ISO 8601:1988 available in PDF form

Markus Kuhn Markus.Kuhn at
Mon Oct 16 13:51:40 UTC 2000

Peter Ilieve wrote on 2000-10-16 08:43 UTC:
> ISO 8601:
> Sure enough, the PDF file is there, available for anyone to download
> for free.
> (I hadn't seen this mentioned here before, but a quick check of Markus
>  Kuhn's date and time page at
>  shows that he has a link to this PDF file so he has obviously already
>  spotted this.)

It actually had been there for over a year and I thought, we had it
reasonably widely announced on the usual standards newsgroups
(comp.std.internat, etc.).

Funnily, in November 1999, I received an email from Mr. Jacques-Olivier
Chabot, who I think was then the CEO/president/etc. of ISO Central
Secretariat in Geneva, telling me "Your web site is certainly very
interesting but your placement of ISO 8601:1988, and of its draft,
constitutes an infringement to the ISO copyright. I am therefore
requesting that these two ISO documents be immediately taken off your
site and that you confirm to me in writing that this has been done."

I replied with a polite explanation of how the web works, what a URL is,
how users of MS Internet Explorer can determine, on which server a
downloaded document originated, that during the download of ISO 8601 via
my web page onto Mr. Chabot's PC, the bits actually never left the
building of ISO, and why I believe that the URL of ISO's own online copy
hardly contains more intellectual property than ISO's postal address,
whose presence on my web page was not attacked, even though it was also
copied from ISO's web server and is several hundred bytes times longer
than the URL.

I was slightly more concerned about the URL to Louis Visser's draft of
the second edition of ISO 8601 (and I did make the URL a bit less
visible), but I also believe that ISO CS has no copyright claims on a
draft that ISO CS did not author. In addition, it has since then become
common practice in many working groups to put ISO drafts on the web. I
also attached a list of the (occasionally ridicolous) mistakes in the
2nd ed. ISO 8601 draft that the public review via my web page uncovered,
in order to emphasise what a crucial quality assurance a public review
can be for a standards document and that I wonder, how a ISO 9001
certified organization can possibly lack that as a required procedure in
their quality manual.

Well, I never heard from them again ...

I actually suggested to ISO when I visited them in 1995 in Geneva to put
ISO 8601 as an example document onto their web server, and I was
delighted to see that after 4 years of hard scanning work they have
actually managed to implement that suggestion.


Markus G. Kuhn, Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge, UK
Email: mkuhn at,  WWW: <>

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