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Subject: LISA standards

[Resending to the XLIFF mailing list.]

Hi all,

I was asked earlier today for some clarification of the status of the LISA standards. I apologize for the lengthy message below, but there are a lot of points where I need to be as clear as I can be.

Note that I am not authorized to speak on behalf of the Localization Industry Standards Association. The following is not an official statement of LISA. For any legal clarification or official statement, it will be necessary to contact Michael Anobile (who is copied on this message). This message represents my understanding of the situation as an individual who was previously involved with LISA and OSCAR, but should not be taken as the official statement of policy or position of LISA, GALA, ETSI, or any organization with which I have been involved or will be involved. (In other words, I, as an individual, believe the following statement to be correct, but before you carry out any action based on this statement, please consult the relevant bodies and/or your legal council. I am not responsible for any adverse outcomes that may come about through acting on my understanding if you do not do so.)

Now, with that out of the way, here is the body of the message.

Public domain vs copyright
Although the statement from LISA said that the LISA standards were put into the “public domain,” it is a bit oversimplification of the legal situation. The standards were released under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC Attribution) 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). That means that LISA actually does retain copyright but that it has released its standards portfolio under perhaps the most liberal possible license agreement. Nevertheless, there are certain very important restrictions on what you can do with the LISA standards. (See more on this below.)

LISA’s statutes obligated it to transfer its standards to a third party rather than place them fully in the public domain. Although I know there is considerable skepticism about this entire issue, I can state that the general consensus was that the standards could go to OASIS or ETSI. Because ETSI had provided a comprehensive way forward, the decision was made by the LISA Board to transfer the standards to ETSI with some important stipulations: (1) the standards could not become non-free (i.e, even though ETSI only allows FRAND, the LISA standards could not be released with any royalty obligations: this is the point Patrick keeps making by saying that RF is a subset of FRAND: if there are no royalties due FRAND is equivalent to RF); (2) ETSI would need to keep the dual license agreements for TBX and SRX with ISO TC 37 active.

Current ownership of the LISA standards
As a result, ETSI now has control of the current version of the standards (i.e., from an organizational standpoint, they are the responsible organization for maintenance of copyrights, agreements, etc. for the versions that are out there). ETSI will be launching formal initiatives to adopt them as ETSI standards. ETSI may opt to develop them further, or it may simply recreate them as ETSI standards. (Here I cannot speak for what ETSI will do, so any questions on this matter really need to go to Patrick.)

However, with ETSI’s blessing, there is also a repository of the LISA standards (see http://www.ttt.org/oscarStandards or http://www.gala-global.org/lisa-oscar-standards) made public under the above-mentioned CC Attribution license, which means that the standards are also available outside of ETSI channels. So, at this point, anyone can develop them further, but there is a request to coordinate such efforts with ETSI to prevent forking the standards. There are also the following important things to note about what CC Attribution does and does not allow you to do.

Restrictions on what you can do with the standards
First, CC Attribution does not allow individuals to imply endorsement of their changes by the copyright holder. The versions released under this license are still copyright to LISA, so it means that if any of us decide to alter the standards on our own we can no longer call them “LISA standards” (this would imply endorsement for changes, thus violating the CC license), state that our altered versions are “Translation Memory eXchange,” “Term Base eXchange,” etc. (for similar reasons since that would imply authorization of the changes)—although something like “Format X (based on Translation Memory eXchange)” would be OK (since it gives attribution but not endorsement)—or use any names or marks (such as the standards logos or the LISA logo) to indicate that such work is officially recognized by LISA.

Second, ETSI was appointed the legal heir of the portfolio from LISA. This means, in part, that ETSI will control the names of the standards for further development (although such control can be transferred), so if an OASIS TC wanted to develop TMX under that name, it would need to coordinate use of the name with ETSI. Since I cannot speak for ETSI I can only state that LISA’s request was that any such requests not be unduly denied.

Third, after ETSI has recreated the standards in its framework, those seeking official versions of the current documents will be encouraged to obtain them through ETSI. If copies of the current LISA versions are sufficient, then they can be obtained from the links above. For future versions, official copies would need to be obtained from whoever maintains them.

How to use or develop the standards
So if someone wants to use the standards, there is no need to go to ETSI. If someone wants to download official copies legally recognized as standards (versus ones made available outside of LISA and/or ETSI channels), ETSI will maintain those.

If someone wants to develop them, there is a request (and that's all it is) that such development be coordinated with ETSI. If OASIS wanted to create an OASIS version of TMX, for instance, it could do so, but without an agreement with ETSI to indicate that OASIS now controls TMX, it would have to change the name and could not state that it had LISA’s approval (since LISA can no longer give such approval) or was officially recognized as the current version of TMX unless this was coordinated with ETSI (as LISA’s successor).

It really is as flexible as it could be made within the limitations of needing a successor organization and trying to prevent chaos.

Hope that helps make things clearer.

Again, for any more detailed questions about LISA’s official position, please contact Michael Anobile. If I have misstated anything here, I hope that Michael will send a message to correct me.

Best regards,


Arle Lommel
Standards Coordinator
GALA Standards Initiative
+1 (707) 709 8650 (GMT -4)
Skype: arle_lommel
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/arlelommel

The GALA Standards Initiative promotes the effective use of standards for international and multilingual content, builds awareness of best practices for their implementation, and helps the localization community make open standards work.

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