Does "Common Cartridge" qualify as "open standard"?

Scott Wilson scott.wilson at
Sat Jun 20 10:46:54 UTC 2015

Hi Guido,

Common Cartridge is a specification published by the IMS Global Learning Consortium, which is a consortium of eLearning companies, publishing houses, and educational associations.

IMS “final” standards are gratis to access (though they do try to steer you towards membership).

The actual license terms of IMS specifications are set out here:

I think its fair to say that FOSS can implement IMS specifications without much concern, and distribute implementations under FOSS licenses. The only conditions on implementations relate to IMS attribution, effectively a required NOTICE for products:

" 4. Grant of License to Develop Products Based on the Specification(s)
IMS hereby grants the Licensee Organization, its Related Parties a worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free, nontransferable, nonexclusive, nonsublicenseable license to download and utilize the Specification(s) for the purpose of developing, making, having made, using, marketing, importing, offering to sell or license, and selling or licensing, and to otherwise distribute, products that implement this Specification(s), in all cases subject to the conditions set forth in this Agreement and IPR notices contained within the Specification(s).

Licensee agrees to publicly and visibly acknowledge and attribute to IMS the Specification(s) upon which products are based to any and all Development Partner(s). Distribution of machine readable implementations of this specification for the purpose of working with Development Partner(s) to develop interoperable products is granted to the licensee as long as all other provisions of this agreement are adhered to. Such rights are transferrable and sublicenseable. Development Partner(s) or other parties desiring to distribute or make original use of the Specification(s) separate from the rights granted to the licensee are encouraged to individually register with IMS so that IMS can provide updates on the evolution of the specification and provide information on conformance certification.”

So in terms of user freedom I think IMS specs are OK.

However, you don’t get a vote to modify the specification itself unless you pay the membership fees (around $15,000 for the smallest companies, up to £55,000 for large companies/gov agencies). You also need to register if you want your product listing in its conforming products listing, or your company listing as a certified supplier ( As you can see a few FOSS projects are already there, such as Apereo/Sakai, Mahara and Moodle.

Hope this helps,


> On 20 Jun 2015, at 11:26, Guido Arnold <guido at> wrote:
> Hello,
> I saw "Common Cartridge" [1] mentioned a few times in context of Open
> Educational Resources (OER). I was wondering if anybody here already
> knows more about it and could tell me if this would be a format
> acceptable for us Free Software advocates [2].
> This would save me a lot of time researching the details myself as the
> issue seems quite complex for someone not familiar with file formats.
> Thanks in advance!
> Guido
> [1]
> [2]
> --
> Guido Arnold                       Free Software Foundation Europe
>    []           Edu team & German team
> OpenPGP Key-ID:  0x51628D75  [][][]                    Get active!
> XMPP: guido at    ||
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