Bruce Perens: A Vertical Market Seeks Open Standards: Page 2

Posted October 15, 2008
By

Bruce Perens


(Page 2 of 2)

5. Extension or Subset

Implementations of Open Standards may be extended, or offered in subset form. However, certification organizations may decline to certify subset implementations, and may place requirements upon extensions (see Predatory Practices).

6. Predatory Practices

Open Standards may employ license terms that protect against subversion of the standard by embrace-and-extend tactics. The licenses attached to the standard may require the publication of reference information for extensions, and a license for all others to create, distribute, and sell software that is compatible with the extensions. An Open Standard may not otherwise prohibit extensions.

Practice

1. Availability

Open Standards are available for all to read and implement. Thus:

A. The best practice is for the standards text and reference implementation to be available for free download via the Internet.

B. Any software project should be able to afford a copy without undue hardship. The cost should not far exceed the cost of a college textbook.

C. Licenses attached to the standards documentation must not restrict any party from implementing the standard using any form of software license.

D. The best practice is for software reference platforms to be licensed in a way that is compatible with all forms of software licensing, both Free Software (Open Source) and proprietary. However, see Predatory Practices regarding license restrictions that may be appropriate for a software reference platform.

2. Maximize End-User Choice

Open Standards create a fair, competitive market for implementations of the standard. Thus:

A. They must allow a wide range of implementations, by businesses, academia, and public projects.

B. They must support a range of pricing from very expensive to zero-price.

3. No Royalty

Open Standards are free for all to implement, with no royalty or fee. Certification of compliance by the standards organization may have a fee. Thus:

A. Patents embedded in standards must be licensed royalty-free, with non-discriminatory terms.

B. Certification programs should include a low or zero cost self-certification, but may include higher-cost programs with enhanced branding.

4. No Discrimination

Open Standards and the organizations that administer them do not favor one implementor over another for any reason other than the technical standards compliance of a vendor's implementation. Certification organizations must provide a path for low and zero-cost implementations to be validated, but may also provide enhanced certification services. Thus:

A. A standards organization that wishes to support itself through certification branding should establish a premium track and a low-cost or zero-cost track. Generally, the premium track will provide a certification lab outside of the vendor's facility to verify a vendor's implementation and enhanced branding: a certification mark that indicates a greater certainty of verification and financial support of the standard. The low or zero-cost track would provide self-certification by the vendor and baseline branding.

5. Extension or Subset

Implementations of Open Standards may be extended, or offered in subset form. However, certification organizations may decline to certify subset implementations, and may place requirements upon extensions (see Predatory Practices).

6. Predatory Practices

Open Standards may employ license terms that protect against subversion of the standard by embrace-and-extend tactics. The license may require the publication of reference information and an license to create and redistribute software compatible with the extensions. It may not prohibit the implementation of extensions.

A. The standards organization may wish to apply an agreement similar to the Sun Industry Standards Source License to the standard documentation and its accompanying reference implementation. The Sun agreement requires publication of a reference implementation (not the actual commercial implementation) for any extensions to the standard. This makes it possible for a standards organization to actively preserve interoperability without stifling innovation.

In the broader IT sector, royalty-free was necessary in order to enable small-to-medium sized proprietary software businesses and Open Source. If royalties are charged, the largest vendors will generally avoid paying them through cross-licensing, leaving the small- and medium-sized businesses to pay a toll that the larger ones avoid.

Open Source, which is distributed without charge, can't feed a royalty stream. So, elimination of royalties is necessary to produce a level playing field for all who would implement the standard. It may be that reasonable and non-discriminatory royalties are tolerable within the vertical market of casino gaming systems, but I've not heard enough from the involved parties to know for sure yet.

Casino gaming isn't the only vertical market that will go through the development of its own Open Standards. I'd like to hear from other verticals that are doing the same. Perhaps I'll be able to help some of them.


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Tags: open source, Linux, video, services, Microsoft


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