[uf-new] XFN - Professionals Network microformat

Guy Fraser gfraser at adaptavist.com
Thu May 10 16:33:29 PDT 2007

Charles Iliya Krempeaux wrote:
> Hello,
> Wow... banks are certainly different.
> Most the corporations I've dealt with have GPL stuff all over the place.
> (I've even had some clients seek out GPL stuff.)
> Just out of curiousity, why do banks (you know of) have a problem with 
> GPL?

I was just using banks as a reference because I've come across these 
issues in that sector. It's mainly anyone who deals with software and a 
growing number of banks and other companies have in-house development 
teams. If they integrate microformats in to their systems, or in any way 
become dependant on them, licensing and patenting become really big 
issues. If you've got a key software system or process that's dependant 
on microformats then you find you didn't understand the license properly 
(clause 6 in LGPL, from vague memory, is a good example) then you find 
yourself experiencing a great deal of pain. Most companies are unaware 
of the sorts of issues that can arise, until it's too late and they find 
themselves facing lawsuits.

Lots of things released under GPL also have a commercial license to get 
round this problem. Again, here is an issue - if there was a commercial 
license for microformats then who exactly would the money go to? Would 
each contributor for the microformat in question get a share of the 
revenues? How would the size of share be determined? Who would take the 
initial payment and how would they be audited?

Are you seriously telling me that *any* organisation would seek out 
something with these credentials:

* No clear owner - could be microformats.org, could be the authors, some 
company like Technorati, etc. Nobody really knows.
* Only a statement of intent regarding the copyright - "we might use a 
license like this" - yeah, that fills me with confidence
* A statement that it might be under a royalty free (which is not 
necessarily cost free) patent, but then again it might be under a normal 
patent and commercially exploited as much as possible.

The list goes on and on. I'm still utterly amazed that people are 
staring this issue in the face and rather than dealing with it they are 
trying to brush it under the carpet. It's even more worrying that there 
is a community here who are devoting some of their time and energy in to 
microformats that are ultimately going to make other people money. Crazy 

Still, there's nothing stopping people setting up their own independent 
initiatives to replace microformats with something more "open" and with 
far less risk submarine patents ;)


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