[Gllug] "EU policy on Free Software and, standards: Make your voice heard"

Alain Williams addw at phcomp.co.uk
Thu Sep 9 15:33:39 UTC 2010

Please spend 5 minutes. From the perspective of free s/ware, RF (Royalty Free)
is much better than FRAND. 

The wording is dreadful.

SSO == Standards Setting Organizations

This is a better link:


----- Forwarded message from Maelle Costa <maelle at fsfe.org> -----

Date: Mon, 06 Sep 2010 10:12:01 +0200
From: Maelle Costa <maelle at fsfe.org>
Subject: "EU policy on Free Software and,standards: Make your voice heard"

Hash: SHA1

Dear all,

at the Free Software Foundation Europe, we would like to direct your
attention to a survey currently in progress, sponsored by the European
Commission, regarding business attitudes towards the acceptability of
including software patents within standards.


This survey is a key component of the study that will play the major
role in the EC's reform of standardisation policy. It is open until
September 17.

A major theme in the survey is whether patents that are included in
standards should be licensed royalty-free (the W3C takes this
approach), or whether they should be licensed under so-called
"fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms" (FRAND) [1].

FRAND is a misnomer as the terms are neither fair nor reasonable, nor
non-discriminatory - either for Free Software or indeed for anyone
other than the small circle of the very largest players in the
software market.

For Free Software, these terms are disastrous as well as
discriminatory to the point of exclusion. They require royalties to be
paid per copy, which makes it impossible to distribute a program as
Free Software, automatically and legally excluding Free Software from
any part in standards - an obvious nonsense.

A second theme in the survey is the question which standardisation
organisations should get official recognition. Should only those
standards that come out of organisations like ISO be recognised, or
should governments also accept standards that come out of industry
fora and consortia?  Typically, the decision processes in fora and
consortia are somewhat more friendly to Free Software than those of
formal standardisation organisations, where established interests are
usually deeply entrenched.

Some of the people producing this study also give some cause for
concern. Particularly worrying is the fact that Benoit Müller is
involved. He used to be the director of software policy for the
Business Software Alliance, a lobby group one-sidedly devoted to the
promotion of proprietary software. Furthermore Prof. Knut Blind, the
study's coordinator, has long advocated licensing terms for patents in
standards which are hostile to Free Software business models.

It is of critical importance that as many Free Software companies as
possible respond to this survey, so that their views are heard and
form part of the data for the study. The implicit assumptions of the
survey are, unfortunately, biased towards large corporations with
dedicated 'standardisation employees' trained in the assumptions of
the historical status quo.

Precisely for these reasons it is all the more important that you take
the time to answer the survey to the best of your company's ability.

In sum, we at FSFE recommend that Free Software companies participate
in this survey in order to make sure that the data gathered will
reflect the actual situation, so that our common interests can't
simply be ignored.

Kind regards,
Karsten Gerloff

President, Free Software Foundation Europe

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FRAND

- -- 
Maëlle Costa
Free Software Foundation Europe - intern
im : maelle at jabber.fsfe.org

----- End forwarded message -----

Alain Williams
Linux/GNU Consultant - Mail systems, Web sites, Networking, Programmer, IT Lecturer.
+44 (0) 787 668 0256  http://www.phcomp.co.uk/
Parliament Hill Computers Ltd. Registration Information: http://www.phcomp.co.uk/contact.php
Past chairman of UKUUG: http://www.ukuug.org/
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