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Re: Royalty free gstreamer plug-in

On Fri, 2005-12-23 at 10:17 -0600, Patrick Barnes wrote:
> Thomas Vander Stichele wrote:
> > > 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.
> >
> >   
> By "the patent situation", I mean that MP3 is covered by patents, and
> that to use or redistribute any technology that takes advantage of a
> patented technique, you must obtain a license from the patent holder.

Just to make sure I follow you - this only applies to the binaries,
correct ? We both agree that patent law does not stop you from shipping
source code that implements patented techniques ?

As an example - I can take the freetype2 .src.rpm in Fedora and rebuild
it with a switch to turn on the patented hinting techniques.  Fedora is
shipping a piece of source code that implements patented techniques.

I just want to make sure we are only talking about the "patent
situation" when it comes to the binaries.

> That is only part of it.  The other part is that we are in the United
> States, where use of patented techniques without a license is illegal. 
> Your licensing means we can redistribute from a copyright perspective,
> but we are still constrained by the patent.  Under the GPL, we lose the
> copyright if the codebase is impacted by a patent.

No - you lose the ability to distribute the software under the GPL
because the GPL itself terminates itself. AFAIK this is unrelated to
> The point is that a contract is still needed for the binaries.

Yes, exactly.  There's no other way to satisfy the upstream patent
license requirements.

> > 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 contract is a killer.

Can you expand on that ? What makes it a killer ?

>   Also, it wouldn't make much sense for us to
> include a plugin that can only be used with other non-GPL software. 
> Most of the software in Fedora that uses the gstreamer backend is GPL
> software.

Totem is licensed under the GPL with the added exception/clarification
to allow for binary plugins to be used with it through GStreamer.  A
lawyer needs to decide if this is an interpretation of the GPL as
intended by the author (much like the situation for kernel modules) or
if it is an explicit exception.  It was also discussed with Rhythmbox
developers - I don't know if that got decided upon.  The author of
sound-juicer is going to add this exception as well.

> What you're doing and what you're trying to do is great, but there is a
> distinct reason that MP3 has been such a problem in the past.  You've
> made some progress, but we are still a long way away from being where we
> need to be in order to have free MP3.

I don't think there will be free mp3 the way there is free Vorbis until
the patents expire.

FWIW, I'm not necessarily arguing Fedora should ship it.  I think it
would be great if Fedora would make a statement by saying "we don't want
to put this in the distribution because it is not a free format".  I
would be happy if Fedora would be sending users that message.  All of my
100+GB of music at home is in Ogg/Vorbis :)


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