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Re: Bug#349693: ITP: gst-fluendo-mp3 -- MP3 decoder plugin for GStreamer

* Josselin Mouette:

> We are talking about a MP3 *decoding* plugin. Like the ones we
> already have in so many packages we have stopped counting.

Just to clarify since you put that emphasis on decoding:

There is no difference between decoders and encoders.  Both require
patent licenses.  There are a few references to a statement by some of
the patent holders (Thomson IIRC, the company representing one of the
larger MP3 pools) that free[1] decoders can use a royalty-free
license.  This statement has either never been made by Thomson, or it
has been withdrawn.  Thomson has no intent to go after purely
non-commercial activities, though.  So Debian itself should be fine,
but Debian distributors probably aren't.

[1] "free" as in "beer".  If you use your free-as-in-freedom GPLed
    decoder for commercial activities, you need to obtain a license.
    Thomson made that one pretty clear.

The entire issue gets more complicated because the Thomson patent pool
is not the only one that covers MP3 and its applications.  The other
significant pool I know about mainly contains patents which deal with
software/hardware combinations, so it's unlikely to affect anyone but
appliance makers.

There is also an argument that patent law itself discriminates between
encoders and decoders, but this certainly not true in all

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