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Brussels (Europe) Explains Stance on Standards, But Questions Remain

Europe's notion of standards remains somewhat unclear, incomplete

Over the past week we have raised on several occasions Europe's implicit consent for Microsoft's patent games (payment for documentation and reasonable fees for software patents -- whatever "reasonable" actually means). It appears as though many of the cries for change paid off because Europe has seemingly responded with this press release praising standards. It remains a bit fuzzy though. Take a quick look. [via Andy Updegrove]

Standardisation can make an important contribution to the development of sustainable industrial policy, unlock the potential of innovative markets and strengthen the position of European economy through more efficient capitalising of its knowledge basis. These are the main conclusions of a European Commission communication “Towards an increased contribution from standardisation to innovation in Europe” published today. It identifies the most important challenges faced, presents concrete objectives for standardisation and the use of standards, and consolidates on-going efforts and proposed measures to be launched both by relevant stakeholders and by the Commission. The communication identifies key elements for focusing EU standardisation policy on innovation such as commitment to market-led standardisation and to the voluntary use of standards, inclusion of new knowledge in standards or access to standardisation of all interested stakeholders, in particular small and medium enterprises, but also consumers and researchers.

[...]

...The success of the European standardisation system in removing technical barriers to trade has played a vital role in ensuring the free movement of goods between Member States...


The quote above is worth a careful look. Europe must realise that transportation of data (information) must not involve a cost, unlike the cost of actual software (development). Charging royalties on data movement -- or input and output to put it differently -- would be absurd. To borrow from the quote above, free protocols would play a "vital role in ensuring the free movement of goods [data] between Member States." Anything else would be a hindrance and a peril to vital communication.

Over at ZDNet, Samba tells the story about the role of the European Commission in achieving what was achieved.

Tridgell went onto say that the 2004 European Commission decision broke the ice between the company and open-source developers and that "the channels of communication are now basically open again", despite Microsoft's ongoing disputes with the EU's legislative body.


Interestingly enough, this agreement which Samba established with Microsoft after the EU had resorted to intervention in fact set the tone for interoperability based on payments [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. Microsoft hopes to establish Samba-type agreements with fewer concessions, using Samba as precedence. it is therefore worth reiterating and restating previous concerns over Europe's understanding/stance on open standard, which remains largely GPL-incompatible.

OpenDocument Day
ODF: compatible with the GPL, unlike OOXML

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