Monday, June 01, 2009

Okular, PDF and file permissions

There seems to be some controversy about how Okular handles file permissions (sometimes called DRM) in PDF files. I will put here my personal opinions (weird i have to say this since this is *my* blog so when i write here it's always *my* personal opinion).

As a note for those that don't know me much, i was KPDF maintainer from 2004 or so till it's death, mentored the SoC project that created Okular, a regular Okular developer and i'm also the maintainer of poppler since a few time ago, so well, i think we'll agree i know what i'm talking about ;-)

Let's analize the bug-reporter sentence:

"So what I want to know is: why are people putting code into Debian
that limits our freedom? Why are people putting such code into KDE?"

So he wants to KNOW why *we* did this, yet he mails Debian bug tracker. First weird thing man, we have the okular irc channel, the okular mailing list and the kde bug tracker, all this are MUCH BETTER places for knowing.

First question:
"why are people putting code into Debian that limits our freedom?"
is very similar to
"why is people coding in GPL that that limits our freedom?" from the BSD fanboys. It all boils down to your freedom ends where other people freedom starts. And someone freely decided he doesn't want you to copy his PDF, you may hate him for that, but it is his freedom, *his* license, and we all like people respecting our license (GPL) so we should respect others, or are we just going to respect licenses we like?

Second question:
"Why are people putting such code into KDE?"
because it's what the PDF specification says and we want to have a PDF reader, don't we?

Now, there's even a LWN article talking about it (sorry folks, you have to pay them to read that unresearched article), but i'll quote here a small part (under the fair quotation law i hope)

Applications which do implement this "feature" tend to disable it by default.

he means evince has it disabled by default and okular enabled by default? I don't see a "tend to" here

Perhaps this behavior is result of the relative newness of this application; as it accumulates more users, the pressure for more user-friendly behavior is likely to grow.

KPDF had the exact very same behaviour since 2005. And well, if Okular is not called KPDF in KDE 4 it's just because we decided to support more formats but for the rest it's the same program.

Linux, at all levels, has felt free to ignore standards when following them makes no sense.

Repeat with me Okular is not Linux, Okular is KDE, Okular runs in Linux, Okular runs in Solaris, Okular runs in FreeBSD, Okular runs in Windows, Okular runs in Mac OS X.

And now my final words. I hate DRM, i don't buy DRM enabled things (or try as hard as i can not to) BUT KDE is not the place to protest about that. The place to protest against that is with your wallet (don't buy DRM'ed things), with your vote (don't vote politicians that pass pro-DRM laws) or even in the streets in demonstrations.