Linked by Eugenia Loli on Wed 25th Oct 2006 08:41 UTC
Linux A few months ago we ran a poll about the most important non-free Linux apps. We had over 8,000 votes in that poll and we consider the results pretty interesting. Interesting enough to push Linux's market share if a distro capitalized on them?
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On the issue of CODECs ...
by MacTO on Wed 25th Oct 2006 12:02 UTC
MacTO
Member since:
2006-09-21

Some of the fuss that I've been reading about is related to multimedia CODECs. It is important to note that many of them are either patented or trade secrets. It isn't the open source community that is restricting their use under Linux, but the people who own the IP on those CODECs. Yes, there are convoluted work-arounds to get them working. On the other hand, they may be considered illegal. That can get the Linux distributor shut-down, or worse. Which is a big part of the reason why the big ones don't include them (some the little distributions don't care as much because they have less to lose).

Even in the case of commercial software like Acrobat and Flash, which are definitely meant to run under Linux, many companies don't like it if you redistribute their product and may not like it if you downloaded their software through some sort of front-end. Again, lawyer hell. ;) So please don't blame it on the open source community.

Finally: if you choose to use a distribution like Debian, which has a social license mandating the strict adherence of free software, don't blame them if they don't have your favourite non-free application. That would be like whining about Microsoft not offering an open source version of Windows. But at least you have the choice to use a different Linux distribution, one which will suit your needs better. Microsoft does not give you that choice at all!

Reply Score: 5

RE: On the issue of CODECs ...
by hal2k1 on Wed 25th Oct 2006 12:14 in reply to "On the issue of CODECs ..."
hal2k1 Member since:
2005-11-11

//It is important to note that many of them are either patented or trade secrets. It isn't the open source community that is restricting their use under Linux, but the people who own the IP on those CODECs. Yes, there are convoluted work-arounds to get them working. On the other hand, they may be considered illegal. That can get the Linux distributor shut-down, or worse.//

It is important to note that such could only be considered illegal in America. Any software patents involved could only have American scope, since software patents are a nonsense just about anywhere else.

Under any jurisdiction at all, trade secrets are only secrets while they are still a secret. If there is an open source implementation, it is hardly a secret any longer. The only possible illegal action here is for some individual to have illegally revealed a trade secret ... and only that individual is culpable under the law. If a trade secret is reverse engineered, then no-one is culpable at all, and there is no legal protection once the secret is out.

Once the secret is out, its out, and the law cannot stop Linux from subsequently using it (no matter how the secret got out in the first place).

Back to patents ... America cannot shut down Linux. Linux is international. What is America going to do ... ban all Americans from using Linux? How clever would that be? America is already enough of a laughing stock, but to ban themselves from using new technology that the rest of the world is happily forging ahead with ... well that would reaching new heights of stupidity, even by American standards.

Edited 2006-10-25 12:25

Reply Parent Score: 2