For example, the French April organization, dedicated to the promotion of FOSS and open standards, sent a letter to the WWF, voicing the same objections as Tracy Anne of LXer and other members of the FOSS community:
Re: request for a meeting concerning your campaign "Save as WWF, Save a Tree"
The April organization is dedicated to the development and promotion of free software. It tries to make people aware of the dangers of leaving certain information and knowledge in the hands of private enterprises. Free software - like GNU / Linux operating system and OpenOffice.org office suite - is designed to ensure that users have control over their own computer.
It was with some surprise that we learned of the WWF initiative to create a new file format, which is just a PDF using DRM to disable printing.
We understand the need of the WWF to draw attention to the ecological impact of computers and even support it. However, we regret the the WWF have resorted to DRM for this purpose. In effect, the WWF format is merely a PDF format with restricted functionality, designed to constrain the user.
DRM is not only ineffective but are also detrimental in many ways (technical, economical, cultural). These issues were recently addressed in an April publication, which I've included.
However, although the goals themselves are laudable, the form this initiative has taken is regrettable for several reasons. The fact that this format is based on DRM, a secret format locked by means of cryptography, makes it impossible to read with free software. Moreover, the WWF disregards users of free software, since the software in question is only available to proprietary systems like Apple MacOS X and has not been released under an Open Source license.
In addition, WWF should note that the lack of interoperability is a major contributor to obsolescence. Obsolescence is in the interest of the manufacturers, since it promotes consumerism, which causes many environmental problems if not properly controlled. This initiative is therefore catastrophic. For example, if I want to read a WWF file and I can not get the software required to read it, the only thing I can do is to buy a new computer that does. Because computers are so quickly outdated and consequently so quickly replaced, the ecological impact of these "gadgets" is particularly detrimental.
Finally, it is regrettable that WWF seeks to address social problems by means of coercive technology. Because DRM is primarily there to enable publishers to interfere with the privacy of their clients.
Because we really want to help you to make the public aware of the ecological impact of computer usage, I propose a meeting in order to discuss the subject. The WWF may approach the Free Software Foundation on an international level. Couchet Frederick, Executive, and the team at April are available for more information.
Madam President, I'm hoping to see you soon.
Chairman of April
The WWF have promised to publicly address these concerns, but don't hold your breath..
In the meanwhile, there is not much help from the industry either. Rick Brown, senior director, product management, Acrobat Solutions said: "Adobe Acrobat allows customers to create PDF with a range of security permissions, including the ability to disallow printing. The .wwf format is based on the PDF standard and it is great to see WWF leveraging PDF in creative ways. At this point, we don’t intend to support the .wwf file extension."
As if that is not enough, the software itself is giving the WWF headaches as well. In addition to their OS/X driver the WWF recently published their Windows driver. It features the following annoyances:
- If you haven't installed .NET v2.0, you will have to install it first.
- It requires a certain Windows driver. If it is not installed, it will ask for your Windows CD.
- It will install itself as the default printer.
- Kaspersky Internet Security will prevent you from installing it, since it triggers a virus warning.
- Other unidentified installation errors have been experienced.
- It has a problem with large files, printing only the first page.
- There are issues with the 64bit version.
- Some people dislike the capitalization of the printer: "SAVE AS WWF".
- It is unclear whether it phones home. But I wouldn't be surprised.
- The size of a PDF file saved with this driver may increase sixfold(!).
- Adjustment of the settings to select a different resolution or an alternative color space crashes the system completely.
Consequently, as of January 5th an overwhelming majority of "Chip" readers dislike it. Note that the OS/X version has its problems too.
It seems it will be some time before the WWF will release a Linux version. But wait a minute: Linux is already supported! Yes, a set of simple bash scripts was able to fill the gap, simply because the FOSS ecosystem is very rich already. And it is performing very well.
In a test performed by Hermann Radeloff this file was printed using the WWF driver, which resulted in this file. The same file generated by the Linux .wwf toolkit resulted in this file. In short, a 104 KB file was bloated to a massive 686 KB file, while the Linux .wwf toolkit reduced it to a meager 95 KB. That is: with WWF banner.
So WWF, why not release the mess you made under a free license and let the FOSS community take care of it? Why not work together? Or would you rather persist in continuing this public relations disaster?
Update: Well, it's come to this: the WWF have threatened to kick me off their Facebook page. Obviously, I've gone on their nerves. For those who want to make up their own mind, here is the full thread.
Update: I've just released the .wwf toolkit manual as .wwf. FOSS style. ;-)
Update: Neither a search with the Swiss trademark organization, nor the German trademark organization, nor the European trademark organization gave any hits for "Save as WWF". As a matter of fact, no trademarks have been entered for the WWF after August 4th, 2010 for "One Planet MBA".
Matt von Jung, WWF's advertising agency in Germany, has applied for several figurative marks (3020100743719, 3020100743727, 3020100743735 and 3020100743743) on December 18th 2010 at the German Trademark Office (DPMA). Since they are still just applications, the trademarks itself are still unspecified.