The Document Liberation Project

The problem of old document formats being unreadable by newer software is especially frustrating. It removes effective control from the hands of the original authors, with potentially very damaging effects. Individuals, businesses and even governments have been known to get locked out of their own files after upgrading to newer releases of their preferred office software. Unless something changes though, the problem is only going to get worse as the years go by. Thankfully though, the newly formed “Document Liberation Project” has a plan to help rectify the situation. They aim to do this by collecting samples of all known document formats, documenting them, and building import filters so they can be imported into open source software like LibreOffice.

Sponsored by The Document Foundation, the Document Liberation Project also aims to help governments, companies and individuals to migrate to the Open Document Format (ODF) standard as a long-term storage format for their creative work. Remaining backward compatible even as new versions are released, the spread of the ODF offers real hope for those who think that control of digital content needs to be kept out of the hands of proprietary vendors.

Read Simon’s full announcement on InfoWorld.

Software Patent Supreme Court Case Begins

Alice Corporation v. CLS Bank, the landmark case over the legality of software patents, has reached the U.S. Supreme Court. The journey to get there has been long and drawn out, but now that it’s being discussed by SCOTUS, what are the chances that their eventual decision will be broad, decisive and clear? Simon’s been looking over the transcript of Monday’s hearing in an attempt to assess the direction the questioning seems to be taking.

Highlighting “a good deal of apparent scepticism” on the part of the Justices, Simon picks out a number of quotes in which the Justices state and restate the problem, seemingly unsatisfied by the response each time. One Justice Scalia statement helps us understand the core of the problem under discussion: “If you just say ‘use a computer,’ you haven’t invented anything.” Despite this scepticism, Chief Justice Roberts expressed doubts that their  ruling will “bring about greater clarity and certainty,” and this wasn’t the only sign that the court might be reluctant to provide the strong clarification the Solicitor General asked for and that the technology economy needs.

Read Simon’s full analysis of the hearing on InfoWorld.