Getting mono into FC extras

Paul paul at
Sun Mar 20 23:53:13 UTC 2005


> > Well, for example, Thomson may be willing to permit unlimited
> > redistribution of mp3 decoders if a fee is paid. This would still not be
> > permitted under the GPL. (IANAL).
> Do patents cover the binary or only the source?

It would depend on the terms of the patent. If the patent is one of
those really insane ones (like that of a mathematical algorithm), then
anything which makes use of said algorithm is in violation of the patent
irrespective of if its a complete product or not.

The patent of MP3 is one of the more dodgy ones as there is still a
rather large dispute over if it is patentable as it is based on a very
old piece of maths.

> I'm asking because if patent only covered binary, then if a fee was
> paid for unlimited mp3 encode/decode support, I don't see how it would
> be a GPL violation - since you are allowed to distribute the source.
> Isn't the GPL about the source and its free availability?

Section 7 of the GPL states

"If, as a consequence of a court judgment...conditions are
imposed on you...that contradict the conditions of this License,
they do not excuse you from the conditions of this license.  If
you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your
obligations under this license and any other pertinent
obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the
Program at all..."

In otherwords, if a piece of software is in violation of a patent it
can't be distributed as GPL. This is even more the case if a court has
told you so.

The problem is that this hasn't actually happened - no conditions have
been imposed on Mono by a court judgement (or any other reason).  Until
that does happen - meaning that there would have to be a patent lawsuit
against Novell alleging patent abuse in Mono - then Mono is clear.

Of course, this doesn't give the do it until you get sued licence. It's
daft to think it. But given the undertaken the darkside has given to
ECMA over a royalty free use (it was one of the conditions for the
standardisation of C#), it does seem unlikely. But then again, this is
MS we're talking about.

To say otherwise is to misunderstand patents, and to doom yourself to a
world twenty years in the past, as a patent search found that even the
Linux kernel infringes ~270 patents...

Which brings us to The Truth: ANY non-trivial program will be infringing
someone's patent.

Now, if we can all honestly say that every package with *any* Linux
distro (inclusive of the kernel), then that's brilliant. However, we all
know this is not really the case. Sure, lots of the patents in the
kernel belong to nice companies (such as IBM), but some don't and have
their lineage has been established.



"It is often said that something cannot be libel if it is the truth.
This has had to be amended to 'something cannot be libel if it is the
truth or if the bank balance says otherwise'" - US Today
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