[Nottingham] Government OSC derailed after revelation of conflict of interest (For truly Open Standards?)

Martin martin at ml1.co.uk
Fri Apr 27 22:09:10 UTC 2012


A short repost of James' significant post, but started as a new thread.

The FSF is also raising a call for action on this:

"The term 'FRAND' is a FRAUD."...

An interesting tentative turn vulnerably in the making, but why such a
fight and why after so very long?...

Both attached:

Interesting article just popped up on Techweek. Rather than link it,
I'll post the article here:

The Cabinet Office has confirmed that the government’s open source
consultation process has been extended, after a conflict of interest was

The consultation process, launched in february, calls on the IT
community to define ‘‘open standards’ for government, a process seen as
crucial to getting open source methods more widely used in the public
sector. However, the results of the consultation’s first round table
have had to be scrapped, because the facilitator, Andrew Hopkirk of the
National Computing Centre (NCC) had not disclosed a link with Microsoft. ...

... Industry Concerns

There are some concerns over the level of government commitment to open
source, especially after a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the
BBC last September...






Sent from the Free Software Foundation:

UPDATE: Submission deadline is now June 4th

The UK government is holding a consultation about what sort of patent
licenses an "open" standard should require. Anyone that develops free
software (free as in freedom, not a matter of price) and would like it
to be used in the UK has reason to be concerned with this, along with
anyone that uses or distributes free software in the UK.

One option under consideration is to demand the patent holder give
everyone a royalty-free patent license for implementing the standard.
That at least permits free software to support the standard.

The other option is a criterion called "FRAND", which claims to mean
"Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory". What it really means is that
the patent holder must publish terms and allow anyone to buy a license
on those terms. The terms are often such as to exclude free software
entirely from implementing the standard.

For instance, these terms can (and in many cases do) require anyone
distributing the software to pay a license fee per copy of the program
distributed. If you receive a program with a requirement to pay someone
if you redistribute it, you do not have freedom #2, so the program is
not free software. In effect, these terms discriminate against free
software, which is neither fair nor reasonable.


The term "FRAND" is a FRAUD.

The existence of a software patent on a certain idea is not an automatic
sentence of exclusion for free software. A few patent holders have
granted liberal patent licenses for all use of a certain program,
sometimes even covering all free programs distributed under the GNU
General Public License (GNU GPL). Rather more have given royalty-free
licenses to implement specific standards, because that was part of the
requirement for approval of the standard. But these are a rare
exception, and the difference between them and typical "FRAND" licenses
demonstrates how far the latter are from allowing free software.

Please answer the consultation to support the requirement for
royalty-free licenses for "open standards". The closing date is June 4.

For information on the consultation, see:


Additionally, Free Software Foundation Europe has prepared recommended
answers to some of the questions in the consultation.



This need for this consultation arises from a harmful policy decision:
allowing patents to restrict the development, distribution and use of
software. A correct decision on the question at hand will partly reduce
the damage that software patents do, but they will still do damage.
Software patents put software developers, distributors and sometimes
even users in danger. The UK ought to reconsider allowing them at all.

The reason that the deceptive idea of "FRAND" is considered as an option
is that the question is formulated in terms of "open" standards, rather
than "free" or "libre" standards. If the UK government posed the
question in terms of standards that respect freedom, the answer would be
obvious: everyone must be free to implement the standard.

A worrying direction if certain unwelcome industrial lobbying shouts

Anyone game to get involved?


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