Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 6th May 2010 21:48 UTC
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu Canonical has explained why it has licensed H264. As it turns out, the license does not cover the distribution as a whole - since Ubuntu is entirely Free software, the license cannot be included. Canonical has licensed H264 so that it can offer it as an option to OEMs, just as it does with Flash, Fluendo, and some others. Since this is just an option for OEMs, it does not mean that every pre-installed Ubuntu system comes with the H264 license - it depends on whether or not your OEM decided to include it (good luck finding that out). And people actually promote this complicated spaghetti licensing situation.
Order by: Score:
Comment by mtzmtulivu
by mtzmtulivu on Thu 6th May 2010 22:04 UTC
mtzmtulivu
Member since:
2006-11-14

I thought GPL v2 section 6 and 7 code prevents (re)distribution of GPL code bundled with proprietary technologies and this is why firefox can not support h.264 build in?

how are they working around this requirement?

stribution of the Program.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by mtzmtulivu
by mrsteveman1 on Thu 6th May 2010 23:00 UTC in reply to "Comment by mtzmtulivu"
mrsteveman1 Member since:
2009-11-10

There are other ways to make use of closed code or patent-restricted code in open source programs without bringing the license into play.

End users are completely free to do whatever they wish while running GPLv2 programs, because running the program is not restricted by the license. GPLv3 took it even further, you don't even have to accept the license at all to receive and run the program.

So if they REALLY wanted to, Mozilla could get users to download and install an h.264 plugin or library or something, which is essentially what they're doing NOW by downloading Flash with it's built-in h.264 codec (which Mozilla helps them do with the plugin finder service), but they aren't going to do that because the GPL isn't the only issue here, someone has to pay for the codec at some point and Mozilla has said they aren't going to do that.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by mtzmtulivu
by cerbie on Fri 7th May 2010 09:24 UTC in reply to "Comment by mtzmtulivu"
cerbie Member since:
2006-01-02

I saw nothing in either article about shipping anything that isn't FOSS.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by gnufreex
by gnufreex on Thu 6th May 2010 23:33 UTC
gnufreex
Member since:
2010-05-06

Um... not entirely true. GPLv2 and v3 are same in that regard. GPL does not forbid you to distribute proprietary programs in with distributions; lots of distributors did that. If forbids you to add proprietary extensions to the GPL'd Program.

Distribution is counted as "Aggregate Work" not the "Program". Firefox is the "Program".

Main reason why Canonical (and also Mozilla) does not distribute non-free software is good ethics and ideology. As well as the technical reasons: if you do not have source, you can not fix bugs.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by gnufreex
by mtzmtulivu on Fri 7th May 2010 00:06 UTC in reply to "Comment by gnufreex"
mtzmtulivu Member since:
2006-11-14

ok ..lets say this "aggregate work" is pressed on a cd made up of two components. GPL component and a proprietary component.

GPL component allows the cd to be (re)distributed. Proprietary component does not allow it. In effect the cd can then no longer be (re)distributed.

Let just say a GPL code is pressed on a cd and a completely unrelated proprietary code is also pressed on the same cd. The effective (re)distributivity of the cd will fall on the more restrictive license(the proprietary one) and GPL does not allow any further restrictions to be added, right?

can someone just take one of these images, make copies and start distributing them to anybody who cares to have one? i think not.

If the aggregate work can not be (re)distributed, the aggregate work violates the terms of GPL(me think).

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by gnufreex
by lemur2 on Fri 7th May 2010 02:12 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by gnufreex"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

In effect the cd can then no longer be (re)distributed. Let just say a GPL code is pressed on a cd and a completely unrelated proprietary code is also pressed on the same cd. The effective (re)distributivity of the cd will fall on the more restrictive license(the proprietary one) and GPL does not allow any further restrictions to be added, right?can someone just take one of these images, make copies and start distributing them to anybody who cares to have one? i think not. If the aggregate work can not be (re)distributed, the aggregate work violates the terms of GPL(me think).


The aggregate (the cd) is not distributed under the GPL. Some of the packages on the CD are distributed under the GPL. Distribution under the GPL requires that the GPL components are re-distributable. They are.

Most distributions even provide users with a tool to re-master CDs for the purposes of re-distribution. This is how a whole batch of spin-off Linux distributions are "born".

Here is an example of a fairly popular spin-off re-distribution:
http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=mint

and here is an example of an obscure spin-off re-distribution:
http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=deft

These are both examples of re-distribution of Ubuntu/Debian.

Edited 2010-05-07 02:14 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Comment by gnufreex
by nt_jerkface on Fri 7th May 2010 03:25 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by gnufreex"
nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

You can distribute proprietary and GPL software on the same disc as long as they are separate works.

A GPL program can even have proprietary plug-ins as long as the main program is just calling a binary.

Reply Score: 2

Bout time we got a H.264 post
by nt_jerkface on Fri 7th May 2010 03:13 UTC
nt_jerkface
Member since:
2009-08-26

Thom maybe you could create a H.264 news ticker. I'm thinking 2" text that constantly scrolls across the screen.

Reply Score: 6

v Where is the....
by strcpy on Fri 7th May 2010 09:05 UTC
RE: Where is the....
by Neolander on Fri 7th May 2010 09:39 UTC in reply to "Where is the...."
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

...or use something else than Ubuntu, claiming that it's proprietary technology since it's fully owned by an individual which can suddenly change windows button position in order to create a bad clone of the system tray on the right side of windows (right side is a mandatory requirement. People must close windows while trying to open the file menu with a touchpad/touchscreen, it improves their productivity), without caring a rat's ass about what the developers and designers have to say.

Works pretty well as long as there are other nice distros around ;) And when there's no more, you have to write a new free operating system and start again until it gets cursed with nonsense. A bit tiring, actually, but this is the price you pay for preferring free OSs over Windows and Mac OS X.

Sometimes I wonder why I do so. Then I have to boot on the XP partition for some reason. Get silly popups everywhere. Endure a DNS bug that leads to waiting 30 seconds each time I ask for a page in a web browser. Have an antivirus running in the background that slows down every single HDD access. An ugly "bozo the clown" theme that can't be changed without violating the EULA. Insanely slow global performance. And then I remember about the activation procedure. I remember that I paid for all of this. And I say "oh, well...".

Current free OSs are not ready for the average joe. They just can't prevent breaking things everyday and hence require some knowledge and patience. However, they clearly have some potential, so who knows...

Edited 2010-05-07 09:58 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Comment by emilsedgh
by emilsedgh on Fri 7th May 2010 12:18 UTC
emilsedgh
Member since:
2007-06-21

Perfect timing for messing with free codecs. Exactly when they need support most.

Linux for human beings? Go frak yourself, Canonical. You are yet another company.

(Not that ubuntu affects the whole situation, though)

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by emilsedgh
by darknexus on Fri 7th May 2010 14:30 UTC in reply to "Comment by emilsedgh"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Linux for human beings? Go frak yourself, Canonical. You are yet another company.


Eh? Of course they're another company. Duh. As for the human beings bit, well which would serve the average human being more: A Linux they have to tweak or a Linux that will come working out of the box? If an OEM licenses H.264, people will be able to watch current online videos without tweaking or patent infringing. It's nasty, but sometimes you have to work within the system that's there. Holding too close to ideology will drive people away. Face it, the average person couldn't give a frack about H.264's freedom or lack there of. This is what Canonical, at least, seems to understand that the FSF advocates do not. You cannot talk people to death and expect them to "convert" to your beliefs. They don't care, and they won't care until or unless they are directly affected. Until then, Canonical and OEMs can cover their ass as well as give most people what they want.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Comment by emilsedgh
by emilsedgh on Fri 7th May 2010 15:42 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by emilsedgh"
emilsedgh Member since:
2007-06-21

Users dont need any 'tweaking' to get the thing working. Ubuntu has done a very nice job of providing a simple 'yes/no' dialog to make it work easily without any tweak.

Also, im talking about the fact that this is a very sensible time on the theora and h264 issue. Companies like Canonical, Red Hat, Mozilla and such are expected to take some FOSS'ish side. Products they are selling is the result of uncountable work from community members and volunteers. They cant do whatever they want like their propertiary competeitors; because their competeitors have paid for every piece of work on their products.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by emilsedgh
by darknexus on Fri 7th May 2010 19:38 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by emilsedgh"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Users dont need any 'tweaking' to get the thing working. Ubuntu has done a very nice job of providing a simple 'yes/no' dialog to make it work easily without any tweak.

Wrong. Answering yes will install the unlicensed versions of these codecs. Now, personally, I couldn't give less of a crap, but if you're doing business in the US and other places where software patents exist then you'd better care and put a licensed codec on your systems less the patent holders go after you, your descendants, your customers, and anyone else who might have even heard of you. MPEG-LA has already said they can do this.

Also, im talking about the fact that this is a very sensible time on the theora and h264 issue. Companies like Canonical, Red Hat, Mozilla and such are expected to take some FOSS'ish side. Products they are selling is the result of uncountable work from community members and volunteers. They cant do whatever they want like their propertiary competeitors; because their competeitors have paid for every piece of work on their products.

Uh, hello? It's free software. They can do whatever the hell they want with it so long as they don't violate any of the foss licenses of the software they package. Canonical is not violating any licenses here, and they've outright stated that they want to make a Linux that just works. Well, playing H.264 and other proprietary video formats qualifies as "just works", and in the US you can't blithely ignore threats from organizations like the MPEG-LA if you're in business. They can and they will ring you for all you're worth if you do and get caught.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by emilsedgh
by moondevil on Fri 7th May 2010 20:40 UTC in reply to "Comment by emilsedgh"
moondevil Member since:
2005-07-08

Yeah, this in the end is what will kill Linux.

There are quite some technologies that due to patents and IP issues will never have a legal open source version most likely.

If you pay attention all OEMs that are bundling Linux, they always provide some closed source drivers for their hardware, or licensed components like some codecs.

In the end it will become impossible, from the legal point of view, to have a complete open source Linux installation.

I fear that in the long run multimedia and mobiles will kill Linux. ;)

Reply Score: 2

Why not sell a US "retail" version???
by MacMan on Fri 7th May 2010 14:45 UTC
MacMan
Member since:
2006-11-19

As I understand it, software patents ARE ONLY VALID IN THE US. Thus, all this h.264 patent nonsense only affects those of us here in the US who are unlucky enough to have a government (both parties) bought and paid for multi-national corporations.


So, anyone living in the rest of the world is free to use the h.264 codec. Also, h.264 is open source, there are countless open source h.264 encoders (Handbrake ROCKS!!!!) and decoders.

Also, as I understand it, if Canonical sells a copy in the US with the h.264 license, they only pay MPEG-LA for each copy sold, so if they only sell one copy, they only pay what 10 cents or something.


So why don't they sell a physical retail copy for the US market that you can buy online, for some reasonable fee that includes ALL multimedia codecs, and proprietary hardware drivers. Since software patents are not valid anywhere else (I am so wishing that I can get a post doc appointment in Europe where they have sane laws), Ubuntu can freely give away the version which included all multimedia codecs.


In summary, two Ubuntu versions 1: completely free, use only non-patent FSF approved stuff, 2: a "retail" version that includes multimedia codecs, and hardware drivers. In the rest of the world, both version would be free. In the US, they would sell the retail copy for a small fee, pay the various patent royalties, make a fair and rightfully deserved profit (Canonical I mean, they work hard to make a nice product, and I think they deserve to be rewarded), pass the patent licensing cost onto consumers. This way US consumers would have a choice, of the "free" version or the "retail" version.

I for one DO NOT MIND PAYING FOR THINGS that make my life easier. I would be more than happy to pay for a "retail" copy where I don't have to spend a week tracking down codecs, tracking down hardware drivers, re-compiling the kernel to get 3D working and that BS. Furthermore, it would be a LOT EASIER to try to get others to try Linux if it just worked out of the box.

Edited 2010-05-07 14:51 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Spagetti licensing?
by CaptainN- on Mon 10th May 2010 15:34 UTC
CaptainN-
Member since:
2005-07-07

This kind of licensing work is par for the course for hardware manufacturers - especially on the hardware side, but also on the software side. It's the same for Windows in fact, which is why you get HP shovel ware, which itself is licensed Blu-Ray codecs, and the like. I don't see the problem. Open source/patent free software must compete on merits, not licensing.

Reply Score: 1