards. Subsequently, OS distributions including open-source software based in the US (i.e. RedHat, Caldera, etc.) would be at a disadvantage to distributions such as Mandrake.

I'm all for Ireland ... mmmm Guiness :)

Dern (1)

andy_from_nc (472347) | more than 12 years ago | (#2513939)

I must have missed that post (the post questions to that guy opportunity). . What I'd like to know is roughly what precentage of proposals they are thinking will be non RF. Is it 100-0 now becomes 0-100, are we talking a little sideshow for bill & co to post their passport thing as a (whatever you call a non-RF RFC) standard?

I know what my money would be betting. I'm feeling betrayed and kinda like standing up with a virutal banner saying "Down with the W3C"....

Accumulation of royalty percentages (3, Insightful)

Paul Johnson (33553) | more than 12 years ago | (#2514203)

In software terms, the same terms would be "fixed percent of sale price." The astute reader will observe that this allows continued distribution of free (gratis) software w/o royalty encumberance, even if it causes RMS to break out in a rash.

OK, I can see how this saves gratis distribution. What about non-gratis distribution. Suppose I am Blue Beret Software selling my Linux distribution. I want to include a package where the RAND terms include a 1% license fee. Does that entitle them to 1% of the sale price of my distribution boxes? What about my consultancy and support fees, given that these are all derived from a distribution which incorporates the RAND-licensed package.

What if I have fifty such packages. Am I now going to be paying 50% of my turnover in royalty fees? What if I have 101 of them?

Paul.

What he REALLY said (1)

Alsee (515537) | more than 12 years ago | (#2514299)

[commenters] suggested that there would be no open source implementation of RAND standards at all. That would certainly have an impact on the level of deployment.
Yeah, RAND would kill Open Source implementation of the standard. But it's OK - Our corporate members have taken this effect into account.

two possible licensing modes:
(1) Royalty-Free
(2) RAND: RAND specs would have to be implementable on a RAND (which could include a zero royalty) basis.
(Emphasis added)
Zero royalty RAND that isn't (1)Royalty-Free!
This one is going to be a biggie! You'll love our new zero royalty RAND licences!
They are FREE*! Everyone loves FREE*! You can't beat FREE*!
(*For suitably restricted values of "free")

There is evidence that in other technology arenas RAND standards work perfectly well. For example, CD players, TVs, phones...widely available at seemingly affordable prices.
It works fine for our corporate members, what are you whining about? You'll still be able to buy our products at seemingly affordable prices!

Disallowing [RAND terms] would deny the Web access to the best technology
And anyone who tries to offer you access to something better will be sent to bed without dessert!

To me, the fundamental question is: what approach to patents and standards will best serve the goals of building, maintaining and expanding the Web as a universal information space? That Web standards have been implemented royalty-free until how. I believe it's clear that the Web would not have the reach or the accessibility it does if we had to rely on the more traditional, patent-driven standards to work, but it's ultimately hard to predict what would happen if the world were different.
The web wouldn't have been so successful with RAND, and we doesn't know what it will do to the web, but RAND will "best serve the goals of building, maintaining and expanding the Web" because business is going to build the web now. They asked us to help keep people out of the way. You don't want to get in the way of web developement, do you?

But the relationship between patents and Web standards is increasingly broken
We have a solution! It's not broken anymore - it's a feature!
So we have to take steps to provide a licensing environment that meets our goals
You understand our goals, right?
rather than just relying on ... good will that has worked in the early days of the Web
Good-will used to work, but we can't seem to find any in our members. They preffer RAND.

We have to find ways to make sure that where there are patents that essential to implement a given Recommendationthat they are known and available on terms that make widespread, diverse implementations possible.
Because if we only make royalty free recommendations then the licencing terms might make implementation impossible. (Go ahead, read that twice.)

define 'reasonable' - Reasonable is measured in light of prevailing license rates paid in the market.
There are two possibilities here. Current prevailing licenecing rates on internet standards are ZERO. The other possibility is whatever corporations usually pay eachother. We'll work it out later.

W3C, is far more supportive of the RF tradition than ANY other standards body.
And RAND will fix that problem.

I can certain imagine the free software folk would seek to develop alternate standards in those areas where we had RAND standards.
Mental image of magical free-software forest filled with fairy folk.
Businessmen are NOT folk.


define "non-discriminatory"?
[decription of A) Fixed per-unit licensing costs ... prohibit free software and hence descriminatory]
I don't have an answer to that question
I can give a discriminatory description, but I can't answer that.

Define "reasonable." - So far we've decided that we do not have a good mechanism within W3C for assessing or defining reasonableness. Generally that's done in private negotiations or sorted out by a court.
I think letting corporate negotiations and courts define "reasonable" is a pretty good solution.

if we discover that the lack of definition is a problem, I am sure that we would reconsider
If anyone important objects we'll look into it.

Speed of adoption (5, Insightful)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 12 years ago | (#2514471)

You can either make Kraft Dinner, market it right, and watch your population grow fat quickly, or make Duck a L'Orange, and wait for people to learn how to appreciate.

The two sides we are seeing here are the geeks and the suits.

The geeks (myself included) wish things moved slower, so that better decisions were made, and people were forced to LEARN about what they buy and use before they adopt it. This is what the RF is all about. You arn't going to become a millionaire .. you do something because you believe it's the right thing to do.

Suits are all about adoption as quickly as possible, probably because 'emerging markets' will make just about any suit cream his undies. As long as you can keep things moving fast enough (ie, money is the motivator, so us Westerners keep working the 45 hour weeks), emerging markets allow idiots to make shit loads of money off even more idiots, because no one truely knows why anything is being made or why people are using it until it's too late, other than the obvious answer: money!

To me, this is all a matter of scale. Things are becoming too fast, too big .. too centralized. RAND will only add to that, and people will be left with a complicated, unfeeling, uncompromising pro-business infrastructure for communication that will force revolution upon our very selves. Our system is beginning to turn against us, and this time it's not about being able to listen to music, or travel to another city. What were secondary goals in a world where we still cared about the primary goals are fast becoming primary goals, resulting in the inevitable discovery at some point that in trying to achieve happiness (isn't that what it's all about?), we became so preoccupied with the means that we completely forgot about the ends.

Our own values are being co-opted by our working selves .. in the same way that its difficult to say "Thank you" to someone who steps to the right on an elevator without sounding sarcastic anymore (just try being 20, in fasionable clothes and doing this .. i dare you), our desire to improve, innovate, and create solutions to what are ALWAYS going to be social problems is being co-opted by the desire to bring home a pay cheque big enough to buy a porsche for the son we can't even muster up the desire to care about anymore.

We're both providers and customers! But we go to work, we fool the customers into buying, and when we go home, we accept the role, either knowingly or otherwise, as a foregone conclusion. The joke that goes something like 'there are two seperate entities, consumers and companies' will emerge as a horrible truth somewhere down the line ... with both sides being in each human, attempting to juggle TWO entirely seperate sets of values.

RANDs as applied to standards demanding an unprecentended amount of co-operation, detail and accuracy, being so closely linked to an effort to bring together the world and shorten the feedback paths, will only accelerate the delivery of the punchline.

W3C needs to step up and declare its intentions (2)

sphealey (2855) | more than 12 years ago | (#2514535)

Your question seems to suggest that we are being 'naively' dragged along in a larger campaign to make the Web into a more closed, proprietary environment.
Two possible alternatives here: (a) the W3C is working hard to balance competing interests in a reasonable manner (b) the W3C is not being 'naively' dragged into an attempt to make the Web a 100% propritary network, but is in fact aware that is the goal of a RAND policy and is participating wholeheartedly.

Any comments on which description is closer to the truth?

sPh

Doubletalk with 'hardware' makes me worry (1)

ghostlibrary (450718) | more than 12 years ago | (#2514593)

Alas, he didn't seem to be consistent, rather, he was just providing feel-good answers. Under the first 'Define reasonable' question, he said hardware wasn't a valid comparison:

We've come to that
conclusion because there do not seem to be well-established models
for Web software royalties, as there are in your hardware examples.


But later, in promoting his pro-RAND stance under a later question, he write:


There is evidence that in other technology arenas RAND
standards work perfectly well. For example, CD players, TVs, phones,
all come with significant patent royalty obligations for their producers,
but these devices are nevertheless widely available at seemingly
affordable prices.


So, the conclusion is: hardware standards are irrelevant if you use them to bolster your case, but are highly relevant when we use them to support our case.

*sigh*

The W3C is who? (2)

thogard (43403) | more than 12 years ago | (#2514784)

As far as I can see the W3C is a group that was set up for the job of patting its self on the back. As far as I can see, they have never been a leader in the web specs and have either 1) rubber stamped what someone else was already doing or 2) created a spec that no one follows.

So based on their track record, who cares?

Really Only One Answer (2, Insightful)

arfy (236686) | more than 12 years ago | (#2514801)

I've read all the questions and answers, all the comments posted up till now and usually I can see merit in many differing views. This is no exception but I think it boils down to one argument:
Will the Web flourish if RAND standards are NOT supported by the W3C?
It seems the W3C is worried that it won't. And therefore, they must at least consider allowing that camel's nose under the tentflap.
I disagree with that view and agree with the posters who have said that if the W3C allows RAND standards, then fork we must.
It is the only way to keep any part of the Web from being overrun by commercial interests. Sure, the Net has expanded since '91, but look at what's happened to the signal-to-noise ratio since then.
I'd really hate to fork and render the W3C irrelevant (and if you check my recent postings I was the first to yell about Amaya not working against msn.com when their claim was about W3C compliance) but if the W3C starts caring more about DRM, commercial interests or whatever has propelled them in this bad vector then they will have pronounced the verdict upon themselves.

Microsoft settlement uses RAND (2)

SurfsUp (11523) | more than 12 years ago | (#2514958)

Microsoft settlement specifies RAND licensing for "any intellectual property rights owned or licensable by Microsoft that are required to exercise any of the options or alternatives expressly provided to them under this Final Judgment."

See for yourself [microsoft.com]

In other words, free software is just as locked out of the Microsoft settlement as it would be from web protocols if RAND becomes the policy.

The patentpolicy-comment list is still open. (2)

SurfsUp (11523) | more than 12 years ago | (#2515053)

You can subscribe to it by sending a message to:

www-patentpolicy-comment-request@w3.org

with subject 'subscribe' and body:

subscribe <your email address>

Archives are here [w3.org] .

You'll do a lot more good by subscribing to, and posting to the patentpolicy-comment list than by posting here. Oh, you don't have to be subscribed to the list to email to it, but it's well worth making the extra effort.

Time for W3C to step aside (2)

SurfsUp (11523) | more than 12 years ago | (#2515085)

We think that we are pretty good at developing standards, but don't view it as our mission to lobby to have laws changed. Therefore, we need a patent policy that deals with the present-day reality of software patents, which exist in a variety of forms in a variety of countries (not just the US) around the world.

Well good, then your standards-setting days are over, time to step aside and let people take over this work who are willing to lobby to have laws changed, or do whatever else it takes to achieve real, free web standards.

It's hard to believe you were once deputy directory of policy for EFF.

You don't have the fire in your belly any more, you're though.

Does he understand the term "open source"? (2)

bfields (66644) | more than 12 years ago | (#2515174)

...a number of commenters on Slashdot and www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org have suggested that there would be no open source implementation of RAND standards at all.

He makes this sound like a statement of opinion (or perhaps a threat of boycott?) by a few advocates, when it actually is a simple fact that, for any of the comunity's accepted definitions of the term "open source", writing open source software that implements RAND standards is a literal impossibility.

--Bruce Fields

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