Venezuela is in a tough spot these days, as the nation hits below-bottom with an economy utterly destroyed by the Chavista government, and supermarket shelves empty, despite it having a healthy amount of oil in its belly. The Venezuelan people, meanwhile, have had to come up with some pretty innovative ways to survive, and I suppose ISO consultants are no different.

So perhaps it’s not a surprise that Venezuelan consultancy Asesores Integrales Calidad (Integrated Quality Auditors) has gotten creative in its marketing. The question is whether they’ve gotten too creative. The group has decided to give away copies of ISO standards to anyone willing to pony up their email address. Small price to pay.

Recently, on LinkedIn, the firm announced that on March 20th, they would send a free copy of the Spanish version of ISO 9000 (the vocabulary standard) to anyone who would respond by posting their email address. The problem is that this is a complete violation of ISO’s copyrights, and AIC could face a heavy lawsuit from ISO’s attorneys.

That is, if they were anywhere other than Venezuela. The nation’s economy is in tatters, and ISO would find that suing anyone there is an exercise in futility. Not only would they find that AIC doesn’t have money to win, at least not in the traditional sense, they’d also find that Venezuela effectively doesn’t give a shit what ISO lawyers have to say.

A similar move happened recently in Brazil, another South American country with a decimated economy, which started giving out ISO standards for free, too. The logic there was that ISO was price gouging, and standards are a necessary tool to jumpstart businesses.

ISO is losing the battle to maintain its copyrights, as more and more pirated versions appear online, and more and more people simply refuse to pay the exorbitant costs associated with them. Worse, ISO has effectively lost the copyright war by engaging in “selective enforcement,” only going after people they don’t like, alleging violations of copyright or trademark, while allowing tens of thousands of non-permitted uses to go unchecked.

Now they have to contend with poor countries giving away their standards for free. Maybe it’s karma payback for the fact that ISO used the ISO Technical Management Board to write the ISO 9000 series of standards, rather than TC 176, and that the TMB doesn’t allow participation by developing nations. That’s a violation of ISO’s own rules and policies, so there’s an argument to be made that the developing nations deserve something back. I’m not sure this is it, but I’ll let ISO’s lawyers figure that one out.

Meanwhile, imma giggle now. Arriba la revolucion!



    About Christopher Paris

    Christopher Paris is the founder and VP Operations of Oxebridge. He has over 25 years' experience implementing ISO 9001 and AS9100 systems, and is a vocal advocate for the development and use of standards from the point of view of actual users. He is the author of Surviving ISO 9001:2015. He reviews wines for the irreverent wine blog, Winepisser.