Thursday, January 23, 2014

Interoperability And Open Standards: The Key To True Openness And Innovation

Interoperability And Open Standards: The Key To True Openness And Innovation is a peer-reviewed article by Simone Aliprandi published on International FOSS Law Review (Vol 3, No 1, 2011). It represents one of the most complete and clear introduction to the complex phenomenon of standards setting and to the open side of it.

Most people agree that providing a shared set of standards produces a broad advantage for all actors involved in the ICT market. First of all, it’s an advantage for active operators in that market (companies, developers, designers), but also for users of computer technologies, simple observers and scholars as well.
However, if on one hand the same concept of standard appears to be quite intuitive and broadly known, on the other hand not so many people are aware of the complex dynamics behind the standard definition process, particularly in relation to today’s globalized and technology-savvy world. Even fewer people seem aware that, when a standard definition process is not being carried with true transparency and care, this procedure could even become counterproductive for the innovation itself. Therefore, in recent years, a new approach for the standard definition process has been emerging, with the aim of producing standards based on the broadest level of openness and interoperability: the so-called open standards.
This essay will start by addressing the broad concept of standards, with specific reference to the world of technology; later, it will focus on the drafting process of standards, highlighting major problems regarding its legal, economic and technology aspects. The final section will concentrate on the very concept of an open standard.

Table of content
1. The crucial role of interoperability
2. The “standard” concept
3. Differences between de jure and de facto standards
4. The standardization process
   4.1. Major principles of the standard-setting activity
   4.2. The stages of a standard-setting process 
   4.3. Standard publication and usage
5. The ICT sector: between de facto standards and network externalities
6. Major issues facing the standardization process
   6.1. Standard and technology innovation
   6.2. Regulatory activities and intellectual property management 
   6.3. Standardization and competition issues
7. Open standards
   7.1. The Open Standard definition by Bruce Perens
   7.2. The Open Standard definition by the ITU-T
   7.3. The Open Standard definition by the IDABC
8. Classification criteria of Open Standards
9. The web as an interoperable technology and the role of the W3C 
10. The OASIS approach to the standardization activity

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