Open Standards: Principles and Practice

Bruce Perens bruce at
Tue Apr 30 23:54:48 UTC 2002

Please see for a proposed policy on
Open Standards. I will be submitting this to a number of Free Software
organizations once it's done.

The issue of patents in standards has come to a head, and I took some time
to get this started. I am still working on the OSD change that we've been
discussing, don't fear.

There are a lot of standards organizations, and every one of them
has a different definition of an Open Standard. Almost all standards
organizations allow the incorporation of software patents, discriminatory
licensing, or other features that seriously damage the "open-ness"
of the standard.

With the Debian Free Software Guidelines, later known as the Open Source
Definition, we were successful in defining the terms of discourse for
an entire industry. We're at that sort of cusp once more, but this time
concerning Open Standards rather than Open Source. Of late, we have
evidence of a number of companies attempting to use patents coupled with
standards to erect "toll booths on the Internet" in a way that would,
intentionally or coincidentally, exclude Free Software. As with the DFSG,
it's time to draw a line in the stand and defend it. Thus, I am presenting
to you the first draft of "Open Standards: Principles and Practice".

My intent is to refine this draft with community input, much as we refined
the DFSG as Debian policy in a month-long discussion on Debian's private
developer list. I made some mistakes with the DFSG text and the Open
Source organization that I don't want to repeat - I'll be watching out
for them, you do too.

Please go to . There is a link for the
current draft, and a link for the disucssion list.


	Bruce Perens
license-discuss archive is at

More information about the License-discuss mailing list