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Developer community leaders call for Oasis boycott in row over code royalties

Antony Savvas
Leading open source developers are calling for a boycott of open standards organisation Oasis, after it changed its rules to allow developers to charge royalties for some contributed code.

An e-mail protest is being circulated among the development community calling for Oasis to drop its plans and urging a boycott of its development groups if it does not.

The work of Oasis is central to many development areas, including the introduction of SAML, EBXML, UDDI and other web services standards.

The call came after Oasis revised its intellectual property rights policy to take account of "significant changes in the way that intellectual property laws and practices affect e-business standards". Rather than mandate a single set of terms for all work, Oasis allows members of each of its 60 or so committees to choose the intellectual property models best suited to their work.

Oasis committees can elect to work under reasonable and non-discriminatory (Rand) terms, royalty-free on Rand terms, or royalty-free on limited terms.

"The policy clearly acknowledges the importance of creating royalty-free standards by providing two royalty-free models, while still allowing for work to be done under Rand terms when members prefer that," said Oasis chief executive Patrick Gannon.

"Although nearly all Oasis standards can be implemented today on a royalty-free basis, the revised intellectual property rights policy helps to clarify our open standards process and assure implementers that Oasis standards can be adopted with confidence."

Gartner analyst Ray Valdes said, "The diversity of IT systems built today is increasing significantly. This is not only with regard to their scope, complexity and interoperability, but also in the way these systems are built, and in the types of organisations that build them.

"These changes require standards organisations to articulate a broader set of approaches to intellectual property issues than has been the case in the past."

The boycott campaign is led by several well-known open source developers, including Bruce Perens, who supports the General Public Licence used for Linux.

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