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Re: Royalty free gstreamer plug-in

On Fri, 2005-12-23 at 11:32 -0600, Patrick Barnes wrote:
> Elliot Lee wrote:
> > On Fri, 23 Dec 2005, Thomas Vander Stichele wrote:
> >
> > > 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 ?
> >
> > Even this is questionable. It depends a lot on what constitutes patent
> > infringement. Wikipedia sez "In U.S. law, an infringement may occur where
> > the defendant has made, used, sold, offered to sell, or imported the
> > infringing invention or its equivalent." Because software patents, such as
> > the MP3 ones, typically claim a "method by which X happens", the source
> > code could be argued to be the equivalent of the invention described in
> > the MP3 patents' claims. Form doesn't seem to be important in patent law,
> > only function - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctrine_of_equivalents
> >
> > I think a lot of this discussion here consists of us trying to be patent
> > lawyers when we're not. While free software hackers are generally much
> > more aware of IP law than your average Joe, we're just missing too much
> > knowledge of patent case law and general "legal flavor" to have any idea
> > which way this goes, legally speaking.
> >
> > I expect there will be future developments in the media formats area of
> > Fedora, but for now it seems unlikely that we will do more than link to
> > the packages you have kindly made available.
> >
> > Best,
> > -- Elliot
> > Red Hat Summit Nashville (May 30 - June 2, 2006)
> > http://www.redhat.com/promo/summit/
> >
> >   
> While my view is that the patent would cover only the binary form, legal
> precedent suggests that the patent also covers the source form.  A fine
> example of this would be the DVD decryption code - which has been deemed
> illegal in U.S. courts.  As far as Fedora is concerned, this is a moot
> point.  I can't think of any examples of entire packages that we
> distribute only in source form.  Packages that we cannot build and
> distribute in binary form and that downstream cannot build and
> distribute (without regard to contracts) have typically been excluded
> and left to projects like Livna.

The DVD decryption code is illegal due to DMCA restrictions, not
patents.  AFAIK no patent infringement issue has been raised to date
regarding DeCSS.  Even as non-lawyers, we still have to be careful not
to muddy the waters in arguments about copyrights, patents, trademarks,
DMCA, and other legal issues.

Paul W. Frields, RHCE                          http://paul.frields.org/
  gpg fingerprint: 3DA6 A0AC 6D58 FEC4 0233  5906 ACDB C937 BD11 3717
 Fedora Documentation Project: http://fedora.redhat.com/projects/docs/

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