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February 28, 2005
FOSS RF v. OASIS RAND - WTF?
A virtual who's-who of Free/Open Source software (FOSS) names have signed a letter and called for a boycott of the OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards) standards, on account of their promotion of RAND (reasonable and nondiscriminatory) licensing terms for patents.
The signatories assert that this is sour grapes from the IP hoarders who lost the battle at W3C. When that organization went for RF (royalty-free) licensing, the argument goes, some companies picked up their marbles and walked, starting a new organization that didn't have meddling hackers at its helm and which would be compliant on such matters.
I'm a big fan of RF, having worked at more than one startup that would have died a painful death in a RAND world. However, it's really unclear to me why these big guns have chosen to take on OASIS, particularly at this point. For one thing (as OASIS CEO Patrick Gannon has pointed out) OASIS has revised its IP terms to permit RAND, RF, or RAND-but-free.
Second, the last time I looked, IETF was also promoting RAND and nobody was calling for a boycott of them. What gives, guys?
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