Crafting a special kind of license for a very special standard.

David Woolley forums at
Sun Apr 15 10:26:20 UTC 2007

Arnoud Engelfriet wrote:
> David Woolley wrote:
>> If it were ruled to be the case, it would largely kill open source
>> software, as, especially for standards from consortia, e.g. W3C,
>> it could make it impossible to implement interworkable open source
>> programs.  
> Care to elaborate?
> A standard is a document that specifies an interface. If I write my

You are saying that it wouldn't be ruled the case.  The originator
of the thread seemed to believe it was already the case.  I am simply
saying that it is a path he really doesn't want to pursue, because, if
the law is interpreted the way that he wants it to be interpreted, it
will benefit the big corporations as they will be able to prevent open
source implementations and other competing implementations, something
that most businesses want to do, but currently think that they cannot.

(Most key IT specifications these days are own by industry consortia,
not by national standards bodies.)

My current understanding is that copyright is largely ineffective in
limiting implementation of standards.

> Claiming copyright and actually having a copyright are two
> very separate things. 

I very deliberately used the word "claiming" for that very reason,
or more precisely because I don't have the legal competence to
know whether it is a FUD tactic or legally enforceable.  Actually
a lot of patents, even though registered, are probably  not valid

> What happens in many cases is that you simply don't get a copy of
> the standard unless you sign a heavy-handed contract that specifies

There are a lot of those out there.  Generally I don't get to see them,
but it does frustrate me as to how much of today's technology is based
on such closed specifications (some people say that "standards" is
reserved for the ISO and national standards organisations).

Most of the rest are so highly priced that few organisations selling
products to the standards actually have had sight of the standards;
they simply rely on their supplier's claims.

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