A common lie reiterated by standards ideologues is that HTML is an open standard while PDF is proprietary. But HTML is copyrighted by the W3C (using its tedious sequence of proper nouns) as “Copyright ©1997–1999 W3C® (MIT, INRIA, Keio).” Looking at my printed copy of the PDF 1.6 spec, I see “© 1985–2005 Adobe® Systems Incorporated.”
The W3C’s copyright permissions include: “The materials contained in the Site may be downloaded or copied provided that ALL copies retain the copyright and any other proprietary notices contained on the materials.”
PDF copyright permissions are extensive, and allows people to “repare files” that conform to PDF, “rite drivers and applications that produce output,” and write software that “accepts input” of PDF and “displays, prints, or otherwise interprets the contents.” You may go right ahead and copy lists of “data structures and operators” to the extent necessary to put the preceding into affect. The conditions of such permission are rather minor.
Tell me: What’s the open standard?
Yesterday Adobe announced that they’re submitting the entire PDF 1.7 spec to a standards body for ultimate ISO ratification. Tell me again: What’s the open standard?
Special skill-testing question for Australians
If PDF is such an inaccessible format that the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission warns that you can be brought up on charges for using PDF and only PDF, well, why does it claim that you can avoid any such legalities by also offering RTF?
Where’s the open, ratified standard for RTF?
What about PDF/UA?
We’re still working happily away, if slowly, on PDF/Universal Accessibility. I have made the occasional contribution – I think I may have completely solved the problem of specifying text direction, for example. (My system can handle everything from Mongolian to bingo.)