New ISO fees on the horizon?

Information technology standards groups are raising warning flags over a proposal that could raise fees for commonly-used industry codes, including two-letter country abbreviations, used in many commercial software products.

At stake is a tentative proposal from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to add usage royalties for several code standards, a move that opponents say could weaken standards adherence by forcing software providers to pay a fee for each ISO-compliant product they sell. The standards--ISO 3166, ISO 4217, ISO 639--cover country, currency and language codes, respectively.

The ISO currently charges copyright royalties for the purchase and reproduction of many of its standards documents, but does not charge for access to the country-code standard. In addition, the ISO does not currently charge for use of any of its codes, for example, within a software application.

The proposal is still in the early stages, and may yet be significantly altered or shelved. Still, technology standards groups--including the International Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS), the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and Unicode--are rallying opposition.

"Charging (usage fees) for these codes would have a big impact on almost every commercial software product, including operating systems," said Mark Davis, president of software consortium Unicode, which is seeking to set standard character sets for disparate computing systems. "They're used in Windows, Java, Unix and XML. They're very pervasive."

News source: CNET News - New ISO fees on the horizon?

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