A Call to Action in OASIS

Lawrence Rosen lrosen at rosenlaw.com
Tue Feb 22 17:36:47 UTC 2005

A Call to Action in OASIS

The free and open source software community has long demanded that industry
standards be freely available to all to implement without patent or other
licensing encumbrances. Open standards are essential for free software and
open source to thrive.

Now OASIS, a major industry consortium that produces e-business and Web
services standards, has adopted a patent policy that threatens to undermine
our development and licensing model. This patent policy (available, grouped
together with other unrelated legal issues, in
http://www.oasis-open.org/who/intellectualproperty.php) permits standards to
be based upon so-called "reasonable and non-discriminatory" patent license
terms--terms which invariably and unreasonably discriminate against open
source and free software to the point of prohibiting them entirely. It would
lead to the adoption of standards that cannot be implemented in open source
and free software, that cannot be distributed under our licenses. While the
policy includes a provision for royalty-free standards, it is a secondary
option, which will have little effect if a few OASIS members with patents
can ensure it is not used. The OASIS patent policy will encourage large
patent holders to negotiate private arrangements among themselves, locking
out all free software and open source developers.

This is not a new issue for us. We fought hard for a royalty-free patent
policy in W3C and encouraged that standards organization to commit its
members to open standards. But some W3C member companies, steadfast
opponents of software freedom, moved their efforts to OASIS. Without
consulting the free software/open source community, they produced a patent
policy designed so that we cannot live with it.

We ask you to stand with us in opposition to the OASIS patent policy. Do not
implement OASIS standards that aren't open. Demand that OASIS revise its
policies. If you are an OASIS member, do not participate in any working
group that allows encumbered standards that cannot be implemented in open
source and free software.

Please send email to open at rosenlaw.com to indicate your support. We will
forward your comments to the proper authorities at OASIS. 

If we stand united in opposition to this unacceptable patent policy, we can
persuade OASIS to change it. 

Lawrence Rosen
Bruce Perens
Richard Stallman
Lawrence Lessig
Eben Moglen
Marten Mickos
John Weathersby
John Terpstra
Tim O'Reilly
Tony Stanco
Don Marti
Michael Tiemann
Andrew Aitken
Karen Copenhaver
Doug Levin
Dan Ravicher
Larry Augustin
Mitchell Kapor
Russell Nelson
Guido van Rossum
Daniel Quinlan
Murugan Pal
Stuart Cohen
Danese Cooper
Eric Raymond
Mark Webbink
Ken Coar
Doc Searls
Brian Behlendorf

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