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UK Gov't Says Open Standards Must Be Royalty Free

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the does-the-queen-still-use-red-hat? dept.

Government 91

An anonymous reader writes "The H reports on an interesting development in the United Kingdom's procurement policy. From the article: 'New procurement guidance from the UK government has defined open standards as having "intellectual property made irrevocably available on a royalty free basis." The document, which has been published by the Cabinet Office, applies to all government departments and says that, when purchasing software, technology infrastructure, security or other goods and services, departments should "wherever possible deploy open standards."'"

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Clue bat achievement unlocked (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35329540)

Nice to see Govmnts getting a clue

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#35329910)

They'll use Microsoft OOXML ...?

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35330110)

There's other open standards other than OOXML but I'm sure they'll use that amongst the others. Not that I'd call OOXML the openest of standards.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (3, Informative)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330132)

Actually there are no implementations of OOXML/DIS 29500. The MS .docx format certainly does not conform - although MS tries to give the impression that it does.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35330238)

But impression's are all that matter to those in charge it would seem no?

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330348)

Yep. They'll just send the rep round, pay for a few lunches and it'll be "Microsoft office is open, too!" in all the meetings to decide which format to use.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (1)

Meski (774546) | more than 3 years ago | (#35335270)

Kind of ironic Microsoft doing "Embrace, Extend, Extinguish" to their own standard.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (1)

NSN A392-99-964-5927 (1559367) | more than 3 years ago | (#35337368)

Windows 7 Spy & Bit Locker

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (2)

flemmingbjerke (934851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330450)

OOXML is ISO approved. Thus, it is an open standard according to the Procurement Policy Note

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (5, Interesting)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330818)

But there are no implementations that would not run afoul of MS' patents at this time. There's where the argument will fall flat on it's face- the definition is explicit and MS would have to divuge their secrets and make them available on a permanant royalty free basis. MPEG-LA should take note: they're not an open standard per that correct definition by the UK government either- and WebM IS. They're going to need to come up with an answer that meets this criteria because the saber rattling they're doing against VP8/WebM isn't going to go very far and they've now got a problem because they're facing TWO FOSS codecs that meet the UK criteria of Open Standards.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333282)

Meh. I just don't see the lower levels caring. Internally, they'll use what they are accustomed to, and maybe export to an open standard when making a file available to the public. Which, more often than not, will be PDF.

Video...no one will care. They don't make videos with the intent of distributing the raw file, they make videos to be watched YouTube or integrated into something else (like their website or a powerpoint)

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (3, Informative)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330824)

Yes - MS bought ISO votes in many countries so that OOXML could be fast tracked.

Fast tracking is reserved for what are usually de-facto standards with multiple implementations. OOXML is not implemented by anything, anywhere; the ISO vote was a fraud.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (1, Interesting)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331364)

You're being a bit naive there. OOXML, as originally submitted for fast tracking, was just the XMLized version of the binary formats. As such, it was a de-facto standard in another skin. It was the ISO process itself that changed that submitted standard so that Office was no longer compatible with it.

So, it's a bit of a farce to say that MS did not fast-track a de-facto standard. They did, but the standard body itself altered it.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (2)

Rysc (136391) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336844)

In the first place their binary format was a de-facto standard, not the new XMLized format.

In the second place, their format is so convoluted and broken that it should not be standardized as-is. All the complaints that exist about OOXML and how it's impossible to fully implement from the spec apply also to the binary predecessor. It's not at all standards-worthy since it cannot even be properly described by Microsoft's own people.

Some changes were necessary to avoid ridiculous situations. MS could easily implement these changes but simply chooses not to. If MS never intended to comply with the process by modifying their Office programs to fit with the written standard then why did they submit it in the first place? They knew what ISO was about and what they were getting in to. They never wanted a standard format, they only ever wanted to be able to tick the box on a requirements sheet that says "Format is standards-compliant?" which they certainly now do, no matter how untrue it is. It was a sleazy marketing gimmick.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35340180)

The XMLized version they submitted was, essentially, the binary format in XML. Ask anyone who has worked in understanding the binary format, and they'll tell you that OOXML has helped them tremendously to understand the binary format. Essentially, OOXML documents all the elements used in the binary format.

Now, it's true that the binary format contains other format information, such as the OLE document container formats, but this ifnormation is pretty well known and is really only the container (much like mkv, Theoria, etc.. are containers for the actual video format.)

As such, while the actual XML container format is new, the content is still the de-facto format, which is also documented in OOXML. Complaining that OOXML is an entirely new format is just being a douche, because for all practical intents and purposes, it's not.

Also, saying Microsoft has no intention of support ISO OOXML is ridiculous. Sure, it would have been nice of Office 2010 supported it, but by the time the ISO approved OOXML, Office 2010's requirements and specifications were already frozen for development. Yes, certainly MS could have unfrozen them and committed time to making it compliant, but they didn't. Just like they could have invested time and money in making VC++ 6 standard compliant in the same situation. Microsoft doesn't move that fast.

They've promised full OOXML support in the next version of Office, we'll see what happens. However, it should be noted that Microsoft has been moving towards standards compliance all across it's products. IE9 is looking pretty impressive in that regard, considering how far they had to come in such a short time period. VC++ has added more and more standards conformance in each release.

I have a question though. What will you whine about should MS actually do what they've promised? Oh, I know.. "What are they up to? It's a trap!"

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (1)

Rysc (136391) | more than 3 years ago | (#35347108)

Whine about? If you consider criticizing the OOXML format whining, then we need speak no more. I will continue to object to this format because it's fundamentally broken, no matter whether or not MS fully implements it.

I reiterate that this whole mess was a marketing gimmick to steal ODF's thunder. If MS eventually conforms with the ISO version of OOXML, great, but it doesn't mean that it wasn't a gimmick. It's easy to announce such a format and prevent a competitor from succeeding in the marketplace, then deliver it only years later (if ever). If you don't recognize this tactic then you're too young; Microsoft has used it numerous times in the past.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35377290)

By all means, criticize the format. I'd love to see real, valid criticism, but I used the word "whine" because that's what you're doing when you comlain that Office doesn't implment it, or that it's an unimplementable format (It's not).

It's also whining to complain about things that aren't valid. Whining that deprecated features of decades old versions aren't specified (because they are deprecated) is just that, whining. Whining because the format understands a buggy date format that is there for compatibility purposes is also whining.

I have yet to see any valid criticism of OOXML as a format. Meanwhile, ODF had gaping holes in its implementation. Lack of a spreadsheet formula syntax should have prevented it from be adopted in the first place. Lack of accessibility was another major defect. Not saying ODF is bad, but in reality OOXML was a FAR more complete format that ODF was.

I have no real horse in this race, which allows me to be a bit more objective than most others. I don't care what the format is, as long it doesn't restrict vendors to a lowest common denominator. What I don't like is the way that IBM and Sun politicized this, and i find it embarassing to geekdom that so many geeks were so easilyi manipulated by them. The amount of disinformation is staggering.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (1)

Rysc (136391) | more than 3 years ago | (#35377748)

I have only one agenda here and that is to see Microsoft die and Free Software win. The former is due to well earned hatred, the second to carefully chosen ideology. I can admit when Microsoft makes something good, though I do not like to, such as their take on PDF. That's a good format. OOXML is just stupid. ODF to the extent that it is deficient could be fixed sanely. Legacy support is vital to competition and Microsoft and you are disingenuous to dismiss specification of legacy formatting as irrelevant. If Microsoft were an honest actor then they would have simply improved ODF.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (2, Insightful)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330840)

That isn't what the GP said. The trouble is that Microsoft Office doesn't implement ISO OOXML, it deviates from it significantly. It's like saying that Active Directory is an open standard because it's a lot like Kerberos.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (2)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331514)

Active Directory conforms to the Kerberos standard 100%. But, it's more than just kerberos. Most people, and I assume that includes you, have heard 20 different versions of the situation, and have a wrong understanding of what happened.

Kerberos has a field intended for vendor specific data. Microsoft uses that field for AD, in conformance with the Kerberos specification. What people were upset about was that Microsoft did not (initially) publish the format of that field, which some people thought went against the idea of kerberos. BTW, Kerberos is not a standard per se.. it's been approved by no standards body. It is an RFC though.

ISO OOXML was changed by the ISO during the standardization process, which is why Office doesn't conform to it. They claim they're working on making it compatible.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (2)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331810)

Wow, somebody better tell the Samba people that they wasted all their time on version 4 because they could have just used any of the existing free implementations of Kerberos that follow the RFC.

I didn't say AD failed to implement Kerberos, I said that AD isn't an open standard -- it includes a huge pile of nonstandard stuff that anyone wanting to interoperate has to reverse engineer. That sort of compliance-in-name-only plus EEE is the opposite an open standard.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (2)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35334564)

I think your confused. Samba is an implementation of SMB, not Kerberos.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (1)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35334714)

Samba 4 [lmgtfy.com] :

What is Samba 4 meant to accomplish? In simplest terms, Samba 4 is an ambitious, yet achievable, reworking of the Samba code. Major features for Samba 4 already include:

        * support of the 'Active Directory' logon and administration protocols
        * new 'full coverage' testsuites
        * full NTFS semantics for sharing backends
        * Internal LDAP server, with AD semantics
        * Internal Kerberos server, including PAC support
        * Bind9 integration for AD DNS support

...

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (2)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331530)

BTW, OOXML conforms to ISO OOXML transitional standard, but not the strict standard.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (1)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331852)

Oh right, the transitional standard that no one other than Microsoft even has the information necessary to implement.

I guess I blocked that one out because I still can't believe the ISO was willing to throw sixty years worth of built up credibility down the toilet over it.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (0)

nstlgc (945418) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332214)

The fact that you throw out 60 years of built up credibility because they disagree with you on one standard (or, according to you, non-standard) might just be a sign of your own zealotry. Or, at the very least, show

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (2, Insightful)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333110)

That's how credibility works. If you go 60 years and every time you say something is a standard, everybody agrees that it is a standard, you get credibility -- when you say something is an open standard then everyone believes you without having to independently verify it. As soon as you start allowing companies to strong arm you into applying your imprimatur to whatever they want, nobody can blindly defer to your judgment anymore, because they have to start carving out exceptions for your mistakes.

This article is a case in point. Suppose the UK wants only actual, implementable-by-anyone open standards. They can't just say "open standards are what ISO says they are" anymore and still get the desired result, because that saddles them with the non-open OOXML transitional standard. In order to solve that problem they would have to muck about trying to define "open standards" without reference to ISO in a way that encompasses 99.9% of what ISO does but weeds out the ones influenced by strong arming, and then you run into definitional false negatives and false positives etc.

The alternative is to start with ISO and maintain an exclusion list and add all of the non-open standards to it, but at that point you have to evaluate everything ISO publishes and whoever is maintaining the exclusion list is effectively standing in for the standards body.

In either case the purpose behind the corrupted standards organization is greatly eroded because people can no longer rely on its output, and many resources are wasted contending with their mistakes.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35331490)

I wish I could find the link right now, but ISO explicitly somewhere in the voluminous documents on their web pages states that ISO approval does not represent any kind of comment whatsoever on the openness of a standard, or not.

Somebody please find this link and post it prominently - this needs to be widely understood. ISO-approval has NOTHING to do with whether a standard is open or not.

Case in point, MOOXML, which is demonstrably not open.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35331452)

So ISO/IEC standards and PCI-SIG could become free one day?

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (2)

cheros (223479) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331732)

Umm, actually, they DID have a clue until the previous administration got in. They did all sorts of Open Source based work, quite simply to be cost effective yet safe.

However, about the first public appearance the New Labour leader Tony Blair made as freshly anointed Prime Minister was to attend the launch of Windows 2000 at the Microsoft UK offices, thus lending it government approval. At that point, the consultancies moved in and installed as much proprietary rubbish as they could get away with. IMHO, what happened over those years must have at least tripled the cost of government IT in the UK, so I'm glad to see that the current administration is trying to knock some sense into it at last, because it's a screaming mess.

Hurray - some positive news at last. Unless it's a ploy to get more free lunches out of Microsoft..

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#35337424)

If you use the Tory government prior to Tony Blair as anything other than an example of utter intellectual and moral wretchedness, you are re-writing history. If John Major was keen on open standards, my immediate reaction would be that there is something wrong with open standards.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 3 years ago | (#35367210)

The UK Government started defining Open Standards when the Government Secure internet was created, roughly mid 1996, which is where also the whole eGIF concept was first defined (it was done by the same people). That was during Tory reign.

However, probably the only thing we *can* agree on was that it was not an explicit policy decision. In those days, a couple of clued up people were doing the best with the budget they had, and this is where Open Source simply provided the best bang for buck - for those able to do things themselves. The politicians were simply leaving those clued up people alone, and those were smart enough to keep things happening under the radar.

When New Labour walked in, it DID become a policy matter. That's also why one of the highest ranking Microsoft people in the UK is actually ex Cabinet Office..

There is a substantially large bump under the carpet re. government IT. I bet a lot of people are fighting to keep Wikileaks from lifting up that specific carpet..

How do I know? Ah, that would be telling..

Irrelevant (2)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 3 years ago | (#35333134)

I suggest you watch the documentary* Yes, Minister. Then you will understand the true significance of those words hidden in plain sight: "wherever possible".

* Maggie Thatcher's comments on it support according it this status.

Re:Clue bat achievement unlocked (1)

stiggle (649614) | more than 3 years ago | (#35336506)

And typical of the government to leave a gaping get-out clause of "where possible"

So - rather than using open royalty free standards, they'll just phrase the contracts in such a way to require the use of the closed standards or royalty payment encumbered ones.

I trust the politicians to a point - but I can throw them further with a trebuchet.

Glad they focussed on standards (5, Insightful)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 3 years ago | (#35329554)

It's a good decision. Open or closed source doesn't matter. What's important is interoperability. To give you an example, around eight years ago the local council website was unusable with anything except IE on Windows. It wasn't that the site was complicated. The issue was that they did a bad job of coding it, and only tested it with IE. That kind of thing shouldn't ever happen.

Re:Glad they focussed on standards (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 3 years ago | (#35329604)

wasn't that IP made etc.....
and a de-facto standard at the time.

Re:Glad they focussed on standards (5, Informative)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 3 years ago | (#35329624)

Government defines “open standards” as standards which:
  result from and are maintained through an open, independent process;
  are approved by a recognised specification or standardisation organisation, for
example W3C or ISO or equivalent. (N.B. The specification/standardisation
must be compliant with Regulation 9 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2006.
This regulation makes it clear that technical specifications/standards cannot
simply be national standards but must also include/recognise European
standards);
  are thoroughly documented and publicly available at zero or low cost;
  have intellectual property made irrevocably available on a royalty free basis;
andAction Note 3/11 31 January 2011
  as a whole can be implemented and shared under different development
approaches and on a number of platforms.

Re:Glad they focussed on standards (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 3 years ago | (#35334746)

I hate ISO standards with a passion. They are only really available to people with a vested interest. Most other people wont lay down the money for them. You can not search them using Google, so you get into situations that e.g. software complies to a standard, but you can nevertheless not find the specific terms used. If any government money should be spent on something useful: give it to ISO so they become truly open, as in *free*.

Also note that as a relatively rich dev, at a relatively rich company, I can buy the standards easily. A mid level dev. at an Indian company will find ~60 euro's per standard (which you may or may not need) way too much money. ISO standards suck - make them RFC's or use W3C instead (or anything else that is really open). Preferably something other devs can join as well, the more open the better.

Re:Glad they focussed on standards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35329826)

it was probably made with microsoft frontpage that only used mshtml

Re:Glad they focussed on standards (4, Insightful)

flemmingbjerke (934851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35329904)

Yes, it is a good decision. But, an important caveat must taken in relation to process that lay down the standard. Microsoft succeeded in making their OOXML an open ISO-standard. But, MS still controls its development thus setting the terms of standardisation in accordance with MS's development interests. This is a hollowing out of open standards through mixing them with "de facto proprietary open standards".

Re:Glad they focussed on standards (1)

mfh (56) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330322)

I think this is a good decision because you can still charge for setup fees, but just not royalties, which are recurring payments that only line the pockets of the company that started the ball rolling. Microsoft would counter this by charging for updates and ensuring early software is broken enough that people will pay for updates. Fucking bastards.

Re:Glad they focussed on standards (2)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330888)

I would argue that open or closed source does matter. But, I agree that the interoperability is more important than being open or closed source. Personally, all other things being equal, I'l always opt for open source. In fact, I might sacrifice some feature or other attraction to get the open sourced product. But, I won't sacrifice that all-important interoperability!

They get it at least. (5, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35329560)

some here still dont get it. something being made open, but owned by someone and can be reverted back is NOT open. it only means it is 'open to look inside',in manner of speaking.

open should mean what u.k. govt., in an unexpected streak of common sense, explains above.

Re:They get it at least. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35329720)

You will find that MS has been in the ear of govt. By this definition OpenOffice is no longer open.

Re:They get it at least. (1)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35329768)

If you mean Oracle's Open Office then maybe but I'm sure that some people here would like you to elaborate on why you think so..
However there is LibreOffice. How does that stack up in your world?

Re:They get it at least. (4, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330604)

Huh? OpenOffice is not a standard of any kind, it's an application. ODF is a standard, which is controlled by an independent body and can be implemented without paying a royalty, so it meets this definition and any office suite that supports ODF can be used in accordance with this directive. So does MS OOXML, but, unfortunately, MS Office fails the OOXML compliance test suite, so it can't be used as an OOXML editor.

Re:They get it at least. (0)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 3 years ago | (#35329950)

'Open' was hijacked long ago. Every freedom stomping evil corporation jumped on that bandwagon.

Re:They get it at least. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336412)

Yes and no.

If you apply the GPL to your code, you can take the GPL off your code.

But you can only remove the GPL from code you have written. Other peoples' work in your project is there's under the GPL: The GPL must stay on their lines, files, modules.

And someone else can branch the last public release of your code under GPL and keep your name on it - you can't release version 10.5 under GPL and move GPL from 10.5. You can remove it from 10.6.

So, yes, it is theoretically possible, but only for the smallest projects. It's generally just not practical and no one benefits.

Patents (5, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35329590)

Note that the UK does not regard software patents as valid (although the last definitive statement on this was made by the previous government, so this one may reverse it), which means that things like H.264 still count as open standards under this definition, because the relevant 'intellectual property' is not regarded as property in the UK.

Re:Patents (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35329650)

I should warn you that Ed Vaizey is busy raving about how good software patents are, so I won't expect this to stay the case for much longer.

On that note, what is it with our current government's obsession with everything the Americans do? Private healthcare, raising tuition fees? What next? Repeal gun laws?

Re:Patents (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#35337740)

On that note, what is it with our current government's obsession with everything the Americans do? Private healthcare, raising tuition fees? What next? Repeal gun laws?

The more right wing a UK government is, the closer it is philosophically to the US, so it's hardly a surprise. Maggie Thatcher almost died of oxygen starvation by being so far up Ronald Reagan's arse.

I imagine they will change the gun laws to extend the rights of farmers, then landowners and anyone with a house worth more than a million quid to own weapons for "self defence", while simultaneously creating a generation of angry young people without jobs or hope. Same as it ever was.

Re:Patents (2)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 3 years ago | (#35329814)

Yes and no.
The ISO spec is not gratis, but the ITU spec is gratis:
http://www.brooksandrus.com/blog/2008/11/15/yes-the-h264-specification-is-freely-available/ [brooksandrus.com]

However, it's not the complete specification, it depends on some other specs which might not be freely available. So is a standard "Open" when you cannot read some of its dependencies?

Re:Patents (4, Interesting)

burisch_research (1095299) | more than 3 years ago | (#35329986)

Hear hear. The entire dependency tree of any standard should, in addition to the standard itself, be completely 'open' according to this new insightful definition. If that's not the case, then the standard should not be regarded as 'open' whatsoever.

UK Govt should take heed of this and update their definitions accordingly (if necessary).

autoSpaceLikeWord95 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35330678)

Agreed.

To understand why, look at the following instructive example
from the original OOXML spec (not the ISO DIS 29500 but the really-used Microsoft format):

2.15.3.6 autoSpaceLikeWord95 (Emulate Word 95 Full-Width Character Spacing)

This element specifies that applications shall emulate the behavior of a previously existing word processing
application (Microsoft Word 95) when determining the spacing between full-width East Asian characters in a
document's content.
[Guidance: To faithfully replicate this behavior, applications must imitate the behavior of that application, which
involves many possible behaviors and cannot be faithfully placed into narrative for this Office Open XML
Standard. If applications wish to match this behavior, they must utilize and duplicate the output of those
applications. It is recommended that applications not intentionally replicate this behavior as it was deprecated
due to issues with its output, and is maintained only for compatibility with existing documents from that
application. end guidance]

Re:autoSpaceLikeWord95 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35332774)

It appears this was left as an exercise for the reader :)

Re:autoSpaceLikeWord95 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35334272)

What? Why should the original spec matter when the finalised spec describes what the element requires?

Re:Patents (2)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35329836)

Even when software patents have not been allowed, H.264 and MP3 before has still managed to get patented in many EU countries. The no software patent clause only applies to small companies and private persons.

Re:Patents (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35329916)

Not quite the case, software patents in Europe are incredibly weak full stop, theres nothing preventing small companies and private persons applying for them, but the cost of obtaining a European patents (being in effect a right to apply for patents in a number of countries rather then an actual european patent) and showing Technical Effect in anything but low level items of software is very difficult (otherwise it starts to look more like a business process or a pure mathematical model) and it tends to be bigger companies that undertake that sort of development effort in the first place, or have the capital to invest in the universities undertaking the research.

Technical effect is bigger picture in same channel (2)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35329942)

As I understand the explanation of technical effect in the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] , the technical effect of something like H.264 is that moving images with a higher resolution or frame rate can be transmitted through a given channel. Compare MPEG-2 at 8 Mbps, which can transmit the 720x480 pixels of DVD, to MPEG-4 AVC at 8 Mbps, which can transmit a substantially higher definition picture.

Re:Patents (2)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330062)

I am not a lawyer, but I do not believe that H.264 is (or is purely) a software patent. I would note that MPEG-LA claims [mpegla.com] a number of UK (GB) patents in its pool for H.264 :

GB 564,597
GB 630,157
GB 1,467,491
GB 1,487,113
GB 1,550,219
GB 0460751
GB 2,003,899
GB 2,003,900
GB 2,009,927
GB 2,009,928
GB 2,015,585

(there are more, but you get the picture). If these patents are valid, they could certainly claim intellectual property rights in the UK.

(Note : in the UK patent search system [ipo.gov.uk] - the "REGISTER ENTRY FOR GB2003899" is

Title POLYMERS CONTAINING IMIDYL GROUPS AND SILYL GROUPS

which is curious, to say the least. I wonder how closely MPEG-LA double-checks and copy-edits the claims submitted to them.)

Re:Patents (2)

mindriot (96208) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330720)

I think they mean EP2003899 (European Patent), whose title is "A Method For Extracting Direct Mode Motion Vectors".

Re:Patents (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330066)

It's more complicated that that. The letter of the law and the intent of the law are different and patent lawyers are paid a lot of money to explain in the patent application why a piece of equipment, that is entirely generic except for the software running on it, is not a software invention.

Good (2)

HalAtWork (926717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35332000)

So what you're saying is that the UK will be that much less capable of adopting software patents. They won't just pass a law that requires them to pay tons of royalties all of a sudden. So good.

Re:Patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35336336)

Apparently, you're retarded.

"... have intellectual property made irrevocably available on a royalty free basis ..."

Sorry, fail.

world+dog rejects gov't. standard of deception (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35329598)

the universal standard newclear powered kode rejects ALL input of an intentionally false nature, & reacts intuitively to diagnose/intervene in cases of mistreatment of the creators' innocents. we're watching it work. it scares the paint (rouge gov't's etc....) off of unprecedented evile et al. see you there?

Better deals (2)

MaikB (1877004) | more than 3 years ago | (#35329602)

As much as I'd like to think that this statement is genuine, I fear it's just meant to encourage Microsoft & Co to offer better deals.

Re:Better deals (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 3 years ago | (#35329882)

Maybe that isn't what people set out to do, but that is what eventually happends most of the time.

Re:Better deals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35335320)

Yes, but Microsoft can't do that forever; they have to make money somehow. And incrementally increasing the requirements on government-used software will allow more people to consider - and invest in - open source software and companies that support open source, which is a Good Thing.

Why just Open Standards? (1)

kmdrtako (1971832) | more than 3 years ago | (#35329742)

What about those other – "de facto" – standards?

Re:Why just Open Standards? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35329880)

> Why just Open Standards? What about those other – "de facto" – standards?

I think you missed the following facts:

a) the important discussion here is around the "open" concept -- "de facto" are not necessarily open -- what implies there are good and bad "de facto" standards;
b) "de facto" standards fail to meet a series of requirements to be even considered standards, so they might even disqualify as options from the start -- being open or not.

Big Brother (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35329756)

Why do the British people put up with this Orwellian nightmare of a government? Why don't they rise up, V for Vendetta style? What did the article say again? I haven't read 1984 but I'm pretty sure its exactly like this.

Re:Big Brother (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35329956)

Because apparently the British desire for theatrics is less than your own.

Re:Big Brother (0)

Gonoff (88518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330116)

Because it looks better than what you have?

Re:Big Brother (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35330906)

Why do the British people put up with this Orwellian nightmare of a government? Why don't they rise up, V for Vendetta style? What did the article say again? I haven't read 1984 but I'm pretty sure its exactly like this.

Read it and come back, you might not end up making such ridiculous statements in the future.

Re:Big Brother (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331548)

Revolution only occurs when people have nothing left to lose. Most people in the UK and the US still have plenty to lose, even though they may not be happy with their current situation.

I'll believe it having any impact when I see it (4, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#35329798)

It remains to be seen if things will change drastically with this government, but if the last government was anything to go by they'll find a way around it in order to use whatever they damn well please - and if that's Office, so be it.

Off the top of my head, I can picture:

  • "It's only guidance, we're not obliged to follow it."
  • "We only said the IP must be royalty free. We didn't say there couldn't be other conditions attached." (spoken as Microsoft announce a program which will allow anyone to implement MS-XML royalty free on condition that it's implemented in a closed-source, commercial product with no code inherited from any open source project even if the licensing of the project would otherwise allow it. IOW "By all means write your own office app which reads our file format, but you'll have to start from scratch and you won't be able to gain mindshare by giving it away for free")
  • "Read the small print carefully. We're allowed to ignore this guidance if there is no viable product which uses open standards. Our conditions for "viable product" include "Offers the best compatibility on the market with our existing couple of million documents in .doc format""

Re:I'll believe it having any impact when I see it (4, Insightful)

mounthood (993037) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330330)

"We only said the IP must be royalty free. We didn't say there couldn't be other conditions attached." (spoken as Microsoft announce a program which will allow anyone to implement MS-XML royalty free on condition that it's implemented in a closed-source, commercial product with no code inherited from any open source project even if the licensing of the project would otherwise allow it. IOW "By all means write your own office app which reads our file format, but you'll have to start from scratch and you won't be able to gain mindshare by giving it away for free")

It's like you held a mirror up to the Oracle-Java-Apache problem. 'We only said you can implement Java openly if you use the test suite, which you can't use openly.'

Re:I'll believe it having any impact when I see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333712)

"Defining open standards" is a very, very different thing from "mandating their use".

FYI: JBIG1 now patent free outside the US (3, Interesting)

Rick Richardson (87058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35329802)

On 2011-02-26:

http://freshmeat.net/projects/jbigkit/announcements/583-jbig1-now-patent-free-outside-the-united-states

GDI printers, etc... include this tech. I.E. printers from HP, Konica, Xerox, Oki, Samsung, Lexmark, and Kyocera.

Bad decision (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35329978)

People in the Gveronment are trying to do their jobs. Those jobs are subtle, complicated and enourmously varid. The tools they best need vary enourmously. Enforcing across the whole of Government a blank rule that what tools they use MUST if at ALL possible be open source is stupid, stupid, stupid. It WILL get in the way of people doing their jobs, and it the doing of the job which matters, not the tools by which the job is done.

In fact, this line has been taken because the previous UK Government got the country in to such a deep pit, financially, that it's all hands to the bildges now to keep the ship afloat.

Re:Bad decision (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35330084)

Let me help you RTFA...

"When purchasing software, ICT infrastructure, ICT security and other ICT goods and services, Cabinet Office recommends that Government departments should wherever possible deploy open standards in their procurement specifications."

As you can see no-one is "Enforcing across the whole of Government a blank rule that what tools they use MUST if at ALL possible be open source" as you suggest. It's in plain English, easy to read... you should try it some time, you'll learn all sorts of things.

Re:Bad decision (0)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330358)

Gveronment

You know, you might speed up your old computer a bit if you put Linux on it. There are some free typing tutor programs available as well.

Open standards means using Microsoft Office (3, Informative)

flemmingbjerke (934851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330372)

In Denmark, we have had a similar document passed in the parliament in 2007. It entailed strong disputes over whether Microsoft's ISO-approved document standard (OOXML) was open or not. The outcome still not clear. But, the danger is that Microsoft's OOXML actually becomes a mandatory standard. This could easily become the outcome of the British government's Procurement Policy Note. Bullet 4 says:

"Government assets should be interoperable and open for re-use in order to maximise return on investment, avoid technological lock-in, reduce operational risk in ICT projects and provide responsive services for citizens and businesses."

By upgrading to Microsoft's OOXML (docx, xlsx, etc), it becomes the most widespread document format. This implies that government offices must use Microsoft Word, Excel, etc. in order to:
- ensure interoperability
- maximise return (avoiding conversion cost with e.g. ODF)
- avoid lock-in to other formats (e.g. to ODF),
- reduce operational risk (i.e. the Microsoft security package connectied with the office package)
- provide responsive services (citizen and business use Microsoft's document formats).

(I don't say these arguments are true, but that they tend to be accepted politically.)

Making open standards mandatory may imply that Microsoft Office becomes mandatory!

Re:Open standards means using Microsoft Office (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#35330640)

You're fighting the wrong battle. Instead, let them mandate OOXML, but require that any software purchases designed for editing OOXML documents pass Microsoft's OOXML compliance suite with no failures. Last time I checked, MS Office got about 5,000 failures - OOXML and Microsoft's file formats are not the same thing, even though they're superficially similar and MS Office claims to use OOXML.

Re:Open standards means using Microsoft Office (1)

flemmingbjerke (934851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35331792)

Good point, but how would you make a standard civil servant understand this. And, please, imagine MS's dull explanations over many pages concerning details of the openness of the 5000 pages standard and its transitional version and reasons for failures and bla bla.... In DK, MS turned out to have intelligent people explaining infinitely many details of the rationality and openness of OOXML.

Re:Open standards means using Microsoft Office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35337434)

Write an email?

Re:Open standards means using Microsoft Office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35330864)

Uh... If you apply the "implementation must be royalty free", OOXML, etc. don't fall under this critera- you're paying royalties for use to MS and nobody can fully and properly implement the spec because of patent concerns. Sorrry, this one, if it's not just guidance, will cause the person trying to run that one up the flagpole to fall upon the sword- they'd have to come up with something truly compelling that's not a bunch of doublespeak (clear business case...not possible since none of your arguments you held up are "clear" cases...conversion costs? Ever gone through an upgrade cycle with MS Office? It costs you as much or more to move up... And that's just the beginning of things...)

Wait, ROYALTY Free? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35330880)

Then what will the queen do? Well, she's probably computer averse, but poor Prince Charles, he's already waited so long, and now the gov't is knocking him out of the standards process?

Oh well, at least William is getting a hottie.

Open source is a conspiracy to rip off programmers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35333634)

Do you get free food, free rent, free gas, free cars? I hate the whole open source thing. Torvalds and Stallman are communists. They are enemies of IT. They have damaged the pricing power of my industry.

Once laptop per child. Need anymore examples what happens when open source gets even close to delivering it's socialist Utopian fantasy?

Intellectual Property. That is a fantasy created by legal parasites. Look at Coca Cola. They just kept their IP secret. No need for lawyers and tricky dicky words on reams of dead trees.

You are being exploited. Torvalds and Stallman are communist infiltrators.

Please. Stop doing stuff for free. Don't even fix your mom's computer unless there is cold hard cash upfront.

No pay, no play. Then they wonder where all the experienced IT people are, and where the next generation of IT people are to come from. PAY THEM. THEY WILL COME.

I don't work for free. You should not work for free either. I have not earned one dollar supporting open source. I piss on that business model.

Do they even understand patents? (1)

DeathSquid (937219) | more than 3 years ago | (#35335392)

Even if all the people who contribute to a given standard freely contribute their intellectual property, nothing stops a third party showing up at a later date claiming infringement of their patents.

If the U.K. government defines open standards as having "intellectual property made irrevocably available on a royalty free basis", they have just defined a null set. Not very useful. If they are serious about this, then they should pass laws requiring mandatory licensing of patents required to implement an open standard, with cumulative license fees being capped at a (small) fraction of a given device's cost.

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