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Government Wants Open Standards To Be Royalty-Free

eWeek - Francis Maude has confirmed that it will adopt royalty-free standards, to deliver a level playing field for open source

Francis Maude, minister for the Cabinet Office, has clarified the government’s policy on seeking open standards when procuring IT equipment, following confusion over whether “open standards” means Royalty-Free (RF) or Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND).

Technologies available under RF conditions, can be used freely, while those under FRAND terms require users to pay a “reasonable” royalty. The HTTP protocol is free, for instance, while technologies for 3G communications are FRAND.

The distinction is important, because it is difficult for the open source community to implement technologies available under FRAND; the FRAND terms require a licence to be paid, while the open source licence requires source code to be distributed freely.