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Re: Document Freedom Day: March 26th ok for list? Yes or no

From: Tim Smith
Subject: Re: Document Freedom Day: March 26th ok for list? Yes or no
Date: Wed, 20 Feb 2008 21:23:58 -0800
User-agent: MT-NewsWatcher/3.5.3b2 (Intel Mac OS X)

In article <>,
 Ciaran O'Riordan <> wrote:
> So that you can evaluate it and give me a yes or no answer, I suppose I
> should point you to the website:
>                            Document Freedom Day!
> Did I mention that the day is March 26th?  Just FYI.  I hope this doesn't
> make anyone fearful, uncertain, or doubtful about anything.

Sounds nice.  Will they also be working to make ODF free?  In 
particular, consider Sun's agreement to not assert patents against users 
of ODF:

   Sun irrevocably covenants that, subject solely to the reciprocity 
   requirement described below, it will not seek to enforce any of its 
   enforceable U.S. or foreign patents against any implementation of 
   the Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) v1.0 
   Specification, or of any subsequent version thereof ("OpenDocument 
   Implementation") in which development Sun participates to the point 
   of incurring an obligation, as defined by the rules of OASIS, to 
   grant (or commit to grant) patent licenses or make equivalent 
   non-assertion covenants. Notwithstanding the commitment above, Sun's 
   covenant shall not apply and Sun makes no assurance, covenant or 
   commitment not to assert or enforce any or all of its patent rights 
   against any individual, corporation or other entity that asserts, 
   threatens or seeks at any time to enforce its own or another party's 
   U.S. or foreign patents or patent rights against any OpenDocument 

   This statement is not an assurance either (i) that any of Sun's 
   issued patents cover an OpenDocument Implementation or are 
   enforceable, or (ii) that an OpenDocument Implementation would not 
   infringe patents or other intellectual property rights of any third 

   No other rights except those expressly stated in this Patent 
   Statement shall be deemed granted, waived, or received by 
   implication, or estoppel, or otherwise.

   Similarly, nothing in this statement is intended to relieve Sun of 
   its obligations, if any, under the applicable rules of OASIS.

Notice that this only covers ODF 1.0, and future versions *from* *OASIS* 
(and then only if Sun participates sufficiently to include an obligation 
to grant a patent license).

Now think about that and how it relates to freedom.  What if I want to 
make my own format, based on ODF 1.0, perhaps for internal use?  Being 
able to adopt something for my own needs is an important freedom.  For 
software, it is one of GNU's four freedoms.  But hey, if I do that, I'm 
not covered by the non-assertion.  Sun can freely sue my ass off over 
their patents.

And shouldn't an open standard be under the control of the community or 
of a recognized standards body?  If OASIS doesn't toe Sun's line, all 
Sun has to do is go home, and ODF is frozen--versions whose development 
Sun doesn't participate in don't have the patent license.

Why doesn't Sun actually free ODF: promise not to assert their relevant 
patents against any document format, and turn *real* control of ODF over 
to OASIS?  Do you have any upcoming protests or marches or whatever to 
urge Sun to do this?

--Tim Smith

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