Thanks to all who replied - the general consensus appears to be that
the responsible thing is to draft and send a letter. To this end, I have
come up with the following draft.
1. I'm relatively new to this so please provide me with comments and
feedback on the draft. I'm happy to change it to ensure it conveys the
appropriate feelings of the group as a whole.
2. Can someone please let me know who the best person / people /
address(es) are to send this to?
Irish Linux User Group,
<Some Contact Address for ILUG>
24th Jan, 2007
Re: Objections to JTC-1 Fast-Track Processing of the ECMA-376 Specification
To whom it may concern,
I, Gareth Eason, write on behalf of the committee and members of the
Irish Linux User Group to voice our collective concern regarding the
Fast-Track Processing of the ECMA 376 Specification by the ISO JTC-1
As more and more of our critical paperwork gets stored in electronic
form, the ISO body recognise the requirement for an open standard for
storing this data – one with which multiple software vendors may comply.
This avoids a monopoly situation emerging whereby a single supplier may
control access to information simply because only they can understand
the format it is stored in. This is particularly true for legacy
documents – old documents produced and 'saved' by an older version of
As a predominantly technical body of people within Ireland, we feel it
important to highlight our concerns to the fast-track processing of this
proposed standard for the following reasons:
The ECMA specification runs to some 6,000 pages, impossible to review in
any meaningful fashion within the 30 days permitted.
The concept of the standard potentially conflicts with the ISO body's
own stated goal of “one standard, one test, and one conformity
assessment procedure accepted everywhere.” ECMA has been publicly slated
as an alternative to an already existing and ratified open document
standard, ISO/IEC 26300:2006.
There appears to be internal inconsistencies within the proposed
standard and significant conflicts with existing ratified ISO standards,
including ISO8601 (Representation of Dates and Times), ISO639 (Codes for
the representation of Names and Languages), ISO/IEC 8632 (Computer
Graphics Metafiles) and more.
There are numerous references to proprietary applications and behaviours
which may be impossible to reproduce without potentially infringing
patents granted to, in particular, Microsoft. No documentation as to
proprietary behaviours is offered in many cases and no legal
indemnification appears to be granted for either reverse engineering or
re-implementation of these behaviours. This renders it legally and
technically impossible for any organisation other that Microsoft to
implement this standard, essentially prohibiting competition – the
antithesis of ISO standards.
We would suggest that it is inappropriate to fast-track the processing
of this proposed ECMA 376 standard and that it should be diverted from
its present fast-track processing and should be remanded to Ecma
International for: (i) harmonization with ISO/IEC 26300:2006, the
OpenDocument standard; and numerous other standards that it contradicts;
(ii) development of more suitable intellectual property documents that
actually grant rights to implement the specification.
More information on this proposal, and an analysis to date of the
document can be found at
Gareth Eason B.Eng, MIET, (Chairperson) , for an on behalf of the Irish
Linux User Group.
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