Interoperability and open standards: the key to a real openness

Simone Aliprandi

Abstract


Most people agree that providing a shared set of standards produces a broad advantage for all actors involved in the ICT market. First of all, it’s an advantage for active operators in that market (companies, developers, designers), but also for users of computer technologies, simple observers and scholars as well.

However, if on one hand the same concept of standard appears to be quite intuitive and broadly known, on the other hand not so many people are aware of the complex dynamics behind the standard definition process, particularly in relation to today’s globalized and technology-savvy world. Even fewer people seem aware that, when a standard definition process is not being carried with true transparency and care, this procedure could even become counterproductive for the innovation itself. Therefore, in recent years a new approach for the standard definition process has been emerging, with the aim of producing standards based on the broadest level of openness and interoperability: the so-called open standards.

This essay starts by addressing the broad concept of standards, with specific reference to the world of technology; later it focuses on the drafting process of standards, highlighting major problems regarding its judicial, economic and technological aspects. The final section of the essay concentrates on the concept of open standards.


Keywords


Open standards, openness, open formats, standardization, interoperability, standard setting organizations, copyright, royalty-free, patents

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