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Podcast Episode: Fighting Enshittification

EFFector - Volume 14, Issue 29 - ALERT: Extended Deadline for Public Comment on Patent Policy for WWW Standards


EFFector - Volume 14, Issue 29 - ALERT: Extended Deadline for Public Comment on Patent Policy for WWW Standards

   EFFector       Vol. 14, No. 29       Oct. 4, 2001

   A Publication of the Electronic Frontier Foundation     ISSN 1062-9424

    In the 189th Issue of EFFector (now with over 29,300 subscribers!):

     * ALERT: Extended Deadline for Public Comment on Patent Policy for
       WWW Standards
     * BayFF: Find Out How Bush's Anti-Terrorism Legislation Affects our
       Civil Liberties
     * Nov. Date Set for COPA Hearing in Supreme Court
     * San Francisco Supervisors Pass First Municipal Anti-Blocking
     * Update on Dmitry Sklyarov Case
     * EFF Seeks Media Intern
     * Administrivia

   For more information on EFF activities & alerts:

   To join EFF or make an additional donation:
   EFF is a member-supported nonprofit. Please sign up as a member today!

Extended Deadline for Public Comment on Patent Policy for WWW Standards

  Web Technology Patents Could Exclude Non-Commercial Implementations

    Electronic Frontier Foundation ACTION ALERT

    (Issued: October 4, 2001 / Deadline: October 11, 2001)


   The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is currently considering a
   controversial new policy on the treatment of patent claims in the web
   standards process. The W3C has extended its deadline for public
   comments on the policy to Thursday, October 11. The policy, and the
   comments received, will be discussed at a W3C meeting on Monday,
   October 15.

   The proposed change would establish, for the first time, a specific
   W3C policy on patents. Unfortunately, this policy, advocated by large
   patent-holding members of the Consortium, allows some web standards to
   require licensing fees for implementation. EFF urges the public to
   examine and comment on this policy.

   EFF urges interested members of the public to submit their comments on
   the draft by writing to
   (Your address and comments will be archived and visible to the

   Because the details of the proposed policy are rather intricate, EFF
   encourages you to read carefully the policy draft, as well as the
   associated W3C FAQ documents. These documents clear up some common
   misconceptions -- for example, some commentators mistakenly thought
   that ALL W3C technologies would require license fees under the
   proposed policy. (W3C itself holds no patents on web technologies, and
   is not planning to charge a fee for use of the web.)

  What YOU Can Do Now:

   Email your comments to the W3C's Patent Policy Working group today.
   Feel free to use the EFF's sample letter below as a starting point for
   your comments. Let the W3C know that you are concerned about the
   impact of patents on the users of web standards. Please be polite and
   concise, but firm.

  Sample Letter:

   You can use this sample letter to the World Wide Web Consortium as a
   starting point for your own comments:

   World Wide Web Consortium
   Patent Policy Working Group

     Dear W3C Patent Policy Working Group:

     I'm concerned about the recent Patent Policy Framework draft, which
     could allow W3C members to charge royalty fees for technologies
     included in web standards.

     In particular, I object to the inclusion of a "reasonable and
     non-discriminatory" (RAND) licensing option in the proposed policy.
     I believe that the exclusive use of a "royalty-free" (RF) licensing
     model is in the best interests of the Internet community, and that
     RAND licensing would always necessarily exclude some would-be
     implementors, especially among open source and free software

     I applaud the W3C for its tradition of providing open-source
     reference implementations and its work to promote a wide variety of
     interoperable implementations of its open standards. The W3C can
     best continue its work of "leading the Web to its full potential"
     by continuing this tradition, and saying no to RAND licensing.


     [Your name & address]


   The World Wide Web Consortium (, founded in 1994 by
   WWW inventor Tim Berners-Lee, is a membership-based organization which
   makes recommendations on technology standards for the web. Some of its
   standardization work has included HTML, HTTP, PNG, and XML;
   W3C-recommended technologies have frequently had a far-reaching

   W3C did not have a published patent policy in the past; this change
   would create such a policy for the first time. However, W3C has never
   before knowingly promoted standards which are encumbered by patents;
   this policy would provide a way for W3C to recommend certain
   technologies as web standards even when those technologies are known
   to be encumbered.

   The proposed policy permits new W3C working groups (committees which
   are chartered to create standards) to allow participating companies to
   reserve the right to charge royalty fees for licensing patents
   relating to new standards. Working groups would be expected to
   announce, at the time they are created, whether or not patent holders
   expected to receive licensing fees.

   If a working group decided to permit royalties to be charged, the
   participating companies would be expected to license relevant patents
   under a "Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory" (RAND) license
   arrangement. Under a RAND license, each licensee is expected to pay a
   pre-determined royalty to the licensor; this fee is supposed to be
   small ("reasonable") and the same for each licensee

   However, RAND licensing may still shut out open source/free software,
   non-commercial, and smaller commercial software developers. While
   large companies can easily pay (and routinely do pay) license fees in
   order to implement technology, small developers and those who
   distribute software at no charge may find even the most "reasonable"
   licensing terms to be a significant barrier.

   EFF is concerned that public standards for communications technology
   should remain open and usable by everyone, not constrained by
   licensing restrictions. The "Royalty-Free" (RF) licensing tradition is
   worth defending, and best serves W3C's mission of developing the "full
   potential" of the web as an open medium.

   For more information on the proposed policy:

   Draft "W3C Patent Policy Framework": (This is the controversial
   proposed W3C policy on patents in the W3C standards process.)

   Background information from W3C:

   W3C's interim response to recent public comment:

   Adam Warner's criticisms of the policy, and archive of related

   Analysis and comment from EFF board member John Gilmore:

   Archive of all public comments received by W3C so far:

  About EFF:

   The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil liberties
   organization working to protect rights in the digital world. Founded
   in 1990, EFF actively encourages and challenges industry and
   government to support free expression, privacy, and openness in the
   information society. EFF is a member-supported organization and
   maintains one of the most linked-to Web sites in the world:


     Seth Schoen, EFF Staff Technologist
     +1 415 436 9333 x107

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Find Out How Bush's Anti-Terrorism Legislation Will Affect Our Civil Liberties

  Electronic Frontier Foundation's "BayFF" - Thursday, October 11th

   WHAT: "BayFF" Panel Discussion on the new Anti-Terrorism Legislation,
   and its effects on civil liberties
   WHEN: Thursday, October 11th, 2001 - 6pm PT
   WHO: Ann Brick - Staff Attorney, ACLU of Northern California
   Cindy Cohn - Legal Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF),
   Panel Moderator
   Robert Rubin- Legal Director, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of
   the SF Bay Area
   Kevin Poulsen - Journalist, Security Focus Magazine
   Lee Tien - Senior Staff Attorney, Electronic Frontier Foundation
   WHERE: San Francisco Public Library
   Room: Koret Auditorium
   100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 - near Civic Center BART
   Tel: 415-557-4400 (for directions only)

   For more information contact Katina: (415) 436-9333 x101

   This event is free and open to the general public. Food and beverages
   will be available.

   This forum is co-sponsored by the Free Expression Network West
   (FEN-West), an alliance of organizations dedicated to protecting the
   First Amendment right of free expression and the values it represents.

   The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil liberties
   organization working to protect rights in the digital world. For more
   information, please see EFF's website ( ), or
   Katina Bishop
   EFF Director of Education and Offline Activism
   +1-415-436-9333 x101

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Nov. Date Set for COPA Hearing in Supreme Court

  Caes to Move Forward Months Ahead of Schedule

   The US Supreme Court has set a date and time, November 28, 2001, 10am
   ET, for oral argument in the ACLU, EFF, et al., legal challenge to the
   Child Online Protection Act (COPA, or "CDA-2"). The case is officially
   known as ACLU v. Ashcroft (formerly ACLU v. Reno II). This hearing was
   originally not expected until early 2002.

   Plaintiffs' brief in the case, submitted September 20, 2001, claims
   the statute is unconstitutional under the First Amendment. The brief
   is available online at:

   Six powerfully written amici curiae briefs filed in support of
   plaintiffs by a wide range of organizations, from the US Chamber of
   Commerce to Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, are now becoming available
   from links at bottom of the ACLU press release at:

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San Francisco Supervisors Pass First Municipal Anti-Blocking Ordinance

   On October 1, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors became the first
   municipal legislative body in the world to pass an ordinance
   prohibiting the use of Internet blocking software, also known as
   filtering software or censorware, on Internet access terminals
   administered by the City and County of San Francisco. The city
   recognized in the ordinance that Internet blocking software products
   "regularly block access to useful and constitutionally protected

   Although passed with an amendment excluding terminals the city
   designates exclusively or primarily for individuals under the age of
   13 from the prohibition on Internet blocking software, the ordinance
   demonstrates San Francisco city government's strong support for the
   earlier decision of the San Francisco Public Library system to reject
   approximately $20,000 in funding tied to federal Internet blocking

   San Francisco Supervisor Mark Leno proposed the ordinance, which was
   supported by Susan Hildreth, San Francisco City Librarian.

   EFF Online Activist Will Doherty testified in favor of the ordinance
   at a hearing before the Rules Committee of the San Francisco Board of

   A copy of the ordinance is available on the EFF website at:

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Update on Dmitry Sklyarov Case

   This is a very brief update on the Dmitry Sklarov case. At the hearing
   on September 24, the following happened:

   1) Joe Burton became the defense attorney for Elcomsoft and dropped
   representation for Dmitry Sklyarov.

   2) John Keker, a well-known attorney from the San Francisco firm Keker
   and Van Nest, became the new defense attorney for Dmitry Sklyarov.

   3) The court agreed to a next hearing date of November 26 at which
   time the schedule will be set for motions in the trial.

   In the meantime, the discovery process of the trial is ongoing.

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EFF Seeks Media Intern

   The Electronic Frontier Foundation seeks a Media intern to focus on
   media tasks such as media interview assignments, media releases, media
   professional relationships, and mediabase and media coverage archival.
   Basic HTML skills and general computer competence helpful. Very
   helpful if you have your own laptop and/or home Internet access.

   Interns will be in the San Francisco Bay Area, and in the EFF office
   at least two days per week. School credit may be available.

   Timeframe: Needed immediately, for each semester. Minimum commitment 2
   days per week for at least three months.

   For more information, see the EFF website at:

   Or contact Will Doherty, Online Activist / Media Relations,

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EFF Thanks Aspen Legal Media

   EFF extends its gratitude to Matt Gallaway, Legal Editor at Aspen
   Legal Media, for arranging the donation of Prof. Paul Goldstein's 4
   volume Copyright Law treatise.

   Aspen Law & Business is an imprint of Aspen Publishers, Inc., which
   for more than 40 years has served the needs of legal, business, and
   health care professionals with timely books, periodicals, and
   information services by leading authorities. Today, Aspen publishes
   more than 400 journals, newsletters, electronic products, and
   looseleaf reference manuals and has more than 1,000 books in print.

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   EFFector is published by:

   The Electronic Frontier Foundation
   454 Shotwell Street
   San Francisco CA 94110-1914 USA
   +1 415 436 9333 (voice)
   +1 415 436 9993 (fax)

   Katina Bishop, EFF Education & Offline Activism Director
   Stanton McCandlish, EFF Technical Director/Webmaster

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