Random rants and thoughts about my activities in and for the Free Software community.

How to name the truly open standards

Roberto is asking the same question I am asking: 

There are many proposal definitions of Open Format,[...]So, what about a “Free Format” definition?

I have explored new terms with the list discussion in July and came up with the term I used on the brief paper I wrote on the topic: Open Unencumbered Standard.  It’s ugly, though.  I personally don’t like the term Free Standard because I really don’t want to start again the ‘open is not free’ debate: it has bored me to death already for software and I wish we could get over it.

4 Responses to “How to name the truly open standards”

  1. florianhaas Says:


    A “Free” Standard has to be
    -free of patents (or all patents must be automatically licensed to everybody)
    -free(in price) to implement

    I would suggest the name “Freely implementable standard”.

  2. gerloff Says:

    one term is enough

    The term “open standard” is now so popular that we’d gain little by adding a new one to the debate (and with an, er, cumbersome word in the middle, no less). So I’d prefer to direct our energies to fill the term “open standard” with useful criteria.

  3. greve Says:

    Make the differentiation on the other side of the debate

    I tend to agree with Karsten.

    A standard derives from the process of standardisation, which Wikipedia defines as follows: “Standardization is the process of establishing a technical standard among competing entities.” So a standard exists when competing(!) entities agree on a common format/protocol.

    This means that “de-facto standards” or “proprietary standards” are actually no standards, at all, as they are generally not agreed-upon by more than one party. They are merely “proprietary formats” or “proprietary protocols”.

    So a standard in general is something that is agreed to and used by multiple, competing vendors. Which suddenly means the term “Open Standard” is no longer so bad, as it refers to a standard that applies to certain additional criteria, which we can define.

    Also see http://fsfeurope.org/projects/igf/sovsoft for some more information on where to draw the line.

  4. maffulli Says:

    Truly open or somewhat open? :)

    I also see Gerloff’s point, but while talking with politicians I tend to see their minds very confused and introducing a new term helps them understand that we mean a different thing than what Microsoft or Oracle call Open Standard.

    I know that the line of what is ‘truly open’ and what is not lies around the patents and that’s exactly what is difficult to communicate to non experts. I still think that there is much work to do on this debate.

    PS quoting wikipedia is of very little use in such debates since it is not an authoritative source.

Leave a Reply