Digital rights Law & Freedom personal

Free format victory case

I’ve been fighting a battle (one of many) about the use of free format files on private/public organizations. And I think I finally won this one.

The Casino Tampiqueño is a social club in my hometown Tampico. So they organize balls and carnivals and multiple events. Recently, they “discovered” email. So they started sending “spam” to all their members about their notices and future events.

The bad thing was not the “spam”. It was that they decided to attach all event or notice details on a file. And guess what file was that? OOXML .docx format. Not only I couldn’t open the file, but also every other Microsoft Office user that hasn’t updated (legally or not) to the most recent version. And for what I’ve seen, there’s a lot of people that haven’t.

So with every email I got, I sent two emails explaining that the file they sent couldn’t be opened by everyone and suggested the use of PDF or JPEG files (yes, I know jpegs of documents are not nice, but its a file extension everyone knows….and mp3s are not suitable).

Then I finally saw the problem affect a non free software or Linux user: my mom. She got one of those emails and tried to open it. Since she couldn’t see it she called me up to fix the problem. Then I explained what the issue was about using proprietary formats on files (without detailing the OOXML vs ODF politics) just the essential stuff, and then told her to write back to the club explaining what I just told her. So she did.

And I haven’t confirmed if our emails did any change. But this past two weeks I’ve been getting new “spam” from the club with PDF and JPEG file attachments. Yay!

Well…its still spam, but now its spam I can view or throw away, without swearing and shouting about proprietary file formats.

By Gabriel Saldaña

Gabriel Saldaña is a web developer, photographer and free software advocate. Connect with him on and Twitter