Linked by jrincayc on Fri 15th Jul 2011 17:14 UTC
Legal Patent term calculation is complicated in the US because there are essentially two different systems and quite a few corner cases. Even with a list of patents, it can be tricky to determine when the patents are all expired. Since I am a computer programmer (and not a lawyer), I created a program to try and automate this. This paper discusses how patent term calculation works, and some results from a combination of hand and automatic term calculation for MP3, MPEG-2 and H.264.
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I agree that it is good to use Vorbis, Theora and WebM, but that still doesn't help if the video you want to see is encoded in MPEG-2 or the audio you want to hear is encoded in MP3. Unlike the GIF format, both encoding and decoding of MP3, MPEG-2 and H.264 are patented.

Users can help each other if they use Vorbis, Theora and WebM.

Fortunately there are free tools available to covert existing data into free formats. Here is an example:

I can't tell you anything about the possible expectation to pay royalties for the tool itself, but once you have converted your data you can presumably get rid of the conversion tool and you are then home free from then on, as is anyone else you might want to share your multimedia files with (legal files, e.g. videos you took yourself). If your legit multimedia file is in WebM format, no-one has any legal claim over you. You are no longer constrained by what large corporations may want to restrict you to, for example you can copy your file wherever you please without DRM restrictions getting in your way.

Edited 2011-07-19 03:43 UTC

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