EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

12.19.10

Microsoft Lobbyists Corrupt the European Interoperability Framework to Marginalise Software Freedom

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Patents, Standard at 3:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Early assessments of the latest version of the European Interoperability Framework (EIF)

How good/bad is the final version (as in revision) of EIFv2? Well, it depends on who’s asked. Glyn Moody looked at the difference between the different versions, which the FSFE also highlighted in its Web site. They stood up against Microsoft EIF lobbyists. Microsoft Florian, BSA, and ACT, for example, were promoting RAND using the exact same lies about Free software. Moody, who was actively rebutting these people, says that “the lobbyists won, free software loses badly [in] #eif #eu” and he writes an article titled “the Great Defeat”:

Long-suffering readers of this blog will know that the European Interoperability Framework has occupied me for some time – I wrote about the first version back in 2008, and have been following the twists and turns of the revision process since.

These included the infamous leaked version that redefined “closed” as “nearly open”. Now we finally have the final version of EIF v2 – and it’s not a pretty sight.

[...]

This issue of whether FRAND or royalty/restriction-free should be adopted for open standards is one that I’ve discussed much in recent columns, pointing out that FRAND is not generally compatible with free software implementations. It might seem that the European Commission has come up with a nicely-balanced compromise by specifying that both FRAND and royalty-free are acceptable. But if you think about it, “FRAND or royalty-free” is identical to FRAND, because FRAND includes royalty-free as a stricter subset. The European Commission has simply mentioned “royalty-free” as a sop to those who called for it.

But wait, you might say, doesn’t it specify that even FRAND terms must be “in a way that allows implementation in both proprietary and open source software”? It certainly does, but that just means that it must be possible for some type of open source to implement the FRAND standard; it doesn’t say that all kinds of open source must be able to.

So, in practice, this means that FRAND standards that shut out GPLv2 software, for example, are perfectly acceptable provided other open source licences – of which there are many – can accommodate them. Once again, the European Commission has adopted wording that seems to address the concerns of the open source community, but which in practice gives FRAND fans exactly what the want: the ability to lock out GPLv2 code – still the bulk of the free software world – while complying with EIFv2.

Well, not everyone agrees with this assessment (there are many remarks in Identi.ca) and it’s claimed by a Red Hat employee that BSA and Microsoft are upset about this outcome. For some more background see:

  1. European Open Source Software Workgroup a Total Scam: Hijacked and Subverted by Microsoft et al
  2. Microsoft’s AstroTurfing, Twitter, Waggener Edstrom, and Jonathan Zuck
  3. Does the European Commission Harbour a Destruction of Free/Open Source Software Workgroup?
  4. The Illusion of Transparency at the European Parliament/Commission (on Microsoft)
  5. 2 Months and No Disclosure from the European Parliament
  6. After 3 Months, Europe Lets Microsoft-Influenced EU Panel be Seen
  7. Formal Complaint Against European Commission for Harbouring Microsoft Lobbyists
  8. ‘European’ Software Strategy Published, Written by Lobbyists and Multinationals
  9. Microsoft Uses Inside Influence to Grab Control, Redefine “Open Source”
  10. With Friends Like These, Who Needs Microsoft?
  11. European Interoperability Framework (EIF) Corrupted by Microsoft et al, Its Lobbyists
  12. Orwellian EIF, Fake Open Source, and Security Implications
  13. No Sense of Shame Left at Microsoft
  14. Lobbying Leads to Protest — the FFII and the FSFE Rise in Opposition to Subverted EIF
  15. IBM and Open Forum Europe Address European Interoperability Framework (EIF) Fiasco
  16. EIF Scrutinised, ODF Evolves, and Microsoft’s OOXML “Lies” Lead to Backlash from Danish Standards Committee
  17. Complaints About Perverted EIF Continue to Pile Up
  18. More Complaints About EIFv2 Abuse and Free Software FUD from General Electric (GE)
  19. Patents Roundup: Copyrighted SQL Queries, Microsoft Alliance with Company That Attacks F/OSS with Software Patents, Peer-to-Patent in Australia
  20. Microsoft Under Fire: Open Source Software Thematic Group Complains About EIFv2 Subversion, NHS Software Supplier Under Criminal Investigation
  21. British MEP Responds to Microsoft Lobby Against EIFv2; Microsoft’s Visible Technologies Infiltrates/Derails Forums Too
  22. Patents Roundup: Escalations in Europe, SAP Pretense, CCIA Goes Wrong, and IETF Opens Up
  23. Patents Roundup: Several Defeats for Bad Types of Patents, Apple Risks Embargo, and Microsoft Lobbies Europe Intensely
  24. Europeans Asked to Stop Microsoft’s Subversion of EIFv2 (European Interoperability Framework Version 2)
  25. Former Member of European Parliament Describes Microsoft “Coup in Process” in the European Commission
  26. Microsoft’s Battle to Consume — Not Obliterate — Open Source
  27. Patents Roundup: David Hammerstein on Microsoft Lobbying in Europe; Harrison Targets Lobbying on Software Patents in New Zealand, Justice Stevens Leaves SCOTUS
  28. Oracle Doesn’t “Go Bananas Over EIF 2.0” Being Subverted by Microsoft and Friends
  29. Inaction From Ombudsman/EU Commission Regarding Microsoft Lobbyists Derailing Public Policy
  30. The Difference Between Florian Müller and Hugo Lueders (Pro-Microsoft Lobbyists)
  31. BSA, ACT, and Other Microsoft Front Groups Still Try to Shoot Down EIF in Europe While Promoting Software Patents
  32. Free Software Proponents Expose the Microsoft-Funded (F)RAND Lobbyists and Their Lies, Microsoft to Lobby Directly in SOSOCON 2010
  33. Battling the BSA Hydra – Interpretation and Spanish Translation

The head of the FSFE responded to the EIFv2 on various occasions and then wrote about it in his blog:

Yesterday, the European Commission finally published the new version of the European Interoperability Framework [pdf]. We at FSFE have been working on this document for a long time. When it was published yesterday, we gave it a welcome despite some reservations.

Glyn Moody points out a number of weak spots in the new document. Actually, I’m concerned about many of the same points as he is. Still, I don’t agree with his judgement that EIFv2 is a “great defeat”. The document would certainly have been a lot worse without the hard work of FSFE and others. Even though it leaves some key issues open, it represents some progress.

Whether to welcome EIFv2 or not is a question of what you take as a baseline for comparison, and if you view the document isolated or in context. A lot will also depend on how the EIF is implemented.

But let’s take the issues in turn.

His conclusion:

So what we have now is a strategy statement, without the level of detail that made EIFv1 such a useful document. But this strategy generally goes in the right direction, and it’s much more powerful than before, thanks to its official status.
I’m guessing that the change we’ll see across Europe will be slow, but that it will be continuous and very broad. EIFv1 provided a rallying point for those member states and public bodies that were interested in Free Software and Open Standards. EIFv2 is a general push for everyone to use more Open Standards, even though it contains generous get-out clauses.

On the whole, we welcome EIFv2. It’s not everything we wished for, but it’s far better than we feared. We’ll watch its implementation very carefully, and will nudge it along where necessary.

Here is a page in question and related feedback from the FSFE:

  • FSFE welcomes revised European Interoperability Framework

    The European Commission today published its long-awaited revision of the European Interoperability Framework. This document aims at promoting interoperability in the European public sector. The document is the result of a prolonged and hard-fought process. Free Software Foundation Europe accompanied this process and offered input to the European Commission at various stages.

    “During the history of the EIF, we had reason to worry that Free Software would effectively be shut out of the European public sector. FSFE has worked hard to prevent this, and we have succeeded,” says Karsten Gerloff, FSFE’s President. “With this document, the Commission shows that it is willing to lead. We will support and accompany the EC in this effort.”

  • Freedom to compete: Fixing software procurement

    On Tuesday December 7, we issued a press release about a contract awarded by the European Commission, under which the EC and other European institutions will spend up to 189 million Euro on proprietary software and related services. We are of the view that in issuing this contract, the EC has once more failed to live up to its own guidelines and recommendations about the use of Free Software and Open Standards, and has missed an opportunity to open up software procurement to competition from Free Software companies.

Mark Bohannon, the Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Global Public Policy at Red Hat, says in a Red Hat-owned site that “European Interoperability Framework supports openness” and to quote the ending:

Is the new EIF perfect? No. Due to heavy lobbying by vested proprietary technology interests, some key sections of the EIF have been made confusing (indeed, the definition of ‘open standards’ has been watered down from the 2004 version and no longer includes the requirement of being ‘royalty-free’). The definition of “open” standards or specifications remains a matter of some contention in the IT industry. An example of a more accurate definition of open standards can be found in the recently released India Standards Policy for E-Governance, which specifies that intellectual property should be licensed royalty-free and that any required specifications should be technology-neutral.

While the new definition does not give the open source and open standards community all it would have wished for, and some will certainly criticize the result, the EU’s policy should still be applauded as an overall statement in favor of openness. At its heart is a reaffirmation of openness and the recognition that open source is not only a key element of – but also a growing factor in — Europe’s IT agenda.

Red Hat and the open source and open standards community will continue to work for royalty free IPR licensing policies that level the playing field and promote consumer choice. Given this latest announcement in EU policy, the open source and open standards community will have to be vigilant to ensure that this policy is implemented in a meaningful way and achieves its true goal: interoperability, vendor choice, portability, collaborative innovation and competition in providing products and services.

Simon Phipps’ comments can be found in Identi.ca but also in his blog summaries, e.g.:

Landmark publication of the European Interoperability Framework by the European Commission. Of course, this is only guidance, and the political context is very complex as evidenced by the language around “FRAND” and patents. Let’s see if they can stick to this better than they can stick to their own procurement guidelines.

[...]

As if to provide caution for those welcoming the EIF publication, FSF Europe continues its very rational and well-argued assault on the European Commission’s failure to follow its own rules.

All in all, there is no consent here. There appears to be agreement that the EIFv2 could be better, some F/OSS advocates are reasonably satisfied, but RAND still managed to find its way into EIF. In a way, the mobbyists and lobbyists got their way.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

3 Comments

  1. twitter said,

    December 19, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Gravatar

    Confusion is the surest sign of defeat. If there is enough confusion there will be no change.

    The FSF has explained how “RAND” discriminates against free software, but it should be obvious that software that can not be distributed without permission is not free.

    The real test of defeat will be when state agencies continue using Microsoft fromats in public documents. That will prove that this framework fails to even provide interoperability, let alone software freedom, and represents no change. Microsoft’s new phoney open document formats are even worse than their older binary formats but these are what Microsoft wants allowed rather than be forced to implement real standards like ODF.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    OOXML was promoted with RAND. EIFv2 does not exclude RAND. I think we know what that means. I will write more about this later.

  2. twitter said,

    December 21, 2010 at 1:14 am

    Gravatar

    Groklaw has unearthed a Novell/Microsoft agreement that is particularly damning for OOXML as an interoperability format. Microsoft’s Statement of Work for Novell considers Novell a “first-class” implementer of OOXML with special access that no one else will enjoy. The final “milestone” is “Novell OpenOffice can save files containing-Novell-specific features using the Open XML standard.” Almost all of the other goals are of the form, “Novell OpenOffice can open Microsoft Office 2007/2010-generated Open XML files without failures; M[1-4] features supported; unsupported features are lost on open.” So, even this “first-class” implementer will be unable to really use OOXML and anyone that makes the mistake of working with that format will be tied to specific versions of a program from a single vendor, Microsoft. The company refused to use a real open standard and should be shunned by governments that are interested in real interoperability.

What Else is New


  1. Microsoft Windows Unsafe at Any Speed, by Design

    More timely reminders that Windows is simply not designed to be secure, irrespective of version, status of patching, etc.



  2. After Moonlight Dies and Even Microsoft Abandons Silverlight, the Abusive Monopolist Keeps Pushing for Other Microsoft Lock-in, Injecting OOXML Traps Into Free Software (Moodle)

    Despite a long history of Microsoft formats being proven guarantee of digital obsolescence, Moodle allows itself to become Microsoft prey and a Trojan horse for OOXML in classrooms (for children)



  3. Links 4/7/2015: Mostly (Geo)Political Catchup

    Links for the day



  4. Links 3/7/2015: KDE Applications 15.04.3, Ubuntu-Flavored Compute Stick

    Links for the day



  5. Patent Lawyers and Their Firms, Still Desperate to Protect the Status Quo, Manipulate the Media

    Patent lawyers are besieged by gradual tightening of patent scope and recklessly fight back (e.g. by saturating the media) to secure their revenue sources, derived from (and at the expense of) actual scientists and true market producers



  6. Amid Controversy, Political Scrutiny and Increased Media Pressure Željko Topić and Benoît Battistelli Allegedly Cancel Today's Trip to Zagreb (Croatia) Where Topić Faces Many Criminal Charges

    The Croatian press comments on the recent declaration from the Council of Europe and Topić's not-so-sterling status in his home country, where he is wanted for alleged crimes



  7. Microsoft Gradually Embraces, Extends, Extinguishes Linux Foundation as a Foundation of GNU/Linux

    By liaising with (or hijacking) existing members of the Linux Foundation, as well as by paying the Linux Foundation, Microsoft turns the Linux Foundation into somewhat of a Windows advocacy group



  8. Microsoft India Still Lobbies and Lies About Free Software in Order to Knock Down Policy That Favours Free Software

    Microsoft continues to bully Indian politicians who merely 'dare' to prefer software that India can modify, maintain, extend, audit, etc.



  9. Patent Lawyers and Corporate Media Nervous About New Patents Barrier/Reality (Less Patents on Software and Business Methods)

    The rich and the powerful, as well as their lawyers (whose job is to protect their money and power by means of government-enforced monopoly), carry on whining after the Alice case, in which many abstract patents were essentially ruled -- by extension -- invalid



  10. Translation of Pierre-Yves Le Borgn' Speech Against EPO Management and New Parliamentarian Interventions

    More political fire targeting the EPO's management, adding up to over 100 parliamentarians by now



  11. Links 2/7/2015: KDE Plasma 5.3.2, antiX 15

    Links for the day



  12. Links 1/7/2015: OpenDaylight Lithium, OpenMandriva Lx 2014.2

    Links for the day



  13. Munich Press, Münchner Merkur, Slams the Munich-based EPO

    Pressure on Benoît Battistelli to leave (or be fired) grows as the cronies whom he filled his office with have become a huge public embarrassment to the decades-old European Patent Office



  14. The Shameless Campaign to Paint/Portray Free Software as Inherently Insecure, Using Brands, Logos, and Excessive, Selective Press Coverage

    Some more FUD from firms such as Sonatype, which hope to make money by making people scared of Free/libre software



  15. National Insecurity and Blackmail, Courtesy of Microsoft

    British members of parliament (MPs) outsourced their communication to the number one PRISM company and they are paying the price for it; The US Navy's systems continue to be unbelievably insecure (Windows XP), despite access to the world's biggest nuclear arsenal



  16. Microsoft Keeps Shrinking

    As the era of shrink-wrapped software comes to an end so does Microsoft, whose effort to become a 'cloud' company with online operations has been miserable at best



  17. They 'R' Coming: More Microsoft Money for the Linux Foundation

    The problem with having Microsoft in a Linux Foundation initiative, the R Consortium



  18. Speculations About the EPO's Possible Role in DDOS Attacks

    Readers' views on who might be behind the attacks on this site amid confirmation that it's on the 'targets' list of the EPO



  19. Links 30/6/2015: Linux Mint 17.2, OpenMandriva

    Links for the day



  20. Techrights Confirmed as a Target of EPO Surveillance, With Help From Control Risks Group (CRG)

    Unveiling the cloak of secrecy from long-term surveillance by the European Patent Office (EPO) and a London-based mercenary it hired, bypassing the law



  21. Google's Fight to Keep APIs Free is Lost, Let's Hope Google Continues Fighting

    SCOTUS refuses to rule that APIs cannot be considered copyright-'protected', despite common sense and despite Java (which the case is about) being Free/libre software



  22. Patent Trolls in the Post-Alice World

    A round-up of news about patent trolls in the United States, some of whom are are doing well and some of them not as well



  23. DDOS Attacks Against Techrights

    Information about some of the most recent DDOS attacks against this Web site and the steps to be taken next



  24. The Patent System Not What it Used to be, Large Corporations and Patent Lawyers the Principal Beneficiaries

    A look at some recent patent stories and what can be deduced from them, based on statistics and trends



  25. After Intervention by the Council of Europe Comes a Detailed Summary of the Situation in the European Patent Office (EPO)





  26. IRC Proceedings: May 31st - June 27th, 2015

    Many IRC logs



  27. Links 28/6/2015: Manjaro Linux Cinnamon 0.8.13, VectorLinux 7.1

    Links for the day



  28. Williamson v. Citrix Online (at CAFC) Reinforces Alice v. CLS Bank (at SCOTUS) in Crushing Software Patents

    More patent news from the United States, again serving to indicate that software patents over there are getting weak (harder to defend in court or acquire from the patent office)



  29. Proskauer Rose LLP is Cherry-Picking Cases to Make Software Patents Seem Eligible Despite Alice v. CLS Bank

    Naming and shaming those who are trying to reshape the consensus despite a rather consistent pattern of software patents being rejected



  30. IAM Biased: How IAM 'Magazine' Glorifies Patent Stockpiling

    A look at the bias of one of the most overzealous sites for and by patent lawyers


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts