03.25.12

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ISO Helps Patent Cartels, Monopolies; Mozilla Surrenders, Fedora Will Not

Posted in ISO, Patents, Standard at 5:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

MPEG LA logo

Summary: Criticism of ISO and a few bits of news about Free software projects and their response to MPEG-LA

THE PR wires teach us that the corrupt ISO is still up to no good, this time floating the MPEG cartel, as usual. Mark Ballard, a fantastic British journalist, shows us just how incompetent — if not corrupt — ISO really is:

The International Standards Organisation has admitted it doesn’t know what an open standard is, despite trying to have the UK’s open standards policy quashed.

The situation has left ISO and its franchise partners, such as the UK’s British Standards Institution, looking a lot less authoritative. While open standards are being branded onto statutes around Europe, and after more than half a decade of controversies so great it caused street protests against ISO’s treatment of the open standards issue, the legal authority on standards now refuses even to acknowledge its existence.

Yet ISO and its partners had so successfully lobbied against the UK open standards policy last year that the Cabinet Office withdrew it. And its lobbying, like that of all those who opposed the policy, concerned one specific question: what is an open standard.

ISO and its partners said the UK had got the answer wrong. So what then should it be? That’s what Computer Weekly has been pressing ISO to say since January.

“ISO does not have a definition of ‘open standard’,” is what ISO said finally this week.

It sounded incredible. But it exposed how frail ISO’s position had become.

If the ISO does not get its act together, it deserves to become obsolete. Fedora, for example, still ignores the MPEG maze that ISO is endorsing. Mozilla, much to our regret, says that “mobile matters most” when it excuses itself for selling out, leading to defeatism among those who underestimate the importance of this issue.

Mozilla’s choice was covered here before and the importance of the matter is explained in this new article from Free Software Magazine:

Whether we like it or not, H.264 is “the” de-facto standard on the Internet. Every time you visit Youtube, you are watching a video encoded using the H.264 standard. The video quality is great, the compression is astonishing. And so is the price. H.264 is subject to a huge number of software patents. You need to pay hefty licensing fees if you want to create H.264 files today. We, the users, are not feeling this as we are not paying a cent. However, the freedomes allowed by this format are limited, and vague at best: here is why. (Note: this piece originally had a different title, “The bomb called H.264 is set to explode in 2015. Are you watching?”. However, I have been pointed out that the terms have indeed been extended. The problem, however, is still there)

We wrote several articles about it last year. MPEG is still very nasty poison, and it should be avoided vigorously.

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