Thanks to Fluendo, Linux and Solaris users on a variety of processor architectures can now purchase playback support for patent-encumbered audio and video formats. Similar support from free alternatives, whether they rely on copying Windows DLLs or use original code, all violate existing patent law. The mere existence of Fluendo’s plugins needles a bevy of critics, but Fluendo is prepared to answer them all. And in an ironic twist, sales of these decoders for non-free formats are funding the development of free alternatives.
Fluendo Media Decoders Sound Bad to Open Source Advocates
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2007-02-01 3:06 amanda_skoa
Use of free codecs, copying of media for personal use, ripping music to other formats for personal use etc is perfectly legal in most countries
I think “personal use” is the key issue here.
Later on in the article they say that most sell so far have been for site licences, quite possibly because such site installations (corporate offices, governmental offices) do not fall under the “personal”, or in some countries “non-commercial”, clauses that benefit us private users.
2007-02-01 4:33 pmdylansmrjones
The “personal use” was only in regard to copying media. Not in relation to using codecs.
Most european countries do not allow for so-called “patented” software. It’s primarily a USA-only issue.
Every single company can use “patented” software. What they cannot do is distributing non-free software. But patents are non-issue. So we can use GIF, MP3, WMV (also in commercial applications and websites) and so on with no issues what so ever. What we might not do is distributing the DLLs/libraries (e.g. software) which is owned by somebody else.
“Similar support from free alternatives, whether they rely on copying Windows DLLs or use original code, all violate existing patent law.”
Really? Where? Says who? Fluendo?
When making a statement like that you REALLY need to back it up with actual facts.
Each purchase is licensed for use on one machine, so if you were thinking that you could buy one copy and install it for all of your friends and neighbors, think again.
I wasn’t thinking about installing it for my friends, I was thinking about my computer upstairs, my computer downstairs and my computer at work–all used only by me. But it sounds like I would have to shell out for three licenses. Sheesh! I think I’ll skip it.
I’m pleased this article talked extensively about the issues of free software and patent-encumbered media formats. Those are the important issues and they were fairly covered.
“I want to support mp3, mp3PRO or mp3surround in my products. Do I need a license?
Yes. As for practically any important technology (and particularly for publicly established standards), you should know that patent rights for mp3 exist.”
“An MPEG-4 Audio patent license is needed by manufacturers or developers of end user [AAC] encoder and/or decoder products.”
“A person directly infringes a patent by making, using, offering to sell, selling, or importing into the US any patented invention, without authority, during the term of the patent. … Under US law, a patent owner is entitled to the larger of either a reasonable royalty or lost profits that result from infringement of their patent.”
2007-02-01 4:37 amSoulbender
And the proof that this is violated in every free alternative is exactly where?
2007-02-01 3:56 pmr.m.graham
I think the implication is that the “free alternatives” haven’t licensed the use of the codecs from the patent holders.
It’s not copyright law, it’s patent law. Meaning the licensing is on the technology/algorithm/format, not just a specific implementation of the technology/algorithm/format.
Copying .dll’s may violate the copyright of the original creator of the .dll. Using that .dll may also violate patent law because the patent holder may not have granted you use of his “ideas”.
2007-02-02 3:23 amSoulbender
“I think the implication is that the “free alternatives” haven’t licensed the use of the codecs from the patent holders. ”
Yes but as I said, one shouldnt make such a statement without backing it up with facts and there are NO facts provided in this article backing it up.
I’m sure the case of mp3 isn’t limited to OSS players anyway, I doubt most Windows or Mac players are licensed.
2007-02-01 4:36 pmdylansmrjones
Wes Felter. It only matters if you are selling directly for USA.
There are no patents on MP3, there no patents on ANY software – ever!
There is however patents on some software – in the USA SOLELY.
In most of the world software is pure math and cannot be patented. Of course in USA only money talks, so even the idea of breathing air can be patented.
For now at least, software patents are *illegal* in EU.
That didn’t mean the EU patent office didn’t grant many though, and we face yet another try from lobbies to get that passed (this time bypassing the EU parliament).
We need everyone’s support to let it stay that way.
The only reason why people think they violate patent law is because they just assume that the patents are valid. Take the so called MP3 patent. It doesn’t have MP3 mentioned anywhere in it, just some vague methods of encoding. I wonder how San Disk are getting on.
Every non-trivial piece of software violates existing patent law.
That’s the problem with software patents.
You mean illegal in the USA. Use of free codecs, copying of media for personal use, ripping music to other formats for personal use etc is perfectly legal in most countries.
Unfortunately the US government and corporations don’t understand they no longer run the world.
China has already ruled that all software must be Chinese sourced where possible and all hardware linux compatible to be eligible for government contracts. I expect all closed source software and software patents will be severely restricted in China within 5 years.
India, China, Russia etc have very strong home grown film and music industries and can survive perfectly without the approval of the MPAA and RIAA.