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.
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Why not sell a US "retail" version???
by MacMan on Fri 7th May 2010 14:45 UTC
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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

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