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From Andrew Savory <>
Subject Re: [heads up!] JClark does it again!
Date Wed, 24 Dec 2003 10:39:34 GMT

(David: yes, I noticed that part of the announcement, but the fact 
remains the "official" version costs money - which is what I'm balking 

On 24 Dec 2003, at 04:14, Stefano Mazzocchi wrote:

> So, let's see, you would much rather have all your CD burner vendors 
> come up with their own specification on how to burn CDs much like DVDs 
> did? or wait, you want a non-ISO way to encode dates? or to encode 
> charsets? or country code and names?

Stefano, I think you'll find I didn't argue against standardisation - 
of course I don't agree with balkanization or duplication. What I don't 
agree with is the idea of the man on the street having to pay for 
access to "published" standards.

> Yes, ISO documents are payware. Did this prevent people from 
> implementing a ISO-9660 file system driver to read CD-ROMs?

I didn't say it did. And to use your example of date encoding, there 
are excellent resources such as that summarise the 
standard so that we don't have to pay. Even the ISO provide a handy 
reference in this case: And 
whenever things are payware, people usually find a way of working 
around it. But that doesn't make it right.

> Of course, it would be better to have all those ISO documents 
> available for free.. and I'm sure they will do, pretty soon, since 
> it's a thing of the past and those organization take forever to change 
> the way they do things because it impacts their workflow and their 
> mindsets.

Well, that would certainly be a good thing. But it isn't here yet.

> ISO documents are payware if you get them from the source, but they 
> are, AFAIK, freely redistributable. I never had a hard time finding 
> SGML-related ISO standards on the net and I'm pretty sure ISO doesn't 
> run against who redistributes them.

I can't find any details on the license associated with the ISO 
documents, but I did find a page that states sales of ISO standards 
accounts for 30% of the ISO budget. As such, I suspect the ISO would 
take an extremely dim view of people freely redistributing them. I'd 
love to know whether they are freely redistributable or not - if anyone 
has a copy, please check!

> But if you are better off with crap just because the add says it's 
> free (as in beer), well, this is (supposed to be) a free (as in 
> speech) world after all. You won't be the first to fall into this 
> marketing trap (free up front, pay the price later).... stores have 
> been doing this for ages.

I'm happy to pay for things - I don't agree in the free (as in beer) 
argument at all. HOWEVER, when it comes to standards, I believe they 
should be free. How else can you ensure widespread adoption? Isn't this 
why "reasonable and non-discriminatory" licensing was dropped?

I don't agree that just because it is free it is crap, either. The W3C 
manage to make a huge number of recommendations available for free, 
some of which are even quite good! The IETF have been doing it for 

Can you give me one good reason why paying for a standard is a good 
thing for future adoption of it?


Andrew Savory, Managing Director, Luminas Limited
Tel: +44 (0)870 741 6658  Fax: +44 (0)700 598 1135
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