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mpeg patents (was Bug#11882..)

> Is there any documentation available on these patents?

 Here are some excerpts on MPEG-1 related patents from the Net. I hold
no personal opinion on this particular subject, nor I am qualified
to form judgement on software patents, in general.

Linkname: MPEG-1 FAQ
Filename: http://bmrc.berkeley.edu/mpegfaq/MPEG-FAQ

Is MPEG patented ?

Many of the companies which participated in the MPEG committee have
indicated that they hold patents to fundamental elements of the MPEG
syntax and semantics.  Already, the group known as the "IRT consortium"
(CCETT, IRT, et al) have defined royalty fees and licensing agreements
for OEMs of MPEG Layer I and II audio encoders and decoders.  The fee
is $1 USD per audio channel in small quantities, and $0.50 USD per
channel in large quantities.

A royalty and licensing agreement has yet to be reached among holders
of  Video and Systems patents, however the figure has already been
agreed upon, ranging from $3 to $4 per implementation. Whether it is
retroactively applicable or not to products already sold, or whether it
is possible to avoid the patents via approximation techniques, is not
known. The non-profit organization,CableLabs (Boulder, Colorado), is
responsible for leading the MPEG Intellectual Property Rights effort
(known canonically as the "MPEG Patent Pool.").  An agreement is
expected by mid 1995.

In order to reach the IS (International Standard) document stage, all
parties must have sent in a letter to ISO stating they agree to license
their intellectual property on fair and reasonable terms,
indiscriminately. For MPEG-1 and MPEG-2, this was accomplished in mid

Companies which hold patents often cross-license each other.  Each
party does not have to pay royalties to one another.

Linkname: mpeg_encode README
URL: http://www.imag.fr/Multimedia/jeudis/jeudi2/mpeg_encode.html

This software is freely distributed.  That means, you may use it for
any non-commercial purpose.  However, patents are held by several companies
on various aspects of the MPEG video standard.  Companies or individuals
who want to develop commercial products that include this code must
acquire licenses from these companies.  For information on licensing, see
Appendix F in the standard.

Linkname: December News
URL: http://www.onlineinc.com/cdrompro/1296CP/news12.html

   OmniMedia, the British company known for its Video CD and MPEG 1.0
   tools and production of CD-ROM children's and music titles, has been
   granted Patent GB 2293036 for "OmniScape." OmniScape is an invention
   that provides "reformatting of data delivered to a computer, via
   communications links such as a phone line, LAN, radio link, etc.,
   possibly from a number of different sources, such that all delivered
   data is presented in a display style consistent with that of the
   user's storage medium," according to the company. The types of
   applications that will be affected by this patent include, according
   to the company, "hybrid CD-ROMs, Intranet applications, and
   interactive television/video on demand." When asked how OmniMedia
   intends to enforce its new intellectual property rights, the company's
   answer is, "Gently."


Ioannis Tambouras 
ioannis@flinet.com, West Palm Beach, Florida
Signed pgp-key on key server. 

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