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Meghan (she/her)
Meghan (she/her)

Posted on

Why does ISO/IEC charge for their standards?

Why does ISO/IEC sell their standards? I know people have to get paid for their work but then why doesn't ECMA or the IETF also charge? Being a standards body, I would have thought that would want to spread the information as much as possible, but even when you download one of their free standards there are big warnings to not distribute the documents.

Why is this?

Top comments (2)

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

I'm not at all familiar with hoo ISO/IEC operates but it seems like cultural norms and strategic outlook change pretty frequently in this sense.

I would have thought that would want to spread the information as much as possible

These days, the music industry has pretty much realized that this is a pretty great idea and musicians are making more than ever with tours and other monetization opportunities. The record labels may have gotten a bigger cut had they taken this stance sooner.

Microsoft has also completely changed their minds. I'd think that an organization that has been around 30 years may operate in a way that is reflective of a different outlook on the market/world.

andrewlucker profile image
Andrew Lucker

From a Quora member who worked on standards committees:

"committee members provide their time ‘free of charge’"
"Basically, there is a large overhead in running a standards organization which is not attributable to any single standard. There are also very important standards with very small audiences"

ISO seems to take a broad approach to professionalism, rather than taking the more Laissez-faire approach that you might get from organizing a standard through say... Github. ISO is authoritative and that costs $$$.