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Re: Royalty free gstreamer plug-in

Thomas Vander Stichele wrote:
> Anyone is free to distribute this source code.  There is nothing illegal
> about offering source code available for download, even if it implements
> concepts covered by patents.  In fact, you can easily download official
> reference code for a wide range of codecs from the respective group's
> sites.
That is not accurate.  Use of the MIT license doesn't change the patent
situation.  If patents were so easily defeated, it would have happened
long ago.  None of the licenses that Fluendo has will cover
redistribution by others.  It still remains problematic in the United
States for us to redistribute this package.
> Red Hat can sign a redistribution contract with Fluendo that allows them
> to also rebuild this source code into binaries to which Fluendo's patent
> license applies.
That might work for RHEL, but it is meaningless for Fedora, and
basically a non-starter for any non-commercial redistribution who's
looking for the legal way out.  Even if it were included in RHEL, it
would be much like the Java components that cannot be redistributed with
the rest of the open source components.
> So Fedora can include the .src.rpm for this plug-in (it's MIT, just like
> any other piece of MIT code), and they can include the binary .rpm built
> from it (if they sign this contract).
One of Fedora's policies is to enable downstream rebuilds and
redistribution.  Contracts are a no-go, and it is still no more legal
for us to redistribute the source code.  If the patent holders decide to
go after people, they'd still be able to get us for that.
> This is a fairly unique situation, and I'm sure it will need to be
> examined in more detail by lawyers and others.  But I wouldn't be so
> quick to dismiss it as impossible to ship :)
It does need to be examined by lawyers to establish its exact legal
position, but it cannot be included in Fedora either way.
> Also keep the following in mind; the MIT license was specifically chosen
> because it contains no specific language about patents, like the GPL
> does.
Lacking language about patents doesn't take away the liability.  Quite
the opposite, in fact.  Using the MIT license is telling everyone else
"Hey, if you get sued for using this, remember - our license didn't say
anything about patents, and it didn't offer you any protections."

Patrick "The N-Man" Barnes
nman64 n-man com

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