BSA plays the IP card against the European Commission

The European Commission is opening up to open source and open standards. The BSA couldn't be more frustrated.

Leave it to the Business Software Alliance (BSA) to distort the definition of "open standard" in order to serve the interests of Microsoft and its other members. The BSA doesn't like the European Commission's increasing interest in open source and open standards to deliver software interoperability.

As the BSA's European software policy director declared,

They [the European Commission] define open standards inconsistent with the common understanding of the term in what we believe is a dogmatic approach. It fails to recognise that almost all standards that help interoperability and that governments should indeed use to promote the very objectives of the EIF do have intellectual property.

This is a clever shift of the argument, trying to preserve the status quo while it's clear that the European Commission is looking forward to improve interoperability, rather than backward to defend the type of interoperability we've had for far too long. You know, the kind where everyone is forced to interoperate with Microsoft because it controls 95 percent of a market, and can only integrate with closed, poorly documented APIs and protocols .

The European Commission is increasingly realizing that open standards without safeguards like open source are a hollow promise. Interoperability, in turn, depends on such open standards, as Red Hat, for one, has long argued:

Interoperability is a critical issue for the Commission, and usage of well-established open standards is a key factor to achieve and endorse it.

Exactly. And open source is critical to guarantee that "open" standards are just that . Sorry, BSA, your intellectual monopoly is waning.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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