Document Freedom Day Date in the current year: March 27, 2024

Document Freedom Day Document Freedom Day is an annual awareness campaign that occurs on the last Wednesday of March. Launched by the Free Software Foundation Europe, it aims to celebrate and raise awareness of open standards.

The main goal of Document Freedom Day is to educate a general audience with little technical background about the importance of open formats in ensuring free communication and empowering users. Open standards allow users to exchange information regardless of the software they use and achieve independence from software vendors.

Many companies and organizations use proprietary formats in their software products, for example, CorelDRAW has CDR, AutoCAD has DWG, Photoshop has PSD, etc. Such files can be opened only using the original software which produced them. The fact that people cannot use competing software to retrieve the information stored in proprietary format files may lead to the so-called vendor lock-in, also known as customer lock-in or proprietary lock-in.

Vendor lock-in is a situation where a customer is dependent on a software vendor and cannot switch to another vendor without significant costs (or at all). For example, Skype is a proprietary application owned by Microsoft. Its protocol’s specifications are not publicly available, which makes alternative Skype clients developed by third parties impossible.

Thus, proprietary formats deprive users of freedom of choice: they are forced to choose software applications based on whether they can work with certain formats instead of base on their merits. In addition, proprietary software can be expensive, which can be a problem for small companies, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and low-income individual users.

Document Freedom Day was launched in 2008 in order to highlight the importance of open standards for interoperability and independence from software vendors. Thanks to open standards, governments, organizations, companies and individual users can share data freely and use any software they want to retrieve information.

Document Freedom Day organizers emphasize that the word “document” refers not only to text documents and spreadsheets, but to any kind of digital data, including artwork, sheet and recorded music, statistics, email, etc.

Document Freedom Day was originally organized by the Free Software Foundation Europe based in Hamburg, Germany. Since 2016, it has been managed by a team of volunteers of the Digital Freedom Foundation that is also responsible for other Freedom Day events, including Education Freedom Day, Hardware Freedom Day, Culture Freedom Day, and Software Freedom Day.

Document Freedom Events are organized by volunteers in dozens of countries across the world. For example, countries that joined the campaign in 2021 included Albania, Argentina, Cambodia, China, Columbia, Croatia, Cuba, France, Ghana, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, and Venezuela. The largest celebration took place in 2013, with 60 events in 30 countries.

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Document Freedom Day, international observances, awareness campaigns, open standards, open formats