Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 6th Jul 2011 14:00 UTC
Microsoft Well, paint me red and call me a girl scout, I totally did not see this one coming at all. This is so utterly surprising it made my brain explode. Hold on to your panties, because this will rock your world. After pressuring several smaller Android vendors into submission (and yes, HTC is still relatively small compared to other players), Microsoft is now moving on to the big one: Redmond is demanding $15 for every Samsung Android device sold. Samsung's choices are simple: pay up, or face another epic lawsuit.
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lemur2
Member since:
2007-02-17

I really wish you were right, but the courts have permitted software patent holders to go after software developers. So long as this is the case, software patents are effectively valid in the US. It's one of the reasons unlicensed linux distros cannot directly include mp3 players (for one example).


Actually, a number of Linux distributions do in fact directly include mp3 players, and DVD players for that matter.

http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=mint

http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=ultimate

http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=pclinuxos

http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=sabayon

All of these distribute software only, none of them distribute a "specific machine". None of them have ever been challenged.

The owners of mp3 patents may or may not be able to sue any individual in the US who installed any of this software on a specific machine, but I can't see how doing that would be worth their while. Even then, the owner of the machine can simply point out that it is a general-purpose machine, it is not adapted or modified in any way to specifically function as an mp3 player.

AFAIK, this project has not been directly challenged either, and it still is active:

http://lame.sourceforge.net/about.php

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LAME

LAME is distributed by the project as source code only, but you will find binary executables of LAME on the Linux distributions listed above.

Edited 2011-07-11 09:47 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

lemur2,

"Actually, a number of Linux distributions do in fact directly include mp3 players, and DVD players for that matter."

Yes it's possible. My guess is that they're flying under the radar.

Are there any commercial distros which distribute unlicensed mp3 players in the US? I doubt it. If they do, then they are probably licensed.

In any case, it looks like even some of the distros you've cited have mp3 software disabled for the US.

http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=75161&p=436160&hil...

"The US & Japan edition doesn't include stuff like that by default for legal reasons, the regular one does. It is easy enough to install them afterwards, it just gives an install like Ubuntu, no mp3, no DVD playback etc"

Reply Parent Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

lemur2, "Actually, a number of Linux distributions do in fact directly include mp3 players, and DVD players for that matter." Yes it's possible. My guess is that they're flying under the radar. Are there any commercial distros which distribute unlicensed mp3 players in the US? I doubt it. If they do, then they are probably licensed. In any case, it looks like even some of the distros you've cited have mp3 software disabled for the US. http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=47&t=75161&p=436160&hil... "The US & Japan edition doesn't include stuff like that by default for legal reasons, the regular one does. It is easy enough to install them afterwards, it just gives an install like Ubuntu, no mp3, no DVD playback etc"


Risk reduction exercise. A lot of businesses are very, very risk averse. If you have designs for your distribution to be installed and distributed to businesses in a commercial context in the US, then you have to give those businesses a warm and fuzzy feeling that they won't be sued.

http://www.dell.com/content/topics/segtopic.aspx/linux_3x?c=us&l=en...

Telling the businesses to say, in the event they get sued, "the mp3 patents don't apply as this machine is general purpose, it isn't specifically adapted to be an mp3 player" won't cut it. It is probably a perfectly legal defense, but the company has still been sued, which is what they wanted to avoid.

Better, from the Linux distribution's point of view, to leave out the multimedia codecs. US buisness can then install that distribution, and either also leave out the multimedia codecs, or they can purchase licensed codecs from Fluendo.

http://www.fluendo.com/

(Businesses almost everywhere else after purchase can just install the distributions multimedia support from extended repositories).

This is risk avoidance. It is not necessarily required by law, since the machines in question are general purpose machines, they are not explicitly mp3 players. The mp3 patents probably would not apply in this scenario, due to the fact that software alone (or as installed and running on a general purpose machine) fails the "machine or transformation" test. This has NOT been tested in court, and no one wants to be the one to test it. Hence the risk avoidance.

Edited 2011-07-11 23:22 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2