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<title>Open Standards - Definition</title>
<p id="category"><a href="/activities/activities.html">Our Work</a> / <a href="/freesoftware/standards/standards.html">Overview of Open Standards</a></p>
<h1>Open Standards</h1>
<div id="introduction">
<p>Open Standards allow people to share all kinds of data freely
and with perfect fidelity. They prevent lock-in and other
artificial barriers to interoperability, and promote choice
between vendors and technology solutions. FSFE pushes for the
adoption of Open Standards to promote free competition in the IT
market, as they ensure that people find it easy to migrate to Free
Software or between Free Software solutions.</p>
<p>Starting from the definition contained in the original version
of the European Commission's <a
Interoperability Framework (EIF)</a>, we engaged in a dialogue
with various key players in industry, politics and community. In
this process, the definition was reworked into a set of five
points that found consensus among all the involved. The definition
has subsequently been adopted by the SELF EU Project, the 2008
Geneva <a
on Standards and the Future of the Internet</a> or the <a
Freedom Day</a>. A very similar set of <a
Standards Principles"</a> was adopted by the UK Government in July
<p>An Open Standard refers to a format or protocol that is</p>
<li>subject to full public assessment and use without
constraints in a manner equally available to all parties;</li>
<li>without any components or extensions that have dependencies
on formats or protocols that do not meet the definition of an
Open Standard themselves;</li>
<li>free from legal or technical clauses that limit its
utilisation by any party or in any business model;</li>
<li>managed and further developed independently of any single
vendor in a process open to the equal participation of
competitors and third parties;</li>
<li>available in multiple complete implementations by competing
vendors, or as a complete implementation equally available to
all parties.</li>
<h3>Comment on Emerging Standards</h3>
<p>When a new format or protocol is under development, clause 5
cannot possibly be met. FSFE believes this is the correct
behaviour in cases where technological maturity is required. In
several scenarios, e.g. governmental deployment, the cost of
failure can be very high.</p>
<p>In scenarios that seek to promote the growth of Open Standards,
strict application of the clause could prevent new Open
Standards. From the view of the definition, such standards would
compete directly against vendor-driven proprietary formats. In
such cases, it can make sense to allow failure of clause 5 for
"Emerging Standards."</p>
<p>Which treatment such "Emerging Standards" receive is largely
dependent on the situation. Where cost of failure is high, only
fully Open Standards should be used. Where promotion of Open
Standards is wanted, Emerging Standards should receive special promotion.</p>
<p>Generally speaking: Open Standards are better than Emerging
Standards and Emerging Standards are better than vendor-specific
formats. The closer a format comes to meeting all points of the
definition, the higher it should be ranked in scenarios where
interoperability and reliable long-term data storage is
<h3>Links to other definitions</h3>
<p>Wikipedia has an overview of the term <a href="">Open Standard</a> and various definitions. The following is a sample of some definitions:</p>
<li><a href="">European Interoperability Framework</a></li>
<li><a href="">Motion B 103 of the Danish Parliament</a></li>
<li><a href="">Open Standards - Principles and Practice</a> by Bruce Perens</li>
<description>Definition of Open Standards, with comment on emerging standards and links to other definitions.</description>
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