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Re: Royalty free gstreamer plug-in

> That is not accurate.  Use of the MIT license doesn't change the patent
> situation.

Could you expand on that point a bit ? Calling something "the patent
situation" doesn't tell me exactly what you mean.

FWIW, for most distributions the problem with mp3 code is precisely that
all these decoders were GPL-licensed, and the GPL has a clause that
terminates your right to distribute if you cannot distribute freely to
all (remember, IANAL).  So the problem was in the GPL, not in the code
or in the fact that patents apply.

Feel free to correct me if I'm missing something.

>   If patents were so easily defeated, it would have happened
> long ago.

This does not defeat patents.  This only aims at achieving a very
specific thing: allowing distros to ship both source code for a decoder,
without violating the source code license, and binaries built from it,
with the necessary patent license attached.

One of the reasons this never happened before is because nobody wanted
to invest in creating a MIT codebase to do so (remember - this means any
other company can "rip Fluendo off" and repackage their code) - all free
software decoders that I know of are under the GPL.

>   None of the licenses that Fluendo has will cover
> redistribution by others.

Are you sure ? Fluendo offers any distributor the possibility of signing
a contract that allows distributors to rebuild binaries for which the
patent license Fluendo negotiated is transferable.

> 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.
> 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."

The point is that "use" of a piece of software applies to the binary,
not the source code.  You cannot get sued for having a piece of software
code.  You can get sued for distributing a working (in this case,
binary) version of the code without the permission to do so, or for
using a binary version for which you do not have a permission.  Of
course, IANAL, but if I'm wrong about this, please argue the specific
points I'm wrong about.

In this respect, any piece of code currently shipped by Fedora could be
the subject of a lawsuit for any of the customers.  Fedora is not
guaranteeing their users they won't get sued for anything in the distro,
so I don't see why it would be different for this particular package.

Thanks for your insightful comments, I hope to form a clearer picture
for myself on the situation.


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