Most Wanted

From LibrePlanet
Jump to: navigation, search

Taking away freedom

When common people are introduced to free software, the first application which entails their freedom is a multimedia player for the web browser, namely Adobe's Flash Player. Creating a replacement for it is a High Priority Free Software Projects. Let's look deeper into the issue!

Adobe's Flash Player is the de facto standard for interactive multimedia on the web. It is rare to find a website that does not contain embedded Flash files, so the browsing experience of the users of Adobe Flash Player becomes largely biased by one single company. On the other hand, we don't have information about the internals of the proprietary application, so it is theoretically possible that the invoked Flash Player Plugin reports usage patterns to the mother company, which would mean that almost the whole browsing experience of a particular user is tracked.

The pattern behind

The cause for site creators to use embedded Flash movies is most likely the missing open standard for interactive multimedia. There are open audio and video formats, there are open raster and vector image formats, there is even the at-last free Java platform to build upon, but there is not a single standard to describe how to implement animations. Although this could be still circumvented in rather hard ways (for example using Javascript and SVG, or Java), there is not a single tool to do the work - not a tool that could be used by the general public. So not just Adobe's Flash Player is filling a market gap, but also Adobe Flash, the content creator application does so.

Due to the public's demand for an animated web, Adobe conquered a position where every part of a platform: the file format, the content creation and the content player are in the company's hand. This is a monopoly.

Reaction of the free world

Among these circumstances the creation of GNASH, a free replacement Flash player is by far not enough. The real missed thing is an open standard for interactive animated content, which can introduce competition among content creation tools. Without that the whole multimedia web market stays dictated by Adobe releasing newer and newer versions of their proprietary platform, and forcing newer and newer free software users to install non-free software. In my opinion freedom should not follow: freedom should create.