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EU Wants To Redefine "Closed" As "Nearly Open"

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the double-plus-ungood dept.

Software 239

Glyn Moody writes "A leaked copy (PDF) of Version 2 of the European Interoperability Framework replaces a requirement in Version 1 for carefully-defined open standards by one for a more general 'openness': 'the willingness of persons, organizations or other members of a community of interest to share knowledge and to stimulate debate within that community of interest.' It also defines an 'openness continuum' that includes 'non-documented, proprietary specifications, proprietary software and the reluctance or resistance to reuse solutions, i.e. the "not invented here" syndrome.' Looks like 'closed' is the new 'open' in the EU."

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first (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29958392)

first

Well, actually ... (5, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958398)

Looks like 'closed' is the new 'open' in the EU.

Actually, it looks like "corrupt" is the same old corrupt that it's always been. Gotta wonder just what changed hands to make that happen.

Re:Well, actually ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29958626)

Ha ha ha!

Suck it, Europe! What with Canada trying to lock down their Intarweb, France and its three strikes law, and England with it's totalitarian mommy state, the unbelievable has come to pass:

The U.S. has the freest internet access in the WHOLE WOILD!

USA! FUCK YEAH!

Re:Well, actually ... (4, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959560)

Suck it, Europe! What with Canada...
USA! FUCK YEAH!

How's your education system going? Any improvements?

Re:Well, actually ... (5, Funny)

ArbiterShadow (1222388) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959912)

How's your education system going? Any improvements?

Obviously not, or he'd know that there are more than 4 countries in the world.

Re:Well, actually ... (1)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959998)

How's your education system going? Any improvements?

Obviously not, or he'd know that there are more than 4 countries in the world.

Or that Europe's not a country?

EU "Union" As "Country"? (0)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960246)

Given how fast the EU has progressed into being a country and how against the will of its people it moves quickly towards a federalized government its really just a game of line drawing - started a few years ago and will continue until we (the majority) write off the opposition for being an insignificant minority opinion.

Most of the world WAS a form of colony to the USA until the powerful who infected the king of nations outgrew their host and decided to start eating it from within. Will the same disease spread to the world... that is the important question to ponder.

Re:EU "Union" As "Country"? (0, Troll)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960474)

Here's hoping the euros start assassinating their leaders. When the guys at the top are this out of touch, mortal danger is the only thing that they really respond to. And if not, you eventually run out of leaders.

Re:EU "Union" As "Country"? (5, Insightful)

lordholm (649770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960742)

They are not out of touch. But people seem to think they are, this comes in the combination with the fact that the general population has a very bad knowledge of how the Union works.

I saw one comment in the line of: "damn the commission for forcing the Lisbon treaty on us", while it was in fact the European Council consisting out of the prime-ministers of the member-states who 1) took initiative for it and 2) signed the document.

Now, the other rather amusing thing is that, during previous EP elections, there was a poll in Sweden, where they asked people of whether they wanted the EU to grow into a sort of USE or whatever, in any case, the yes sayers where in the line of 15% for this (not really a majority, but still way over a million people), but when you start asking questions on the specifics and how they think the EU should be run, the solutions are almost always federal in nature.

The main point here is that people has in general no idea what they are talking about, and that the "out of touch" thing being that the top are using fancy words that their opponents have managed to get very charged from a political point of view. This include for example the word "federalism". In the now defunct constitutional treaty, the word "federal" was used in an early draft, but some head of state (think it was Tony Blair) in the negotiation got them to change the word to "supernational", technically they mean exactly the same thing, but the f-word is so charged with some people that they would not be able to stomach seeing it in a treaty.

You may of-course say that this just mean that the council is even more out of touch, but ask yourself:

The council consist of ministers from the member-states (executive officials who suddenly are law-makers), who are indirectly elected, do you think it is better that the directly elected parliament have more to say about any formed law?

Most people, even those who are opposed to an USE type organisation, say yes to the question I just wrote down, this is rather interesting, as that is basically support for a federal EU. A powerful council on the other hand makes the Union a more confederal styled organisation.

Re:EU "Union" As "Country"? (2, Insightful)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960838)

Out of touch, to me, is a result of seeing them push the same stupid pro-lobbyist things over and over in the face of popular opposition. Basically, the way things are set up, the politicos seem more accountable to bribery than the populace. Not that we're better or anything.

Re:EU "Union" As "Country"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29961158)

Attack of the killer coins?

Re:Well, actually ... (2, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960248)

The U.S. has the freest internet access in the WHOLE WOILD!

If true, that's pretty sad.

Fortunately, I'm pretty sure it's not true.

Re:Well, actually ... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29958884)

Looks like 'closed' is the new 'open' in the EU.

Actually, it looks like "corrupt" is the same old corrupt that it's always been. Gotta wonder just what changed hands to make that happen.

Up is down, slavery is freedom, and wrong is right. Typical shit that can be expected from corrupt governments and the corrupt people who put up with them.

Re:Well, actually ... (4, Insightful)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959296)

nothing has to change hands... this is how the lobbyist sycophants work. "Open Sources" was the new buzzword the pleb bureaucrats want.... so lobbyists continually re-spin words until something sticks... like little kids begging daddy for candy it goes from "no candy" to "how many pieces to get you to shut up so I can work". Unfortunately lobbyists aren't treated like begging children.

Re:Well, actually ... (1)

Hucko (998827) | more than 4 years ago | (#29961008)

In my family, for non essentials (lollies) the more you begged the less you got. We start with none.

Re:Well, actually ... (-1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960694)

Actually, it looks like "corrupt" is the same old corrupt that it's always been.

Which brings up a good point about the socialist policies and larger centralized governments typically favored in European Democracies. The more that power and national wealth are centralized in the hands of the national government the greater the incentive and opportunity for corruption, patronage, and undue insider influence to occur. In fact, many of the wealthy families of Europe have maintained their fortunes, at least in part by, successfully manipulating these national governments through patronage and corrupt bargains with government officials and elected representatives. This is one of the reasons why the Libertarians amongst us oppose the massive expansion of the Federal Government here in the United States and increased government spending; we do not believe that the corruption which exists in Europe is a desirable import for the United States. Those who believe that they will "punish the wealthy" need only look to Europe to see that the wealthy will largely keep their wealth while the middle class chafes under high unemployment, high prices for consumer goods and high taxes.

THOSE GODDAMN MOTHER FUCKERS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29958406)

AAAAAAH! Fuck! How dare those...those horsesock-sucking chest-shitters!

"Closed" as "Nearly Open" ... (0)

Korbeau (913903) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958414)

Yeah, that's what they always say at first, you have to work your way ...

How hard is it? (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958438)

How hard is it to define open as

A) Open specs
B) An open implementation of those specs both on
C) Not patent encumbered


For just about everything there is a suitable open format. Lets see here:

Images? There are many
Audio? Ogg Vorbis
Video? Ogg Theora
Document? ODF or PDF (not sure how "open" PDF really is but its pretty universal)

There isn't a single thing that governments really need that isn't open or can be created for less cost than contracting it to proprietary vendors.

Re:How hard is it? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29958664)

C) Not patent encumbered Proving this is often extremely difficult and costs millions of dollars in IP research. For example, one should note that such research has never been done for Ogg Vorbis or Theora, which is why some paranoid companies are still unwilling to adopt them.

Re:How hard is it? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29959244)

which is why if your the eu you adopt an open format and declare that it doesn't infringe on any patents.

Re:How hard is it? (5, Insightful)

SuperAlgae (953330) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959556)

Agreed. Governments are the one entity that can actually defend an open standard by simply saying that no patents apply to it. If someone thinks they have a claim, then they can raise the issue before it gets that far. But even then, if given the choice between denying someone a sanctioned monopoly (patent) or denying the entire world a viable standard, it's hard to justify the monopoly. Even reasonable patents are generally more an inevitable result of the state of technology than of some unique, singular leap. People are denied patents all the time. For every granted patent, there are any number of people doing equivalent work that are not only denied the patent but may be denied even the right to use their own work since it then violates the patent. Limiting patents as they apply to open standards hardly seems like a high price to pay.

It is pretty clear that the real impediments to open standards are a matter of "follow the money".

Re:How hard is it? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29960976)

There is no software patents in Europe. So all standards are free of patents.
Software patents are the curse of the US software industry, and the food for the trolls. Created to keep american lawyers in the job, and thus unlikely to be removed.

Re:How hard is it? (5, Interesting)

danlip (737336) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958760)

not sure how "open" PDF really is but its pretty universal

Wikipedia says "Formerly a proprietary format, PDF was officially released as an open standard on July 1, 2008, and published by the International Organization for Standardization as ISO/IEC 32000-1:2008". It also says Adobe has patents on it "but licenses them for royalty-free use in developing software complying with its PDF specification".

even if that wasn't the case there has long been a lot of fully compatible implementations of it (unlike Word).

Re:How hard is it? (4, Informative)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958852)

There has been a lot of compatible PDF viewers, but the pool of PDF creation software is limited. Most OSS solutions implement a subset of the features. Even now, there really is nothing to complete with the feature level in Adobe Acrobat.

Re:How hard is it? (2, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959168)

There has been a lot of compatible PDF viewers, but the pool of PDF creation software is limited. Most OSS solutions implement a subset of the features. Even now, there really is nothing to complete with the feature level in Adobe Acrobat.

Hey, that means it's "nearly open"!

Re:How hard is it? (2, Interesting)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959198)

You may well want to check out scribus.

Are you serious? (1)

snikulin (889460) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959766)

For government contracts:
Scribus does not do certifiable signatures.
It does not do US-government accepted encryption.
It is not FIPS-140-2 compliant.

For publishing gigs: no Pantone, no QuarkXPress imports, and no proper Unicode.

Re:Are you serious? (2, Insightful)

JustinRLynn (831164) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960140)

The difference between that and closed source software is that if you're willing to pay for developers to make it do so, it darn well will and you don't have to ask anybodies permission for it or depend on anyone else to do it. Also, if it's under the GPL and you don't distribute it outside your company or group, you don't even have to share. Sure beats relying on external support and development you may not even be able to get in the future. That said, if a publishing house needed the software to do what you describe, then it would be done -- so please, don't trot out the "current solutions aren't applicable to my domain therefore all open source solutions and benefits must be rejected" horse.. it's old and needs to be put out to pasture. Given a bit of money and time, Scribus and other solutions that don't /quite/ meet your requirements could have some serious clout and be much less expensive to boot.

Re:Are you serious? (1)

snikulin (889460) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960538)

Come to think about it, GPL is meaningless with FIPS-140. Since FIPS process validates pre-built binaries only, hence even theoretically one can't have FIPS-validated GPL source code. Also cryptomodule should have certain anti-tampering protection which might not play well with GPL3.

Re:Are you serious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29960592)

You're just making up imaginary reasons for not using scribus. :)

I don't work for goverment. Sounds insane to me to have different crypto for every document type you have. I wan't all my documents encrypted and signed, not just PDF files. There's another pretty good software for encryption, but that's just another discussion.

What comes to Pantone and QXP. There's no support in Scribus because some companies want to have closed patent encumbered file formats. These companies propably would sue Scribus dev team if they'd include Pantone without licencing.

http://docs.scribus.net/index.php?lang=en&page=faq2#19

I would avoid using Pantone and QuarkXPress for publishing work, because of reasons mentioned above. That's why we should use open color matching system to get colors right. I know it sound totally insane for someone tightly inside publishing world, where Pantone is defacto standard. If you wan't change you need to seek alternatives for the hammers and nails you're currently using.

And lastly I've never needed that "proper unicode" for my document publishing work, nor my clients. If someone needs unicode bells and all they can implement it freely to Scribus.

Re:Are you serious? (1)

snikulin (889460) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960664)

> I don't work for goverment
I can see it.

> If someone needs unicode bells and all they can implement it freely to Scribus.
Good luck with your Chinese customers then.

Re:Are you serious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29960936)

For government contracts:
Scribus does not do certifiable signatures.
It does not do US-government accepted encryption.
It is not FIPS-140-2 compliant.

For publishing gigs: no Pantone, no QuarkXPress imports, and no proper Unicode.

Using desktop publishing software (or fileformats) for contracts sounds pretty hilarious. Anyway govermental contracts should be public to tax payers, so there is no reason for encryption. Also as a tax payer I really want to know where my money is going. It helps me to decide who I'll vote at next election.

Goverments should also use standard XML formats for easy processing, publishing, comparison and archiving of documents.

BTW: What's this FIPS-140-2 anyway? My goverment does not recognize such standards.

Ditch Pantone, they're just making you pay for using "their colors". Just tell me who owns the colors?

Re:How hard is it? (2, Interesting)

danlip (737336) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959232)

There has been a lot of compatible PDF viewers, but the pool of PDF creation software is limited. Most OSS solutions implement a subset of the features. Even now, there really is nothing to complete with the feature level in Adobe Acrobat.

I'm not sure what all the features are, what I need (and probably what 99% of the population needs) is "convert some non-PDF document to PDF". Mac OS X does this natively, and I have used several free/cheap PC utilities to do the same. I've never had a document they couldn't do. They generally plug in through the print utility, so if you can print it you can convert it to PDF.

Re:How hard is it? (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959428)

You're right, if all anyone wants to do is use an editor program to store a static content document in a portable format that will have the same layout everywhere, the existing PDF generators work great.

If you want to take advantage of the advanced PDF features like embedded javascript or forms that submit to the web, you're basically SOL without Acrobat and even if you could create them, most of the OSS readers don't support the advanced features.

Re:How hard is it? (1)

danlip (737336) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959588)

If you want to take advantage of the advanced PDF features like embedded javascript or forms that submit to the web, you're basically SOL without Acrobat and even if you could create them, most of the OSS readers don't support the advanced features.

If you want a form that submits to the web, why wouldn't you use a form that is on the web, and built with HTML/Javascript?

If you want a form you can fill out and save and email back to someone (which is also quite useful), then I agree that PDF is nice, and I also agree there is a lack of non-Adobe software, both for creation and for using the form. Since PDF is rarely used that way, there is not much software to support that use, and since there is not much software it is rarely used that way. Which sucks.

(you can also use Word for forms, and almost everyone has Word, but using Word for forms is highly painful (I've done it))

Re:How hard is it? (4, Interesting)

registrar (1220876) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959572)

PDF is pretty open, but that's not open enough for my liking. The standard mandates that any implementation honour the dopier "protections" in PDF documents ("Conforming readers shall respect the intent of the document creator by restricting user access to an encrypted PDF file according to the permissions contained in the file.") Honour them means you're bound to write a stupid implementation of DRM; fail to honour them and you get sued.

For example, I have a PDF file on my computer for which I do not have permission to save a copy (or print, etc.). That's right, I don't have permission to save the file. Fortunately I have a ready work-around for "saving" the file (i.e. copy it within the Finder), but seeing the Finder itself is (or, embeds) a capable PDF reader, I wonder if Apple isn't in violation of the standard by allowing their OS (which can interpret PDFs) to copy such files.

A file format is a structure for exchanging information between programs; a standard should be limited to describing that structure. The problem is that Adobe &c have extended the notion of "file format" to cover their intentions for behaviour of programs making use of that format.

Now I really wouldn't care if there was simply some kind of branding/trademark that allowed Adobe and mates to honour DRM within PDF readers and writers. If I want to make my own PDF reader/writer that doesn't fully honour the standard, then I have the option and can't use the trademark... but the fact that patents could be used to enforce the intent of the standard author means that the standard is not open enough. The GP's requirement needs to be that the standard not be patent encumbered in any way whatsoever.

Re:How hard is it? (1)

Random Person 1372 (1529155) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959858)

Okular (the KDE PDF viewer) also obeys DRM restrictions by default, but at least it can be turned off in the preferences (Setting Configure, General, Obey DRM limitations). I believe this was implemented due to Adobe's requirements. If Apple's PDF viewer does not allow to ignore DRM restrictions, maybe you should just use a different one that allows to do so?

Re:How hard is it? (2, Interesting)

registrar (1220876) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960206)

If Apple's PDF viewer does not allow to ignore DRM restrictions, maybe you should just use a different one that allows to do so?

Obviously. Until Adobe starts suing people, it's a theoretical threat. But it is reasonably likely that at some stage in the next 15 years or thereabouts, Adobe goes all SCO-like... self-destructive perhaps, but painful for all concerned.

For me as an individual, it makes sense to take my chances and "get it done" using software that might be in a technical breach of patent law. But it is irresponsible for the EU to expose themselves in the same way.

So my point is that a file format should only be considered acceptably open if the parties that establish it make an unconditional promise never to enforce patents concerning it. You obviously can't know about independent patent trolls, but that is a different problem and I think reasonably likely to be fixed through legislation.

Re:How hard is it? (2, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959146)

"PDF (not sure how "open" PDF really is but its pretty universal)"

PDF is very open -- although there are still extensions that are difficult to work with without proprietary software. As an electronic document medium, PDF is pretty much what I demand from people who send me formatted documents; it is, in my opinion, something of a lingua franca for formatted documents. There is also DVI, though it is not as popular, and if all else fails, Postscript (which can, in the worst case, simple be sent to a printer).

"There isn't a single thing that governments really need that isn't open or can be created for less cost than contracting it to proprietary vendors."

True, but sadly, it is not something we will see here in America. Proprietary software is so deeply ingrained in our government, and corporate interests are so powerful, that I would be very impressed if it could all be shaken off within my lifetime. Further compounding the problem is the level of understanding of technology that key decision makers seem to have, which is a level that can only be described as "complete ineptitude."

Re:How hard is it? (1)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959544)

The problem is that many companies see no problem with paying RAND patent fees, and fail to see why that would make it not open. The is especially true in areas where patents are pooled, so if you have even one patent that might apply you add that to the pool, and either get a partial refund on the fees by being part of the pool, or having the fees waived entirely. (Depends on the specific patent pool).

Also what is an Open Specification? Is it one that is publicly available without fee? In that case the C programing language would not be an open standard, nor would many other ISO or IEEE standards that we all take for granted. (Admittedly some of those standards also have freely available standards that are effectively equivalent or even superior, like PDF, where the ISO standard is a subset of full PDF, or PNG where the ISO standard should be equivalent to the PNG specification).

Re:How hard is it? (1)

Kynde (324134) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960686)

How hard is it to define open as

A) Open specs
B) An open implementation of those specs both on
C) Not patent encumbered

Apparently not trivial, since two thirds of your requirements adopt recursion.

Re:How hard is it? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960874)

You seem to be under the false assumption that they had any interest in defining "open" that way. Ask yourself: Who would befit from something?
And then ask: What control over the government do those ones have?
Then you will know what will happen.

But don't make the beginner's error of thinking that the "general public" had any control! Because they can only choose which of the groups of straw-men that are offered to them they will take.

Re:How hard is it? (2, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960896)

here isn't a single thing that governments really need that isn't open or can be created for less cost than contracting it to proprietary vendors

How about project management software, 3d rendering tools, Production Ready video editing tools, and automated translation middlewear?

There are definitely needs out there which are non-trivial and which Open Source software hasn't fulfilled. There are a lot that are, and many times better than paid options. But you can't just broadly blanket mandate OSS on principle.

Read the line about community of interest 5 times (0)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958470)

What exactly does it mean? Does it mean that anything with an active helpful community is open? That makes practically anything that's distributed to the public "open".

lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29958566)

let's all congratulate Microsoft and Apple on their "Nearly Open" source software

*golf clap*

This'll do wonders in the long term (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29958594)

Many years down the road our children might want to know what our benevolent bureaucratic overlords were up to now, to see how things have come to be. Thankfully they'll be spared that ordeal because nobody will remember the formats and the software will have bitrotted away. It's mercy with foresight, it is.

Continuum (1, Insightful)

lennier (44736) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958602)

" also defines an 'openness continuum' "

So - just like Creative Commons, then?

(IHNRTFA)

Re:Continuum (1, Insightful)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958930)

Yes, thank you. Part of being open is being OK with alternative viewpoints. People don't have to give their work away for free if they don't want to. And recognizing proprietary developers who nevertheless take care of their community is better than turning up your nose and saying NOPE NOT GPL COMPATIBLE GET OUT

Re:Continuum (4, Insightful)

Tellarin (444097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959124)

First of all, 'open' formats has nothing to do with source code.

Second, "open source" is not synonym with "free software" (like software that uses the GPL as license). This has nothing to do with the discussion. And open source does not even means giving work away for free. If somebody sells their code, it is open source, for example.

Creative commons is another example of "opening" stuff that is not code.

I agree that there is a continuum from completely closed to completely open, but any format demanded by governments should be open and non encumbered by patents or other licenses.

There is nothing stopping someone or some company form writing a proprietary piece of software to read/write some open format. But in many cases it is not possible to have a open/free/whatever version of a software to read/write some closed format. This causes an artificial restriction on access to the information made available in that format, what should be inadmissible in certain scenarios.

Why should someone need to license or buy a piece of software form specific companies to have access to government data? This is unacceptable.

Re:Continuum (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959178)

The folks your talking about are interested in FREE software, libre not gratis, open has very little to do with that.

Even FREE software can be sold.

Re:Continuum (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959288)

Part of being open is being OK with alternative viewpoints.

Alternative viewpoints are great. Alternative definitions, however, are intentionally misleading. This is an alternative definition.

You see, the viewpoint that closed-source and proprietary standards are great already exists. The viewpoint that open-source and non-encumbered standards are great also already exists. There is no new viewpoint being proposed here. That's beacuse this is not a matter of viewpoint. It's a not-so-subtle attempt to blur the definitions that distinguish two existing viewpoints. There is only one reason for accidentally doing this: sheer incompetence. There is only one reason to deliberately do anything like that: the desire to equate things which are inherently distinct; that is, the desire to confuse. It's either incompetence or it's deception and neither of those are worth defending.

Whether you're offended that some people care about the GPL more than you would like them to has nothing to do with it. Whether commercial/proprietary software gets a bad rap more than you want it to also has nothing to do with it.

People don't have to give their work away for free if they don't want to.

That's absolutely correct. I can develop a program, or a protocol, or a format, and I can lock it away in a safe and bury it if that's what I feel like doing. I can copyright it and restrict it on that basis, or I can try to patent it. I can hoard the source code and release it only as a black-box binary. However, if I do that and then refer to it as "an open standard" then that would make me a liar. This is really simple.

I never understood why you and so many others want to equate the desire that things be called what they are with telling others what they should do with their work. They are not remotely the same. If I don't want to use a program because it's proprietary, I am not forcing that program's author to do anything. Nor am I telling him how he should use his programming talents. He is free to find someone else who does want to use his program. This is just another thinly-veiled "accept this thing and like it, or else there's something wrong with you" and I'm not buying it.

There is also a question about the morality of governments releasing public information in proprietary formats. My tax dollars have already paid to produce whatever documents the government releases. It belongs to we the people. Why should I have to pay a second time to obtain a proprietary program to access this public information that my tax dollars have already paid for? I celebrate the right of private citizens and private businesses to use whatever format pleases them, whether it's freely available or not. But when we are talking about governments there is a perfectly valid objection to the use of proprietary software, whether or not anyone finds that convenient.

Re:Continuum (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959400)

Are you sure they're really scrapping the previous definition? It sounds like they're just supplementing it with additional guidelines on how to recognize these non-evil-but-patented formats.

It belongs to we the people. Why should I have to pay a second time to obtain a proprietary program to access this public information that my tax dollars have already paid for?

The information is free, the medium is not. If you wanted paper copies of the records your argument wouldn't apply to paying a small fee for the paper, printing costs, and delivery. If you want electronic records they have to be encapsulated somehow (like in a PDF or something), and those formats do cost money to develop. Of course, there are free formats out there and the government should use them or it's being wasteful, but this is definitely a "use the best/cheapest thing out there" thing, not a "I take a moral stand against paying for electronic records" thing.

Re:Continuum (1)

Tellarin (444097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959592)

I think the misunderstanding in your post is that the stand is not necessarily against not "paying for electronics records".

One can pay or not and receive or not the data in an open format.

If I pay for the electronic record, one can argue if I should pay as my taxes kind of already paid for that, but that is not the issue here.

The thing is, especially if I need to pay for the records, if I receive the data in a proprietary format then I need to pay for a piece of software to access that data.

In this case (closed format), one would need to pay at least twice to access the info:
a- Pay 3 times: pay taxes, pay for the electronic record, pay for the software that reads the proprietary format. The last part would unjustly benefit the company that created/controls the locked format and penalizing the final user.
b- Pay 2 times: pay taxes, do not pay for the electronic record, pay for the software that reads the proprietary format. Again, unjustly benefiting the company that controls the locked format and penalizing the final user.

If its an open format, there is no unjust benefit and extra burden on the person accessing the data.

Re:Continuum (4, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959690)

Are you sure they're really scrapping the previous definition? It sounds like they're just supplementing it with additional guidelines on how to recognize these non-evil-but-patented formats.

Scrapping and replacing it would be less sophisticated than what is being done here. You could say they are extending it, or you could say also that they are blurring it. If it were a great unknown, or new territory, or something like that for which there were not already clear and well-understood definitions, then that may make it excusable or at least understandable. However, that's not the case here.

The information is free, the medium is not. If you wanted paper copies of the records your argument wouldn't apply to paying a small fee for the paper, printing costs, and delivery.

It wouldn't apply there because paper is not inherently free. Someone has to cut down the trees, someone has to process the wood into paper, someone has to ship that paper from the paper mill, and someone has to print on it. The printed copies are a limited resource. If you have 100 printed copies, you cannot sell or give away 50 of them and still have 100 copies. Any that you sell must be replaced with more or else you will run out and be unable to sell or give away any more.

Electronic records are nothing like this. The government already has computers and Internet access because it has used tax dollars to pay for those. Now that it owns them, those can be reused to distribute infinite perfect copies of electronic records at no additional charge. There is no ongoing cost of acquiring more paper and using more ink.

If you want electronic records they have to be encapsulated somehow (like in a PDF or something), and those formats do cost money to develop.

Yet people around the world are willing to release both those formats and software that can work with them for free. Maybe those individuals are taking one for the team and bearing that cost themselves. The end result is that all of the rest of us do have formats available that don't cost us anything at all. The people who produced those formats and that software have specifically and deliberately taken steps to make sure of that, examples of which include their decision to use open licenses and their decision to seek no patents for their creations.

Of course, there are free formats out there and the government should use them or it's being wasteful, but this is definitely a "use the best/cheapest thing out there" thing, not a "I take a moral stand against paying for electronic records" thing.

There's something about taking a moral stand that makes many people uncomfortable. I suspect that's because it goes against their beliefs that convenience is everything by providing a counter-example. Can I prove that? No. Does it seem rather obvious to me? Yes, it does. Just as people who follow a religion can fail to adhere to its tenents without deliberately and consciously deciding "hey, I think I'd like to be a hypocrite," people can believe that immediate convenience is the only worthy criteria for decision-making without necessarily being aware that their choices reveal this pattern. This means you must use introspection and cannot correctly assume the reality of your stated intentions, however sincere and heartfelt they may be. It's the reason why all of the differing views about wisdom and what it actually is generally agree on one thing, and that's the importance of truly knowing yourself.

If you really want a mundane response, I will say this much. A government that is wasteful when it is capable of not being wasteful is, in fact, taking advantage of its people. This is much worse when it behaves this way because of financial and political interests that stand to profit from said waste, because then it is no accident. However, it's still pretty bad when it's an innocent mistake, and we the citizens should expect better. I believe this to be the morally correct, or if that is really an obstacle for you, I also believe it to be ethically correct.

Doublespeak and Redefining (4, Insightful)

innerweb (721995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958654)

The older I get the more I realize how powerful those in power are. Not a conspiracy, just a bunch of greedy SOBs who will do whatever they can get away with to control and own more. From marketing being used to dilute meanings to out and out bribery of committee members to swing votes or bypass procedures. The worst part is that they get their power readily from another group, far more numerous than they, of individuals too lazy or too overwhelmed to pay attention to what is being done to them.

Our history is full of cycles. Are we approaching another age of the Robber Baron in another form? Did the age ever truly leave? Nah. The rich and powerful and greedy have always been and always will be the rich and powerful and greedy. Only now, they are immortal corporations. They can die, but not in ways we can, nor are they truly limited in years. The funny part, like a good tragic comedy, is that the greed that makes them so powerful and dangerous is often the very thing that kills them in the end.

But the carnage they leave behind.

Re:Doublespeak and Redefining (2, Insightful)

sharkbiter (266775) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958940)

It sucks to have to face the reality that in an almost infinite universe, a spiral galaxy's arm (one of many) of which an insignificant blue planet, (third from the sun), spins that there are such small minded individuals that are incapable of seeing future generations and simply not caring for the inhabitants that they're borrowing resources from. All to get a few material possessions or to feel that they have importance. Yes, they even think that digital watches are still pretty neat.

To the future generations we leave a legacy of distrust, distaste and disgust. They in turn will do the same for the next, until the life-form known as Homo Sapiens will be no more.
--------
“Believing in Father Christmas is important,” says Pratchett. “It trains our imaginations on the little lies so we can believe the big lies like justice [and] truth.” - UK Times.

Re:Doublespeak and Redefining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29960748)

On the other hand, small minded people like you don't realize the scale of freedom allowed in this world. An animal of prey would be punished by your "God" if it doesn't hurt something every day - yet you think your "God" is anything loving and good. The obsession with the so-called "better future" is simply there to make you a slave, bounded by ethics - why make a better future if that future is so far away that your mortal body won't be able to see? It makes no sense. Those who're not disillusioned like you aren't limited as you said - they simply see through the deception and tricks. A better future 100 years later is meaningless, we're not immortal, nor do we really know what each others feel - a better living NOW is what's meaningful.

A legacy of distrust, distaste and disgust - it's the natural order of things. Would a cat trust a mouse to not run away from it so it can more easily get its entertainment and food? Why are there so many animal species born with eyes optimized for the maximum viewing angle? A preyed animal is always wary of its surroundings, it needs to be... do you call that some form of trust? Man is just another kind of animal. Any concept saying it's a higher form of life is deception, created to chain yet more men into slavery.

Re:Doublespeak and Redefining (2, Interesting)

Hucko (998827) | more than 4 years ago | (#29961108)

Where did the gp even indicate that he believed in an afterlife let alone God?

Being bound by ethics is the dilemma of the civilised free man. Without civility, man has and can only extended the animal characteristics into new dimensions. This is meaningless too. With civility man is able to dream of improving both one's own progeny and the progeny of others. *

While obsessing with "better future" is meaningless to the individual, in evolutionary terms it makes sense to spread the wealth so that both progeny and future progeny potential partners have a better chance of survival. After all, keeping the genetic pool wide is a good thing in terms of survival of the species; look at the number of species on the endangered list that are mostly because they don't have a large genetic pool to draw from.

* Original 'research' (come on, let me have some dreams of grandeur!)

Lord corporation and his end-user vassals (1)

Logibeara (1620627) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959284)

The vast internet kingdom policed by the sheriff of Nautingham lawyers and Lord Bill gates extending his Feifs out to the money squandering corporations, enslaving the end-user poverty stricken vassals. But where is Robin Hood to be the great leveler?

Re:Lord corporation and his end-user vassals (1)

sharkbiter (266775) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959692)

I agree. I simply can't believe that it's gone this far. Is the current generation so hung up on entertainment that they can't band together and lobby (harass) their respective representatives? I see the next generation flaunting the "rules" whenever and wherever they can, but it's not in the spirit of Jefferson who commented that "a little rebellion now and then is a good thing" to Madison in regards to Shay's Rebellion.

No longer do I see earnest learning with the spirit of improving oneself, instead I see profiteers.

The very institutions of learning; Universities and Colleges are _giving_ out sheepskins for dollars. Some still value their grade points and will refuse to pass, but others...

I realize that "Joe Six-Pack" is alive and well, that issues with a technical bent are beyond a certain group of technophobes, but I just can't understand when it equates to a loss of the very freedoms and liberties that our forefathers held dear being tossed by the very individuals that are elected to protect them for mere piddling material gains.

I'm sickened.

Truly.

Want to know who the next President of the USA/USR/EU is? Just ask the corporations, they'll tell you with their special vote: Monetary Units of whatever currency the candidate prefers.

What will happen when China weighs in with their marker? The future isn't looking very bright...

Yeah, joke about overlords. Pass off the Draconian measures to an antiquated business system. Explain that the new sharing isn't theft but a system of "Nottingham redistribution of wealth". I don't think those that have and will continue to consume the power base will permit it for much longer.

The bottom line is money.

Re:Doublespeak and Redefining (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960680)

Please define one moment in human history when the example you cite was not the case. The study of history is a powerful anecdote to those who think their lives are novel and unique, and who heavily criticize our own society for not living up to some sort of Kantian ideal.

News at 11 (0)

markdavis (642305) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958744)

News at 11- it is a huge surprise when it was found that money from commercial software giant lobbyists and special interest groups influenced the assumed impartial decision-making process of the EU. How could this happen???? If you can beat 'em, just redefine the playing field.

To quote Beavis and Butt-head (5, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#29958990)

Butt-head: Uhhh, well, if nothing sucked, and everything was cool all the time, then, like, how would you know it was cool?

Essentially, that's what they're saying here. They include closed software on the "openness" spectrum because it's necessary as a basis for comparison. Zero openness is still a value of openness.

Maybe there's an attempt to redefine open source software to the benefit of companies who sell proprietary software, but this particular bit isn't the proper evidence for it.

Re:To quote Beavis and Butt-head (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29960428)

At least it explains where the "Open" in OOXML comes from. And where the money MS invested into the legal dispute with the EU went to..

Re:To quote Beavis and Butt-head (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29960436)

"Just because something's cool, doesn't mean it doesn't suck!"

Just add it to... (0, Redundant)

ChangeOnInstall (589099) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959066)

WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

PS: The Slashdot lameness filter needs to be sent to the ministry of love.

Re:Just add it to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29959568)

PS: The Slashdot lameness filter needs to be sent to the ministry of love.

Nope, to the ministry of magic!

Open is the pinnacle of ambiguosity. (2, Insightful)

Statecraftsman (718862) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959194)

Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation have championed the use of the word free to make sure user freedom stays in sight as the primary goal. Free is ambiguous as it can mean free of cost or free as in freedom and there are lesser known meanings(sugar-free) but those two are the main ones. RMS, the FSF and others have chosen the word free to rally around for a reason. Its the best choice in having a debate about user freedom. Open on the other hand means many things to many people. It might mean that your backside is open to corporate exploration. It might mean that a store is open for business. It might mean that something exists somewhere on the spectrum from opaque to transparent. If you're going to care about something, care about freedom, not openness. Don't support legislation that attempts to define open, ouvert, etc. Support legislation that upholds free, freedom, libre, etc.

Re:Open is the pinnacle of ambiguosity. (3, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959762)

free as in freedom

Yeah, that's certainly not ambiguous at all.

If you're going to care about something, care about freedom, not openness.

So, we should care about the freedom screw people over? After all, that's a freedom.

Stop being cynical (2, Interesting)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959246)

I see it more as an anti DMCA.

AKA: "We won't force you to be open, but if someone figures out your proprietary protocol, or someone writes a program that supports your proprietary file format, well... c'est la vie!"

Re:Stop being cynical (3, Insightful)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960986)

Which begs the question of whether or not it should be illegal to implement technological measures to prevent others from doing so, or to intentionally remove access/compatibility that once existed.

Open standards committees inhibit innovation (5, Insightful)

dirkdodgers (1642627) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959286)

The previous version required that interoperability standards be owned by non-profit committees. Having worked with a number of such organizations I can tell you that as a customer, being locked into a committee-owned standard is as great an obstacle to innovation and efficiency as is a closed de facto standard, especially when the government is involved.

It will continue to be far better for the customer over time when the customer can pick and choose which standards and vendors they will use. This allows customers to choose the balance they want to strike between compatibility and richness of functionality.

I do agree that a reasonable criteria for use by government agencies is that a standard specification be free and unencumbered, but no thank you to design by committee.

They don't say what you accuse them of saying (5, Insightful)

maxfresh (1435479) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959614)

With your selective quoting, and careful omissions, you have distorted and misrepresented what they have actually said. They never defined, nor attempted to redefine closed as open. In fact, they fully recognize and accurately define what constitutes "Open" and carefully noted that closed, propietary software and standards lie on the opposite end of the spectrum, or continuum. Here is the full, fair, non-distorted quote:

Specifications, software and software development methods that promote collaboration and the results of which can freely be accessed, reused and shared are considered open and lie at one end of the spectrum while non-documented, proprietary specifications, proprietary software and the reluctance or resistance to reuse solutions, i.e. the "not invented here" syndrome, lie at the other end.

By placing open on one and of the spectrum, and closed on the other, they very clearly are stating that the two are opposites. And to me, that seems like a perfectly fair and accurate description of the range of openness that exists in information systems and standards. Moreover, they conclude the section on openness with this recommendation:

Recommendation 5. Public administrations should favour openness when working together to establish European Public Service while taking into account their priorities and constraints.

Do you not see that by distorting their words to advance your own agenda, and attributing to them malicious intent without any basis in fact, you undermine the very cause which you pretend to champion? Is that what you want to do? Do you really want to undermine the credibility of those who advocate for free and open standards, especially in the public sector?

Here is the full text of the section on oppenness, so that everyone can see it in its entirety, and draw their own conclusions.

2.10 Underlying Principle 9: Openness

Within the context of the EIF, openness is the willingness of persons, organisations or other members of a community of interest to share knowledge and to stimulate debate within that community of interest, having as ultimate goal the advancement of knowledge and the use thereof to solve relevant problems. In that sense, openness leads to considerable gains in efficiency.

Interoperability involves the sharing of information and knowledge between organisations, hence implies a certain degree of openness. There are varying degrees of openness.

The spectrum of approaches that lies between these two extremes can be called the openness continuum.

European public administrations need to decide where they wish to position themselves on this continuum with respect to the issues discussed in the EIF. The exact position may vary, on a case-by-case basis, depending on their needs, priorities, legacy, budget, market situation and a number of other factors. While there is a correlation between openness and interoperability, it is also true that interoperability can be obtained without openness, for example via homogeneity of the ICT systems, which implies that all partners use, or agree to use, the same solution to implement a European Public Service.

Recommendation 5. Public administrations should favour openness when working together to establish European Public Service while taking into account their priorities and constraints.

Re:They don't say what you accuse them of saying (2, Informative)

maxfresh (1435479) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959738)

Apologies to all for replying to myself, but the most important paragraph was dropped when I copied the section from the original pdf text. Here is the corrected full text:

2.10 Underlying Principle 9: Openness

Within the context of the EIF, openness is the willingness of persons, organisations or other members of a community of interest to share knowledge and to stimulate debate within that community of interest, having as ultimate goal the advancement of knowledge and the use thereof to solve relevant problems. In that sense, openness leads to considerable gains in efficiency.

Interoperability involves the sharing of information and knowledge between organisations, hence implies a certain degree of openness. There are varying degrees of openness.

Specifications, software and software development methods that promote collaboration and the results of which can freely be accessed, reused and shared are considered open and lie at one end of the spectrum while non-documented, proprietary specifications, proprietary software and the reluctance or resistance to reuse solutions, i.e. the "not invented here" syndrome, lie at the other end.

The spectrum of approaches that lies between these two extremes can be called the openness continuum.

European public administrations need to decide where they wish to position themselves on this continuum with respect to the issues discussed in the EIF. The exact position may vary, on a case-by-case basis, depending on their needs, priorities, legacy, budget, market situation and a number of other factors. While there is a correlation between openness and interoperability, it is also true that interoperability can be obtained without openness, for example via homogeneity of the ICT systems, which implies that all partners use, or agree to use, the same solution to implement a European Public Service.

Recommendation 5. Public administrations should favour openness when working together to establish European Public Service while taking into account their priorities and constraints.

Re:They don't say what you accuse them of saying (4, Interesting)

Wannabe Code Monkey (638617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960818)

Do you not see that by distorting their words to advance your own agenda, and attributing to them malicious intent without any basis in fact, you undermine the very cause which you pretend to champion? Is that what you want to do? Do you really want to undermine the credibility of those who advocate for free and open standards, especially in the public sector?

Thank you. I would have modded you as Informative, but you're already at 5, and I wanted to respond anyway. I'm getting really sick at how often not just the headline is inflammatory and just plain wrong, but even the summary. I can't believe how far some people will go to twist the true nature of a thing until they can claim it stands for its exact opposite. What's even worse is that it gets by people whose only job is to check this stuff out before posting it to the front page of a widely read website. If this is the answer to print journalism dying, then maybe I should start up a subscription to my local newspaper, because the alternative is apparently much worse.

Also, I turned off the classic index just so that I could vote this story down as 'stupid' and tag it as both 'badheadline' and 'badsummary'. I suggest others do the same. Next to just not reading slashdot anymore, it appears it's the only feedback we can supply.

Re:They don't say what you accuse them of saying (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29961170)

With your selective quoting, and careful omissions, you have distorted and misrepresented what they have actually said.

Hell yeah! The man deserves a job with the New York Times or other mainstream media. Come on, don't even pretend that the pros don't use this tactic when they have an agenda to push.

Whiners (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29959770)

They open up openness and you all whine. You just can't please some people

Cut out the "Idiocracy" tag, guys. (5, Insightful)

bipbop (1144919) | more than 4 years ago | (#29959772)

Goddamn! Who are the idiots who keep tagging everything idiocracy? It's pretty annoying. Is it supposed to be clever?

I'm checking "No Karma Bonus" since I'm posting off-topic on purpose. Sorry, but after the last few articles randomly tagged "idiocracy", I couldn't hold it in anymore. Mod me how you will.

QQ moar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29960120)

/.ers can tag as they see fit. Why do you hate freedom? Are you a terrorist?

Nearly Pregnant, Nearly A Virgin, Nearly Rich (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960242)

Nearly Smart, Nearly Sexy, Nearly Sauve, Nearly Adequate, Nearly Famous, Nearly Infallible, Nearly Safe, Nearly There....

Reminds me of that Jon Steward quote: (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960862)

Bush: It's a different kind of war! They, 're a different kind of people!
Jon (Bush impression): They... they wear shoes on their hands! They eat with their butts! They call their Jesus Mohammad. Makes no sense...

I don't know how to turn that into a comment that is critical of this newspeak redefinition though...

How about you? A nice +5, Funny waits for you... coomee... catch it... ;)

Embrace, extend ... extinguish (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960900)

Guess where the EU is now.
They went after the p2p format, now its on to "open source" Linux.
Amazing what can be pushed after a stay at a Rothschild family villa in Greece.
Did an American record executive put in a good word for US computing interests?

FAILZORS. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29960904)

Host what the hoIuse To it5 laid-back

Twisting (1)

Eivind (15695) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960928)

This is disingenious. The document actually says the OPPOSITE of what one might think if reading only the slashdot-introduction. It says that open-ness is not a binary proposition, but a continuum where (and I quote)

Specifications, software and software development methods that promote collaboration and the results of which can freely be accessed, resused and shared are considered open and lie at one end of the spectrum while non-documented, proprietary specifications, proprietary software and the reluctance or resistance to reuse solutions, i.e. the "not invented here" syndrome, lie at the other end.

This very clearly doesn't claim that proprietary software is open. Infact it does the oposite, it says directly that it lies on a spectrum, where ONE end can be called "open", and this lies at the *other* end. It doesn't directly say what that other end is called, but a reasonable guess would be "closed".

Original article is misrepresented (3, Insightful)

fredrikv (521394) | more than 4 years ago | (#29960968)

This post is simply wrong. The poster has completely distorted the message in the original text by using unfair citing methods.
If you actually read the article, it defines the openness continuum as the range *between* "freely [---] accessed, reused and shared" and "non-documented, proprietary software". Not very groundbreaking or controversial.
Boring.

On the other hand, it is obvious that nearly all responders with strong opinions on the matter also have not bothered to read the article.
Interesting?

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