Will the W3C authorize the sell of Net standards ?
A controversy within the World Wide Web Consortium: can the Net standardisation organisation accept its future standards being labelled and thus become private… and fee-based ?
A large debate about an important question is now shaking the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) whose European pillar is at the INRIA Sophia: can the W3C assure interoperability of the Net and accept that some technologies, which are made standards, are labelled and actually belong to companies. Roughly, if this measure was implemented in all the web technologies, each publisher would have to pay royalties to the owner of the HTML norm, to the group of companies that owns the XML protocol, etc.Some RAND licences (Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory)The question of the privatization of some Net standards is set today, vnunet.fr notes in the article "Le W3C tenté par la brevetabilité des logiciels". The controversy results from a working draft published on the W3C website last August 16th (read the document). Vnuet.fr notes that they want "to protect the intellectual property of creators by RAND licences (Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory), licences which can be applied anywhere in the world, free of charges or not expensive and without any use restriction, among others."Le Monde even goes a bit further with the title "Le W3C va-t-il vendre Internet ?". The daily reminds us that until now the W3C "had only accepted as standards some technologies which weren't patented by companies". The stake of this intern battle which is happening now under the pressure of large software publishers: the possibility to "raise up to the level of common norm of the Web some technologies opened when they are adopted by the W3C, but which can require a payment of royalties and can be stopped at any time decided by the owner (it means as early as they are validated).Open debate until October 11th 2001For the free software community, the future of Internet is at stake. On the website http://linuxfr.org, you can read this biting answer. "Whilst the ICANN gradually becomes less and less democratic, another axe of the Web has changed its mind: the W3C has indeed announced they plan to patent its future standards, under a very constraining RAND licence. And to make this pass, they have organised discussions during summer (of course, many people are missing during this period), which are coming to an end today, and which avoid a main step for the W3C decisions to be validated. In other words: they want to force the way."The article is dated from September 30th. In front of the opposition from websurfers, the W3C has postponed the deadline of the debate to October 11th. Then, the project has to be examined late December for an eventual validation which would occur in February 2002. The battle of patents of Internet standards is not over.