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  1. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
  2. <html newsdate="2016-04-28">
  3. <head>
  4. <title>EU jeopardises its own goals in standardisation with FRAND licensing</title>
  5. </head>
  6. <body>
  7. <h1>EU jeopardises its own goals in standardisation with FRAND licensing</h1>
  8. <p newsteaser="yes">On 19 April, the European Commission published a communication on <a
  9. href="https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/communication-ict-standardisation-priorities-digital-single-market">"ICT
  10. Standardisation Priorities for the Digital Single Market"</a> (hereinafter 'the
  11. Communication'). The <a
  12. href="/activities/policy/eu/digital-single-market-comments.en.html">Digital
  13. Single Market (DSM) strategy</a> intends to digitise industries with several
  14. legislative and political initiatives, and the Communication is a part of it
  15. covering standardisation. In general, the Free Software Foundation Europe
  16. (FSFE) welcomes the Communication's plausible approach for integrating Free
  17. Software and <a href="/activities/os/">Open Standards</a> into standardisation
  18. but expresses its concerns about the lack of understanding of necessary
  19. prerequisites to pursue that direction.</p>
  20. <h2>Acknowledging the importance of Free Software</h2>
  21. <p>The Communication starts with acknowledging the importance of Open Standards
  22. for interoperability, innovation and access to media, cultural and educational
  23. content, and promotes "community building, attracting new sectors, promoting
  24. open standards and platforms where needed, strengthening the link between
  25. research and standardisation". The latter is closely linked to the "cloud",
  26. where the Communication states that the "proprietary solutions, purely national
  27. approaches and standards that limit interoperability can severely hamper the
  28. potential of the Digital Single Market", and highlights that "common open
  29. standards will help users access new innovative services".</p>
  30. <p>As a result, the Commission concludes that by the end of 2016 it intends to
  31. make more use of Free Software elements by better integrating Free Software
  32. communities into standard setting processes in the standards developing
  33. organisations.</p>
  34. <p>In the Internet of Things (IoT) domain, the Communication acknowledges the
  35. EU need for "an open platform approach that supports multiple application
  36. domains ... to create competitive IoT ecosystems". In this regard, the
  37. Commission states that "this requires open standards that support the entire
  38. value chain, integrating multiple technologies ... based on streamlined
  39. international cooperation that build on an IPR ["intellectual property rights"]
  40. framework enabling easy and fair access to standard essential patents
  41. (SEPs)".</p>
  42. <p>FSFE welcomes this direction taken in the Communication, as well as the
  43. Commissioner <a
  44. href="https://ec.europa.eu/commission/2014-2019/oettinger/announcements/keynote-speech-closing-plenary-session-net-futures-2016-brussels_en">Günther
  45. Oettinger's position, highlighted in his keynote at the Net Futures 2016</a>,
  46. that "easy reuse of standard and open components accelerates digitisation of
  47. any business or any industry sector." Furthermore, according to the
  48. Commissioner Oettinger, Free Software standards "enable transparency and build
  49. trust."</p>
  50. <h2>EC putting good efforts at risk</h2>
  51. <p>However, the attempts of the Commission to promote Open Standards and a more
  52. balanced approach towards "intellectual property rights" policies in
  53. standardisation may be seriously hampered by the Commission's stance towards
  54. FRAND licensing. In particular, the Commission sets the goal to "clarify core
  55. elements of an equitable, effective and enforceable licensing methodology
  56. around FRAND principles" which is seen as striking the right balance in
  57. standardisation and ensuring the "fair and non-discriminatory" access to
  58. standards. Furthermore, it is a well-known fact that FRAND licensing terms that
  59. in theory stand for "fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory" terms, in
  60. practice are <a
  61. href="/activities/os/why-frand-is-bad-for-free-software.en.html">incompatible
  62. with most of Free Software</a>.</p>
  63. <p>In conclusion, whilst the Communication sets a positive direction towards
  64. the promotion of Open Standards and the inclusion of Free Software communities
  65. into the standardisation, this direction may be seriously limited if the
  66. Commission fails to acknowledge the incompatibility of FRAND licensing terms
  67. with Free Software licenses. This in return can in practice make a proper Free
  68. Software implementation of the standard impossible. As a result, the attempts
  69. of the Commission to achieve truly "digital single market" based on
  70. interoperability, openness and innovation will not be achieved as the
  71. significant part of innovative potential found in Free Software will be in
  72. practice excluded from standardisation.</p>
  73. <p>In line with <a
  74. href="/activities/policy/eu/digital-single-market-comments.en.html">our
  75. recommendations on the DSM initiative</a> that got well received by the
  76. Commission, FSFE believes that in order to achieve the adequate integration of
  77. Free Software communities, and the overall plausible approach towards
  78. appropriate use of Open Standards the Commission needs to avoid the harmful
  79. consequences of FRAND licensing to Free Software, and instead pursue the
  80. promotion of standards that are open, minimalistic and implementable with Free
  81. Software. These standards will give the substance to the Commission's promises
  82. to encourage Free Software communities to participate in standardisation.</p>
  83. </body>
  84. <tags>
  85. <tag>front-page</tag>
  86. <tag content="Open Standards">OpenStandards</tag>
  87. <tag content="Policy">Policy</tag>
  88. <tag content="European Commission">EuropeanCommission</tag>
  89. <tag content="Digital Single Market">Digital Single Market</tag>
  90. </tags>
  91. </html>