“Standards with IP rights regimes that prohibit the implementation of these standards in open source software should, if more open alternative standards exist, not be used as the basis to achieve interoperability if your organisation wants to be able to benefit from open source software. Hence the picture is much more complex as depicted [by the BSA].”
We asked Müller if it was fair to say that the BSA does not value open source software because it serves the interests of multinational tech firms. “I strongly disagree with that,” he retorted. Many BSA members firmly believe that it's important for the software industry that open source “thrives”, he said.
Master and everyone
“When open source is the best solution, the most cost effective and most suited solution to a given government needs then that is of course what a government should procure. But we’re against preference policies,” said Müller before concluding: “Some attention should be paid to open source as long as it does not lead to discrimination.”
In other words, the BSA feels that the Commission is not being “inconclusive” enough when it comes to addressing the contentious issue of interoperability.
Those are strong words indeed, especially given that the draft proposal for EIF 2.0 hasn’t even landed yet. It's also an argument that will jar with many openistas who have long complained that the software big boys simply won't play ball.
The EC, whose anti-trust unit has been probing Microsoft’s business practices since January this year, will make the draft available online mid-July for external stakeholders to propose suggestions by the end of September. The EC will mull over those comments before finalising EIF 2.0 at the end of this year.
Lie down in the light
Just last month European anti-trust commissioner 'Steelie' Neelie Kroes threw her weight behind open standards by urging businesses and governments to adopt non-proprietary software.
“I know a smart business decision when I see one – choosing open standards is a very smart business decision indeed,” said Kroes in June. “No citizen or company should be forced or encouraged to choose a closed technology over an open one.”
The IDABC, for its part, refused to become embroiled in a public spat over the EIF’s tweakings. De Vriendt told us: “You should appreciate that all documents will soon be publicly available and that we will not engage ourselves in public debates on these documents till we have received and considered all comments and suggestions.”
Come autumn, however, one might expect an all-out war of words between the two increasingly opposing camps. ®