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The Internet

Web Services Patented by IBM and Microsoft 171

daecabhir writes "This article from ZDNet is an interesting read. Not just because of the implications of what IBM and Microsoft appear to be doing, but because it again brings to light how susceptible many standards processes continue to be to commercial interests. You would think that being early adopters, crafting the standards so that they can have the first and most compliant implementations might be enough - but I guess these companies aren't secure about the quality of their products, so they have to go down the route of intellectual property ownership, enforcement and RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory, whatever "reasonable" means) licensing fees."
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Web Services Patented by IBM and Microsoft

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  • Everybody know RAND is a random number generator function.....
  • I guess these companies aren't secure about the quality of their products...

    That's a bit harsh. They're not doing this instead of making products. In fact, as I understand the article, their products have to be successful for this to work.

    If you were in business and you spotted a potentially limitless income source in addition to your present core business, wouldn't you leap at it, regardless of how certain you were of your product?

    Of course, this is the thing about corporations: there's no "income cap" like there's a karma cap, so there's always an incentive to go on pursuing more and more money by any legal (well, normally) means. I'm not advocating Communism, just observing that the businesses we consider most successful have generally got there not only thanks to good products but also a certain rapacity.
    • Hmm. Limitless income source? I guess it depends.

      Do I have to feed 3 infants to rabid pit bulls every week, to collect?

      Do I have to lock old people up in a dungeon, and feed them moldy dog chow to collect?

      Does it require poisoning the water table of a major region or continent?

      Or running for political office?

      Selling my soul to satan?

      Actually, there are even more, but you must see my point by now... there are any number of things that I consider either too tasteless or unethical to want to make money off ot them. And I think raping the entire world, and its first true global network, just so they can own a piece of its soul for all eternity, fits in nicely with the above examples.
      • Do I have to feed 3 infants to rabid pit bulls every week, to collect?

        Every week?
        Count me out.

        /jeorgen

      • by Anonymous Coward
        THings that you would not do because you personally wouldn't want to be responsible for them , corporations can easily do.
        First of all as any conservative likes to repeat, people are far less moral in groups than they are individually. The presence of the surrounding group gives the individual the feeling that everyone is doing X right alongside him, so X can't be so bad. This is never more true than in a corporation where the individual isn't usually tasked with deciding whether the actions of himself and the organization he is part of are legal to say nothing of moral. THe individual also experiences his loyalty to the group pulling him along, justifying bad actions by the sense that the team is depending on him to do his part for it. Corporate success is all about teamwork.


        In a corporate organization , actions can be distributed across multiple members And not just multiple individuals but multiple divisions of employees as well. SOme parts of actions can even be carried out by outside contractors who "do that sort of thing".
        THus Dick Cheney's Halliburton company doesn't kill the Burmese villagers who're in the way of the pipeline they are building for Unocal in Burma, they pay the Burmese military to do that. No Halliburton employee need have blood on his hands when the killing was done nice and legal by some government - Burma's or our own.


        Conscience is delegated to the corporate legal division which often judges acts and policies strictly by whether it would likely be punished in a court of law or whether a plaintiff would likely win a damages suit against them. This sounds restrictive but for corporations in many cases it isn't. Facts can be made so much less clear when there are hundreds of people involved. Ordinarily we impute intention to all acts taken by an individual; but we all seem to be easily persuaded that no harm was intended when bad acts occur which benefit corporations and these corporate actors are able to maintain a murky view of their internal procedures and decisions. They get the benefit of the doubt even though it can seem like they are intentionally magnifying the murk and the doubt.


        Then you have the whole situation of a limited liability corporation in the first place. Who's responsible? Well management is responsible for delivering a profit to the share owners, but shareowners do not feel deeply responsible for the acts of the company -for good reason too. The law absolves them of liability beyond the value of their investment. THey will never face police or IRS interrogation for the actions of a company that is fatenning them with speculative profits. Newspapers will never sit on their doorstep demanding answers for the company's course of conduct. They are on a permanent holiday from responsibility, from labor too - but not from reward. As for corporate officers they generally speaking are able to distribute blame on scapegoats or make it vanish in the cracks or both. We were badly advised they will say. Or our duty to the shareholders demanded that we pursue a bold course of action, sadly the negative outcome arose but it arose purely by accident and was not the result of a conscious decision to do wrong. No man in a 1,500 dollar suit like mine can be a criminal. There was miscommunication between offices, not a conspiracy. The law was unclear moreover and corporate counsel, since let go for incompetence on unrelated matters, failed to anticipate the probable outcome and legal ramifications. We cannot personally be held liable for the oversight of ex-employees!
        Everything we did was nice and legal.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I'm not advocating Communism
      I am, at least to some extent. Why are Americans so afraid of being branded Communists? Is it because they still believe all the stuff they're taught about the USSR being Communist? Or are they afraid someone's going to chase after them and hunt 'em down McCarthy style?

      Go on, have some balls, say it: "Unbridled capitalism will cause some unprincipled people to go to the ends of the earth for profit, regardless of the harm it causes to others."

      • Couldn't speak for Americans - I'm British. I'm just not advocating Communism because it's not (so far as I'm aware) been shown to work better than Capitalism in terms of increasing quality of life for all.

        As for the previous poster - I did assume that companies wouldn't resort to blatantly illegal acts. But there are lots of companies (Nike, Nestle, Shell et al) who do carry on some pretty unconscionable things in the name of profit. And they're all (sadly) considered more successful than NoMoreNicksLeft Corp.
      • Go on, have some balls, say it: "Unbridled capitalism will cause some unprincipled people to go to the ends of the earth for profit, regardless of the harm it causes to others."

        <rant>
        Well spoken!
        It's no use denying this fact, and anyone who wants to live in a (mostly) capitalist society (most of the people here I presume) better keep that in mind.

        I would personally go as far as saying: Totally unbridled capitalism would be as bad as Soviet style communism.
        Some form of government is clearly needed to restrain the capital. But the current system is far from perfect.
        Sometimes there is too much government (CDBTPA for example), and sometimes way too little (Noone stopped Jon Katz favorite billionaire Soros from getting filthy rich by tanking entire economies... and not producing squat!).

        It's funny how too much government mostly affects the little people, while the big boys more or less have do as they feel like.

        The irony is that the people is supposedly the ones in charge.
        <rant>
        • Some form of government is clearly needed to restrain the capital. But the current system is far from perfect. Sometimes there is too much government (CDBTPA for example)

          In a way, that's also an example of too much corporate control over over government (RIAA, MPAA, etc). Something is clearly needed to keep the businesses from running the government, as well.

      • Why are Americans so afraid of being branded Communists?

        Good question, especially when you look at things

        Medicare

        Medicaid

        Welfare

        Section 8 Housing

        Public Education

        EEOC

        OSHA

        FDA

        How are any of these capitalist? You are giving money/service to people that didn't pay for them (isn't that part of communism?) and not letting the free market reign in others.

      • Capitalism is the worst economic system except for all the rest. (With apologies to Churchill)

        I do agree with you about the pernicious effects of capitalism, many of its aspects leave a bad taste in my mouth. But it does seem to work well with human nature, better than anything else I know about. There are those of us in the U.S. that work hard to ensure that the term unbridled gets applied to our form of capitalism as infreqently as possible, we're just not doing too well right now.

      • There are several reasons, actually:

        a) kids are taught in school that America is pure capitalism, and that all good things extend from capitalism. A blatant lie; America is a mix between capitalism, corporate welfare, and socialism, but nobody bothers to go into the details.

        b) college kids assume that any attempt to reign in the free market means they won't have the chance to become rich and powerful. They don't realize that 99.999% of them will never be rich and powerful, or amount to much of anything at all in any materialistic sense. 'Communists', as far as they're concerned, are a group of evil people who're trying to hold them back from assuming their rightful place in the new nobility (har har!).

        c) Americans are easily programmed. My countrymen *like* being unthinking zombies, pretending the world always devolves into easy-to-understand bite-sized chunks that always fall into two boxes on any issue - one 'good' and one 'bad'. So there are 'capitalists' - the good guys - and 'communists' - the bad guys, and screw any headache-causing attempt to widen the sprectrum or allow for multiple definitions. Might actually have to exercise some brain cells, and this is a bad thing, especially if it interferes with watching the latest episode of 'Friends'.

        Max
    • I'm going to have to beg to disagree with you - I don't think the assessment is harsh at all, because I was not knocking the quality of the products produced (well, ok, maybe in M$ case I will). What I _am_ knocking is the mindset that getting to market with one of the first standards-compliant, hopefully high quality due to familiarity with the standard, product will not secure their revenues, and therefore the standards process must be perverted or circumnavigated in the name of the almighty buck. And it isn't the consumer they are after in the long run - it is locking out any possible competition. And keep in mind that if you own the technology that everyone is using, and can charge people for their use or derivative works, you often times have no motivation to innovate further.

      Many of the people I know who have been involved in international standards efforts (I've been a senior engineer with a number of large telcos over the years) were involved in it for one major reason: they wanted the interoperability that these standards brought, because it ultimately allowed them to do their jobs better. All that the worker bee types typically got from this was recognition that they had been instrumental in making a specific standard happen - and this was enough. I don't see where the corporations would be any worse off by taking this stance, and reaping the benefits of being there to shape the standards and show publicly that they helped shaped the standards. Except perhaps they might have to continue putting forth effort to invent, innovate and produce, rather than just sitting back and siphoning money from anyone who wants to go look up a web service in a UDDI directory.
  • It doesn't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by X.25 ( 255792 ) on Saturday April 13, 2002 @06:21AM (#3334170)
    If they do decide to try to get royalties, they will find out that a lot of people are jumping to other technologies.

    I am about to start a new contract for a bank, and I'll be involved in deciding what technologies will be used for new online application.

    I am sure that SOAP/WSDL will not be considered, until we're sure what the real story is.

    If someone decides that everyone has to stop using SSH, we'd have temporary solution tomorrow, and a permanent one few weeks/months ago.

    The same will happen with this.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I am about to start a new contract for a bank, and I'll be involved in deciding what technologies will be used for new online application.

      Here we go.... software that will only run on linux that you have to manualy compile the source code to binaries and configure stupid fucking .conf files to get working.

      Bugs? Problems? Fix them your fucking self, thats why we give you the sauce code.

      Let me know which bank so I can switch now.

      • Here we go.... software that will only run on linux

        or BSD or FreeBSD or OpenBSD or NetBSD or OSX or really silly comunistic non-commercial stuff like Solaris or AIX, which is the case for an awful lot of this Free and OpenSource stuff.

        that you have to manualy compile the source code to binaries

        yes, folks windows code automagically runs from source, no cpmpiling needed, ever. (You must be a BASIC fan.) Hey fellow, if you've got anything like a standardized confgiuration, you compile once (taking advantage of things like the fact that you no longer have 386 machines in your shop, so you can compile for Pentium and higher class machines) and install the binaries (which sort of happens in RPM, among other things).

        and configure stupid fucking .conf files to get working.

        .conf files are so cool to deal with. You can use diff to see changes. Use can use perl to make mass changes. They don't just "automagically" go corrupt on you like the Windows Registry does. And when you have a working config, you can just copy it at will from one machine to another, make the changes (if any) that this would be require, and this will WORK. Good motherfucking luck doing that with the registry. I fucking LOVE .conf files. They are in every way superior to the alternatives I've seen.

        Bugs? Problems? Fix them your fucking self, thats why we give you the sauce code.

        Since commercial code never has problems, and since if it did the vendors would fix it right away for free and since the Free and OpenSource folks issue immediately version 1.0 and then disappear from the face of the earth, I gues I see your point.

        Let me know which bank so I can switch now.

        Good riddance. Heaven forbid you buy goods or services from an organiziation that won't get on the upgrade treadmill like good corporate citizens.
    • by fferreres ( 525414 ) on Saturday April 13, 2002 @06:46AM (#3334215)
      You certainly don't know how the world works. Underestimating the power of Microsoft and IBM to set a standard is dangerous, and overestimating the people's inteligence regarding licesing is another.

      After all, i don't see many people arguing because Office locks them into Office, they blame other files for not reading Office. Same with a non IE browser, etc. Same with the idiotic EULAs which even the biggest corporations accept, refusing to have ANY right if program flaws compromise their operations yet are scary to use ANY free, open-source, tested and even audited piece of code out there.

      I don't mean to be negative, but you have to grant me that "inteligence and comon sense will prevail" doesn't work in real life.
      • I don't mean to be negative, but you have to grant me that "inteligence and comon sense will prevail" doesn't work in real life.

        Hold on - you are comparing desktop user and Office with a bank that rolls out production system?!

        Why do you think so may banks use Java/Perl for their online applications?!
      • Re:It doesn't matter (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Saturday April 13, 2002 @09:17AM (#3334588)
        You certainly don't know how the world works. Underestimating the power of Microsoft and IBM to set a standard is dangerous, and overestimating the people's inteligence regarding licesing is another.

        Actually, I think X.25 had a very valid point. Looking at Microsoft's sales figures for Office XP and Windows XP, and the enthusiastic switch to use Visual Studio.NET and write Web Services instead of using good ol' MFC (no, wait, I don't know anyone who's done that) I think it's clear that the whole universe will not suddenly leap up and jump just because MS says so.

        The business world seems to have decided enough is enough with the latest round of MS software. Where were all the pre-ordered WinXP installations this time? Where are the corporate-wide drives to upgrade to Office XP? Why is everyone so sceptical about the whole product activation issue? They've woken up, that's why. MS have lost the momentum they used to carry their last major releases (Win2K and O2K) and they know this.

        I don't think home users are buying it, either. I know quite a few tech savvy people who have bought new boxes since WinXP came out, and quite a few more who aren't so tech savvy. An awful lot of both have been asking obvious but difficult questions about WinXP, the popular practice among retailers of supplying a "recovery CD" rather than a genuine Windows CD, whether they can have Win2K instead, etc. I'm sure the overall impact of that hasn't been lost on MS either.

        MS may be the masters of marketing hype and spin, but sooner or later, the paying public stops buying it. MS lawyers can win all the court cases they like, but the bad press is still bad press, and it has, and will continue to, hurt them. People are becoming aware of the way MS behaves, and unless they can do something about it (which obviously they're trying, but their success is far from guaranteed) their ability to force through new standards is far from guaranteed, either.

        • My brother in law was an avid Microsoft fan until XP. As a busy doctor with 7 kids, he liked the "no decisions" aspect of Windows. (All that choice can be time consuming - which boot loader? which window manager? which desktop? which 2.4 kernel VM? ...)

          However, the Windows XP EULA horrified him, and he has switched to Linux. Having a distribution make most of the decisions for him helps a lot. He uses Mandrake.

        • Ironically, XP is the best OS they've made. It's the most stable one, certainly, and is a lot more customizeable once you dig around a bit. The hardware detection is great, too.

          Despite how good it is, there are two problems: one, people are sick of the upgrade your OS every year track (hey, what's another $200?); and two, every week someone seems to find out some more info they're sending back to MS, totally authorized by the EULA. That's turned a lot of people off to it.
          • I think you pretty much nailed it right there. XP may be technically the best OS they've made (though many of the advances will be irrelevent to most of the users), but they've been so heavy-handed with their marketing and so abusive with their behind-your-back behaviour that few people trust them enough to install it now.

      • I have to agree with you that most people will keep using Office. But that's because the bad thing has already happened there: we're all stuck since importing MS Office files into other products still doesn't work (and probably never will) etc. A lot of people have learned their lesson by now and will think twice before locking themselves up in a standard/product again. This is a lot easier with non-Office-products since the main reason Office is staying around (at least at my company) is that all customers keep using it. So. My point: I agree with you most customers won't use their brain before deciding, but I wouldn't compare this to Office since it's a totally different product which has totally different reasons for staying around.
      • I disagree. Your mistake is that you're talking about the end user win-desktop type.
        These are protocols that are aimed at/only understandable by hardcore techies, meaning we _do_ know better and _can_ do something about it.
        Honestly, when an exec at your company clicks a button on a web page and expects it to do something does he care if it's SOAP driven etc.?
        No, as long as it does what he expects he doesn't care, meaning _you_ make the decision about how the back end works. So if MS/IBM pisses you off, as long as you can produce the same results using some other technology then nothing is stopping you from switching.
        • My answer just for the record (as nobody will be reading this old post):

          "So if MS/IBM pisses you off, as long as you can produce the same results using some other technology then nothing is stopping you from switching."

          That's exactly the point. You will not have such other choices because they do control the desktop. So to produce the same results you'll have to use THEIR "toolbox"...
    • If they do decide to try to get royalties, they will find out that a lot of people are jumping to other technologies.

      However a significant portion of buisnesses will not consider using either a home grown or open source solution... instead opting for the 'security' that technology produced by a 'well established company' brings.

      Microsoft still has a hold on the minds of many a manager. Something like royalty fees just put a few more numbers on the cost, but since when has cost been the determining factor in choosing the technology to deploy?

      There will always be people willing to pay Microsoft's taxes. The abstainers will not be missed by MS - they do not contribute a sufficient ammount income to be significant.

      Corporate psychology is a strange thing.

      • However a significant portion of buisnesses will not consider using either a home grown or open source solution... instead opting for the 'security' that technology produced by a 'well established company' brings.

        I presume you've been working in big banks when you make such statements!?

        All online apps I've worked on so far were Perl or Java. Some were running on Apache/Tomcat.

        How, exactly, is that not home-grown? You think that banks BUY their internet banking or corporate banking applications by vendors?!

        Silly.
        • I've had four banks that I've done online banking with. They all had the same interface with slightly different skins. Now, the third bought out the second, so that does not really count, but yes, I do believe that banks buy their internet banking applications. Not all, perhaps, but many of the "not huge" ones, where it makes much more sense economically.

          My current bank (EverBank [everbank.com]) has as their URL for their online banking of "mids.com" (M&I Data Services), which according to google has become Metavante. Metavante describes their electronic banking service [metavante.com] at their web site.
    • I was going to write an overly-long response about how this kind of territorialism will poison the technological groundwater of future society, but it comes down to this:

      The harder they try to control it, the more people will resist. The more powerful, aggressive, and merciless these corps get, the more of a reaction there will be against them. Not content to actually provide VALUE in order to make money, to provide services or goods that actually benefit anybody, they would prefer to worm their way to the heart of the Web and set up their corporate IP borders in a realm that should be run more like Antarctica than a gold rush [slashdot.org].

      So what do you call it when something that used to belong to everybody is appropriated by a self-interested party? Vandalism? Theft? Annexation? No matter how you look at it, this is an act of war: using IP law as a weapon against the common good. Maybe stuff like this will eventually change people's minds about the value of patents, copyrights, and trademarks. I can only hope.

    • If they do decide to try to get royalties, they will find out that a lot of people are jumping to other technologies.

      You just wait until the technology is widely deployed, and then start to enforce patents. Unlike trademarks, patents do not become invalid if they are not enforced.
      • You just wait until the technology is widely deployed, and then start to enforce patents. Unlike trademarks, patents do not become invalid if they are not enforced.

        I mean, is there anyone in here that actually WORKS in a bloody bank, for example?! Don't people realize that banks and other huge corporations are VERY slow in adopting new technologies. Want to guess a reason?!

        Let's close this with question - why SET didn't make it, although it was such a perfect solution, and backed by VISA/MC and many others!?
      • Not in the US, and not at this time. Given enough abuse, perhaps legislators in one or more of the major markets will change the law. There are only piddlin' little gaps now, but I wonder what would happen if there was a really serious rift in IP law between the US and the EC, or China?

        If Europe, especially, were to declare that IBM & Microsoft couldn't charge Europe-based companie for use of these types of standards (i.e. ones that become standard because they're free at first), there'd be a competitive edge to basing your Webusiness in the EC vs. the US.

        • Not in the US, and not at this time. Given enough abuse, perhaps legislators in one or more of the major markets will change the law. There are only piddlin' little gaps now, but I wonder what would happen if there was a really serious rift in IP law between the US and the EC, or China?

          Patent legislation is bound to international treaties. Unlike the US, especially European countries tend to follow treaties they have signed, so I wouldn't expect dramatic differences in legislation in the near future.

          But maybe this is an interesting possibility: If you don't follow the Kyoto protocol, we won't implement TRIPS. ;-)
          • IANAL, but TRIPS and most other international treaties tend to agree only to the bare minimum. The US may prefer that patents and copyrights be extended forever and a day, but TRIPS obligates member countries to honor patents only for 20 years I think.

            After a quick check of the WTO web site to verify that number, I see that the WTO prefers to cover code under copyright. I wonder if using one of these standards to enable a Web page would be covered under "fair use" doctrine (in the EC I mean, the US barely recognizes the concept any more it seems)?

        • ..but I wonder what would happen if there was a really serious rift in IP law between the US and the EC, or China?

          Hollings or someone would probably get a declaration of war through congress...
    • If they do decide to try to get royalties, they will find out that a lot of people are jumping to other technologies.

      I don't see lots of people jumping away from Windows...or Office, despite the obscene prices Microsoft puts on their software..
    • Banks are big and have lots of money; they can afford to rewrite entire apps to avoid licensing fees (or, more likely, just pony up the money).

      I work for a small hospital. We barely have enough programmers to do new development on cool stuff like allowing doctors to review patient records using WiFi enabled PC tablets. We certainly can't afford to revamp all of our apps to avoid patent liabilities.

      If my CIO gets wind of this, I can easily imagine him requiring all new software development to be run through the legal department to insure we don't use anything possibly proprietary.
    • If you haven't noticed, many banks, government agencies, and other institutions that you deal with almost daily have no qualms requiring you to use Microsoft products. They will have no qualms exposing their services using technology that involves Microsoft and IBM patents either.

      So, as long as you only run open source software talking to other open source software, it may not matter to you. But if you want to interact electronically with the rest of the world, this matters a lot.

    • (* I am about to start a new contract for a bank, and I'll be involved in deciding what technologies will be used for new online application.....I am sure that SOAP/WSDL will not be considered, until we're sure what the real story is. *)

      Just use HTTP. It is well-documented and commonly used. Get the variables and values just like you would in CGI. IOW, an "automated browser". This seems like a decent road to KISS. The format (content) can even be XML. You don't have to send HTML content. Plenty of buzzword power with XML. Just wrap it in HTTP.

      What am I missing?

  • The article says that the documents are on the W3C Website, but I cant find them. Where are they, and what exactly is patented?
    • It was a pretty confusing point, I agree. But I don't think it is about W3C technologies being patented. I think it is about some of the bigger companies forming something called WS-I, shoving W3C out of the way so that they can make standards and set licensing policy on their own terms. Then, what WS-I does is going to be patented and RANDed...
  • Wouldn't it be fairly easy to demonstrate in court that people were implementing web services long before IBM or Microsoft patented it?
  • Hm, when I first read about WS-I some time ago, my first thought was "is this an attempt by some big companies to fork the web"?

    I certainly think it looks like it.

    Well, I guess it pretty much had to happen. These companies are a bunch of shameless freeloaders who are trying to turn a big profit from the open infrastructure of the Internet. And when they don't get their way with patent licensing, because W3C realizes that RAND licensing is not going to move technology forward, it is not surprising that they abuse their power to do a fork.

    We've got to be on the alert on this. I think the best we can do is to make sure that we make good and extensive implementations if W3C standards, also for commerce applications.

    • "is this an attempt by some big companies to fork the web"?

      I once tried to fork the web. I ended up drowning a spider in my semen.

    • I believe that this sort of corporate maneuvering should lead to a bill that actually creates two internets. My proposed bill would create one free internet based on public infrastructure with free access (of course we still have to pay taxes) and the other, a corporate internet so microsoft could have their playground. Here's the key point, the corporate internet would be a pay service as we pay now for our ISP service. If you're dumb enough to pay for AOL, you're dumb enough to pay for the MicrosoftNet. Therefore, we have plenty of people left over that will pay for "premium" content from NBC, ABC, Viacom, Etc... on the MSNet. Microsoft is happy. Dumb users are happy. And, I'm happy, because I don't have to share my bandwith with people downloading the latest TV Guide.
    • EDI is/was sort of "clubby web" that cost big bucks. It sounds like they want to do something similar.
  • I can't read that article, the adverts are too distracting. What does it say?

    Alternatively, how do you turn off animations in netscape 6.2? Can you block image-servers?
  • by rivendahl ( 220389 ) on Saturday April 13, 2002 @06:36AM (#3334193)
    I feel the direction we should take as a community is to develope global software solutions for the masses by the masses. This ensures the scalability, reliablity, and useability of the software. As well we should focus our attentions to creating internet protocols that ensure the integrity of data and the near perfect delivery of data and content. If I were an english major or a marketing genius I could fit more buzz words in here.

    The bottom line is corporations will make every attempt no matter how pro-this or pro-that (IBM using Linux and OSD) or the usefullness (M$ stealing OS code from OSD for Winblows) to gobble financial assests. The best part is once a company reaches a certain level of capitol its all numbers.

    If M$ wants to charge its only out of fear of admitting that free works better than not free in a lot of cases. Charging seems absurd to us because we are used to being able to use free a lot. We use free now. And that is free as in free beer.

    Everyday we use things that are FORCED upon us that are not free as in free beer and not free as in freedom of choice, change, and modification. Telephones, electricity, ambulances, hospitals, public and mass transit, CD-R's, RIAA, MPAA, and so on.

    Screw it. I'm preaching to the choir on this aren't I?

    Later,

    Rivendahl
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think we need to think like IBM or Microsoft for a second. If I were an excutive at one of these companies I would patent technology I spent a millions to develop to make money to cover the cost of developing it. That is what a patent is for. Besides given IBMs track record lately they could use there patents to screw Microsoft. For instance they could say that anything that is open source doesn't have to pay a royalty and anything close source does.

    In fact IBM having patents for web services insures competition. Microsoft can't afford to do anything stupid with the lisence (think samba xp thing) now that they don't have pieces to the puzzle patented, and they need web services in the future to servive.
    • "If I were an excutive at one of these companies I would patent technology I spent a millions to develop to make money to cover the cost of developing it. That is what a patent is for."

      Two things. First, assuming you're a MicroIBM exec, and you had created and patented TCP/IP, there would be no internet or web because everyone would first have to pay you to even access the net. What these goons are attempting to do since they missed Boat #1 is make sure everyone *does* have to pay them for Boat #2.

      Second, you said "Besides given IBMs track record lately they could use there patents to screw Microsoft". Sorry, but these companies are cooperating together to create these 2nd generation standards so that they can screw *US.*

      Last, you said "In fact IBM having patents for web services insures competition". It ensures no such thing at all because MicroIBM are working together. The only thing they're trying to compete with are royalty-free Internet standards. They don't want the next-gen Internet to be able to bypass their toll gates like the first-gen Internet did.
      • First, assuming you're a MicroIBM exec, and you had created and patented TCP/IP, there would be no internet or web because everyone would first have to pay you to even access the net

        Just because there is a patent on a technology does NOT mean the patent holder will try to make the users pay for the use of the technology specifically. You're not alone in thinking this, but it doesn't make any sense. So what licensing scheme would you come up with for TCP/IP, and how would you enforce it? Same with web services... what would you do?

        MS and IBM don't plan to screw around with these basic patents. What they probably WILL do is applications that are actually marketable that use these technologies, and then sell those. Which is what all companies do.

        If you're not convinced, realize that MS has many patents... how many can you name that you are being charged licensing fees for today? Has MS ever charged to use Visual Basic for distributed applications? How about for using icons in your applications? They have much better ways to make money and exert control then charging for a patent that they obviously should grab up.
  • If those funny guys who came up with Esperanto had patented it they'd be rolling in it now because obviously we would all have to speak it if they had patented it.
  • by crovira ( 10242 ) on Saturday April 13, 2002 @07:21AM (#3334270) Homepage
    regrouping and clamping down.

    M$ is well known in its rapacity and IBM was deservedly the subject of the longest antitrust suit of the last century/millenium. Both have been money mills for lawyers on both sides of the issue.

    All traffic will have to go through their gates (no pun intended,) and they will collect a tithe on every packet.

    Look for rapid adoption of IPv6 after that since they will need to identify the source, route and destination of every packet in order to charge you for every hop.

    Shades of Canada's x.25 packet network which use to cost me plenty every month.

    The costs will realign themselves to make it impossible to for individuals to contemplate downloading squat since the cost of transmission will equal or exceed the cost purchase of a hard good.

    Only businesses will be able to use the net and the size of those businesses will scale with the cost per packet. Eventually, only the rich and large corporations will be on the net and by then it won't be worth using.

    If there is anything that the last series of wars has shown its that armies and money aren't power, control of communications is power.

    And the powerful don't share with the powerless (that means YOU) regardless of the potential benefits for anyone involved.

    Instead they hoard communications, distort and prevaricate and depending on the armaments available send out the bombers, the local equivalent of the "Ton Ton Macoute" or their own children, the ones who who haven't yet starved to death, out amongst the crowd wearing bombs strapped to their chests.
    • Only businesses will be able to use the net and the size of those businesses will scale with the cost per packet. Eventually, only the rich and large corporations will be on the net and by then it won't be worth using.

      I very much doubt the net will die like this. Why would MS throw away a limitless revenue stream to move into a specialist market? Never mind the fact that it's opposed to their vision of "any time, any place and on any device [microsoft.com]," a business model that involved pushing people off the net would diminish the value of the service over time! More likely, I'd have thought, they'd make the cost of data transfer low enough that people couldn't be bothered to complain or work around it, and clean up on the quiet as the net continues to grow. Charge a penny per gigabyte, and watch the pile of pennies grow exponentially...

    • The costs will realign themselves to make it impossible to for individuals to contemplate downloading squat since the cost of transmission will equal or exceed the cost purchase of a hard good.

      Only businesses will be able to use the net and the size of those businesses will scale with the cost per packet. Eventually, only the rich and large corporations will be on the net and by then it won't be worth using.


      I don't see how all of this is supposed to happen. If this "rich and large corporation network" was true I would simply reinvent the same Internet we have now and offer the same low prices we have now and everyone would use it, and who's going to stop me. My point is exactly when is the trend towards bigger cheaper bandwidth is going to turn around so this that you talk about comes true?

      "They will collect on every packet?" WTF are you talking about man? You know there is Internet in other countries where we don't give a shIt for IBM or MS, exactly for what is we're going to have to pay them?

      I would have traded the opportunity to say this just to mod your comment down a bit, less time wasted for me or the rest of readers. Shame on whoever modded this up in the first place.
  • "Luke, you can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny, join me and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son."
  • As far as I understand it(god help, even I could be wrong, so don't be offended), issue is that all standards that IBM and M$ can prove rights for are not in W3C.

    And now stupid question, what stops web designers and web apps programmers not to code W3C supported only. (W3C is part of EULA isn't it, and all I'm hearing that EULA has C# standards so it can't be forked from M$ side, this could prove wrong, or not) :-(

    Must admit that web apps aren't my field so, I'd like if someone would mod me to understand this better this would be appreciated.
  • by Get Behind the Mule ( 61986 ) on Saturday April 13, 2002 @07:40AM (#3334310)
    ... that's how the Internet came to flourish, and that's the only way future network technologies will ever have a chance. Anything else is quite simply doomed.

    The existence of open standards such as TCP/IP, HTTP and all the rest, which were agreed upon by the major players, created markets in which everyone had their chance to create the best products. We've seen in recent years how hard it is to make money in the Internet, since users are accustomed to getting everything for free. If it had cost money just to use the thing in the first place, it never would have gotten off the ground.

    If standards for web services are not royalty-free, then there will be no such thing within a few years. Or perhaps the idea of web services will survive on the basis of other, royalty-free protocols, but SOAP and WDSL and other patented technologies will be a footnote in history. Let IBM and M$ go ahead if they want to kill off their own inventions, it really doesn't bother me a bit.
  • what i dont understand is why we cant ( people who are worried about the take over of the net my companies , OSS people , coders who fear the goobling up of the net ) cant make these standards themselfs like Linux the community itself making them available to W3C.It really depresses me to think that we have no choice. Is it possible or is it to big of a project? i dont know but i dont want the net to be owned......
  • This seems rather foul and underhanded. People are already committed to using SOAP and WSDL. *Now* Microsoft and IBM announce that this (and attaching techs) aren't royalty free, well, that smacks too much of "Here, kid, your first two hits are free."

    If MS and IBM decide to enforce RAND, a lot of businesses are gonna just smile and take it you-know-where. I thought the W3C only proposed royalty free standards?
    • "If MS and IBM decide to enforce RAND, a lot of businesses are gonna just smile and take it you-know-where. I thought the W3C only proposed royalty free standards?"

      As of now, only the IETF and W3C *do* propose royalty-free standards. MicroIBM are trying to set up their own for-profit, RAND-based standards groups, but how much credibility and clout they can command from a public that can choose Internet V1 vs. Internet V2 seems to be the bet on this horse race.
  • What a piece of garbage - does ANYONE seriously believe that a piece of "technology" such as SOAP would have a royalty placed on it?

    Both MS and IBM are bright enough to realise that it isnt THAT good and that if they attempted such a move whichever protocol in question would just be swapped out for some other propriety protocol without the licensing fees. The high costs of commercial ORBs have been enough to keep CORBA away from being a widly used technology for years, any form of additional licensing on any protocol/standard will have exactly the same effect.

    Puh-lease!!
  • Eminent Domain (Score:3, Insightful)

    by andaru ( 535590 ) <andaru2@onebox.com> on Saturday April 13, 2002 @08:05AM (#3334386) Homepage
    Perhaps it's high time for the various governments we have floating around (they must be there for something) to take the IP for universally adopted standards by eminent domain.

    On the other hand, we have all seen how competent our governments have been when confronted with technological issues and campaign contributions...

  • by dtmos ( 447842 ) on Saturday April 13, 2002 @08:16AM (#3334416)

    The IEEE Standards Association, home to the 802 family (Ethernet [ieee802.org], Wi-Fi [ieee802.org], etc.) and legions of others, has a more enlightened IP policy, IMHO, as described in their bylaws [ieee.org] and operations manual [ieee.org]. From the bylaws [ieee.org]:

    IEEE standards may include the known use of patent(s), including patent applications, provided the IEEE receives assurance from the patent holder or applicant with respect to patents essential for compliance with both mandatory and optional portions of the standard. This assurance shall be provided without coercion and prior to approval of the standard (or reaffirmation when a patent becomes known after initial approval of the standard). This assurance shall be a letter that is in the form of either


    a) A general disclaimer to the effect that the patentee will not enforce any of its present or future patent(s) whose use would be required to implement the proposed IEEE standard against any person or entity using the patent(s) to comply with the standard or
    b) A statement that a license will be made available without compensation or under reasonable rates, with reasonable terms and conditions that are demonstrably free of any unfair discrimination.

    This assurance shall apply, at a minimum, from the date of the standard's approval to the date of the standard's withdrawal and is irrevocable during that period.

    This seems to provide a good compromise; patented technology may get into a standard, but only after disclosure and subsequent approval of the standard by the organization. In addition, while I can't speak for the IEEE-SA as a whole, 802 voters vote as individuals--there are no "corporate votes." Individual consultants have the same voting power as a corporate VP: While the VP may spend corporate $$ to have a collection of subordinates attend enough meetings to become eligible voters, members of the EFF, or any other collection of people, could also attend and vote. While the 802 process isn't perfect, and abuses have been known to occur, this aspect of the IEEE standards process also works to get the best technical standard produced.

  • HP/IBM on /. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jacoplane ( 78110 ) on Saturday April 13, 2002 @08:17AM (#3334418) Homepage Journal
    I've always wondered why it is that most people on /. seem to love IBM, but bash HP every chance they get. To quote from the article

    "Against the backdrop of the W3C's emerging plan to adopt a primarily royalty-free-based patent policy, the royalty-free vs. RAND controversy reached full boil last October when Hewlett-Packard withdrew its support as a sponsor of IBM and Microsoft's W3C WSDL submission on the basis that WSDL might not be royalty-free"

    It seems to me that HP supports open standards more than IBM does. And besides, IBM has historically been just as monopolistic as MS ever was. Also, HP & Compaq seem so support Linux as much as IBM does. I'm sure there is a good reason why people here admire IBM but think HPaq is doomed. I'd love to have someone explain it to me.

    • Also, HP & Compaq seem to support Linux as much as IBM does. I'm sure there is a good reason why people here admire IBM but think HPaq is doomed

      /me ejects coffee through nose

      Take a look at this [ibm.com] for starters. Be sure to visit all the links in the left navigation pane. You'll find tons of stuff in there. In particular, "projects and patches" contains IBM-developed code.

      People will say IBM supports Linux so much only because it lets us sell more hardware. I'm happy because it lets me architect solutions on any platform from Intel to S/390, where the only difference to the support personnel is the number of virtual servers running in each box.

      I don't really know why people hate HPaq so much around here. I prefer to focus on promoting IBM than bashing the others.
      • For sure, the stuff IBM is doing is really awesome. I wasn't really disputing that fact. However, you have to admit other companies are doing a lot [compaq.com] of things [hp.com] too. The way I look at it, they're strikers on the same team.
    • HP, IBM, Compaq, Sun, Microsoft, Oracle you name it, have one bottomline that they look to satisfy: profits.

      If supporting open standards helps them get there, then that's what they will support. If it's not, then guess where they will go? Note that the profits may not be generated immediately. For example, they might support a particular initiative and even give away their code to either build goodwill or kill a competitor. But that too, is ultimately for one goal: to maximize profits.

      Don't fool yourself into believing otherwise. Companies exist to maximize profits for shareholders. (Of course there are always the ones with the crazy CEOs like Larry Ellison who decide to fuck a company over just because they had the audacity to wean employees away from Oracle).

      So any time you hear a company supporting an open standard you know one of the below is true:
      o They don't have a dominant position in the area and want to fight the company that does.
      o They have a dominant position in the area but don't see a revenue stream and see a better revenue stream coming from the goodwill.
      • (* Don't fool yourself into believing otherwise. Companies exist to maximize profits for shareholders. (Of course there are always the ones with the crazy CEOs like Larry Ellison who decide to fuck a company over just because they had the audacity to wean employees away from Oracle). *)

        Some corporates have a single or few controlling personalities where other issues besides profits reign supream. Gates may simply want domination, thinking about profits as secondary. He has been known to keep money losing projects alive where others would have killed it off because he wants to keep his long-term options open.

        IOW, there are *different roads* to profits, some meaner than others.
  • If there was something genuinely new in these web standards, I could see at least having a debate about whether patents on them are reasonable. But most of the web stuff is just doing with HTTP and XML what has been well-known since the 1970's and 1980's in terms of binary RPC mechanisms; patents on those mostly have expired or will expire soon.

    Even if there were some real inventions in that space, the older mechanisms, translated to HTTP and XML, are perfectly adequate for serving the needs of most business applications. So, there is no reason for the W3C to standardize anything that involve Microsoft or IBM patents (or patents by anybody else, for that matter).

  • It's very likely that enforcing the pantens will backfire especially for IBM. Unlike MS they can't use their web services interface to tie users to an OS (which they use to make money).
    If they start scaring away developers by royalties they'll will also scare away customers from WebSphere. And this would be a painful financial blow.
  • A friend made an intersting point about patents the other day: "Imagine where we would be now if people had patented buble sorts etc."
    • A friend made an intersting point about patents the other day: "Imagine where we would be now if people had patented buble sorts etc."

      One of the things that I find horrific about slashdot and it's readers attitude towards software patents is that idea that this is some how a new practice, and in 'the good old days' nobody patented software.

      Well, to coin a phrase, that is BULLSHIT.

      SOFTWARE PATENTS GO BACK TO THE EARLY DAYS OF THE COMPUTER INDUSTRY AND HAVEN'T SEEMED TO HAVE CAUSED ANY LONG-TERM HARM.

      Patents exist of old concepts like the UNIX SUID bit, various types of regular expression implementations, the use of XOR in bitmaps for XWindows and any number of similar things.

  • It's not clear if the article is a complete description of the problem, but what they mention is WSDL and extensions to SOAP, not the whole family.

    As far as WSDL is concerned, have you ever seen it? It's the most confusing, ill-designed, vague document on the planet. Many people have mentioned that XMI (XML Metadata Interchange) is far more suited to description of software objects, and would be far better for publishing/discovering web services. It's the format for UML, after all. It's here. [omg.org]

    As far as SOAP extensions are concerned, any programmer that has needed to distribute software knows that you should always adhere to the core standards when designing your application. The use of any extension, or any veering too far to the left or right, will make your application unportable.

    So let them have their members-only club, with a membership of 2.

  • SOAP really does not do anything that is not provided by nice simple been around for a long time xml-rpc. We should ask google to quit using SOAP and pick up a xml-rpc interface to their search engine now. Personally I will never use SOAP due to it's bloated implementation and the fact that it's design was soley driven by MS with no reguard to the community.
    • I agree with you about using xml-rpc for application you have control over. But if you wanted to connect to google with web services, right now you need to use SOAP. Hopefully companies will consider these issues when publishing web services. Also, anyone who trusts M$ to have RAND licensing fees is on crack.
  • If this artcile doesn't show you why you should avoid Microsoft technologies for application development I don't know what would. Microsoft has a long history of the "Embrace and Extend" tactics.

    Microsoft is positioning the pieces right now and a lot of people are taking the bait. Once there is an established user base using these technologies (WSDL, .Net, etc.) they will all of a sudden come up with a "new standard."

    I am all for corporations making a profit from their software, but trying to set yourself up for a "tollbooth" at the expense of everyone who embraces the "standards" you contribute to the public, well, that just plain sucks.

    --Jon
    • (* Microsoft is positioning the pieces right now and a lot of people are taking the bait. Once there is an established user base using these technologies (WSDL, .Net, etc.) they will all of a sudden come up with a "new standard." *)

      Every company and their dog always sticks proprietary extensions onto things. It happened with COBOL, Fortran, SQL, HTML, Java, and it will happen again.

      How many SQL vendors do you know that put special marks next to proprietary extensions in their manuals? The only time I have seen such indicators is in IBM COBOL manuals, where IBM's extensions were highlighted in blue (of all colors).

      The problem is that MS has the leverage to do it more and get people hooked.

      I don't know whether the blame should be on the vendor or the acceptor of the new extensions.
  • You would think that being early adopters, crafting the standards so that they can have the first and most compliant implementations might be enough - but I guess these companies aren't secure about the quality of their products, so they have to go down the route of intellectual property ownership, enforcement and RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory, whatever "reasonable" means) licensing fees.

    It's not about being confident in your product. It's about investing loads of money into R&D before you produce a product.

    Look at any other market where a company needs to do a LOT of R&D to produce a product. Pharmaceutical companies have to invest millions and millions to come up with a new drug to cure whatever. If someone else could immediately produce a generic alternative it wouldn't make sense for the company to do R&D in the first place. Why let someone else profit off their hard work and research?

    Any time a company needs to do a lot of R&D to come up with a product it makes sense to seek intellectual property protection (patents, copyright, whatever). Otherwise they're just throwing away money on research - it has nothing to do with confidence in their product(s).

  • Sounds like Unisys (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cout ( 4249 )
    It sounds to me like the author of this article expects Microsoft and IBM to pull a trick like Unisys pulled a few years ago.

    (For those who don't know, Unisys owned the patent for LZW, the compression algorithm used in GIF files. GIF was the standard Compuserve graphics format, and became the de-facto standard for the web, too. Once it became popular, Unisys began to ask for royalties for software that used LZW. It was at that point that the online pr0n industry moved to JPG files instead of GIF).

    I don't know what kinds of rights MS and IBM retain on these standards, so I don't know what kinds of royalties they would ask for (would it be per program, per software license, or per copy of the standard, etc), but I would hope that the industry would have learned from their mistakes in the past with using proprietary technologies.
  • by DraKKon ( 7117 )
    If MS and IBM have copyrights and whatnot on the WEbServies.. which .NET is a BIGASS chunk of... what about Ximian's MONO?
  • Which patents? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by eyefish ( 324893 )
    Could someone post a list of the patents IBM and Microsoft hold in regard to Web Services? I think it's time to find out what those patents are and start a new trully open and royalty-free standards race. Off the top of my head I can imagine (and bring to fruition within 6 months) several alternate ways to do what Web Services try to do today, and this time do it right (come on, WSDL is COMPLEX, and where are the standard security messures?). So, post here links to those patents, and let's teach the big guys a lesson.
  • One is that IBM will open up the patents and allow them to be user by all. In getting the patent they would be preventing someone like Amazon or someone else from saying you can use it. So in this case this coule be a good thing. This of course depends on how committed IBM is to open source.

    The second possibility is that somoene look at all these patents and make improvements to them or challenge them and invalidate them. In makeing improvements to them they would have to be non obvious and not impleied. In the case that you invalidate them just come up with proior art.

    I cant spell.. will slashdot include a spellchecker if I pay for the service???

  • All you losers in the US ... I can only pity you. As long as such foolish patents are not recognized in more developed parts of the world, someone is relatively safe(r).
  • by crovira ( 10242 ) on Saturday April 13, 2002 @12:51PM (#3335353) Homepage
    The 'net as we KNEW it has moved over to [secret] and to InterNet2.

    The military has its own ultra-secure network that's NOT connected.

    Academe has its own ultra-high-performance network that's NOT connected.

    Face it, the originators of the internet, the military and academe no longer have any interest, need or say in what's happening.

    The 'net that we're using now is a floundering piece of commercialized, lowest-common-denominator drivel that's going to descend into a pay-per-packet, metered, toll-gated rabbit warren of compromised hardware, lowest bidder SLAs (service level agreements) and cracked-all-to-Hell software and protocols.

    But it'll be just good enough for the business who'll use it (because they have no other choice.)

    And it'll be brought to you by people who didn't want it, didn't believe in it, and only see it as a way to make a buck now that all this silly inventiveness is over and the boring business of business can resume.

    And you? Bwahahaha. Like they give a fuck. Pay and shut up.
  • so they have to go down the route of intellectual property ownership, enforcement and RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory, whatever "reasonable" means) licensing fees.

    lwn.net has a great tidbit on the fallacious conotation of this RAND term, vis-a-vis a complaint to the LWN editors from Richard Stallman [stallman.org]:

    [Quote LWN.net [lwn.net] below. This is in the frontpage at the moment, it'll scroll off eventually, and wont be there for posterity. I can't find a better URL for it, however the date on the frontpage is 2002/04/11, in the future you might find it through that.]
    Licensing terms: what's in a name? Richard Stallman recently objected to our use of the term "reasonable and non-discriminatory" to describe certain classes of software and patent licenses. These licenses, require a payment for the use of the patented technology; the RAND terms just ensure that everybody can use that technology for the same payment. According to Mr. Stallman, the name RAND is inappropriate because:


    • By requiring a fee for use, the license is clearly discriminatory against free software.

    • This discrimination, of course, is not reasonable.

    Mr. Stallman's suggested term is "UFO" for "Uniform Fee Only."

    BTW, I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere else, but the complete Stallman biography book [oreilly.com], over at O'Reilly, is now available gratis, online!
  • IBM opposed the move to a royalty-free-only framework partially on the basis that companies must be allowed to maintain their patents in order to defend themselves against potential patent infringement suits by other companies.

    Oh, ok.. so what does that have to do with royalties? You can maintain your patent without charging royalties for web use, and still protect against someone taking ideas from your patent for non-web[service|whatever] use.. This is as weak an argument as the RIAA saying that file trading is the reason they have a 10% decline in profits..

    I have been really happy with IBM's pushing open source in general, their developerworks articles are sometimes good, etc, but this kind of thing really makes me lose a little respect for them.. MS of course doesn't even have much of a bright side, no use discussin them, this is in-character for them.
  • The big companies are starting to play hardball, attempting to force RAND "standards" on us. Perhaps it's time we started playing hardball too. A large percenatage of core internet software is open source. What would happen if the default install of open source software started DROPPING any packets for RAND encumbered "standards"? A dead standard, that's what.

    Note that I said "default install" would drop packets. Any software with this feature should have a simple option to disable this.

    -
  • Microsoft [microsoft.com] is at it again, this time big-blue [ibm.com] is right along with them. IBM and Microsoft are trying to erect so-called standard-bodies that would allow them to get-around the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C [w3.org]) requirements for standards to be royalty-free.
    Read this article [zdnet.com] over at ZDNet to get an overview of what is going on.

    While they did release the core SOAP [w3.org] and UDDI [uddi.org] specifications to the royalty-free process, they are trying to create "piggy-back" protocls that will ensue royalties (i.e. security signing of SOAP messages, file attachments on soap messages and security policy negotiations). They are trying to establish these standards through the UDDI [uddi.org] and WS-I [ws-i.org] organizations. These organizations are perceived to be open and acceptable standard bodies, but they are not. They are heavily controlled by both juggernauts and conform to their interests.

    The W3C and the IETF are the only true standard bodies of the Internet! Do not be fooled by IBM and Microsoft and do not be sucked into their grip!
    They are trying to ensure that Open-Source, Free implementations of these standards will not be possible! They will be trying to become "toll-boothes" on the Internet.

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