As regular readers of this column know, there's still a battle going on over whether standards should be FRAND or restriction/royalty-free (RF). The folly of allowing standards to contain FRAND-licensed elements is shown most clearly by the current bickering between Microsoft and Google. What makes that argument such a waste of time and money is the fact that for 20 years we have had the most stunning demonstration of the power of RF:
Twenty years ago CERN published a statement that made the World Wide Web ("W3", or simply "the web") technology available on a royalty-free basis. By making the software required to run a web server freely available, along with a basic browser and a library of code, the web was allowed to flourish.
In fact, as his book "Weaving the Web" makes clear, Sir Tim Berners-Lee was hugely influenced by Richard Stallman and free software. Today, free software runs just about every aspect of the Internet, from DNS, through email to Web servers. But it's important to remember that as well as promoting free software, the Web represents a two-decade long demonstration of the unmatched power of RF to stimulate innovation and create wealth in a way that FRAND has never never achieved – and never will.
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