Free PDF reader for the web browser

 Thank you for taking the time for an answer. If releasing the source of the PDF-Plugin is not possible now, maybe it will be possible at a later point in time, I am sure Chrome/ium would benefit from it – of course other Free Software projects, especially the free implementations of PDF would.

This is how Hannes Hauswedell, FSFE’s PDFreaders campaign coordinator, finished his e-mail conversation with Google’s Chris DiBona back in 2011. A few years later: in 2014 Google finally released a Free Software project, PDFium that is now available in Google’s Chromium browser, as well as in its largely Free Software-based Chrome browser where it has replaced proprietary plugin for PDF files. Google collaborated with Foxit Software as the PDF provider for PDFium, and the code was released under Free Software licence. Right after the release of PDFium, senior Chrome engineer Peter Kasting expressed his hope to also release Flash as Free Software. This plugin still prevents Chrome from being Free Software. Well, we surely hope for the brighter (read: open) future of Chrome if that is the case.

Now when wrapping up the PDFreaders campaign, it is worthwhile to remind ourselves how the hard work and dedication of Free Software community pays off. While Chrome being the most used browser to date, it is clear that today the majority of internet users use Free Software for opening PDF files in their browser. This is a significant achievement for Free Software community in particular and for the respect towards internet users’ fundamental rights in general: while still incorporating proprietary parts, Chrome with PDFium leaves less possibilities for back doors that can threaten users’ freedoms online.

FSFE answers to the consultation on copyright, patents, and trade secrets in public procurement



Earlier this month, FSFE answered to the “Consultation on the respect of intellectual property in public procurement procedures” that was initiated by the Commission as a part of revising the EU legislation on enforcement of so-called “intellectual property rights”. The initial purpose of consultation, as indicated by the Commission, was to “gather evidence, opinions and feedback regarding the respect of intellectual property rights and trade secrets in public procurement procedures”, and assess whether there is a need for specific guidance for public authorities in this regard. The call was open to the wide range of stakeholders, including public authorities, businesses, civil society, and general public.

In the light of the whole reform on “enforcement of IPR” in EU, including so-called “follow the money approach” the Commission intends to take in order to “fight commercial scale infringers”, the consultation seemed to be constructed from the perspective of “abused” right-holders as several questions asked to list evidence of copyright and trade secrets infringements in public procurement procedure, allegedly being “infiltrated” by such goods. It is also notable that the consultation handled the questions of copyright, patents and trade secrets together, especially in the context of recent reform on Trade Secrets Directive, that creates a “pseudo-IPR” to the information not intended to fall under “traditional” set of copyright/patents/trademarks. New rules of public procurement (Directives 2014/24/EU, 2014/23/EU, 2014/25/EU that will enter into force after 17 April 2016) may require to conduct a check of compliance with copyright, patents and trademarks in order to guarantee no “IPR” infringing products being procured by public authorities. Therefore, for Free Software, we argued, that Free Software/Open Source licences have to be respected not only by proprietary suppliers who often neglect the distribution and source code publishing terms under these licences, but also by procuring public authorities who will redistribute software subsequently.

The main goals for FSFE in answering to the aforementioned consultation was to restate several goals concerning not only the questions regarding Free Software in public procurement, but also to address more general issues with the current copyright and patent systems, such as unacceptable situation of software falling under patent system as “computer implemented invention” that is devaluing the rights of users and developers granted under copyright.

In scope, FSFE found that yes, guidance on how to handle copyright in public procurement procedure in regard to software is needed, despite some positive developments towards the use of Free Software/Open Source licensed products in public sector in several member states. Furthermore, the terms of Free Software/Open Source licences have to respected in further distribution of publicly procured products, which means that public authorities may be required to conduct compliance checks of proprietary software with relevant Free Software/Open Source licences in order to ensure the respect towards copyright of developers and redistribute these procured products as Free Software.

Overarching goals that FSFE tried to make a case for in the consultation, in this respect, were:

  • Software should not be covered by patents and it is impossible to procure software that is not violating any patents. The rights of copyright holders should not be devalued by third parties’ patents.
  • Every publicly funded software should be published and distributed as Free Software by default, so that public administrations, companies and individuals can use the software for their own purposes and provide better services for public authorities.
  • The respect towards Free Software/Open Source licences has to be ensured in further distribution of publicly procured software.

Please find a Wiki page with the full answer submitted by FSFE.

For additional background information please see Commission’s website.

The image is a derivative of original image by Paul “polywen” Lee, “Bat Man Slap”, CC-BY-NC 2.0. The derivative is licensed under CC-BY-NC 2.0.