As a general rule I try to steer clear of proprietary formats for this exact sort of situation. I remember the big GIF scare just after I had managed to figure out LZW and write my first GIF encoder/decoder I learned that technically I could not use my program since I didn't have permission for my software to read or write GIF images. I didn't know... I mean I read the algorithm out of a book, had read magazine articles on it, I at least one gif on just about all of the 120 or so floppy disks laying about my room... Not only was my little program in violation, but so were the shareware programs I used to view and edit the images.
I think it is encouraging that many vendors are beginning to move more towards open file formats. PDF is a big example of a ubiquitous proprietary format gone legit.
stapia.gutierrez, on 03 February 2010 - 10:00 AM, said:
Edit: How do business get around the legal fence?
Business either pay for licensing. Or, if they business is high profile enough, they get the privilege gratis to help promote the product.
If a company own a format, it's suspect. If they actively promote it, it's highly suspect. Both Apple's and Microsoft's formats are quite good at doing their job. Unfortunately, part of that job is DRM and user lockout.
If it's not an open format, chances are you don't own as much of what you paid for as you think.