I've been seeing ISO 19115 pop up in discussions more and more recently. It appears to be a standard for NOAA and other federal agencies.

Yet when I google "ISO 19115" the first entry I see is from the ISO. The ISO asks over $200 to be view the standard.

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I don't see the standard as available anywhere else. Am I seeing this correctly? Is there any back-story as to why a standard is not even viewable?

  • I should've mentioned -- I think that ISO 19115 is based on the FGDC standards, but I don't know how much change was made in the process.
    – Joe
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 23:53

3 Answers 3


Short answer: because ISO makes money selling the technical specifications. It's not closed the standard per se, but the specification (so if you're writing software you'd need the document. Searching on the net I found the first edition of the standard ftp://podaac.jpl.nasa.gov/misc/outgoing/ed/pre_2013/GHRSST_metadata/ISO%2019115%20.pdf Also from NOAA some info http://www.ncddc.noaa.gov/metadata-standards/


Because of ISO's business model, they always charge for standards ... however, as many editors want the standards to be freely available, many TCs (technical committees, a group of people that oversee a group of ANSI standards) post the final draft of the standard and make those freely available, as they're more interested in adoption rather than profit-making. You also might luck out, as the drafts get circulated so widely that one of the TC members might accidentally (intentionally?) publish a draft to a website.

For the 191xx standards, the group is TC21. Unfortunately, they don't seem to have any drafts published to their website.

In searching using the name "TC 2011" and "ISO 19115", I was able to find a draft from 2011 for 19115-1 :

The 'TC 211' name also helped me find that there are XML Schema on github for 19115 :

In other cases, ISO standards are minor revisions of some other standard. So for instance, ISO 14721 is (derived from? the same as?) CCSDS 650.0; ISO/DIS 16363 and ISO/DIS 16919 are also CCSDS 652.0 and CSSDS 652.1, and CCSDS 652.0 was derived from CRL TRAC.

Other "ISO" standards are co-published; always look for the "ISO/(something)" name ... eg, ISO/ANSI, ISO/IEC, ISO/BSI. The other publishing body may have a different charge for the document, or you might be able to find a draft under that organization's name.

update : It looks like 19115 is co-published w/ ANSI, but they want even more for it ($314). IHS has it for $60 (at least, it claims to be the same document)


Depends what you mean by "closed" (and "open"). A bit like the old "free as in free speech or free as in free beer?"

ISO standards are open because anyone can contribute, get a revision started, and use them without having to pay patent fees. But they do charge to read the text.

Most people use a standard because someone else wrote software that implements it. In the case of ISO 19115, there are dozens of open source & commercial implementations.

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