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European Parliament To Exclude Free Software With FRAND

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the free-software-to-the-back-of-the-bus dept.

Patents 219

First time submitter jan.van.gent writes "The European Parliament is on the verge of adopting a directive reforming standards, reform which would introduce FRAND patent licensing terms, an undefined term which has been seen as a direct attack on the fundamental principles of Free and Open Source software. The Business Software Alliance has been very active trying to get FRAND terms into the directive."

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219 comments

Muahaha! (-1, Troll)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105731)

George Bush strikes again!

It's time. (0)

GamemakerSupreme (2575291) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105807)

It's time to face the music and switch to Gamemaker.

Re:Muahaha! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106055)

So for Black History Month, the BSA proves they are a bunch of niggers. Most niggers are not black, you know. They are white men in suits and ties. Oh sweet irony!

Trying to figure out who the good guys are (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39105761)

This is confusing. It seems to go like this:

General consensus: Some "standards" are being derailed by patent holders who make unreasonable demands.
Euros: We'll pass legislation that the demands have to be reasonable.
FSF: No! Because even so-called reasonable demands exclude FOSS, hence, they aren't really "reasonable".
Euros: But half a loaf of bread...
FSF: No! Give us the whole damn loaf, or nothing!

Personally I'd be happy to get half a loaf, and then allow for others to keep fighting for the other half.

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (1)

pallmall1 (882819) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105775)

Well Dude, I don't think that YOU are very responsible.

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (0)

GamemakerSupreme (2575291) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105987)

You're not responsible. You're absolutely nothing.

You need to switch to Gamemaker. You need to switch to Gamemaker now! Why would anyone but the most foolish amateur use something other than Gamemaker? Operating systems should be coded with Gamemaker; games should be coded with Gamemaker; everything should be coded with Gamemaker!

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (4, Funny)

ElKry (1544795) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106171)

I keep looking for the words "feeb", "shadow" or "pathetic" in your post, but I can't find them. Surely there's some kind of mistake?

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106823)

I don't think that YOU are very responsible.

Well duh.

You're replying to the Bonch sockpuppet team under their Anonymous Coward guise.

They are a rapid response reputation management team who consistently promote the agendas of their large corporate sponsors.

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (5, Funny)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105821)

This is confusing.

Actually, it's easy. All governments are bad guys.

Well, maybe a few aren't, but if you start by assuming they're bad guys then you'll be pleasantly surprised if you turn out to be wrong.

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (1)

no-body (127863) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106301)

Actually, it's easy. All governments are bad guys.

OK - so what's your alternative?

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (4, Funny)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106567)

The alternative would be, "All governments are assholes."

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (0)

no-body (127863) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106619)

The alternative would be, "All governments are assholes."

How about religions - any good ideas there?

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (5, Insightful)

macshit (157376) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105855)

The FSF's objection is precisely right. The standard of "reasonable" often used by government agencies and standards bodies is badly outdated, and based on a model ("all software written by commercial entities") that doesn't reflect the real world anymore. Standards are supposed to be for everybody's benefit, not just that of large corporations.

However making such changes is difficult (these bodies do not move quickly)—so if they're making the effort to update things, they should do it right, not just following the dictates of whatever lobby happens to be shoveling the most money at them.

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (4, Insightful)

nightfell (2480334) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106191)

It takes a strange worldview to claim that "reasonable" is an extreme position.

FRAND is reasonable. This is because private concerns exist. Without FRAND, we end up with lame standards that tiptoe around patents (like all Theora, and now WebM vs H.264). We also wouldn't have a worldwide GSM standard. Even with local variations, the standard is pretty reliable and useful. If each cell phone manufacturer and network only used standards which were not patent encumbered, we'd have a much less robust wireless market.

This is, like I said, because private concerns exist. If they didn't, then Free Software would be the way to go, mainly because it would be the only way to go. No one is locking out Free Software, unless the free software writers themselves prohibit the use of patented technologies. The FRAND patent holders will gladly (and in fact, are legally required to) allow Free Software users to obtain a license for the patents.

I'm not saying there's anything inherently wrong about FS/OSS. They are fantastic, and I use plenty of such software. It's the ideological purity I'm addressing. It ignores the real world, and leads to absurd statements like that "reasonable" is something that "doesn't reflect the real world", which is a bit much. Especially considering the "real world" works just fine with FRAND, and so few people use free software that would are affected by FRAND issues that it's of insignificant impact.

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (3, Insightful)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106251)

'Reasonable' terms are often quite unreasonable. And the solution is very easy. DON'T allow patents on software. If they won't do that, there's also the solution of not having their standards directive allow for standards that require royalties, just as they don't allow for standards that refuse to grant someone a license. Also, there could be a requirement for an alternative that is FOSS compatible, such as a one time fee that allows for downstream users (which I believe is what happened with SAMBA)

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (1)

nightfell (2480334) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106557)

'Reasonable' terms are often quite unreasonable. And the solution is very easy. DON'T allow patents on software.

Why? What does that solve, and how is that not going to be worse that the thing it solves?

And that doesn't even solve the "problem". GSM, for example, is a standard that has patents on physical hardware. Why is software so special that it should be exempt from patents altogether?

If they won't do that, there's also the solution of not having their standards directive allow for standards that require royalties, just as they don't allow for standards that refuse to grant someone a license.

Then you tell the EU it can't use GSM phones, H.264 video, and countless other standards that you pay for every day without realizing it, because FRAND is not the evil monster you think it is. It works fantastically. If someone wants to write software that says you can't use patented technologies, *THAT PERSON* is the one who's causing the issue. And that is an ideological stance that is counter to reality.

Reality is the world in which we live. Pretending we live in some other world does not make it so.

Also, there could be a requirement for an alternative that is FOSS compatible, such as a one time fee that allows for downstream users (which I believe is what happened with SAMBA)

That would make no sense. For something like H.264 or GSM, Google could just pay a one time fee for each standard, and all of a sudden every Chrome user gets H.264 and every Motorola phone gets GSM, for no additional charge in perpetuity?

The simple fact is that FRAND works just fine. That's reality. Pretending like it's some sort of assault on freedom, or free software, is ass backwards.

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (5, Interesting)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106697)

Why? What does that solve, and how is that not going to be worse that the thing it solves? And that doesn't even solve the "problem". GSM, for example, is a standard that has patents on physical hardware. Why is software so special that it should be exempt from patents altogether?

Software is special because it's purely mathematical, but we should try to eventually rid ourselves of copyright and patents altogether as well. It will not be worse because patents, especially software patents, do not result in a net social benefit, so the elimination of them would result in no longer having a hindrance.

That would make no sense. For something like H.264 or GSM, Google could just pay a one time fee for each standard, and all of a sudden every Chrome user gets H.264 and every Motorola phone gets GSM, for no additional charge in perpetuity?

The various patent holders only invented the invention once, so just getting paid once is fine as well. However, in this scenario, I'm saying that this is one option available. Google might find it better to pay a smaller royalty over time than a one time lump sum.

It works fantastically. If someone wants to write software that says you can't use patented technologies, *THAT PERSON* is the one who's causing the issue. And that is an ideological stance that is counter to reality.

Then practically all people that write software are 'causing issues', because it's quite difficult to write non-trivial software that doesn't infringe on a patent. We're just fortunate in that most of the time, the patent holder is unaware of this fact.

The simple fact is that FRAND works just fine. That's reality. Pretending like it's some sort of assault on freedom, or free software, is ass backwards.

If by works just fine, you mean helps to uphold rent seeking behavior, then sure. It's quite annoying that the standard often used for 'works just fine' is 'hasn't completely halted progress.'

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (3, Insightful)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106393)

The problem is that "fair and reasonable" completely locks out all free software. This is not about ideology, the two concepts are mutually exclusive. A "reasonable" price between two giant corporations is too expensive for free software (and most small businesses). Can you afford to write free software when the reasonable license for a patent is in 5 digit figures?

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (1, Insightful)

nightfell (2480334) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106479)

The problem is that "fair and reasonable" completely locks out all free software.

No, it doesn't. The only major software license I'm aware of that is completely locked out is GPLv3 software with the patent clause.

This is not about ideology, the two concepts are mutually exclusive.

Only when people choose a license that is ideologically based, like the GPL.

A "reasonable" price between two giant corporations is too expensive for free software (and most small businesses).

Untrue. See H.264, GSM, and countless other FRAND standards.

They add cost, and slashdot types tend to see anything that costs any money at all as somehow impossible to ever pay. I honestly don't know how such people eat. Maybe they collect their food on the ground or something. For everyone else, we have little trouble finding a way to pay for the things we need, and that includes people and small organizations paying for things like rent, lights, promotions, communications, and licensing technology.

Did you know that a lot of software, including software from small companies, requires paying the programmers who write it? By your reasoning, this would be impossible.

Can you afford to write free software when the reasonable license for a patent is in 5 digit figures?

I dunno, ask Mozilla. They make millions per year, yet they act like they can't even pay the FREE license for H.264. That's nothing but pure ideology.

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (2)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106525)

Adding cost means you can't do free software (free as in beer). Mozilla is not free and open software, it just happens to be free though as well as making a profit. Not the same thing at all.

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106521)

"If each cell phone manufacturer and network only used standards which were not patent encumbered"

[citation needed]

The argument is not that the phone manufacturers should use different standards, it's that they shouldn't have patents on the standards they are (allegedly) using. They are free to use the same standards, they just can't prevent others from doing the same thing.

"This is because private concerns exist."'

By "private" concerns you mean the concerns of those who want a government established monopoly. Well, I want a million dollars, that's a private concern for me. This concern exists, the government should address it.

It should not be the government's job to address private concerns at public expense. The government should serve the public interest. Yes, any private entity wants a monopoly, just like any individual would like free money from the government. That's no excuse for the government to start giving private interests what they want.

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106589)

"If each cell phone manufacturer and network only used standards which were not patent encumbered, we'd have a much less robust wireless market."

[citation needed]

Phone manufacturers are free to use the same standards, they just can't have patents on those standards. If the standards that are patented are superior then only those who have the patents can use those superior standards, which forces everyone else to use inferior standards. and there is no good reason to believe that patents are needed for the existing quality of standards to exist.

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (3, Interesting)

Anthony Mouse (1927662) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106867)

If each cell phone manufacturer and network only used standards which were not patent encumbered, we'd have a much less robust wireless market.

More likely we would just have fewer vague, obvious, overbroad patents. The main impetus behind such patents is that if you can get them included as a necessary part of a standard, you can then run around collecting tolls from everyone in the industry. If no standards are accepted with necessary patents that are not freely licensed to anyone implementing the standard, the coerced market for those patents disappears, and either nobody bothers to file the bad patents in the first place, or the people who do then realize it is better to freely license them to anyone implementing the standard because in no event will they be getting any money from those implementing the standard, and by that point better to freely license it and improve the standard.

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106201)

Making such changes is easy. You just replace a few words here and there in the law and you're done.

The real problem is that the business interests would rather have a vaguely worded law that they can fight over in court,
instead of a reasoned discussion in public where people might have the opportunity to disagree with them in a meaningful way.

Changing laws is not easy (3, Insightful)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106713)

Making such changes is easy. You just replace a few words here and there in the law and you're done.

Email is still governed by the stored communications act (from the 1980s, IIRC). The FCC regulates interstate communications using laws from 1996, and those are the RECENT ones that are relevant. (common carrier laws are still based on common-law history going back to the 1800s).

It is rarely, if ever, easy to change law.

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (4, Insightful)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106359)

"Fair and reasonable" means priced high enough that only big companies can afford it.

Re:Trying to figure out who the good guys are (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106441)

"Personally I'd be happy to get half a loaf"

Why should the public give up half of its publicly beneficial freedoms?

One solution... (4, Interesting)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105765)

get "fair and reasonable" licensing terms to be defined as the lower of $x per unit or y% of product revenue. With no revenue, FOSS could freely use and distribute such patented software. It would even be advantageous, since software which would otherwise be locked behind a paywall could be made freely available.

Re:One solution... (5, Insightful)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105815)

That sounds kind of like what Microsoft did to Mosaic - we'll give you 10% of our IE revenue! I can see companies being tricksy about it, say, giving the FRAND part away for "free" to avoid paying royalties, but licensing the rest of the program for a fee.

In my perfect little world, software wouldn't be patentable, and we wouldn't have this problem.

Re:One solution... (4, Insightful)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106431)

I'm not totally against software patents. They are overused though. However my bigger concern is with standards tied to patents. That concept is utterly ridiculous. A standard that you must pay for to comply with? That defeats the entire purpose of having a standard, instead it is more like those pseudo-standards created by trade organizations (guilds, cabals, etc).

Re:One solution... (1)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106827)

"A standard that you must pay for to comply with" makes more sense if you consider that the patents came before the standards. Companies with FRAND patents decided to license them for a (relative) pittance rather than sue everyone thinking about making cell phones.

It's almost noble.

Re:One solution... (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105861)

With no revenue, FOSS could freely use and distribute such patented software

Except that part of the freedom that comes with free software is the freedom to sell that software.

Re:One solution... (2, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105905)

Except that part of the freedom that comes with free software is the freedom to sell that software.

...and if you're selling it, what's wrong with paying some royalties? There's free, as in libre, which is what you're talking about, and having associated costs doesn't affect that. Then there's free, as in beer, and having a royalty of x% of revenue doesn't affect that. It's only when you want to have your cake, and eat it, too, that there's a problem.

Re:One solution... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106057)

Well, I will be honest -- at the moment, I cannot think of a particular problem with your suggestion, from the point of view of free software development / distribution. The only issue I see with it is that it creates a nightmare for enforcement on the part of the standards body, since they have no way of knowing whether or not the royalty was paid on any particular copy of the software (since I might sell some free software to you, and you might give it to 10 people, who might sell it at different prices, etc.).

Now, in practical terms, it is incompatible with the GPL, which forbids any sort of royalties. The GPL is not the be-all and end-all of free software, but it is an important license and any royalty scheme discriminates against GPL'd software.

Re:One solution... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106127)

The only issue I see with it is that it creates a nightmare for enforcement on the part of the standards body, since they have no way of knowing whether or not the royalty was paid on any particular copy of the software (since I might sell some free software to you, and you might give it to 10 people, who might sell it at different prices, etc.).

That'd be the same issue no matter what licensing scheme is used. But 10 licenses and sell 1000 copies, how can they prove it? The same way they would in your example. The problems don't change when the numbers change, and anything that's a problem at $0 is a problem at $1 or $1,000,000.

Re:One solution... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106165)

The only issue I see with it is that it creates a nightmare for enforcement on the part of the standards body, since they have no way of knowing whether or not the royalty was paid on any particular copy of the software (since I might sell some free software to you, and you might give it to 10 people, who might sell it at different prices, etc.).

Yes, it will create a nightmare for the enforcement. But why should be this the FOSS community problem?

Re:One solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106185)

GPL is clearly incompatible with the "Fair" part of FRAND. You cannot require the licensee to license their IP to you as a condition of your licensing the original code to them.

Of course this is a restriction on the standard, not the thing developed from the standard. It just means that GPL can never be made the standard.

Re:One solution... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39105925)

So, pick a shitty business model that doesn't allow you to make any revenue, complain that because you don't have any revenue it is unfair to make you pay, then expect everyone else to just bend to your shitty business model. Yeah, makes sense.

Re:One solution... (4, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105969)

We shouldn't accept "solutions" that allow software patents at all. Patents are wrong. They literally prohibit *you* from exploiting your *own* ideas, ideas that you came up with independently, just because someone else, who might be on the other side of the world, had the same idea a few years earlier and patented it.

Re:One solution... (4, Informative)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106283)

... and even worse, as I like to point out; you are in violation of a software patent even if your implementation of the same idea is vastly superior in every way.

Re:One solution... (0)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106841)

... and even worse, as I like to point out; you are in violation of a software patent even if your implementation of the same idea is vastly superior in every way.

So? Say you invented the wheel, and I invent the cart. My invention is vastly superior to yours, but I couldn't have gotten there without yours. Why shouldn't you be entitled to a reasonable royalty on each of my carts sold?

Re:One solution... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106871)

Because 96 people individually invented the wheel, and 47 people invented the cart at around the same time, but just didn't think to patent it. Why should your protection racket exclude everyone else, no matter if they invented it themselves? Answer: who cares, as long as it makes you money.

Re:One solution... (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106615)

I'm curious, how would you prevent reverse engineering without patents? I'm against software patents but if you're proposing that we scrap all patents I'd like to hear your alternative measures.

Re:One solution... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106731)

A great many master artists learned their techniques through rote copying of previous artists. learning and imitation is going to happen. Its not bad.

Re:One solution... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106747)

why is reverse engineering bad to begin with? I think being against patents is that monopolies are bad. openness is good. openness promotes competition. Monopolies stifle competition. See how reverse engineering is good? Now if you want laws to stifle competition, even for a limited time, then patents are fine. The opposite side just doesn't want that.

Re:One solution... (3, Insightful)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106797)

Why does it matter? Just because an alternative isn't perfect doesn't mean it's not better. How often have software patents prevented reverse engineering? Does anyone even care anymore? Oh god, if I reverse engineer I'll get sued but if I try to make my own independent version I'll get sued as well. How many frivolous patent lawsuits are happening every single second? How much innovation is stiffed because anything you do is under fifty potential patents backed by a mountain of well paid lawyers?

You know what prevents reverse engineering? The cost of doing so successfully and the delay during which you get to exploit the market.

Re:One solution... (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106803)

Reverse engineering is a separate issue. The principle of operation of patents is way too broad to cover just reverse engineering.

Suppose two people have essentially the same idea. This happens a lot. It might be that they have independently come up with it (we all stand on the shoulders of giants), or perhaps one of them has copied it from the other. Patents don't make a distinction, the first to register gets a monopoly on what's in other peoples' heads for 20 years. That's like putting people in jail just in case they *might* be guilty.

A better system would be if the owner of the patent had to prove in court, beyond reasonable doubt, that the idea could not have been discovered independently. If in doubt, it's better to not stifle independent innovation.

Re:One solution... (0)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106811)

Without patents the SW industry would collapse because their would be no incentive to spend time and money on developing new ideas. The biggest IT companies are not charities. Some big companies offer open source code however they have other primary sources of revenue. For example Google uses advanced systems but it is not an IT company it is a marketing and advertising company that generates enough money to improve their software. The patent system needs an over haul but eliminating all patents would be detrimental to those spending money improve or create new software. Spending millions of dollars to build the next generation of software can be costly and without patents the company can not recoup the expenses.

This man! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39105789)

This man. This man. This man. This man. This man.

This man is 100% bootyasscheek johnson ultimatum supremacy naked.

Ugly (4, Interesting)

instagib (879544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105805)

"supported by industry associations such as the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and members including Apple, Microsoft and SAP"

The evil trio of IT and it's attack dog. But hey, they just play the game of monopoly as far as the law allows. The really ugly part are the politicians who accept the bribes - sorry, I mean, work with lobbyists - and decide regulations benefitting the 1% only.

Re:Ugly (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106161)

Well SAP and Apple both make heavy use of Open Source Technology, so obviously they aren't shooting to torpedo it entirely. (Then again let's not conflate GPL with all Open Source licenses).

Hey Faggots (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39105863)

Hey Faggots,

My name is Anonymous Corward, and I hate every single one of you. All of you are fat, retarded, no-lifes who spend every second of their day reading stupid ass posts. You are everything bad in the world. Honestly, have any of you ever gotten any pussy? I mean, I guess it's fun making snarky remarks because of your own insecurities, but you all take to a whole new level. This is even worse than jerking off to my little pony.

Don't be a stranger. Just hit me with your best shot. I'm pretty much perfect. I've got excellent karma, all achievements unlocked. How many slashdot friends have you got? I also get straight +5 mods, and have a banging hot cowboy Neil (He just blew me; Shit was SO cash). You are all faggots who should just kill yourselves. Thanks for listening.

Re:Hey Faggots (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106261)

This is even worse than jerking off to my little pony.

What's wrong with my little pony [e621.net] ?

What is so unfair about "fair?" (1, Insightful)

xkr (786629) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105865)

The F in FRAND stands for "fair." FRAND is an approach used for decades by Standards committees that require any participant and any IP involved with a proposed Standard to offer open and uniform patent licensing to everyone (on the planet). This type of licensing is very much NOT the industry practice, where nearly every patent license is otherwise kept a secret and has to be painfully negotiated. There is nothing in FRAND, that I can see, that prohibits open source software or other open IP. In fact, Standards committees -- given a choice -- would far rather build in open IP to closed IP (even FRAND) into a Standard. Can someone knowledgable explain how FRAND in any way harms open source? I have worked extensively on two international Standards bodies, and have two of my own (non-patented) inventions now as ANSI standards.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (5, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105899)

There is nothing in FRAND, that I can see, that prohibits open source software or other open IP

There most certainly is; from the GPL:

You may not impose any further restrictions on the exercise of the rights granted or affirmed under this License. For example, you may not impose a license fee, royalty, or other charge for exercise of rights granted under this License

if you agree to terms that obligate you to collect a royalty for further conveying from those to whom you convey the Program, the only way you could satisfy both those terms and this License would be to refrain entirely from conveying the Program.

How can I have the freedom to redistribute my software at no cost (which is one of the freedoms you have with free software) if I have to pay royalties to some standards body in order to do so, and force anyone who helps in that redistribution (i.e. mirrors, participants in a P2P networks, etc.) to do so?

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105947)

How can I have the freedom to redistribute my software at no cost (which is one of the freedoms you have with free software) if I have to pay royalties to some standards body in order to do so,...

How can you have freedom to distribute software that violates the IP of someone else under GPL to start with? What does whether the royalty you'd have to pay to use it is fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory or not have to do with it? What does FRAND cost you that not having FRAND saves you?

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105973)

Which is exactly the point. By creating standards that require royalty payments, you are preventing GPL software from implementing the standard. That was the GP's question, and thus the question is answered.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106035)

x% of 0 = 0 where x is in any real number.

if the standards body was to be FRAND in this motion any royalty fees should be set as % of revenue.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106075)

Which is still incompatible with the GPL(2|3). See the GPL sections I posted, or read the relevant licenses yourself:

https://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html [gnu.org]
https://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/gpl-2.0.html [gnu.org]

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106453)

GPL is not some kind of immutable gospel. It may well be that it's simply badly written in that regard, and needs to be adjusted. Personally, I don't see any problem with paying royalties when commercially distributing FOSS - you're earning money, what's wrong with sharing it with other people who have a part in your commercial success? So long as free sharing remains free...

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (3, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106687)

Except that not everyone who sells free software is doing so as part of a commercial venture; free software may be sold at a break even price by a nonprofit or by volunteers (e.g. as part of a kit for running an installfest). It may also be the case that a mirror of various distributions charges its users for access, where some of the software might be royalty free and some might not be (and now that mirror could be forced to monitor all the software that its users download for compliance purposes). There are generally good reasons that royalties are forbidden by the GPL: royalties encourage a particular distribution infrastructure in which everyone gets their software from a small number of distributors, while the GPL is meant to encourage sharing.

More importantly, why should implementing a standard make it impossible for a developer to choose a commonly used software license?

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (1)

xkr (786629) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106333)

Yes, that is the normal rule. Any minimums at all are generally viewed as "not FRAND."

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (2)

xkr (786629) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106327)

If Standard REQUIRES patented technology to implement, then you are right. You can't copy a patent and then think you can distribute that for free. However, first there are very few Standards that required patented technology -- although that might get you to market faster, or save you some money.

If you think can implement something close to the proposed Standard, in a way that doesn't infringe on a disclosed patent (patents are always disclosed in advance during Standards meetings), then tell the committee. They almost certainly will use your approach over a patented one. Remember it takes about 75% of the members in a Standards committee to approve a draft Standard. And for anything patented, that benefits only one member, and hurts all the rest. They are not stupid.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106377)

Perhaps the open source community can focus on implementing those WTO-rule bending Chinese standards. ;)

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106535)

And yet there are GPL implementations of all sorts of patented standards. So looks like you're wrong.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (3, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106163)

Standards can be legislated as compulsory. To require the use of patent items and hence compulsory payments, is nothing more than a government enforced monopoly with the sole intent of driving out all other businesses covered by that standard. None of them can sell that service, only one of them can, all the others are force to buy it and in the case of FOSS then have to give it away ie a direct corrupt tactic to drive FOSS out of business.

Want it in a standard, then give it away to start with or piss off with your corrupt intent.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (1)

xkr (786629) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106355)

Very few standards are EVER legislated as compulsory.

Standards body are absolutely NOT the government. Participation is voluntary, and so is compliance.

Standards are best possible alternative to government. "If you like this, great! If don't like it, you are free to do whatever you want."

Which is, uh, why there are so MANY Standards. Or, as we used to say, "one for everybody."

People LIKE Standards. If I want to buy an "802.11ac" wireless access point, I have no clue what 802.11ac is, but I have a good chance it will work with other 802.11ac devices.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (0)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106727)

There are a whole range of industry and construction standards that are compulsory, literally thousands of them. All enforced by government regulations with penalties for non-conformance, absolutely not voluntary.

So you are either grossly UNINFORMED or a LIAR.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (1, Interesting)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106219)

There is nothing in FRAND, that I can see, that prohibits open source software or other open IP

There most certainly is; from the GPL:

If there is a problem here, it is with the GPL, not with FRAND. As far as I can tell, BSD licensed software should be just fine. The GPL is not a free license, it is a very restrictive license.

But I'm not sure there is even a problem. The quote from the FRAND requirement posted above makes reference to patents, not to copyright: "FRAND is an approach used for decades by Standards committees that require any participant and any IP involved with a proposed Standard to offer open and uniform patent licensing to everyone (on the planet)." [emphasis mine]. GPL is a copyright license, not a patent license. Copyright law and patent law are two entirely different things, so I'm not sure there is any conflict here at all.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (2, Informative)

Microlith (54737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106497)

BSD licensed software should be just fine.

Sure, you can push off patent issues on your users. You can close the source and control your users too.

The GPL is not a free license, it is a very restrictive license.

The lie appears again!

The GPL is a free license. It ensures the freedom of the software, and the freedom of its recipients to access the software to suit their purposes. It prevents the middleman from taking away the access to the source, which has always been the goal of the GPL.

It places no restrictions at all on the user, only on those who redistribute the software which the law prohibits anyway. It restricts the ability to close the source and screw over people who receive modified copies, but hey, that's the "price" we pay.

GPL is a copyright license, not a patent license. Copyright law and patent law are two entirely different things, so I'm not sure there is any conflict here at all.

Permission to redistribute GPL programs depends on fulfilling certain conditions regarding patents. There are conflicts.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (2)

xkr (786629) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106307)

If are the source of, or user, of GPL property, then the entire FRAND thing is irrelevant for you. If it's open, it's open. Copyrights and patents are granted only the original creators or original works. If the creator wants to make it open, great! The Standards body prefers that, and so do all the users. These two are not in conflict at all. Open source helps patents, because it provides a widely available reference that can trivially be used against anyone who might (purposefully or accidentally) claim any rights to it.

You NEVER pay royalties to a Standards body. You pay them only the owner of the property.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (0)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106353)

Perhaps one of these days, freetards will understand that the GPL is not the end-all, be-all of open source software. In fact, your toe-cheese eating demigod hates the term and prefers 'free software'.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106571)

Making the code free doesn't address any sort of patent problem. So it doesn't really matter how much of a BSD troll you want to be. The BSDL and any other non-commercial license has exactly the same problems as the GPL. The GPL is hardly special here.

Patent encumbered standards are an entirely orthogonal set of problems to software freedom.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106435)

If your favorite license is deliberately made incompatible with the patents, it's the problem with the license, not with patents or FRAND. You don't get to put that kind of clauses in, and then loudly complain that everyone else doesn't immediately bend themselves to accommodate you.

Want GPL? Stay away from patented stuff. Simple as that.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (5, Informative)

mikera (98932) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105989)

Any form of licensing for standards is incompatible with open source software. When you distribute open source you need to distribute it will all the rights otherwise the burden on the recipient (often an individual rather than a company) to acquire such licenses is excessive and unreasonable. How many people would use Open Office for example if they had to separately go and buy a set of complex FRAND licenses with every download?

Making distributors of open source responsible for acquiring the licenses won't work either, because they can't control downstream copies (the very nature of open source) and you place a major hurdle in the way of individuals or small companies becoming distributors themselves (which is the spirit of open source).

Basically, FRAND is a nightmare for open source. Of course traditional software companies love it because it means that they get to benefit from reduced competition, but you can kiss goodbye to most of your innovation and the end result will be customers paying more for worse software.

In my view the only acceptable open standard is one that is unencumbered by *any* licensing requirements. Standards organisations either need to get with the 21st century on this one or be (rightfully) ignored.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (-1, Troll)

xkr (786629) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106389)

If you want Standards totally unencumbered, great! Volunteer. Most of the other people on the committee will agree with your intent.

Like or not, patents foster innovation. They have done so since the time of the Greeks, and the founding fathers built patent protection into the US Constitution.

A society that does not reward work in an investment with any way to protect the work will still be painting on cave walls.

And, by the way, Standards that people don't like, ARE ignored. Happens every day.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106549)

Any form of licensing for standards is incompatible with open source software.

No, it's incompatible with the GPL. There are plenty of other "open source software" licenses.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (3, Informative)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105991)

There is nothing in FRAND, that I can see, that prohibits open source software or other open IP. In fact, Standards committees -- given a choice -- would far rather build in open IP to closed IP (even FRAND) into a Standard. Can someone knowledgable explain how FRAND in any way harms open source?

Prohibits, no. However it does discriminate [gnu.org] against those who cannot pay the license fees but would otherwise still be able to implement the standard - most of the open-source contributors are like this - e.g. VideoLAN [wikidot.com] (scroll down to "Patent threats").

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (2)

kqs (1038910) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106311)

Is that like how Lexus discriminates against people who can only afford Toyotas, or scooters, or bicycles?

I don't like the current patent system, but an argument that boils down to "I can't afford it, so I can take it for free" is not very compelling.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106427)

Is that like how Lexus discriminates against people who can only afford Toyotas, or scooters, or bicycles?

I don't like the current patent system, but an argument that boils down to "I can't afford it, so I can take it for free" is not very compelling.

Except that we aren't talking about Toyota now, are talking about the European Parliament... you know, the guys that are supposed to make sure the technology that it will use won't discriminate against any citizens in the Union.
The same guys that should make sure the collected taxes are used, to the best possible, in their citizens interest - and Open Source is able to deliver technology at a lower cost, so why should they be excluded from the very start?

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106447)

Lexus is not implementing any "standards" for automobiles that require paying a license fee. A standard by it's very nature needs to be widely available and usable. A patent by its nature is closed and restrictive, the use of which is granted only to a limited number of people.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106561)

If the patent is only granted to a limited number of people it's not FRAND. Hence it would be against these very terms.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106707)

If the patent is only granted to a limited number of people it's not FRAND. Hence it would be against these very terms.

The entire population of humans is and will be limited. Hence is not and will never be FRAND.

The way I see, it's very much like military intelligence - an oxymoron that, for some unknown reasons, the humans are tricked into accepting as rational.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (1)

SlashDread (38969) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106051)

"Fair" is not defined.

To me it sounds like standards can be based on "fair" licences for patents. Any free software that cannot agree with (whatever it means) "fair" licensing, is potentially excluded from using these "standards".

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106099)

The problem with RAND is that it's not enough. Standards shouldn't be owned by anyone. You are right in that some foss people have overreacted, for example I can't find the part where it supposedly legalizes software patents on IT standards. Still, control over a standard is far too much power for a company to have.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (1)

xkr (786629) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106413)

Standards are never "owned." Except that the text is copyrighted to avoid corruption. Compliance with any Standard is strictly voluntary.

Standards are ABSOLUTELY too important for any one or two companies to control. A typical Standards committee (IEEE, ANSI, CCITT, etc) requires a minimum of 40 industry representatives and 75 to 80% positive vote from those members to pass. 100 members is more typical.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (5, Informative)

Tacvek (948259) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106125)

The problem is not the F, it is the ND. Non-discriminatory pricing that is non-zero discriminates against work developed in any any non-commercial setting. Even if we were talking about absurdly low prices (fractions of a cent per unit), work developed academically or by individuals utilizing the patent cannot be distributed widely since an academic or individual would not have the resources to track distribution, and if work is popular would not have the money to pay the royalties in the first place. Basically FRAND forces commercialization.

Re:What is so unfair about "fair?" (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106565)

Right. So the only fair license fee for implementing a standard is zero. It doesn't matter if you are bound by the GPL or any other license. If any require tracking licensees for the purpose of collecting royalties, that tips the playing field in favor of the wealthier participants. Its not just free vs commercial that becomes unfair. Small commercial vs large commercial is at a similar disadvantage.

I'm fine with free.

FRAND is fair, reasonable and non-dicrininatory... (0)

mikera (98932) | more than 2 years ago | (#39105907)

... to the same extent as saying that White people only get the Vote.

Societal stakeholders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39105949)

Representation of SMEs: SMEs and societal stakeholders should be better represented in European standardisation, and the financial support to organisations representing SMEs and societal stakeholders will be ensured.

Open source projects and ecosystems are societal stakeholder, and open source companies providing services are often SMEs, right?

yuo Fa1l It (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39105979)

Re:yuo Fa1l It (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39105993)

you are really upset , huh ?

Standard? (1)

Rik Rohl (1399705) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106047)

If it costs anything, then it excludes some people/groups from implementing it, therefore it ISN'T A FUCKING STANDARD!!!

Re:Standard? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106187)

If it costs anything, then it excludes some people/groups from implementing it, therefore it ISN'T A FUCKING STANDARD!!!

It can still be a standard but it won't be an open standard.

RAND is an illusion (4, Informative)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106049)

Here is the text of the document, the interesting parts are in annex2. [europa.eu]

In my opinion, RAND only gives the illusion that it can match the safety of open standards. It isn't defined properly, and in the end the IPs of a standard are still in the hands of a company or a cartel (sorry, standards body), giving them effective monopoly over a market segment.

Less is more. (1)

Nicknamename (2572429) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106111)

Have these people never heard of "less is more." Bureaucrats can't even get laziness right.

Re:Less is more. (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106209)

Have these people never heard of "less is more." Bureaucrats can't even get laziness right.

1. Bureaucrats' existence is absolutely linked on the "more"... lazy or not, being about survival, what do you expect?
2. the risk of using aphorisms: would you accept a lower pay-check based on the "less is more"?

Unlikely to prevail (4, Interesting)

cbope (130292) | more than 2 years ago | (#39106247)

This is unlikely to hold up long term even if it gets through parliament, as a number of European governments and cities have already adopted open source software in recent years.

This is another sad attempt to get proprietary software back into where it has been kicked out.

EU to Exclude Free Software with FRAUD (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39106271)

EU to Exclude Free Software with FRAUD

(Fixed it!)

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