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FISD Releases MDDL Open Source Licence in Further Bid to Encourage Take-Up

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The Financial Information Services Division (FISD) of the Software and Information Industry Association has released a new MDDL 3.0 Open Source licence for the financial information industry.

MDDL, or Market Data Definition Language, is an open industry standard XML dialect for securities market data. The announcement of the new licence aims to remove possible ambiguity regarding intellectual property issues associated with using MDDL. This, it is hoped, will remove a barrier to take-up of the standard, which has yet to reach significant levels despite the efforts of FISD.

“After the release of MDDL version 3.0 in March 2007 the question was raised of licensing,” says Bill Nichols, program director for securities processing automation at FISD.

“On the web site it said that you could use the standard according to the terms of the licence but there was not a formal licence. It seems that the issue was raised in the early days of development and then overlooked and never formally finished,” he adds.

Nichols explains that at the direction of the FISD Executive Committee, MDDL investigated open source licensing practices and decided that of the two main camps in Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS), a “non-GPL” (General Public License) licence would be the way to go, as there could otherwise be some concern in the markets about a GPL licence restricting use in elements of software due to licence/charging complexities.

Having taken this plan to the executive committee to ensure there were no commercial issues, it was agreed to adopt this form of licence. Nichols adds: “There are a lot of standards and software developments that are moving towards open source licensing and this is something that can’t be ignored.”

Tom Davin, managing director of FISD, comments: “MDDL 3.0 represents the culmination of over five years of industry investment. After releasing the 3.0 beta last year, our members recognised the industry’s concerns regarding IP issues and decided that a more formal licence posture was called for.”

When the 3.0 beta was released, it appeared that the main thrust of the new version had been to complete the content and merge all assets into a single instrument domain.

“The major structural change in this version is the implementation of a ‘central instrument’ model,” said Nichols at the time. This feature was said to enable another key aspect of FISD’s intent with MDDL he said – allowing “for the XML schema of MDDL to maintain harmonisation and be in compliance with the ISO Securities Data Model”, which was at that time scheduled for release in Q3 of last year.

“MDDL already covers the scope of the ISO international standard and provides support for a significant number of other structural aspects of market data,” Nichols said. “Putting the two together is a very powerful combination for users.”

MDDL 3.0 also came complete with an updated documentation suite supporting Unified Modeling Language (UML) logical representations which, FISD claimed, made it “the most comprehensive protocol for defining market reference data content in the industry today”.

At that time also, Davin said FISD was “seeking feedback from our members on the completed standard and its ability to meet their needs”: clearly the attempt to address the licensing issue is one aspect of trying to ensure the standard better meets users’ needs.

Commenting recently on the proposed harmonisation and attainment of compliance with the ISO Securities Data Model 19312, Nichols says this is still a work in progress as a subset to ISO 20022. “There is a lot of work involved and it will take time as there is not much expertise out there and it is breaking new ground, but there is potential for the standards to develop to cover both derivatives and synthetic instruments,” he adds.

MDDL facilitates the interaction of information between exchanges and related sources, vendors and redistributors, and consumers of market data. “Market data” includes pricing, descriptive and reference information, and statistics about financial instruments, exchanges and the organisations that trade through them, the economy in general, and other related economic and business factors. MDDL also includes commodity, cash, and foreign exchange components.

The new licence, the MDDL data model, XML Schema and related documentation are available at www.mddl.org. Free registration is required to access some of the information.

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