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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Some Restrictions Apply

Yesterday, HL7 implemented a policy that I've been working towards as a member of the HL7 Board for quite some time.  Under that policy, anyone can implement HL7 standards in their products without paying a license fee to HL7.

Yes, you can download the standards from the HL7 web site today without charge.  They do ask you to do a couple of things (hence, the title of this post):

  1. Register on their website.
  2. Agree abide by the license terms and policy.
  3. Update your agreement status annually.
Is that so hard?  What this means for developers is that you can use the HL7 standards free of charge to develop software products.  It doesn't mean that you can incorporate parts of the standard into your documentation, or give parts of it to your customers, or otherwise distribute it.

Organizational members still retain some of those benefits that non-members aren't freely given.  They are able to share copies of the standard internally to their organization and to share parts of it (not whole chapters or domains) with their customers, or use parts of it to create implementation guides or product documentation.  

Some will complain that it's not fair that members can still do things with the standards than non-members cannot.  I have to say that if it has value, then maybe you should be willing to pay something for it.

Over time, I think the "paper work" to download the standard (which takes all of about 15 seconds to fill out) will get even less intimidating.  For now, we probably need to give the lawyers their due.  

Personally, I think that the new policy is a great move in the right direction.  What do you think?  Have you downloaded the standards yet?

    Keith