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Re: Somebody must package djvulibre



Christian Hudon wrote:

> IMNSHO it'd be rather pointless to release the
> code of the reference implementation under the GPL but have it unusable
> because it's encumbered by patents, so hopefully they thought of that
> too.

There was a discussion of this sort of question on the Ogg Vorbis list a
few months ago. We asked Richard Stallman for his opinion of what would
happen if someone had a patent for some algorithm, but released source
code for an implementation of that algorithm under the GPL. Here is the
crucial part of RMS's response: "... our lawyer recently told me that
any patent holder that releases a GPL-covered program which the patent
covers is implicitly licensing the patent for that use." (RMS, 18
October 2001, email to jack@xiph.org, cc: vorbis@xiph.org) In other
words (this is my interpretation of RMS's words), you could use the
GPL'd code in accordance with the GPL, but you could not independently
implement the algorithm, nor use the code in a non-GPL context.

Now, just to be clear, this is quite different from the case where
someone releases a program under GPL that is covered by a third party's
patent (e.g. if a patent holder grants you a non-transferable license to
use his algorithm in your program, and you then release your code under
GPL). RMS addressed this question too, saying, "In that case, since you
can't distribute the complete source code without violating your patent
license, and you can't distribute incomplete source or binary-only
without violating the GPL, in effect you cannot distribute the program
at all." (RMS, 20 October 2001, email to jack@xiph.org, cc:
vorbis@xiph.org)

Craig

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