EU replaces definition of "open standards" with meaningless drivel

Lobbyists at the EU have gutted the definition of "open" (part of a proposal to require more open standards and open source tools in European government) to mean "the willingness of persons, organisations or other members of a community of interest to share knowledge." This meaningless drivel replaces a more robust definition that included, "The standard is adopted and will be maintained by a not-for-profit organisation, and its ongoing development occurs on the basis of an open decision-making procedure available to all interested parties (consensus or majority decision etc.)."
According to this line of thinking, if everyone were forced to use Microsoft Word for document interchange, then that would provide interoperability. Except that it wouldn't, because interoperability implies at least two *different* things are are operating together: self-interoperability is trivial. Version 2's "homogeneity" is better described as a monopoly and a monoculture - and the last two decades have taught just how dangerous those are.

It's not hard to see why some companies might prefer the wording of Version 2. Version 1 specifically says: "The intellectual property - i.e. patents possibly present - of (parts of) the standard is made irrevocably available on a royalty-free basis." This would allow alternative implementations from the free software community, which is unable to pay royalties. The current wording, which allows patented, proprietary solutions as part of the "open continuum" would mean that free software could not compete. How convenient.

EU Wants to Re-define "Closed" as "Nearly Open" (via /.)


  1. This seems like a perfect time to remind these politicians exactly who it is they’re supposed to be working for.

  2. Simple, lovely ideas like open standards, free software and net neutrality always seem so complicated in the eyes of politicians. Chill out guys, find some 21st Century love.

  3. From the article: ‘judging by a leaked version of the near-final result’ – so, this is not final, or approved. The original article, sadly, offers no clue as to what parts of the approval process remain or who to lobby though I would start by following the lead of .

  4. EU defines the glass as being half full.

    I’ve also read about further shenanigans in the MS OOXML spec, where the packed committee has been changing the definition retroactively, now that they made it a ‘standard.’ Disgusting.

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