Importance of copyright in ISO standards cited

An official of the world’s largest developer and publisher of international standards has underscored the importance of copyrighting in the ISO system.

“Copyright allows us to control authenticity and for those of you who are implementing ISO standards, it’s very important to make sure that the standards that you are using are the genuine documents published by the organization and its members,” International Organization of Standardization (ISO) Deputy Secretary General Nicolas Fleury said in a webinar.

Fleury said obtaining ISO standards is through distribution network or authorized distributors.

“If standard is not protected by copyright typically, this would allow multiple versions and versions of these documents to exist and people will be allowed to reproduce as they want and to develop their own versions of such standards, etc. This means that it would be very difficult to understand what the standard is actually about, (the) standard is supposed to be one unique particular document,” he said.

“And here, it would be very difficult to understand actually how standards would be updated because there would be very different versions, people making very different adoptions and evolution of these standards. And the fact that we claim copyright and that there is one unique standard that can be easily identified, allow us also to give you the possibility to control very easily how standards are updated through the very various versions that we have (been) publishing over the period of life of adoption,” he added.

In terms of POCOSA approach to copyright, Fleury said copyright in ISO standards and national adoptions of ISO standards “always belong to ISO”.

“It’s also important to understand that when someone is willing to reproduce content in ISO standards, to translate ISO standards in its local, national language for example, this requires a formal permission or license from ISO or from ISO members,” he said.

POCOSA is ISO’s policy for the distribution, sales and reproduction of ISO publications and the protection of ISO’s copyright.

Under ISO POCOSA, Fleury said ISO members enjoy non-exclusive, transferable and unlimited rights in their national territories to distribute ISO publications, national adoptions, their drafts and other works.

He said it is a de facto “distribution agreement” between the Swiss-based ISO and ISO members, which include the Bureau of Philippine Standards in the Philippines.

“…ISO doesn’t impose any pricing to the sales of international standards. It gives freedom to the ISO members to define such pricing policy,” he added.

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