Fwd: Is standardization deemed to be against FS and how can it be tackled?

Nico Rikken nico.rikken at fsfe.org
Sat Jun 13 09:12:43 UTC 2015

Dear Tom,

That was quite an elaborate statement, thanks. I don't share your view
on hostility. Copyright, patents and standardization practices have been
around longer than actual software. As such the bodies cover more fields
than just those related to software. As the matter of fact, my knowledge
about standards mainly originates from non-software standards. In the
software-related fields however the issue of free software should be
known and addressed by now, I certainly agree with you on that.

Regarding your point on testing, as far as I know, testing
specifications are defined, and testing organizations often request fees
regarding the tests, but anyone can start testing according to the
specifications. Or is this also regulated?

More generic I've seen the standardization process at work from afar and
to me the process seems to be quite transparant. In the Netherlands the
standardization body NEN is in charge of developing standards. The
described approach [1] covers the forming of a committee which will
develop a new standard, which will be up for public review, followed by
publication and implementation. If the standard becomes outdated or
needs other adjustments, the process will start over (this generally
seems to happen every few years). I haven't yet gathered knowledge on
how other bodies handle reaching consensus, so I can't really compare.
[1] https://www.nen.nl/Normontwikkeling/Wat-is-normalisatie/De-7-stappen-van-normontwikkeling.htm

In the meantime I've contacted a few people involved in NEN and I've
managed to get some information, but I still have some detailed
questions in queue. I was told patents can't block implementation, and
related patents should be known at the moment of standardization.
However: what happens when patents are filed after the standard is
drafted? and is a non-discriminatory low-cost license fee for each
implementation acceptable? To me these seem to be the more fundamental
questions for which I still lack an answer. This especially interesting
in that I know of a GPLv3 client-side implementation of a standard. If
this standard is indeed subject to license fees, there seems to be a
legal conflict.

Regarding your point on strategy, I guess practical advise would be
helpful to ease implementation and avoid conflicts. At least I assume
you're referring to the interest of programmers. I guess such a strategy
would have to cover:
0) how to stand against any discrimination, in order to prevent the
upcoming points.
1) how to legally retrieve free-of-cost and free-for-use information on
a standard (including reverse-engineering).
2) how to discover, handle or circumvent patent and copyright issues.
3) how to guarantee the freedoms with redistribution.
4) how to monitor external developments to prevent getting into new

I'm missing the expertise to fill de details, and furthermore it can be
specific to local legislation, so that would be a task for experts to

In a way your last paragraph describes both the issue and a possible
solution to the issue: standards have become essential to our society
and are even included in legislation. As such enabling the forming of
standards seems to be a governmental act. Not so much the content
itself, but rather about the process and the eventual standard. At the
very least freedom in achieving and implementing the standards should be
guaranteed, to avoid any discrimination.

I'm curious to hear your upcoming post. I have come to find this topic
rather interesting.

Kind regards,
Nico Rikken
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: signature.asc
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 213 bytes
Desc: This is a digitally signed message part
URL: <http://lists.fsfe.org/pipermail/discussion/attachments/20150613/f042a1ce/attachment.sig>

More information about the Discussion mailing list