[Cc-uk] The Need for "Open" Formats

David Hirst dhirst at pavilion.co.uk
Tue Jun 28 05:07:06 EDT 2005

Here is an article about the challenge facing the US National Archives &
Record Office, a problem faced by Governments and organisations everywhere.

If records are in proprietary digital formats, there is no obligation on
anybody to ensure the information can be retrieved or read into the future.
Indeed, many Digital Restrictions Systems do not have the mechanism for
content to become free of copy constraint at the time the copyright runs


Incidentally, .pdf seems to be an acceptable "open" format, both the CC and
the GNU sites use it. Yet the latest version has all sorts of selective
restrictions that publishers can set, and does not seem to have a time out.
So, if one sets the CC condition of timeout after 14 years, (Founders
Copyright) adobe does not implement this. (or does it?)

Should CC ask adobe to do so?

In case this suggests that you might like to move the system clock forwards,
and so get access sooner than intended, this is a very high risk thing to
do. A bit before Y2K I suggested that an office, with PCs and servers etc.
that was not being used for a fortnight or so should have an "early
millennium party". That is, isolate the office, turn the clocks forward and
run the office through the Y2K boundary. 

A fear every system administrator in sight was up in arms. Despite the
interest aroused, the problem was turning the clocks back afterwards. To be
confident that there were no leftover bugs left, the entire system would
have to have been rebuilt from scratch. Clocks are everywhere, and they
never run backwards, so no programmer ever builds in checks to cope when
they do. 



David Hirst

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