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TEI-L  June 2004

TEI-L June 2004

Subject:

Re: final on TEI and CIDOC CRM

From:

Robin Cover <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Robin Cover <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 17 Jun 2004 10:14:44 -0500

Content-Type:

TEXT/PLAIN

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (111 lines)

It's probably not fair to generalize about "ISO standards" since
they vary widely in terms of usability/accessibility by individuals,
non-profits, small companies, and other entities constrained by
limited budgets.

ISO standards are "open" in the sense that anyone with enough money
to buy a copy and to pay the license fees for use is allowed to
implement the particular ISO standard.  The purchase price is indeed
prohibitive for some (I can testify from personal experience and
otherwise), and the license terms are sometimes too onerous (expensive,
legally probibitive) to be reasonable candidates.

Fortunately, many of the ISO standards relevant to the IT area (e.g.,
SC 34) are royalty-free, so that the principal obstacle is purchase of
the paper/PDF spec.  Unfortunately, some of the ISO standards of
potential use are effectively "proprietary" by virtue of being
ISO endorsements of heavily patented private technologies from
one company or from a cartel.  This happens when the SC/WG is
deeply buried in the pockets of "IP" companies who are using
(prostituting) the "standards" process to gain ratification or
their proprietary IP in the form of an ISO label.  The royalty
fees (sometimes set by a licensing authority) may be "reasonable"
for multimedia/entertainment groups (Disney, Time Warner, Universal
Studios) but very unreasonable government entities and non-profit
groups -- especially if the group wishing to use the Standard has
no IP chits to swap under the table.  Standards processes are
always political, but ISO's indifference to patents makes it
seem (to some) that it's more susceptible to being hijacked by
industry mini-cartels.

Use of ISO standards is thus sometimes prohibitive.  IT specifications
(call them "standards" or not, as you wish) produced by W3C, OASIS,
and some other SSOs/SDOs are typically available free online and almost
always have royalty-free license terms, or no license encumbrance
at all.

Disclaimer: I'm not familiar with the "CIDOC CRM" thing in its ISO
context.

-rcc


-----------------------------------------------------
Robin Cover
XML Cover Pages
WWW: http://xml.coverpages.org
ISOGEN: [log in to unmask]
OASIS: [log in to unmask]

On Thu, 17 Jun 2004, Dieter Köhler wrote:

> >>The CIDOC CRM SIG decided to make CRM an ISO standard to make it stable as
> >>on of my fellow SIG members express it:
> >>
> >>"I'm very surprised that the TEI folks consider ISO standards to be
> >>"proprietary"! ISO standards are NOT proprietary -- in fact, the whole
> >>point of publishing standards through an international standards body such
> >>as ISO is to PREVENT self-serving corporate interests from influencing the
> >>design and maintenance of the standard."
> >
> >
> >I don't know quite what is meant by "TEI folks", but certainly this
> >particular one, and all those responsible for TEI's current close work
> >with ISO in other areas (e.g. feature structures, linguistic annotation,
> >character encoding, DSDL) would wish to distance themselves very clearly
> >from this rather peculiar opinion about ISO standards. ISO may not be
> >perfect but it *is* the only International Standards Body we have and
> >we'd be mad not to work with it!
>
> As it was me who introduced the term "proprietary" into this discussion in
> "http://listserv.brown.edu/archives/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0405&L=tei-l&F=&S=&P=5502",
> I feel compelled to point out that I was clearly indicating a personal view
> in this posting.  The relevant last paragraph reads:
>
> "Personally [sic!] I would prefer that best practice for academic text
> encoding discourages the use of such proprietary standards wherever
> possible, even if it is then necessary to develop alternatives for already
> existing standards.  The cumulated costs of proprietary standards and their
> negative effect on free information exchange are, in my opinion, [sic!] too
> high."
>
> This quotation shows that I clearly tried to avoided giving the impression
> of uttering anything else than a personal view.  And it should also be
> noted that, though my standpoint is of course not vague, it is in no way a
> dogmatic one: "wherever possible" leaves room for exact that type of
> cooperation were it would "be mad not to work with" ISO.
>
> This said, I still belief that the concerns I raised in my posting are
> serious enough to deserve some  attention regarding their content.  In the
> beginning of my posting I am referring to "a recent thread about ISO's
> policy regarding language identifiers" (see
> "http://listserv.brown.edu/archives/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0405&L=tei-l&F=&S=&P=1317"
> etc.).  This is the context in which I used the term "proprietary
> standard".  My English might perhaps be not good enough to capture all
> nuances of this terms's usage, but, as far as I can see, it seems not a bad
> choice for emphasizing the fact that access, distribution or usage of a
> standard is subject to fees.  I admit that there generally exist important
> difference between standards developed by an international standardization
> body in comparison to mere industrial standards brought forward by a single
> company.  But with regard to Internet technology ISO's business model
> severely constrains the wide usage of its standards.  The dynamic of the
> development of Internet technologies and their applications is not
> imaginable without the alternative models used by W3C and IETF.  Just
> perform a thought-experiment: what would the Internet look like today, if
> W3C and IETF had adopted a policy like ISO? How many people would use TEI
> today, if the guidelines had never been published online for free?
>
> Dieter Köhler
>
>

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