I’m leaving for Boston shortly in order to attend what promises to be a really interesting symposium organized by the Boston College Law Review on Owning Standards. I think that the conference organizers and moderators (Profs. Lawrence Cunningham, Joe Liu and Fred Yen) have done something very clever: they’ve identified an important but under-theorized topic and are focusing attention on it. Not only do I get to see a bunch of smart and nice folks, but I hope to learn a lot too. And the weather forecast says it will only be cold at night.
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by Michael Froomkin
Laurie Silvers & Mitchell Rubenstein Distinguished Professor of Law
University of Miami School of Law
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I am so glad that the study of standards has gone beyond IETF-swooning.
“If code is law then standards bodies are governments. This flawed but powerful metaphor suggests the need to examine more closely those standards bodies that are defining standards for the Internet. In this paper we examine the International Telecommunications Union, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association, the Internet Engineering Task Force, and the World Wide Web Consortium. We compare the organizations on the basis of participation, transparency, authority, openness, security and interoperability. We conclude that the IETF and the W3C are becoming increasingly similar. We also conclude that the classical distinction between standards and implementations is decreasingly useful as standards are embodies in code – itself a form of speech or documentation. recent Internet standards bodies have flourished in part by discarding or modifying the implementation/standards distinction. “