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2286 public websites advertise non-free software

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During Free Software Foundation Europe's pdfreaders.org campaign, Free Software activists from 41 countries have reported 2286 public sector institutions which advertise non-free PDF readers on their websites. FSFE will now contact these institutions, trying to get as many advertisements for non-free PDF readers as possible removed before the end of the year. Progress will be documented on the list of reported institutions.

"Public bodies are right to try and make things easy for citizens by explaining how to open the files on their sites. But by advertising non-free software, they're doing citizens a disservice", says Karsten Gerloff, President of the Free Software Foundation Europe. "Democratic governments are supposed to give us freedom, not to drive us into dependence on a single software vendor."

Most versions of the PDF file format are Open Standards, but the advertised readers are proprietary. These advertisements help to build a brand for the one particular non-free software company. The public sector becomes a marketing channel for that company and its products, making it harder for Free Software PDF readers to gain market share.

"We're frankly astonished at the amount of responses we got", says Matthias Kirschner, FSFE's Fellowship coordinator. "The number of reports we've received show that the problem is endemic across all levels of the public sector." In just four weeks, hundreds of activists from 41 countries submitted 2286 reports about advertisement for non-free software to FSFE. Beside that, already 37 organisations, 45 businesses and 1418 individuals have signed FSFE's petition asking public bodies to remove advertisements for non-free software from their websites. "This shows how many people across Europe care about software freedom and are willing to get active to help the public sector solve its advertising problem", continues Kirschner.

FSFE encourages public institutions to remove advertisements for non-free software from their websites, or at least change their websites so that they no longer discriminate against Free Software. In February 2009 Fellows of FSFE started pdfreaders.org, a website listing Free Software PDF readers for all major operating systems. The website also provides recommendations based on a range of practical criteria, such as integration with the operating system and ease of installation.