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Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2003 12:26 PM
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<[log in to unmask]>
I don't know if other JAC members were aware of this ISO proposal?
From: Steve Bratt [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Thursday, September 18, 2003 3:30 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Announcement: W3C Recommendation to ISO regarding Commercial
Licensing of ISO Codes
Dear Advisory Committee Representative:
I would like to draw your attention to a matter requiring your urgent
As some of you may know, ISO is considering a proposal to charge licensing
fees for the commercial use of several ISO codes. In fact, ANSI is
apparently already doing so. The codes under consideration and the
possible impacts of this proposal on W3C specifications and the Web are
summarized in the text below.
The Hypertext Coordination Group (representing the W3C's HTML, CSS, MMI,
DOM, I18N, and Voice Browser Activities), along with W3C Member
organizations, told us they believe that a swift, firm response from W3C is
needed. A poll of the Advisory Board over the past 24 hours has also
produced clear support for such action. The Advisory Board further
recommended that the full W3C Membership be alerted to the situation and of
the possibility to respond to your national ISO member organization.
There is an urgency to this matter, as we just found out Tuesday from the
President of ISO, Dr. Oliver Smoot, that this topic will be on the agenda
of the ISO Council this coming Saturday, 20 September.
Below is the text of an email that we are sending today to Dr. Smoot. If
you wish to contact your national ISO member organization to register your
opinion on the ISO proposal, here is the contact information for each of
the ISO members:
If you have any questions or comments, please let me know and/or post your
[log in to unmask]
Chief Operating Officer
Text of message to Oliver Smoot
To: Dr. Oliver Smoot, President, International Organization for
Dear Dr. Smoot,
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) wishes to express its deep concerns
over a recent proposal by the ISO Commercial Policies Steering Group (CPSG)
to charge fees for the commercial use of ISO codes such as ISO 639
(language codes), ISO 3166 (country codes), and ISO 4127 (currency codes).
These and similar codes are widely used on the Web. In particular the
language and country codes are of direct interest to W3C and the users
of W3C Recommendations in the context of HTTP, HTML and XML and various
other technologies. Language and country codes currently provide a single,
standard way of identifying languages (and locales) throughout the Web.
Multilingual Web sites and Web pages, as well as internationalization and
localization features, would be particularly affected.
Any charges for the use of these standards are going to lead to
fragmentation, delay in deployment, and in effect a lack of
standardization. In particular, those users who depend upon multi-lingual
or non-English language services will suffer.
In their considerations, the CPSG notes "the necessity for a number
of ISO standards to be published as databases". Web technology today
allows publication and reuse of data at a small fraction of the
costs a few years ago. If it is the case that the costs of maintaining
these databases is beyond ISO's capacity to cover, we would suggest that
ISO open a discussion with the larger user community about how these
services might be hosted in a manner that covers these costs.
Given that this policy would have profound impact not only on ISO,
but also on industry and users of the Web at large, we urge ISO to
further consider this policy and its broader implications and
consequences, and to reassure the community as quickly as possible
that there will be no charges for the use of these standards.
Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director
Steven R. Bratt, W3C Chief Operating Officer
Steven R Bratt, Chief Operating Officer mailto:[log in to unmask]
World Wide Web Consortium http://www.w3.org
MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
200 Technology Square, Room NE43-352
Cambridge, MA 02139, USA / Voice: +1.617.253.7697 / Fax: +1.617.258.5999