Please note, I'm not ranting at all, and I'm not against paying; I would like to understand the rationale behind setting the prices as such, especially knowing that ISO is network of national standard institutes (i.e. funded by governments). And I also doubt that these prices would generate enough income to fund an organization like that, so there must be another reason.
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With regards specifically to ISO standards, there is a question/answer in their FAQ that addresses why ISO standards cost money:
With regards to other standards organizations, I suspect that Yannis Rizos is correct in his comment and that it is similar to the ISO's stance. It takes a lot of time and effort to develop a standard, and then transform it into a format that is consumable. You are paying for the time and resources that it took to turn that standard into the format that you are using and then have it delivered to you.
Many of the older standards organisations do still charge for their standards, but IMHO it acts as a barrier to wider adoption of the standards.
Many standards organisations already manage to provide their standards free. IMHO organisations like ISO and ANSI seem quite outdated by still charging.
Here is an arbitrary personal selection of important standards that can apparently be published free.