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Threats Are Cheap

Posted in Intellectual Monopoly, ISO, Microsoft at 8:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

I want you for money

The usual crony/ies appear to be resorting to intimidation now that OOMXL texts are out there for all to view (and no, it’s not just in Boycott Novell as other Web sites got hold of the files around the same time it circulated, and published them too). The files could also reach Wikileaks, so what’s the difference? There’s none.

Let’s set the record straight: The OOXML saga has been corrupt from start to finish. Will anyone try to challenge the strong and extensive evidence? Good luck with all that. As a matter of fact, even the man on top of the process has already admitted that it had gone awry. To quote:

“This year WG1 have had another major development that has made it almost impossible to continue with our work within ISO. The influx of P members whose only interest is the fast-tracking of ECMA 376 as ISO 29500 has led to the failure of a number of key ballots. Though P members are required to vote, 50% of our current members, and some 66% of our new members, blatantly ignore this rule despite weekly email reminders and reminders on our website. As ISO require at least 50% of P members to vote before they start to count the votes we have had to reballot standards that should have been passed and completed their publication stages at Kyoto. This delay will mean that these standards will appear on the list of WG1 standards that have not been produced within the time limits set by ISO, despite our best efforts.

The disparity of rules for PAS, Fast-Track and ISO committee generated standards is fast making ISO a laughing stock in IT circles. The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting “standardization by corporation”, something I have been fighting against for the 20 years I have served on ISO committees. I am glad to be retiring before the situation becomes impossible. I wish my colleagues every success for their future efforts, which I sincerely hope will not prove to be as wasted as I fear they could be.”

Martin Bryan, ISO ‘Escapee’
Formerly Convenor, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 WG1

Throughout this appalling process, some people lost their jobs. Many others were smeared by anonymous characters and even directly, i.e. by Microsoft employees. It is all well documented.

The text in question (OOXML) is appalling in terms of quality and yet it was kept secret and hidden away from the very same people whom it affects. This is transparency?

There are two issues of transparency here:

  1. Transparency of technical documentation. How can a standard ever be called “open” if not even the terms of Open Access (OA) are being met?
  2. Transparency of the process. ISO, caring for its broken reputation, will insist that the process was fine, yet to fails to provide any proof of it. As the BRM in Geneva taught everyone, it’s all just a back-door arrangement involving stuffed panels congregating behind closed doors to decide ‘on behalf’ of ‘the world’.

The ISO process was horrendous. Tim Bray, a world authority in the field of XML, called the process “brutal and corrupt”. It was so bad that it ended up going under a formal investigation by the European Commission.

These investigators must be so overwhelmed by evidence that they do not even know where to start and what to choose. And yet, despite all of this, Alex Brown, who essentially markets Microsoft OOXML (talk about conflict of an interests) [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21], had decided to threaten me with vague allegation of lawsuits.

And (I did hint we might come down from being high-minded) talking of copyright violation I notice some of the dafter quarters of the web have published the ISO/IEC 29500:2008 (OOXML) text. Now, while not many people know for sure what ITTF do to a text when they prepare it for publication, one thing they do do for sure is to put a copyright statement on every page. So what we have witnessed is a brazen act of copyright violation. The boobies have even been so good as to boast about the bandwidth requirements their crimes have occasioned (no further questions, m’lud).

Even now, I can hear those Geneva lawyers licking their lips over this one … ”

Given how ugly the process has been thus far, it hardly surprises that it continues to be ugly. People who were appalled by the corruption have already spilled some beans before (against the ‘precious’ yet ridiculous rules).

Threats are cheap and we've witnessed them before, Alex. They make ISO look even worse.

Watch the photo here. It’s hilarious.

So let’s call it tit-for-tat, Alex. ;-)

“Microsoft corrupted many members of ISO in order to win approval for its phony ‘open’ document format, OOXML. This was so governments that keep their documents in a Microsoft-only format can pretend that they are using ‘open standards.’ The government of South Africa has filed an appeal against the decision, citing the irregularities in the process.”

Richard Stallman, June 2008

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  1. AlexH said,

    October 7, 2008 at 8:19 am


    Ignoring whether or not these specs. should be in the public domain (not the copyright phrase), I wouldn’t blow off his suggestion so readily.

    They can’t come after you for obvious reasons, but if I were Shane – with the DMCA as it is – I wouldn’t be parading this around.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 7, 2008 at 8:29 am


    Taking it off the server is trivial, but that wouldn’t make the dirty secret (OOXML) disappear. It was never truly invisible and if ISO thinks that it can keep it ‘safe’ from spreading, it ought to learn a lesson or two from the MPAA/RIAA. You can’t battle the sharing — through conversation of the very least — of information. A lot of people already knew what was in OOXML. They cannot just ‘unknow’ it. See this good essay:


  3. AlexH said,

    October 7, 2008 at 8:33 am


    Look, I’m not arguing that the development of the spec. should be done in the open.

    I’m just saying that taking Brown’s comments as a threat is potentially missing an underlying good piece of advice. But, that’s up to you and Shane.

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 7, 2008 at 8:43 am


    For 6+ billion people to understand how Microsoft is scheming to lock their personal data (for profit) only makes sense, especially given the ways Microsoft corrupted their countries in the process.

    Think of it as a moral obligation, but shall ISO go litigious, I’ll remove these files immediately, no complains made. ISO would then come under fire from other people (that’s my prediction), it will get not even a penny, and the document will never stop circulating anyway (by E-mail, torrent, P2P, or CD-ROM).

    To think that I’m the first one to have gotten my hands on this is false. To publish something without a breach is not so rude, especially given the moral factors at play (hint).

    If Microsoft/ISO wants a scapegoat, let them make their critics’ day.

  5. AlexH said,

    October 7, 2008 at 8:55 am


    Sure, but it’s not worth getting into a legal tussle about it. I’m sure Rob Weir or someone else with access to the docs would be in a better position to take that heat…

    … or even wikileaks, as you mentioned previously.

  6. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 7, 2008 at 9:01 am


    Fine then. I’ll remove all the files.

  7. AlexH said,

    October 7, 2008 at 9:04 am


    Look, if you’re going to begrudge it then put them back and deal with any (unlikely) legal flak.

    I’m just trying to suggest to you that there are easier ways of achieving the same thing.

  8. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 7, 2008 at 9:09 am


    I don’t need legal mud on my tail. Anyway, we’ve moved on. Posted just minutes ago:


  9. twitter said,

    October 7, 2008 at 10:27 am


    AlexH, you are here to threaten and entrap. Both you and Brown have Zero Credibility.

  10. AlexH said,

    October 7, 2008 at 10:35 am


    @twitter: that’s a false assertion, unsupportable, and you know it.

    If you want to encourage Roy to break laws, go ahead and do it. In this case though, I suggest that there are bigger players like IBM who will be more willing to take that fall.

  11. Alex Brown said,

    October 7, 2008 at 11:29 am



    > bigger players like IBM who will be
    > more willing to take that fall

    I think the day you find a big software vendor playing fast and loose with IP rights will be the day hell freezes over! Rob Weir has had a copy of the 29500 text since March, but is waaaay too wise to broadcast it over the web!

    - Alex.

  12. AlexH said,

    October 7, 2008 at 12:19 pm


    @Alex: sure, but if they wanted to get their point across, they could. The ECMA standard has been out there for ages, so all they need to tell people is how it has changed post BRM. You can do that without copying bits verbatim.

    Though, I think at this point it’s a bit pointless since presumably they will be publishing it properly not too long from now. At least, hopefully….

  13. Needs Sunlight said,

    October 7, 2008 at 12:51 pm


    The material is public. The scandal needs to be more visible. Posting the material will help show either the rotten-to-the-core specification as it is, or how desperate MSFTers are to sneak this one in under the radar.

    Maybe it is time that MS is banned from EU procurement. That would be about the only remedy (aside from necklacing Gates and crew on pay per view) that could have any near-term impact:


  14. Needs Sunlight said,

    October 7, 2008 at 12:52 pm


    @AlexH: that’s some heavy FUD. What are you so eager to shelter MS for?

  15. AlexH said,

    October 7, 2008 at 12:56 pm


    @Needs: sorry? What is FUD?

    I haven’t said that it shouldn’t be out in the open…

  16. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 7, 2008 at 1:29 pm


    …’Open’ standards that you have no access to. Now, that’s an oxymoron, don’t you think? Let people put their data in the ‘open’ cryptic format that will force them to buy the latest Microsoft Office. Over and over and over again. Well done, ISO, for sheltering business agenda of a monopolist.

  17. AlexH said,

    October 7, 2008 at 2:49 pm


    @Roy: it’s not an ISO standard yet, so the question is moot. They didn’t openly publish the ODF changes either; we had to wait for 1.0 rev 2 from OASIS for that.

    And before you accuse me of your usual “similar evil” argument, re-read what I said until you understand it.

  18. AlexH said,

    October 7, 2008 at 2:50 pm


    And no, I don’t agree it should be closed, either.

    It’s just nothing new, this is how ISO operates.

  19. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 7, 2008 at 4:18 pm


    Hey, check this one out. :-)


    “The company from Redmond is heavily investing in the ISO SC34 committee. Thanks to a brazilian blogger who manage to shed some light on what was going on in there, we hear now that Microsoft Korea was paying for dinner.”

  20. AlexH said,

    October 7, 2008 at 4:32 pm


    @Roy: why stop at dinners?

    Some large proportion of ISO’s funding (1/3rd or 2/3rd, I can’t remember which) comes from corporate sponsors.

    They pay for a lot more than the dinners.

  21. pcole said,

    October 7, 2008 at 4:57 pm


    That seems to be the re-occurring problem; That corporations & monopolists monetarily remunerate organizations which are supposed to be beyond that (bribery, lobby-ism, etc.) and are to represent the consumer in being vendor agnostic.

  22. Roy Schestowitz said,

    October 7, 2008 at 4:56 pm


    Microsoft attacked ODF very viciously. Why is it suddenly paying people who work on ODF?

    If you watch the arrangements made at the XML 2007 conference, you’ll
    find that Microsoft hosts, pays for, covers, and sponsors all sorts of
    things (mind the “Hors d’oeuvres and drinks hosted by Microsoft”).


    A reader has made us aware us a very curious mailing list thread.
    “Someone harshly criticized Microsoft security making some very good
    points,” he writes. “Suddenly a Microsoft rep materialized on the
    mailing list to refute them, offer to put on a security dog and pony
    show for the group and buy everyone lunch, and that’s where it ended!


    The Vole [Microsoft] supposedly invited The INQ over for tea because we
    are notorious “Microsoft doubters” – and we were accompanied by other
    supposed Vole doubters such as the folk from lifehacker and a very nice
    man from Slashdot, as well as some Microsoft MvPs.


    Microsoft flew me there from Florida at its expense, put me up in a nice
    hotel, provided decent food, and comped me and four other invitees to
    this “special conference” with presentations about the marvels of Vista
    and other recent or upcoming Microsoft products. They didn’t quite play
    the old Beatles song “Love Me Do” in the background, but it was the
    event’s unstated theme.


    Gilad Tiefenbrun, Director of Engineering of Linn Products in Scotland
    (known since the 1970s for their high-end audio equipment), showed their
    new Sneaky Music DS device for playing high quality music stored on a
    home LAN — with Open Source software components you can modify to your
    heart’s content.

    Microsoft picked up the tab for drinks and food


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