ETSI and LISA Standards: What Does It Mean?
Yesterday an announcement went out that the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) “has agreed to accept responsibility for the LISA open standards works.” This statement has raised a lot of questions about whether this means that yet another group is wanting to take on some of LISA’s mantle and work on standards for the localization industry. Others have seen this is presaging a rift between GALA and TAUS on the one hand and ETSI, an established standards body, on the other. As someone who has been closely involved with the events referred to in the announcement, I wish to clarify the situation and what it means in practical terms. Since the announcement that LISA was ceasing operations, LISA has been trying to find an appropriate home for its standards portfolio. Initially LISA had planned to simply put the standards into the public domain, but for legal reasons this action was not possible and LISA had to pick a successor to donate the standards to. I was charged with soliciting feedback about where the standards should go. Public opinion in our community was divided between ETSI and OASIS, with larger users tending to support ETSI and tech developers tending more to support OASIS. In the end, it seemed that ETSI had more flexible policies with regard to participation (it is possible to work actively on standards in an ESI Industry Specification Group (ISG) at no fee and ETSI has good relations with OASIS) and the decision was made to donate the standards themselves to ETSI. Note that this donation has not actually taken place yet as there are still some legal issues to resolve, but it is expected to take place very soon. What that means is not that ETSI is taking over LISA’s mandate, but rather that current versions of the LISA standards will have a permanent home where they can be obtained free of charge under the same royalty-free, open access policies that LISA supported. If ETSI wishes to undertake development of new versions of the standards, ETSI may do so, and we expect that ETSI’s new ISG will work on at least some of the standards. On the other hand, if another group, such as OASIS, wishes to take up one or more of the standards that ETSI is not working on, it may do without hindrance, so the current arrangement allows for maximal flexibility in standards development and is a positive step. ETSI will also be able to continue LISA’s dual-license arrangement with ISO whereby LISA could distribute copies of its standards at no charge and ISO could sell copies of LISA standards that were accepted as international standards. So far this arrangement applies only to TBX, but SRX is currently in the ISO process and will be released under the same terms, thus ensuring that individuals who wish to obtain this standard at no charge can continue to do so, while those obligated to purchase ISO versions may do so as well. Both GALA and TAUS are planning on working with ETSI where it makes sense for them to do so and there is no conflict between ETSI and either group. GALA fully supports the goal of finding a permanent home for the LISA standards and continuing their development, and we believe that ETSI can carry out this vital task in partnership with other standards bodies. The GALA Standards Plan includes active participation in the ETSI ISG and we encourage others who are interested to do so as well. (Note that the ISG is still being set up, so it may take a little while before it is fully active.) Note as well that the standards being donated to ETSI comprise technical standards for data representation. GALA will be active in many areas outside of this particular area, with a focus on promoting business, process, and quality standards, as well as education and promotion. These areas are all complementary to the particular areas that ETSI will address as a standards body, and we hope to work close with ETSI (and others) to ensue a coordinate response to the industry’s pressing need for standards. We expect that a formal announcement regarding the standards will come from LISA very soon, at which point GALA can make a formal response.