Schism talk emerges from W3C patent battle
14:30, 4 Oct 2001 UTC | Simon St.Laurent

The Register has a series of articles on the W3C's proposed patent policy, exploring the possibilities of a "standards schism" and responses from the open source community and the W3C.

The W3C released a one-time public Last Call Working Draft of W3C Patent Policy Framework on 16 August 2001, with the comments period closing on 30 September 2001. Although the draft had been in development since October 1999, it had remained member-confidential.

While the comments list remained quiet throughout August and most of September, it exploded into life as articles on the proposed policy appeared in Linux Today and Slashdot - over 1400 messages have been posted in the last week. The W3C has extended the deadline for comments to 11 October 2001.

The Register's articles explore the viewpoints of various participants. The Register asked Danny Weitzner, the head of the W3C's Patent Policy Working Group, about the prospect for divergence from patented standards by open source developers:

"That would be a terrible thing," says Weitzner. While acknowledging that it's a possibility he says, "for me as the chairman of the working group we'll do everything possible to prevent this. We are looking for other ways to keep this discussion going, but we don't expect everyone's going to be one hundred per cent satisfied," he told us.

Meanwhile, open source developers seemed to be considering options outside of the W3C:

[Bruce Perens] has little doubt that royalty-free alternatives would be created if RAND licensed web standards were approved by the W3C:- "The potential of pioneering open web standards is rather attractive," he told The Register. "We do have our own Free Standards Group - it was called LSB - we could definitely get some mileage out of that!"

Other developers seemed ready to join:

"Sign me up for the schism!" writes one poster at LinuxToday. "Schism? Why wait?" asks another.

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Re: Schism talk emerges from W3C patent battle (Eric van der Vlist - 13:59, 5 Oct 2001)

Isn't it rather natural that the W3C defends what its members consider as their interest?

Most (if not all) of its members are convinced that patents are the only way to protect their investments and the W3C is necessarly influenced by this belief.

More generally speaking, being a consortium of software vendors and industrial the W3C can't be expected to represent open source developpers or even web users!

Eric (meaning no criticism, just surprised that people seem surprised).

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