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W3C Patent Board Recommends Royalty-Free Policy

Hemos posted more than 11 years ago | from the making-the-smart-choices dept.

The Internet 119

Bruce Perens writes "A year ago, the World Wide Web Consortium proposed a policy to allow royalty-generating patents to be embedded in web standards. This would have been fatal to the ability of Free Software to implement those standards. There was much protest, including over 2000 emails to the W3C Patent Policy Board spurred on by a call to arms published on Slashdot. As a result of the complaints, I was invited to join W3C's patent policy board, representing Software in the Public Interest (Debian's corporation) -- but really the entire Free Software community. I was later joined in this by Eben Moglen, for FSF, and Larry Rosen, for the Open Source Initiative." Bruce has written more below - it's well worth reading. After a year of argument and see-sawing, W3C's patent policy board has voted to recommend a royalty-free patent policy. This recommendation will be put in the form of a draft and released for public comment. There will probably be a dissenting minority report from some of the large patent holders. Tim Berners-Lee and the W3C Advisory Committee, composed of representatives from all of the consortium's members, will eventually make the final decision on the policy. My previous interaction with the Advisory Committee and Berners-Lee lead me to feel that they will approve the royalty-free policy.

The policy will require working group members to make a committment to royalty-free license essential claims - those which you can not help infringing if you are to implement the standard at all. There is also language prohibiting discriminatory patent licenses. The royalty-free grant is limited to the purpose of implementing the standard, and does not extend to any other application of the patent. And there is a requirement to disclose whether any patent used, even a non-essential one, is available under royalty-free terms, so that troublesome patents can be written out of a standard. The limitation of the scope-of-use on patents, and some other aspects of the policy, are less than I would like but all that I believed we could reasonably get. Eben Moglen may have some discussion regarding how GPL developers should cope with scope-of-use-limited patent grants from other parties. For now, it should suffice to say that while this is less than desirable, is will not block GPL development.

I'm not allowed to disclose how individual members voted, but I'll note that the vote did not follow "friends-vs-enemies" lines that the more naive among us might expect - so don't make assumptions.

Now, we must take this fight elsewhere. Although IETF has customarily been held up as the paragon of openness, they currently allow royalty-bearing patents to be embedded in their standards. This must change, and IETF has just initiated a policy discussion to that effect. We must pursue similar policies at many other standards bodies, and at the governments and treaty organizations that persist in writing bad law.

For me, this process has included two trips to France (no fun if you have to work every day) and an appearance at a research meeting in Washington, a week in Cupertino, innumerable conference calls and emails, and upcoming meetings in New York and Boston. That's a lot of time away from my family. Larry Rosen has shouldered a similar burden while nobody has been paying him for his time and trouble, and Eben Moglen put in a lot of time as well. Much of the time was spent listening to royalty-bearing proposals being worked out in excrutiating detail, which fortunately did not carry in the final vote. We also had help from a number of people behind the scenes, notably John Gilmore, and the officers and members of the organizations we represent.

I'd like to give credit to HP. Because I was representing SPI, and HP had someone else representing them at W3C, I made it clear to my HP managers that they would not be allowed to influence my role at W3C - that would have created a conflict-of-interest for me, as well as giving HP unfair double-representation. HP managers understood this, and were supportive. During all but the very end of the process, HP paid my salary and travel expenses while they knew that I was functioning as an independent agent who would explicitly reject their orders. Indeed, HP allowed me to influence their policy, rather than the reverse. This was the result of enlightened leadership by Jim Bell, Scott K. Peterson, Martin Fink, and Scott Stallard.

For most of the existence of Free Software, technology has been of primary importance. It will remain so, but the past several years have seen the emergence of the critical supporting role of political involvement simply so that we can continue to have the right to use and develop Free Software. I do not believe that we will consistently be able to code around bad law - we must represent what is important about our work and involve ourselves in policy-making worldwide, or what we do will not survive. I hope to continue to serve the Free Software Community in this role.

Respectfully Submitted

Bruce Perens
"

cancel ×

119 comments

read less (0, Redundant)

ggruschow (78300) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401766)

Gotta be the largest front-page posting I've ever seen.

Katz (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4401877)

Gotta be the largest front-page posting I've ever seen.

You haven't seen JonKatz's. Or is that because you block him?

by the power vested in me (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4401767)

FP!!! FP! FP!

Uhhh (0)

TheDick (453572) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401768)

Am I the only one seeing this on the front page in its entirety?

Really freaking me out.

BP (-1, Troll)

Strike (220532) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401770)

Bruce I want to have your manbabies!

DEAR FXCKING GOD!!!!! (0, Insightful)

ebbomega (410207) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401771)

Wow.... I remember when the "Read More" option was used to truncate a lot of posts like this.

Would it hurt us to give a brief description of the article so it doesn't become so painful on my poor little 13" VGA monitor?

Re:DEAR FXCKING GOD!!!!! (1, Funny)

Mattygfunk1 (596840) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401784)

I love the fact that this story (novel?) was posted in the making-the-smart-choices dept.

-----

beer smoke pencil paper internet freedom [wallpaperscoverings.com]

Re:DEAR FXCKING GOD!!!!! (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401794)

I Guess this must be really important like the slashdot equilvlant of MAN LANDS ON THE MOON. It does seem like good news it will help the OSS Comunity but it dosent seem a like a major life changing event or a super great acompleshment. It was a bunch of guys say hey lets changes these rules to be a little more fair.

Now I don't know what's more shocking.... (-1, Offtopic)

ebbomega (410207) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401795)

The annoyance of the full-page posting of this sucker, or the fact that this got modded up to 5 in a matter of minutes, whereas This post [slashdot.org] has been bouncing around 2 since the discussion began, despite the fact that it's actually on-topic, somewhat developed, albeit written thoroughly sleepdepped and not the most intelligent thing on /., but at least somewhat discussion-oriented.

Re:DEAR FXCKING GOD!!!!! (0, Offtopic)

Roblimo (357) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401799)

Fixed. Thanks for noticing.

- Robin

Re:DEAR FXCKING GOD!!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4401842)

Score +1 red face :))

Re:DEAR FXCKING GOD!!!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4402014)

Moderators, the parent post added nothing insightful to this discussion, yet posted with a +1 posting bonus. Clearly an abuse of the moderation system, ESPECIALLY taking into consideration that he is a Slashdot jani^H^H^H^Heditor and as such should put forth an example for the rest of us to follow.

Moderators, I implore thee, moderate down this worthless scumbag down into the depths of hell where he belongs (and hey, it's not like he doesn't have plenty (read: unlimited) of karma to burn).

Re:DEAR FXCKING GOD!!!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4402410)

Are u trying to joke or you are a true moron?! Rob Limo=CmdrTaco. The OWNER of Slashdot.
Fucking moron

Re:DEAR FXCKING GOD!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4402453)

who?

is that the guy who doesn't wear any pants?

Re:DEAR FXCKING GOD!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4403046)

Get a clue, dude. Roblimo = Robin Miller. CmdrTaco = Rob Malda. Two different people.

That said, I think it's cool that one of the editors got modded -1 Offtopic!

Re:DEAR FXCKING GOD!!!!! (1)

KelsoLundeen (454249) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401844)

It's a goof, ya bag.

A mess-up.

And it's fixed.

Re:DEAR FXCKING GOD!!!!! (1, Offtopic)

ebbomega (410207) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401856)

Ya think?

719 Words long (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401917)

Or the equivalent of a short newspaper article or op-ed piece (not even a Sunday supplement article). A reading speed of about 250-300 words per minute is typical of the general population, so we're talking about less than three minutes -- or less than the length of a TV commercial break, if that's a more familiar benchmark for you.

If you can't spare three minutes on a reasonably well written first person account of such an important issue, then you have to ask -- who is telling you what to think on this topic?

Reality check: Bounced! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4401778)

Yeah, well who cares, really? And why was this posted in its entirely on the front page?

This place is going downhill these days. Time to look around for a better source of gossip and other unverified news clippings.

Hemos destroyed Slashdot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4401780)

Hemos destroyed Slashdot, Hemos destroyed Slashdot!

Big news! (0, Redundant)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401787)

At least it have its own place in the front page

Explanation for the large posting... (5, Funny)

McCall (212035) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401790)

/. can no longer use the "Read More" option due to a royalty-generating patent.

McCall

That's great, but... (3, Insightful)

NineNine (235196) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401792)

... the W3C has been a group without any kind of power for a long time. They've been suggesting technical web standard since the Web began, but they've been largely ignored for at least the past 3-4 years. I doubt that this recommendation will be any more than that, a recommendation. I really don't think that anybody of importance (in this case, the US patent office) really pays them much attention any more. Hard to hear, but that's reality.

Re:That's great, but... (5, Informative)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401893)

... the W3C has been a group without any kind of power for a long time. They've been suggesting technical web standard since the Web began, but they've been largely ignored for at least the past 3-4 years.

What evidence do you have to support that statement? Let's see, specifications of the W3C that are widely used:

XML: uh, yeah. Ignored?

All the other bits that come with XML - XPath, XSLT, DOM and so on

HTML4 - yes, this is a standard, yes people frequently break its rules but html4 is a standard that allows for that to some extent. It's implemented in every major browser (ignoring bugs).

CSS - lots of sites use this

SOAP? No, it wasn't "invented" by the W3C, but the W3C accepts other peoples technologies as well as inventing its own, hence this story.

The W3C is producing some of the most thorough and powerful technical standards around. They are very readable and well organized (if you don't believe me try reading some specs from ECMA, or the IETF which still does not use rich text in its specs). They have a long term vision - the semantic web.

To be honest, the W3C is one of the most important standards bodies around, if they didn't exist and hadn't sorted out the browser wars, today the web would be totally screwed over. I'd like to say a huge thankyou to Bruce: anybody can sit back in their chair and write a new MP3 player but it takes real dedication and energy to travel the world sitting through meetings with corporate execs and fighting for our cause when all you have is the strength of your argument to back you up.

Re:That's great, but... (3, Informative)

NineNine (235196) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401939)

Not a single thing that you listed has been implemented as per their specs. There are still two different browsers, with each one only supporting the various technologies partially. There's no consistency between the brosers (still), and there's probably not going to be. They may have *ideas*, but the technical specifications are simply not implemented. Hell, I've got an open issue in Bugzilla that is a W3C spec that Mozilla doesn't support, and it's been open for close to a year. There's clearly no kind of real, pressing reason for software developers to design according to the W3C specs. The W3C has no teeth. The best they can do is throw something out there, and cross their fingers.On top of that, I gotta say that from what I've read, these various technologies would have happened with or without the W3C. And, you didn't list the hundreds of other specifications that they wrote that are simple not implemented anywhere.

Re:That's great, but... (5, Informative)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402005)

Not a single thing that you listed has been implemented as per their specs. There are still two different browsers, with each one only supporting the various technologies partially. There's no consistency between the brosers (still), and there's probably not going to be.

Only 2? There are loads of web browsers. IE and Mozilla, Opera, Konqueror, iCab, gtk-html etc. Virtually all of them save IE and Opera implement the specs pretty well. IE just suffers from a lot of bugs - you'll notice in IE6 one of the "new features" was a modicum of standards compliance. Yes, there are bugs in browsers. Wowee, the programmers made some mistakes. It happens, these are not simple technologies. IE has more bugs than it should do, but they seem to be getting their act together to at least some extent.

The W3C specs are typically complex - they do pretty advanced stuff. A complete vector graphics language anybody? That's damn cool, but a lot of work. Yet it's getting done none the less, Moz has its own native svg implementation and Konqui supports it too.

There's clearly no kind of real, pressing reason for software developers to design according to the W3C specs. The W3C has no teeth. The best they can do is throw something out there, and cross their fingers.

Sure there is - interoperability. Hence the fact that all web browsers attempt to use the same technologies. Some manage better than others of course.

On top of that, I gotta say that from what I've read, these various technologies would have happened with or without the W3C. And, you didn't list the hundreds of other specifications that they wrote that are simple not implemented anywhere.

The point of the W3C is not to be a research institution. There was structured markup before XML, there was hypertext before HTTP, there was vector graphics before SVG. But people are using these specs regardless, because the value of interoperability is high. That last sentance is provably false, for a specification to reach "W3C Recommendation" status there must be at least one, often more than one implementation. Don't make the mistake of assuming that all their specs are meant for the web browser, or even the web.

Re:That's great, but... (2, Insightful)

Compact Dick (518888) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402088)


Virtually all of them save IE and Opera implement the specs pretty well.

I agree with the former, but I must point out Opera has one of the strictest HTML engines out there, and it adheres to W3C standards very well. Its CSS support is just as good and well-featured. OTOH, IE has enough bugs in its rendering engine as to discourage some useful features [such as negative margins in CSS].

I feel Microsoft will continue this trend of marginally improving IE with each incremental release, but not as to be fully standards-compliant. This will ensure more people are on the upgrade treadmill, and they get more opportunities to sneak in that wonderful DRM software onto your machine.

You are aware that upgrading IE also updates your entire OS, don't you?

Re:That's great, but... (2)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402173)

I was thinking mainly of the DOM wrt Opera, but yes, point taken.

Re:That's great, but... (2, Informative)

NineNine (235196) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402811)

Only 2? There are loads of web browsers. IE and Mozilla, Opera, Konqueror, iCab, gtk-html etc. Virtually all of them save IE and Opera implement the specs pretty well. IE just suffers from a lot of bugs - you'll notice in IE6 one of the "new features" was a modicum of standards compliance. Yes, there are bugs in browsers. Wowee, the programmers made some mistakes. It happens, these are not simple technologies. IE has more bugs than it should do, but they seem to be getting their act together to at least some extent.

There are no more than two that are even remotely popular (and the popularity of Netscape/Mozilla is falling by the day). The other ones are largely irrelevant.

And as far as compliance, much more of the DOM is implemented in IE than it is in Mozilla. I have *several* non compliance issues open in Bugzilla that haven't been addressed in nearly a year. OTOH, I haven't stumbled across a part of the DOM that IE is lacking in yet.

As far as bugs, I don't know what you're talking about.

Sure there is - interoperability. Hence the fact that all web browsers attempt to use the same technologies. Some manage better than others of course.

This goes back to my first point. Interoperability? Depending on the numbers you read, 85-95% of all surfers use IE. For the vast majority of web site owners, interoperability with the W3C spec is a moot point. IE interoperability is key. If IE decided to completely split fromt he W3C spec tomorrow, whose specs are going to be followed? With 95% of my surfers using IE, that's what I'm concerned about. Hence, the W3C has no teeth.

The point of the W3C is not to be a research institution. There was structured markup before XML, there was hypertext before HTTP, there was vector graphics before SVG. But people are using these specs regardless, because the value of interoperability is high. That last sentance is provably false, for a specification to reach "W3C Recommendation" status there must be at least one, often more than one implementation. Don't make the mistake of assuming that all their specs are meant for the web browser, or even the web.

Ok, maybe *somebody's* using every one, but a handful of users does not a "standard" make. XSL? PNG? Again, they can scream until they're blue in the face, hold press conferences, protest, whatever, but unless a large number of people want to actually *use* those specs, they're about as worthwhile as the new "NineNine SeXML" spec that I could write.

Re:That's great, but... (1)

Viqsi (534904) | more than 11 years ago | (#4404347)

Ha! gtkhtml2 has more CSS and HTML breakage than Netscape 4 (I can't use <object> in it; it'll pop up a GTK+ 2.0 color selector widget in place of my content), and gtkhtml1 can't support any standard past HTML 3.2 worth crap. MSIE is a better bet than either.

Konqueror isn't much better than MSIE, too. They've had a specific design goal to imitate MSIE's implementations of both DOM and CSS, and have done a good job of it. And 3.0 hasn't really put it any further ahead (last I checked it exploded when it came in contact with my page - and before you start to make an argument there, *yes*, the page in question is fully XHTML 1.1 and CSS 2 compliant).

Opera's Only failing is the DOM; it does CSS remarkably well. It's an extremely strong contender.

And don't even get me started on some of the ones omitted (OmniWeb, for example... and anyone still using XmHTML or GtkXmHTML should be beaten with a clue-by-four...).

(Disclaimer: I am very much FOR web standards and don't like to see them screwed over.)

Re:That's great, but... (3, Interesting)

Tony-A (29931) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402559)

Today we have a few nonstandard browsers.
Tomorrow we will have a good number of standard browsers.
Who would want a nonstandard browser?

Re:That's great, but... (0, Troll)

neitzsche (520188) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402032)

How did your [incorrect] post get modded up to +5?

SGML is a standard. XML is not - it has been raped to the point of being non-sensical.

XSLT is for MS only, no? DOM did not originate from XML.

HTML4 is ignored by 99%+ of the web pages out there. Only a few hundred "large" sites actually can get their HTML to fit that nasty spec.

CSS - lots of sites use this is MANY DIFFERENT WAYS. How is that standard?

SOAP - isn't that what those evolution guys are messing with? Can't guess how much MS is paying them under the sheets...

--

If the W3C wants to be a 'standards' organization, they should be adopting things that are in common practice. Their recommendations should be for things that make sense. I will personally NEVER forgive them for their <DOCTYPE> blasphemy. MIME types were (and still are) much more appropriate. But that is a tiny example.

--

The W3C knows that if they accept royalties, they would automatically be ignored. It's too bad they were not dumb enough to sign their own death-warrant.

Re:That's great, but... (0, Offtopic)

zapfie (560589) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402066)

Do you only troll on Mondays, or do you troll all week?

Re:That's great, but... (5, Informative)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402162)

The W3C is producing some of the most thorough and powerful technical standards around. They are very readable and well organized (if you don't believe me try reading some specs from ECMA, or the IETF which still does not use rich text in its specs). They have a long term vision - the semantic web.

W3C is certainly not under any challenge from the IETF. Apart from CISCO there are very few vendors who take their proposals to IETF by choice these days. It simply takes too long to get anything done and the IETF rules allow far too much scope for individuals with an agenda to delay the process until the rest of the group gives in.

W3C is under challenge from OASIS however. It can take over a year just to get a W3C group formed, you can get the spec completed in the same time at OASIS. The other issue is cost, W3C charges $50,000 a year for membership, OASIS is only $10,000 for the top membership tier. That makes a big differene when it comes to getting customers involved. Few customers want to pay $50K for 4 years to influence the direction of a technical spec.

Semantic Web is not that popular with the W3C membership. Every time members suggest new work items there are attempts to align them with RDF. Now I don't have a problem with Tim's goal, but I don't think a rehash of Lenat's cyc project is the answer.

The attempt to get consistency across standards is good in theory, but the problem is that the membership don't get much input in the direction of that consistency. For example XMLQuery was proposed as an XML based interface to SQL. I can see a case to support that as a legacy issue, but since then we have been having W3C people asking us repeatedly why we are not using it. I have zero interest in using XMLQuery and will take my specs elsewhere rather than have it polute my spec. SQL is a legacy data model that we are trying to leave behind, insisting that everything bebased on it is as clueless as demanding that every spec be easily implemented in COBOL.

The W3C handling of its patent policy has not been competent. On occasions people have been flying to WG meetings and the patent terms of the meeting have changed while they were in mid air. The Royalty Free issue is nowehere near as simple as likes of Bruce Perens would have people believe, life is always simple for idealogues because they measure their achievement in terms of their commitment to their ideology rather than by actual results.

The IETF policy that Bruce had a go at is actually the most pro-open source arround. Basically it says that specs should not be encumbered by patents unless there is a really good reason. The last really good reason that was allowed was to use public key cryptography without which we could not have written the PGP and S/MIME specs at IETF.

Re:That's great, but... (2)

Raphael (18701) | more than 11 years ago | (#4403219)

I agree: W3C is under challenge from OASIS. One reason may be the membership fee, but this is probably not the most important one. OASIS does not have a royalty-free policy. Several companies are actively encouraging other W3C members to move some proposed standards to OASIS instead of W3C for that reason.

So I am happy that the W3C has adopted this patent-free policy. But there is a serious risk that more and more protocols and formats will be standardized in OASIS (or IETF) instead of W3C because the companies promoting these standards do not want to give up on their patents.

Re:That's great, but... (2, Interesting)

chris_lilley (107848) | more than 11 years ago | (#4403380)

"On occasions people have been flying to WG meetings and the patent terms of the meeting have changed while they were in mid air."

Actually that is completely incorrect. What actually happened was that the patent policy for a group (the second SVG WG) was expicitly set to Royalty Free in the call for participation, many weeks before the meeting.

The issue was not that the policy changed "in mid air" but that it did *not* change; the assumption had been, apparently, that we would change to RAND (while they were in midair); we did not change to RAND and I stand by that decision, as chair of the relevant WG.

Re:That's great, but... (3, Interesting)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 11 years ago | (#4403803)

Actually that is completely incorrect. What actually happened was that the patent policy for a group (the second SVG WG) was expicitly set to Royalty Free in the call for participation, many weeks before the meeting.
The issue was not that the policy changed "in mid air" but that it did *not* change; the assumption had been, apparently, that we would change to RAND (while they were in midair); we did not change to RAND and I stand by that decision, as chair of the relevant WG.

Sounds to me that you admit that the statement is not 'completely incorrect' since you admit the basic issue that people were travelling to the meeting under the belief that there would be different IPR terms to the ones imposed. Whether or not you are correct in asserting that the terms did not change more than one member believes that their 'assumption' as you put it was well founded.

There is a lot more to the patent issue than royalty free versus non royalty free. I am not aware of any major standards effort in the Internet space that has voluntarily adopted encumbered technology unless there was absolutely no other choice. The only group I am aware of that was formed recently under RAND with royalties was XrML which is in the DRM space which is a known patent minefield.

The issue which W3C had difficulty understanding for the longest time was reciprocal licensing. There are many patent holders who are quite willing to allow royalty free use of a patent for a standard provided that a competitor cant then come and demand royalties for their patent while getting to use the other patent for free.

"Legacy" is often Good. (2)

mmol_6453 (231450) | more than 11 years ago | (#4403770)

Take a look at the X86 CPU architecture. The SVGA standard. Take a look at C. (Please, no flames.) Even the use of silicon for electronics is a "legacy" standard.

C and the X86 instruction set have been around for over twenty years. SVGA has been around for about that long.

All three of these are doubtless "legacy" specifications.

The 386 instruction set has been the "least common denominator" for PC-based programs since the early, early 90s. There isn't a single 32-bit C-compliant program out there that can't be compiled for it. This is an example of interoperability which, as the poster pointed out, is the purpose of the W3C. Every standard exists to improve interoperability.

Heck, even "proprietary" formats have their own standard, so that at least one product can consistently work with it, no matter what part of that product is involved.

SVGA is the basis for communication between nearly every PC and monitor. Not only does it support modularity (your monitor will work with my machine), but it's open-ended. We haven't reached the limit to how much visual data can pass from your computer to your monitor. Since it's analog, the amount of data transferred depends on the capabilities of the hardware, not the standard. Digital formats can't compete yet, because you can only pack so much data into a finitely-resolutioned data stream.

With the way the SVGA standard is structured, you only have to worry about a small number of things.

C is excellent for fast, compact applications. C++ has its uses, but those are largely limited, IMHO, to large, integrated projects. For small, one-purpose utilities, C is usually faster. (And remember that repetitive processes go a lot faster when the individual cycle is only a little bit faster.) C has been extended a few times, (POSIX.1, POSIX.2, C99, and a couple of others I don't recall) but it is largely the same. And ANSI C (C89) is still the base standard, available across-the-board.

Silicon...where would we be today without it? It hasn't outlived its usefulness, at least not yet. Take the dead horse, for example. You can beat it all you want, and you'll be the one pushing it. You could breed a new horse, but then you have to wait for it to grow up, you have to "break" it, you have to get to know it, and, finally, you get to ride it. The whole process takes years.

And then there's the old saw, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Re:"Legacy" is often Good. (2)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 11 years ago | (#4403980)

Take a look at the X86 CPU architecture. The SVGA standard. Take a look at C. (Please, no flames.) Even the use of silicon for electronics is a "legacy" standard.

That is an irrelevant comparison.

There is absolutely zero advantage from a legacy perspective in using XMLQuery in applications where there is no legacy SQL database to work arround.

Introducing XML Query in those cases simply ties an infrastructure that was independent of SQL lossage direct to SQL. So instead of working with an object oriented data model based on typed set theory we are back to 1960s style hacking arround with entity relation data models.

The practical upshot of that approach is that aplications would suddenly need an SQL engine that otherwise would not just to manage the back end of XML Query!

The whole point of Web Services is that they are designed to support legacy applications. We understand that point perfectly. The way to get interoperation is to put the conversion from SQL to application code is in the Web Service and not the client. If you don't believe me try running Outlook over a modem line with MAPI and POP3 and compare the performance. MAPI is a dog because it is performing low level RPC calls in an XML Query type fashion. POP3 is faster because the messages it exchanges are defined at the application level.

To take the example it is as if someone had said that the VGA standard is so good that the O/S should require all screens to be 640x480 pixels so that we could be sure that an application would never produce a picture that was too big for a smaller display.

Or to take the example of C it would be like saying that the only data model to be used would be structures referenced by unguarded pointers, we would never move on to Java or C#.

Re:That's great, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4402355)

They have a long term vision - the semantic web.

As someone who has been involved with various aspects of the semantic web, let me tell you that it's a cluster fuck. Their long term vision is a delusion.

Re:That's great, but... (4, Insightful)

Compact Dick (518888) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401986)


In addition to what TheRealMike has stated, you must realise that a greater number of website authors are becoming increasingly aware of the existence of W3C standards, and the benefits of using them - easier code maintenance, smaller filesizes, quicker downloads, greater consistency over a wide range of browsers and platforms [let's leave NS 4.x out of this, okay?], and most importantly - standards that are actually useful and very well-codified.

I use XHTML 1.1 + CSS for most websites I create for my friends, although I may temporarily switch to HTML 4.01 transitional for certain cases - use the best tool for the job, that's my motto.

Finally, there are nuts like me who will go out of their way to help the adoption of useful standards. In fact, I will soon be conducting a survey among website designers in my area to assess their knowledge and application of these standards, and spread the word.

Now only if Slashdot gave us an option to receive pages in valid XHTML 1.1 + CSS instead of the bloated, slow-to-render TABLE tag-filled clutter that it is right now.

Re:That's great, but... (2)

Luyseyal (3154) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402371)

I've never regretted switching to Lite mode. :)
-l

Re:That's great, but... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4402588)

Indeed, the USA ignore pretty everything except "the axe of evil" these days. It's a shame.

I propose a change of power in Washington D.C. - military-forced by the WUASFwoA (World United Allied Strike Forces w/o America). There does not seem to be any other way to get rid of the top-nuts over there (aka Bush & Co.) who do a lot of harm to people all over the world by disregarding democratic instituations such as the UN, feeding people with misleading information and simplistic "answers" to complex questions, hurting the world economy badly, killing directly and indirectly millions of people per year. No wonder there is growing anti-americanism.

I am utterly ashamed of America. It's not a wise nation at all. They obviously did not learn what Europeans learnt 60 years ago:

IF WAR IS THE ANSWER, THE QUESTION MUST BE FUCKING STUPID!

Perens (4, Insightful)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401793)

It interesting to see mature responses to differences of opinions with your employers. Other recent high profile employer/employee splits *cough*bero*cough* showed a real lack of maturity.

Perens is a model of how to influence people to your point of view, and it sure doesn't involve leaving in a hissy fit when your companies views diverge from your views.

Re:Perens (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4402125)

*cough*bero*cough* showed a real lack of maturity

Nice juxtaposition, there. *cough*

I really need to upgrade... (-1, Offtopic)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401796)

The time has finally come for this [lgeus.com] , I guess.
I knew it would happen sooner or later, but never thought Slashdot would set the standards!

Keep going Bruce! Bravo! (0, Offtopic)

neitzsche (520188) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401798)

Now if only I could get this ancient HPLJ to work under Red Hat!

Oh wait, HP likes linux.

Oh wait, HP doesn't support their hardware under linux.

Oh wait, HP likes linux.

Oh wait, HP likes Microsoft.

Oh wait, HP lindof likes Linux again (really? Yeah right.)

They wouldn't be diverting your with 'important things that can't cange anyhow' would they? No, not HP.

Re:Keep going Bruce! Bravo! (2, Offtopic)

tzanger (1575) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401984)

Now if only I could get this ancient HPLJ to work under Red Hat!

HP LaserJets (any vintage) have to be one of the most Linux-friendly hardware devices on the planet. I've personally had LaserJet II/III/4V/4MV/5P/6Ls hooked up to Linux at one point or another, in both parallel and JetDirect setups.

What, specifically is your problem? There has to be something simple that you've overlooked.

Re:Keep going Bruce! Bravo! (1)

neitzsche (520188) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402092)

I would think this is off topic. But anyhow, I have an HP 672C Deskjet that worked fine with RedHat 5.2 back in 1999. But after I upgraded to 6.x, then 7.x, I have never been able to get this printer to work. I have not yet downgraded back to see if there was something peculiar in the 5.2 install that allowed it, but even installing drivers from HP has not helped. I am currently using Red Hat 7.2, and have an lpd queue that has test jobs that are months old pending. It has been a while since I've bothered with it. Mandrake did not recognise it either.

Re:Keep going Bruce! Bravo! (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402209)

Well.. that's a Deskjet, not a Laserjet. But it really should work. I'm puzzled by the fact that the jobs are still pending in the queue, however. The Deskjet 600 series supports only PCL3, which doesn't reject jobs even when they look like garbage, so you should have gotten SOMETHING out of there, even if it looked like gobbledegook. I'd really recommend hooking it up to a known working system to test communication. If you're using a print server (like a Jetdirect), make sure that the test button produces a config page. If that doesn't work, it's a bad cable, bad port, or the printer is simply shot and pretty much disposable. If that works, telnet to the raw telnet port on the print server (if supported: Jetdirects and clones use 9100) and send some plain text. That will tell you whether it's an LPD misconfig.

Mods: I have karma to burn :)

Re:Keep going Bruce! Bravo! (1)

neitzsche (520188) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402320)

We are WAY off topic now.

No print server. Parallel cable. Yes, it does still print test pages. It could be a bad cable, but I doubt it, since it works when I hook my scanner up to it.

Re:Keep going Bruce! Bravo! (2)

tzanger (1575) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402212)

  • Now if only I could get this ancient HPLJ to work under Red Hat!
But anyhow, I have an HP 672C Deskjet that worked fine with RedHat 5.2 back in 1999.

Hmm, you can't get your LaserJet working or your DeskJet? Admittedly the DeskJets aren't peaches and cream to set up, but CUPS seems to do a pretty good job with them. I haven't got a lot of experience with the DeskJets though. IIRC I once got a 690 to work just fine but it was all done via CUPS and its own interfaces. The printer ended up eating crackers thanks to my daughter and it's never worked the same (at all) since. :-)

Re:Keep going Bruce! Bravo! (1)

neitzsche (520188) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402362)

I only gave CUPS a couple chances (and not recently). I guess I will again later today, after work. (Hi ho, Hi ho, it's off to work I go...)

--

But to get back to my orignal post, the on again, off again nature of HP is disconcerting. If they had supported the FSF from the start, there would not have been IP issues with print drivers to begin with.

Keep at them Bruce!

Thanks Bruce! (1, Funny)

Stephen Maturin (530754) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401805)

Finally, a way to get prople to read the article before posting!

Wow! (0, Offtopic)

MikeAR303 (578117) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401807)

First: Great news! Next: Record setting front page post size! Double positive!

Phew Bruce Perens... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4401808)

.... for a second I thought Jon Katz was back.

Free Software (3, Interesting)

Thnurg (457568) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401809)

Did Bruce say "Free Software Community"?
There's still hope that he'll join the light of Free Software rather than the slightly off white of Open Source.

Re:Free Software (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4401883)

That is not that strange. He has expressed is views on Open Source and Free Software in a short paper entitled: "It's Time to Talk about Free Software Again"

It must be on his website somewere, but you can read a early version [debian.org] in the Debian Developer archives.

The important paragraph in that article is the following:

Most hackers know that Free Software and Open Source are just two words for the same thing. Unfortunately, though, Open Source has de-emphasized the importance of the freedoms involved in Free Software. It's time for us to fix that. We must make it clear to the world that those freedoms are still important, and that software such as Linux would not be around without them.

Re:Free Software (5, Funny)

Alsee (515537) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401921)

the slightly off white of Open Source

and the eggshell of the LGPL, the beige of BSD, the periwinkle of shareware, and the burnt umber of commercial licences.

-

Re:Free Software (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4402040)

Black, white, colours. Liberation lies in the colourless Public Domain.

Re:Free Software (1)

Shimbo (100005) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402274)

Liberation lies in the colourless Public Domain.

I think you'll find that it's blue. [imdb.com]

Re:Free Software (2)

Zach Garner (74342) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402109)

Perhaps you did not realize that the order from Purely free to Closed goes:
BSD -> LGPL -> GPL -> Commercial

BSD places little restriction on how you use it.

Re:Free Software (1)

ccady (569355) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402482)

You are ignoring the rights of secondary consumers. The BSD license lets secondary authors *remove any freedom* from secondary consumers.

By your definition, it is only purely free at the primary level.

Re:Free Software (2)

Gerry Gleason (609985) | more than 11 years ago | (#4403096)

It's not really a linear scale. The colors analogy is good in that it is at least two dimensional depending on how you look at it.

This debate goes around endlessly because some people think that selling software isn't a valid choice. I'm willing to go down that road, but you have to prove you case, not bludgeon people into submission.

If you are going to open your source, you have to consider the market dynamics. GPL, LGPL and compatible licenses create a commons and protect it in a way that BSD and public domain do not. If all the players are cooperating, the differences are not that important, but if someone doesn't play nice (for example the Wright Brothers story), you don't have any legal recourse with BSD and public domain terms. Yes they are less restrictive, but that is not a universal good. If I'm trying to make money on related products and services, it doesn't help me if someome takes my contribution private. In fact, it damages the community who want to share cooperatively whether their motivation is fun, profit, or both.

One point people seem to miss about BSD style licensing. Since you can take a derivative private, you can also take it GPL. You just have to give credit and such, and to the extent that the derived product is better and different, it is now a pure GPL base for further work. Sure, you can go back to the fork and take that private, but that is the perogative of those supporting the non-GPL fork.

If you don't need to make money on products and services (e.g. an academic research environment), then you are not damaged in the same way when someone takes a derivative private. Of course, you could do this by releasing under GPL (or better LGPL), and selling commercial licenses if someone wants to implement a commercial derivative.

This started from a knee-jerk criticism of the 'open' choice as represented by Bruce in his "Sincere Choice" initiative. This criticism is misguided. Bruce is pushing for Open Standards and interoperability which has little to do with licensing terms. Openness is the important feature of standards, and it is exactly what we want in terms of policy and law. It's a matter of choice, plain and simple.

Unless you propose to do away with software copyrights, it doesn't matter anyway. If the standard is made concrete in a reference implementation, all Open Source standards are equally good. If you can look at the source, it is easy enough to re-implement under any license you want if you can look at the reference. Would any GPL zealot want to give me legal hassles because I was reading the GPL source while writing my own? I think not, and they wouldn't have much of a legal position anyway.

Same thing with Sun's Java Community License. Would they sue a GPL project because they are looking at the Sun reference? If they did, it would prove the openness was a shame in a way that everyone can see. The certification issue is different, but still needs to be addressed for any non-free but open standard (Java in this case).

Re:Free Software (2)

Alsee (515537) | more than 11 years ago | (#4403313)

color... is at least two dimensional

Color is exactly three dimentional. (At least as far as normal human vision is concerned.)

-

Color dimensions (2)

Gerry Gleason (609985) | more than 11 years ago | (#4404078)

Color is exactly three dimentional. (At least as far as normal human vision is concerned.)

Then why is it alway represented by a two dimensional pallet? That's why I said "at least". And it isn't "exact" either, since many humans are missing at least one of the dimensions.

Nonsense (5, Insightful)

FreeUser (11483) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402626)

Did Bruce say "Free Software Community"?
There's still hope that he'll join the light of Free Software rather than the slightly off white of Open Source.


Look, I'm a rather strong advocate of Free Software, indeed of software freedom in general. I try to remember to say (and write) GNU/Linux, and even succeed in not forgetting the GNU as often as not, out of respect for RMSes wishes even if I think his making a big deal out of it is chasing the wrong goal to some degree, and despite the wretched flames from those who would like to sweep RMSes 95% contribution to the core Linux-as-a-UNIX-like operating system under the rug, and claim notoriety for much of his work.

I donate rather generously to the EFF and the FSF, I support and use the GPL in my own work, and am even working on a Media equivelent of the GPL for my more creative literary and media projects, and I tend to value the definition of free software over the definition of open source licenses which are often, IMHO, too liberal in allowing restrictions on the user/customer.

All that having been said, calling Open Source "off-white" (American, perhaps a general English, idiom for 'not quite legitimate', also 'off-color') is utterly bogus.

Open Source has played an important role in bridging the cultural divide between software freedom and the old school, proprietary 'you get what you pay for (and nothing else)' mindset that, despite its trivial disprovability in most areas of life, persists to a remarkable degree among decision makers in many walks of life. Open Source is a stepping stone, a rhetoric that exposes some of the important benefits of free software (peer review and a rigorous scientific method vs. 'secret formula' methodologies, or as I like to put it, 'the free software folks are chemists sharing knowledge, while the proprietary software folks are alchemists hoarding secrets, and everyone knows which approach yields progress and which does not').

Many people coming from a proprietary mindset aren't able to make the complete leap from an information hoarding, toll-charging for every mile travelled mindset to the notion of software freedom, complete with all its ideals and, to the rest of us, obvious advantages of synergy, exponential cooperative growth and development of projects, and so on, but these very same people can and do make the leap toward understanding why the scientific method of sharing knowledge and submitting to rigorous peer review of code does lead to better software. It isn't the only aspect of free software that leads to better software, and it may not even be the most important factor, but it is a factor that they can understand. Once one has grown accustomed to these factors, and has moved one or more project to an open source or free software platform as a result, one begins to experience and learn the other advantages of free software (freedom from orphaned software, freedom from vendor coercion, freedom to set one's own upgrade cycle and timetable, freedom to fix libraries one's work depends on, rather than waiting months for the vendor to get around to it, freedom to leverage the work of others into getting a project out the door in a fraction of the time it would have otherwise taken, in short, freedom to use technology to serve one's business interests, rather than one's vendors' business intersts).

I have witnessed this metamorphesis in at least a dozen people, who came from the aforementioned 'free means worthless' mindset to adament advocates of free software, and in each case their first, rudimentary understanding came via the open source rhetoric, and in each case their understanding did not stop there. RMSes fears that open source would blind people to free software are IMHO largely misguided, as is the entire conflict between the two movements.

Open source is an important stepping stone for those in the proprietary world, a step they can take relatively easilly, and can understand, but one which generally does lead to an understanding of the value of software freedom, not through rhetorici or evangelism, but through personal experience.

So, while the differentiation between Free Software and Open Source is important, this bickering between the two is quite asinine and counterproductive, and while software freedom may encompass a more complete and accurate picture of the benefits offered by free software than Open Source does, Open Source bridges the divide and helps make those advantages available to many who otherwise would have never taken the opportunity. In so doing Open Source provides an important, some might argue critical, service to the Free Software community, and despite any disagreements between the two, Open Source is most certainly not 'off-white.'

I supposte that is a long winded way of saying "can't we just all get along" or perhaps "go away Microsofty, we don't need no stinkin' agent provocatueurs around here." In any event, however you interpret it, let's put this silly 'open source' vs. 'free software' bickering behind us, recognize the importance of both, and move on to enjoying the marvelous digital world the software freedom they help protect has created for us.

Strategic Openness (4, Insightful)

Gerry Gleason (609985) | more than 11 years ago | (#4403865)

Very well put. I, and I'm sure many others, are right there with you on this. Freedom is the goal, and openness is an important step. Don't try to make all your arguments at once, it just confuses them. It's important to think and move strategically (oops, maybe I shouldn't give this away ;-), after all MS does.

Many people coming from a proprietary mindset aren't able to make the complete leap from an information hoarding, toll-charging for every mile travelled mindset to the notion of software freedom, complete with all its ideals and, to the rest of us, obvious advantages of synergy, exponential cooperative growth and development of projects, and so on, but these very same people can and do make the leap toward understanding why the scientific method of sharing knowledge and submitting to rigorous peer review of code does lead to better software. It isn't the only aspect of free software that leads to better software, and it may not even be the most important factor, but it is a factor that they can understand. Once one has grown accustomed to these factors, and has moved one or more project to an open source or free software platform as a result, one begins to experience and learn the other advantages of free software (freedom from orphaned software, freedom from vendor coercion, freedom to set one's own upgrade cycle and timetable, freedom to fix libraries one's work depends on, rather than waiting months for the vendor to get around to it, freedom to leverage the work of others into getting a project out the door in a fraction of the time it would have otherwise taken, in short, freedom to use technology to serve one's business interests, rather than one's vendors' business intersts).

Sorry to include so much, but I don't think this can be emphasised enough. Open Source strengthens Free Source, and this is why. It's also central to my criticism of RMS's stance on LGPL. I was trying to find a link to his position paper on this and instead I found this [topology.org] which is even more disturbing. From this link:

Stallman recently tried what I would call a hostile takeover of the glibc development. He tried to conspire behind my back and persuade the other main developers to take control so that in the end he is in control and can dictate whatever pleases him. This attempt failed but he kept on pressuring people everywhere and it got really ugly. In the end I agreed to the creation of a so-called "steering committee" (SC). The SC is different from the SC in projects like gcc in that it does not make decisions. On this front nothing changed. The only difference is that Stallman now has no right to complain anymore since the SC he wanted acknowledged the status quo. I hope he will now shut up forever.

The morale of this is that people will hopefully realize what a control freak and raging manic Stallman is. Don't trust him. As soon as something isn't in line with his view he'll stab you in the back. NEVER voluntarily put a project you work on under the GNU umbrella since this means in Stallman's opinion that he has the right to make decisions for the project.

Now, I'm all in favor of giving credit where credit is due, and clearly Stallman has done a lot, but it doesn't give him the right to stomp on people who are contributing to the GPL world.

The GPL is brilliant in a number of ways, most important being the freedom it brings to software. But get this, Stallman fanatics, once he put it out there, he doesn't own it. The most important aspect of the GPL is that it builds trust that no one will be able to take private advantage of what you have freely given.

I have no problem with anyone calling it GNU/Linux, but to insist on it is to try and control things. Do we need language police? Let's be clear, RMS does not deserve credit for 95% of Linux, although his actual contribution is substantial. I'd like to know what percentage of the developers who actually contributed code under GPL whether under FSF or otherwise actually support what RMS is trying to do with it.

All this bickering needs to stop, and stop now. It is unproductive and damaging. Isn't there anyone close enough that can get this accross? Are all his associates sycophants? We need to make the tent bigger, not smaller.

Openness is on the road to freedom. Again from the parent comment:

So, while the differentiation between Free Software and Open Source is important, this bickering between the two is quite asinine and counterproductive, and while software freedom may encompass a more complete and accurate picture of the benefits offered by free software than Open Source does, Open Source bridges the divide and helps make those advantages available to many who otherwise would have never taken the opportunity. In so doing Open Source provides an important, some might argue critical, service to the Free Software community, and despite any disagreements between the two, Open Source is most certainly not 'off-white.'

Stop fighting with our friends please, and keep up the good work.

omg (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4401812)

its a slashdot troll!

Implications of this... (5, Interesting)

joe_fish (6037) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401814)

One of the W3C standard affected by this will be XPointer (http://www.w3.org/TR/xptr/). Sun holds a key patent to an implmentaion of XPointer, and the last time I looked had a discriminatory license on this patent.

The interesting bit about the licence this this patent is that it uses patent law to enforce openness in the same way that the GPL uses copyright law to enforce openness. Effectively the licence to the patent says something like:"if you use technology protected under this patent then enhancements must be handed over to W3C". Obviously many people see this as anti-microsoft's embrace-extend-extinguish policy. (See http://www.xmlhack.com/read.php?item=985) for more.

More interestingly I had a chance to ask RMS if he thought using patent law to enforce openness was a good thing, and his answer was words to the effect of - "well it might be but we've never had the money to patent the things we've invented"

So whilst we are all cheering this decision (and in general I think it is a good decision), there are implications of this that are not obvious.

Does anyone know if Sun's policy has/will change on this?

Re:Implications of this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4401852)

At this time Sun is not persuing patents as a revenue stream.

Re:Implications of this... (1)

grahamm (8844) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401888)

Will the effect be that great? The article states royalty free, not patent free. So as long as the patent is royalty free then there should be no problem.

Do you forgent what happened with JPEG? (5, Interesting)

yerricde (125198) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401906)

So as long as the patent is royalty free then there should be no problem.

Unless the patent gets sold to somebody who terminates the royalty-free license (Forgent anyone? [slashdot.org] )

Re:Do you forgent what happened with JPEG? (4, Interesting)

grahamm (8844) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401929)

Could it not be made a (contractual) requirement that in order for a patented 'process' to be included in a standard that a royalty-free non-revokable licence be issued (at the time of inclusion in the standard) covering any implentation of the standard?

Is this possible? (2, Interesting)

yerricde (125198) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402033)

Could it not be made a (contractual) requirement that in order for a patented 'process' to be included in a standard that a royalty-free non-revokable licence be issued (at the time of inclusion in the standard) covering any implentation of the standard?

Is it possible to write a contract that binds all possible assignees of a patent?

Re:Is this possible? (1)

grahamm (8844) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402282)

If the initial licence (to all implementors of the standard) is non-revokable, I do not see why not.

Re:Implications of this... (2)

bruthasj (175228) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402545)

I believe RedHat has reversed their policy of No Patents to maintain this effect on the market by forcing openness for as many "inventions" possibly conceived of with regards to Software. It was posted here [slashdot.org] , here [redhat.com] , and can be found here [google.com] .

Re:Implications of this... (1, Troll)

Eil (82413) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402711)


if you use technology protected under this patent then enhancements must be handed over to W3C". Obviously many people see this as anti-microsoft's embrace-extend-extinguish policy.

It actually sounds something like a patent version of the GPL, only quite a bit more restrictive.

I've always thought that if I were ever clever enough to invent something worth patenting, I would include a clause stating that any software implementation of the ideas covered under the patent would have to be licensed under the GPL (or other worthwhile free software license).

Larry Rosen (-1, Redundant)

stud9920 (236753) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401836)

What ? You mean iLarry Rosen is only part of an whole gamma of products ?
Do I have to expect a "PowerLarry Rosen" too ?
Does that one have power features like legalising torture for music pirates ?

Re:Larry Rosen (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4402126)

MODERATORS ON CRACK

Mod parent up at least once as underrated. HOW CAN IT FUCKING BE REDUNDANT, IT's THE ONLY HILLARY ROSEN JOKE AROUND

Mod parent up

Better than HDTV (5, Insightful)

shumacher (199043) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401837)

First:
This is the largest front page post I've ever seen...

Second:
HDTV has the Dolby AC-3 technology in the standard. That means Dolby will get a cut off of every TV with a built in digital tuner and every HDTV tuner box. It also means royalties on many broadcast tools. I don't know the license regulations, but it may also mean a cut on every show that uses AC-3. Sucky, but also, time to buy Dolby stock.

Just imagine if the web had turned out this way. Companies keep trying to move things into their corner, even without standards bodies helping. What is Quicktime became the video standard on the web? I love the format, but it's also been hell getting Linux to support it. The web has been burned this way before [unisys.com] . Everything will be okay, as long as we burn back [burnallgifs.org] .

Re:Better than HDTV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4402054)

It's all farce and drama - a few corrupt people selling our collective future for a quick buck to the Big Guys.

What we need.... (1)

havardi (122062) | more than 11 years ago | (#4404466)

Is Smoochy the Rhino!!!!!

Problem... (1, Troll)

Anonymous Cowtard (573891) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401849)

This would have been fatal to the ability of Free Software to implement those standards.

Sounds like a problem with Free Software's outdated business model (to use a phrase bandied about every day here on /.).

Re:Problem... (2)

Bilbo (7015) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402942)

> Sounds like a problem with Free Software's outdated business model

Insightful??? I'd rate this one as a Troll. Since when is Free Speech "outdated"?

Justice prevails (5, Informative)

Compact Dick (518888) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401865)


I have been waiting long for this, and I'm glad it didn't turn out the other way round.

Those who were involved in the outcry would recall the proposal for RAND [non-free] standards was done in a rather suspicious manner. There was no announcement on the W3C's front page [I visit it regularly] but a proposal for RAND was quietly drafted, a ludicrously short deadline for feedback set and a mailing list [w3.org] for the same created. Why, then, is it suprising that only thirteen posts were recorded until a week before the initial deadline, ten of them spam?

Then the story broke [on The Register, IIRC] and the mails flooded in. And what a flood it was *smiles* - 755 in Sept and 1686 in Oct. My mailbox was getting a good beating.

Many voiced their opinions strongly, and with an exception or two [one of which was obvious astroturfing], they were all soundly against the inclusion of non-free patents in W3C standards [check out the archives [w3.org] and spot the famous names]. Under this tremendous pressure, the W3C had little alternative but to extend the deadline. I am sure certain * ahem * special interest groups were disappointed - but hey, it's for the best. Really.

And now we have this. Brilliant. Common sense and justice have won this round.

Special thanks to Bruce Perens, Daniel Phillips, Adam Warner and Gervase Markham for their dedication to this cause.

Congratulations, Bruce (3, Insightful)

Saint Aardvark (159009) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401886)

And thanks for all your hard work on this.

BP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4401894)

I would like you better if you had a hot daughter like Heidi Wall.

Disclosure (-1, Offtopic)

Phili (243217) | more than 11 years ago | (#4401989)

Since when is posting on /. considerd as disclosure? A posting is never read by anyone but the guy submitting it.

Bruce, (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4401994)

I hearby invite you to eat my ass.

Bruce, self-appointed "speaker" for FS movement (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4402002)

Bruce, if you're going to appoint yourself speaker of our community, I assume you would like people to take what you have to say seriously. And to be brutally honest, the majority of us in the community would like you to come off as somewhat intelligent instead of sounding like the half-baked retard you appear to be.

FOR GOD SAKE'S MAN, TAKE SOME SPEECH THERAPY BEFORE YOU SPEAK ON OUR BEHALF!

(Yes, I know, you "claim" to have worked this speech disability out, but be honest...how old was "Revolution OS"? I thought it came out in 2000?)

Only working days? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4402015)

For me, this process has included two trips to France (no fun if you have to work every day)

Let's be honest, trips to France are no fun, period.

Re:Only working days? (0)

galapagos (591068) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402134)

hi, isnt it time we had a political party of sorts membership fees et al to help support the costs etc

No fat lady yet (3, Insightful)

ignatzMouse (447031) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402186)

This is not a done deal. The groups that oppose this still have a few cards to play and I would not underestimate their skill at playing them.

Thank You (5, Informative)

greenhide (597777) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402293)

I just want to express thanks to all those in the Free Software movement who *are* politically motivated enough to take these sorts of efforts on behalf of all of us.

If had w3 standards that required us to pay money to follow them, this would put many developers and individuals using those standards into a real bind. Ensuring that these patents will be royalty free is crucial to the growth of standards conformance. We don't want financial *disincentives* to following standards.

It never ceases to amaze me just how many different areas there are in which the freedom of the people is being transferred to corporate or moneyed interests, and how important it is to fight against them [globalizethis.org] . It's good to see that the little guy still wins from time to time.

Sounds like time to fork the W3C ! (3)

farrellj (563) | more than 11 years ago | (#4402328)

Whenever Open Source projects have a major internal disagreement, they split, or fork into two (or more) groups...if the Open Source community doesn't agree with the W3C, then let's find a few other like-minded groups, and form a new group to create both Open (No Patents) and Free (Beer/Speech) standards that all can use. And, of course, they have to be better than the competition's! But, I am sure we can do that since there will not be any mega-corps promoting their own patented/propietory "solutions".

ttyl
Farrell

Thanks Bruce and others! (2)

pointwood (14018) | more than 11 years ago | (#4403288)

Others have probably already wrote something similar, but it doesn't hurt to be said more than once!

Thanks a lot for all your hard work!

Point to make to the corps (3, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 11 years ago | (#4403561)

Thanks for the representation, Bruce.

One point you might make to the corporate types to get them to side with royalty-free is that it's in their interests. Their usual method of dealing with patents in their way is to find a patent they hold that the other guy infringes on and use that as leverage to get a no-cost cross-licensing agreement. A couple of big cases lately, eg. the JPEG stuff, have involved patents held by people whose sole product is the patents they hold. They don't make anything, therefore they don't make anything that could infringe on any other patents, so there's no reason for them to cross-license. More and more, the corporations are going to be dealing with patents held by people who the corporation won't have any leverage with. And as more patents are issued, a corporation will more and more often be on the wrong side of the equation, ie. they'll be the ones defending against patent enforcement instead of being the ones doing the enforcing. Royalty-free may cost them a bit on the patents they hold, but non-royalty-free would seem to potentially cost them a lot more on patents they don't hold and can't get a cross-licensing agreement on.

Bruce Perens still sucks. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4403665)

As proved by the last time he appeared on Slashdot.

Slashdotted Already! (+5, Informative) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4404171)

W3C Patent Board Recommends Royalty-Free Policy
Posted by Hemos on Monday October 07, @07:58AM
from the making-the-smart-choices dept.
Bruce Perens writes "A year ago, the World Wide Web Consortium proposed a policy to allow royalty-generating patents to be embedded in web standards. This would have been fatal to the ability of Free Software to implement those standards. There was much protest, including over 2000 emails to the W3C Patent Policy Board spurred on by a call to arms published on Slashdot. As a result of the complaints, I was invited to join W3C's patent policy board, representing Software in the Public Interest (Debian's corporation) -- but really the entire Free Software community. I was later joined in this by Eben Moglen, for FSF, and Larry Rosen, for the Open Source Initiative." Bruce has written more below - it's well worth reading.
After a year of argument and see-sawing, W3C's patent policy board has voted to recommend a royalty-free patent policy. This recommendation will be put in the form of a draft and released for public comment. There will probably be a dissenting minority report from some of the large patent holders. Tim Berners-Lee and the W3C Advisory Committee, composed of representatives from all of the consortium's members, will eventually make the final decision on the policy. My previous interaction with the Advisory Committee and Berners-Lee lead me to feel that they will approve the royalty-free policy.

The policy will require working group members to make a committment to royalty-free license essential claims - those which you can not help infringing if you are to implement the standard at all. There is also language prohibiting discriminatory patent licenses. The royalty-free grant is limited to the purpose of implementing the standard, and does not extend to any other application of the patent. And there is a requirement to disclose whether any patent used, even a non-essential one, is available under royalty-free terms, so that troublesome patents can be written out of a standard. The limitation of the scope-of-use on patents, and some other aspects of the policy, are less than I would like but all that I believed we could reasonably get. Eben Moglen may have some discussion regarding how GPL developers should cope with scope-of-use-limited patent grants from other parties. For now, it should suffice to say that while this is less than desirable, is will not block GPL development.

I'm not allowed to disclose how individual members voted, but I'll note that the vote did not follow "friends-vs-enemies" lines that the more naive among us might expect - so don't make assumptions.

Now, we must take this fight elsewhere. Although IETF has customarily been held up as the paragon of openness, they currently allow royalty-bearing patents to be embedded in their standards. This must change, and IETF has just initiated a policy discussion to that effect. We must pursue similar policies at many other standards bodies, and at the governments and treaty organizations that persist in writing bad law.

For me, this process has included two trips to France (no fun if you have to work every day) and an appearance at a research meeting in Washington, a week in Cupertino, innumerable conference calls and emails, and upcoming meetings in New York and Boston. That's a lot of time away from my family. Larry Rosen has shouldered a similar burden while nobody has been paying him for his time and trouble, and Eben Moglen put in a lot of time as well. Much of the time was spent listening to royalty-bearing proposals being worked out in excrutiating detail, which fortunately did not carry in the final vote. We also had help from a number of people behind the scenes, notably John Gilmore, and the officers and members of the organizations we represent.

I'd like to give credit to HP. Because I was representing SPI, and HP had someone else representing them at W3C, I made it clear to my HP managers that they would not be allowed to influence my role at W3C - that would have created a conflict-of-interest for me, as well as giving HP unfair double-representation. HP managers understood this, and were supportive. During all but the very end of the process, HP paid my salary and travel expenses while they knew that I was functioning as an independent agent who would explicitly reject their orders. Indeed, HP allowed me to influence their policy, rather than the reverse. This was the result of enlightened leadership by Jim Bell, Scott K. Peterson, Martin Fink, and Scott Stallard.

For most of the existence of Free Software, technology has been of primary importance. It will remain so, but the past several years have seen the emergence of the critical supporting role of political involvement simply so that we can continue to have the right to use and develop Free Software. I do not believe that we will consistently be able to code around bad law - we must represent what is important about our work and involve ourselves in policy-making worldwide, or what we do will not survive. I hope to continue to serve the Free Software Community in this role.

Respectfully Submitted

Bruce Perens
"

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