The effects of the Alice v. CLS Bank Supreme Court case have been felt in the recent Federal Court of appeals, Digitech case. The court decided to not even check for infringements, as the initial image processing software was deemed not to be a significant improvement to the computer, but merely a computer implementing a non‑patent‑eligible technique.
On an entirely separate, but equally positive note, last week the UK government announced that from hence forth it will be using an open document format as its standard. To hear (or read) more detail and insight on both these stories, check out Simon’s recent podcast with Red Hat Cloud Evangelist Gordan Haff.
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.
Italo Vignoli makes a great point on his blog about the use of fonts. He explains that proprietary software like MS Office uses proprietary fonts by default.
Because of the way they are licensed, they can’t be bundled by other software. That means substitute fonts with different characteristics have to be used. As a consequence, other programs trying to open documents they create — no matter how otherwise interoperable the file format handling becomes — cannot reproduce the same visual appearance or layout since they don’t have the fonts.
The solution to this is open source fonts. They can be freely bundled with software like LibreOffice and thus the documents using them are much more likely to render correctly on other systems.
Showing that no issue is actually sorted until the end of the process is reached, Microsoft is trying to get its partner network to speak up for OOXML as a document format for government interaction. In a posting to ComputerWorldUK, Simon explains that this would defeat the objective explained by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude, who said
“The software we use in government is still supplied by just a few large companies. A tiny oligopoly dominates the marketplace. I want to see a greater range of software used, so civil servants have access to the information they need and can get their work done without having to buy a particular brand of software.”
So ODF Advocates once again need to speak up for openness and diversity – there are links in the article.