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Re: DRM in PDF readers

On Sat, Mar 12, 2005 at 03:01:15PM +0100, Frederic Peters wrote:
> Hello,
> I recently adopted pdftohtml, a program to translate PDF documents into
> HTML.  It is a derivative of xpdf.  I am now asked to override the DRM
> tests (current code checks for "don't copy me" pdf flag and aborts if
> set).

I wrote a patch for xpdf to fix the permissions problem discussed in Debian
bug #145559. The package maintainer eventually got together a more
comprehensive fix and the bug was closed. Here's an excerpt from my message
on the BTS explaining why it was a severity important bug:

   Being unable to print and use the X selection facility for certain
   documents has a "major effect on the usability of a package, without
   rendering it completely unusable to everyone." Pdftotext is the only easy
   way to feed the contents of a pdf file into a text-to-speech program.
   [...] For the vision impaired, xpdf is mostly or completely useless if
   pdftotext refuses to run on many valid pdf files.

> My current idea is to default to upstream behaviour and implements an
> option to override the settings but I would like to have some comments
> on the "DRM-in-Debian" situation.

Almost every bit of software in Debian either completely ignores  copyright
license information embedded in files. As an example, cp will not prevent
you from copying a Debian package contrary to terms in its
/usr/share/doc/../copyright file. PDF readers and pdftohtml should be no

It is important to be careful not to introduce new bugs when closing this
one. Just like a fix to a "refuses to copy" bug in cp could not cause cp to
silently strip the copyright file out of Debian packages it copies, your bug
fix must not break the pdf reader's ability to display or output the
copyright license data if it had that feature before.

Brian Ristuccia

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