Open Standards: European Interoperability Framework and IPR

On the 25th of June IDABC organized an Information Day on the novelties of the new version of the European Interoperability Framework (EIF) and now the dispute is open: BSA representatives call for “own goal”, while open source evangelists explain why standards on a RAND basis are discriminatory towards open source software.

Dispute about Europe-wide definition of open standards

A dispute has been sparked in Brussels about the definition of open standards to promote the interoperability between eGovernment services. According to drafts for a revision of the European Interoperability Framework (EIF) which were recently presented by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Informatics, the specifications of open standards have to be made available either free of charge, or for a specified nominal fee. If a standard, or parts of it, are protected by patents, the revision stipulates that these parts have to be “made irrevocably available on a royalty-free basis” for third party use. This has caused protests by IT business associations like the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which counts Microsoft and Intel among its members. [..]

Jan Wildeboer is an open source evangelist at Red Hat in Europe who supports the plans for the revised EIF version. He explained, in an interview with heise online, “Particularly the stipulation that presumed intellectual property has to be made available without the payment of license fees in open standards complies with a fundamental requirement for open source developers and providers of open source solutions.” He said open standards are generally a “vital component of modern IT infrastructures”, and was surprised that the BSA renewed its call for license fees to be paid for HTTP and DHCP. Wildeboer said this argument has already proved redundant in the debate about software patents.

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