By Jay Sulzberger, of NY’s Free Computing organization, forwarded by Seth Johnson:
Tuesday 31 December 2002: Deadline for Comments on W3C Patents Policy
In the past two years the Free Software Movement has moved W3C, the Official Standards Body of the World Wide Web, from a proposed patent policy, which would have, in future, denied us our present right to full and free use of free software to build the Web, to a policy intended to guarantee that free software may be used without fear of patent encumbrances. This move is an important victory for us. But the present proposed policy on patents has a bug that is worth fixing. The mechanism of the bug is non-obvious, except to people who have studied the GPL and certain other free software licenses. It is a bug that, if the proposal is made an official standard, would allow for patent encumbrances to be laid on certain free software in circumstances where today no encumbrance is allowed.
Here is what the Free Software Foundation says on its front page about this bug:
The W3C “Royalty-Free” patent policy proposal does not protect the rights of the Free Software community to full participation in the implementation and extension of web standards. Please read more on this issue and send a comment to the W3C.
Part of the effort that moved the W3C to its present position was a furious outpouring of comments in opposition to the original proposal of the Englobulators:
The fix needed right now is a small fix. But the W3C must again be reminded with what jealous vigor we guard our right to build our Web the way we have built it down to this day, using free software.
The bug appears in Item 3 of Section 3, titled “W3C Royalty-Free (RF) Licensing Requirements”, of the present proposal:
This Item allows for a supposedly free grant to use a patent to be so restricted that a piece of Web infrastructure software might be encumbered if used for some non-Web use. Since the GPL does not allow such encumbrancing, GPL-ed Web software re-purposed for non-Web use could not be legally freely redistributed.
Please read the Free Software Foundation’s page on this bug:
The text of the page is below.
Here is the official Last Call for Comments:
If you write a comment in your own words, for repair of the bug, it will help.
Jay Sulzberger <email@example.com>
Corresponding Secretary LXNY
LXNY is New York’s Free Computing Organization.
Categories: Uncategorized Tagged with: web
Date: December 31st, 2002 dw