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  1. EU survey on Free Software and standards: make your voice heard!
  2. The Free Software Foundation Europe is calling on European Free Software
  3. businesses to participate in a survey of business attitudes
  4. towards the acceptability of including patents in industry standards.
  5. The survey [] is
  6. a key component of a study that will play the major role in the
  7. EC's reform of standardisation policy. It is open for submissions until
  8. September 17.
  9. A major theme in the survey is whether patents that cover standards
  10. should be licensed royalty-free (the W3C [fn:1] takes this
  11. approach), or whether they should instead be licensed under so-called
  12. "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms" (FRAND) [fn:2].
  13. FRAND is a misnomer as the terms are neither fair nor reasonable, nor
  14. non-discriminatory - either for Free Software or indeed for anyone
  15. other than the small circle of the very largest players in the
  16. software market.
  17. FSFE's President Karsten Gerloff says: "For Free Software, these
  18. terms are disastrous as well as discriminatory to the point of
  19. exclusion. They require royalties to be paid per copy, which makes it
  20. impossible to distribute a program as Free Software - an obvious
  21. nonsense."
  22. A second theme in the survey is the question of which standardisation
  23. organisations should receive official recognition. Should only those
  24. standards that come out of organisations like ISO be recognised, or
  25. should governments also accept standards that come out of industry
  26. fora and consortia? Typically, the decision processes in fora and
  27. consortia are somewhat more friendly to Free Software than those of
  28. formal standardisation organisations, where established interests are
  29. usually deeply entrenched.
  30. It is of critical importance that as many Free Software companies as
  31. possible respond to this survey, so that their views are heard and
  32. form part of the data for the study. The implicit assumptions of the
  33. survey are, unfortunately, biased towards large corporations with
  34. dedicated 'standardisation employees'. This makes it all the more
  35. important that Europe's Free Software companies speak up for
  36. themselves.
  37. "We need to make sure that the data gathered in this survey will
  38. reflect the actual needs of European businesses", says Karsten
  39. Gerloff. "Don't allow our common interests to be ignored!"
  40. * Footnotes
  41. [fn:1] World Wide Web Consortium,
  42. [fn:2]