The Free Software Foundation Europe is calling on European Free Software businesses to participate in a survey of business attitudes towards the acceptability of including patents in industry standards.
This survey is a key component of a study that will play the major role in the EC's reform of standardisation policy. It is open until September 17.
A major theme in the survey is whether patents that cover standards should be licensed royalty-free (the W3C takes this approach), or whether they should instead be licensed under so-called "fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms" (FRAND).
FRAND is a misnomer as the terms are neither fair nor reasonable, nor non-discriminatory - either for Free Software or indeed for anyone other than the small circle of the very largest players in the software market.
FSFE's President Karsten Gerloff says: "For Free Software, these terms are disastrous as well as discriminatory to the point of exclusion. They require royalties to be paid per copy, which makes it impossible to distribute a program as Free Software - an obvious nonsense."
It is of critical importance that as many Free Software companies as possible respond to this survey, so that their views are heard and form part of the data for the study. The implicit assumptions of the survey are, unfortunately, biased towards large corporations with dedicated 'standardisation employees'. This makes it all the more important that Europe's Free Software companies speak up for themselves.
"We need to make sure that the data gathered in this survey will reflect the actual needs of European businesses", says Karsten Gerloff. "Don't allow our common interests to be ignored!"