Re: [FFmpeg-devel] Reintroducing FFmpeg to Debian
On Fri, 8 Aug 2014 08:16:24 -0500
Joe Neal <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> On both servers and desktops, I've been a Debian user since Sarge. I
> use Debian not only because of its strong technical merits, but because
> of the strong sense of ethics the project has always had.
> A fork that tries to forcibly steal the name and infrastructure from
> the original project while ousting the original maintainer and a good
> number of developers is not ethical.
This lie has been spread over the last few years and repeated multiple
times. I would like to apoligize for being off topic and using
debian-devel to debunk this lie. But for me, this is a personal insult.
Back in 2004, when the main server that MPlayer used (and FFmpeg used
as cvs repository only, nothing else yet) died, MPlayer started to
collect donations to buy a new machine. FFmpeg joined the efford, as
they used part of the same infrastructure. Thus end of 2004 a new
server was bought by me and set up together with Diego Buirrun and
The server was set up at an ISP which were friends of mine as a personal
favor. Also, legally, the server was registered under my name, as
MPlayer (who "officially" owned the server) was not legal entity.
In the following years most of the infrastructure used by MPlayer and
FFmpeg were provided by Mans Rullgard, Diego Petteno, Luca Barbato,
my brother, a dozen of my friends and me. These included stuff like
mirrors, blogs, testing infrastructure, DNS and mail servers, etc.
I.e. almost everything that MPlayer and FFmpeg used as their infrastructure
were linked to just 4 people: Mans Rullgard, Diego Petteno, Luca Barbato and me.
I would like to point out that none of my friends nor my brother ever had any
relationship to MPlayer of FFmpeg, beside knowing me.
I also want to point out, that up to 2011, the main server on which
most stuff run was considered beloning to MPlayer with FFmpeg being
a paying guest. That was also the reason why everyone refered to the
server as "mphq" back then.
In 2011, when the split happend, the three people who were root
on mphq (Diego Biurrun, Mans Rullgard and me) and Luca Barbato
were signatories of the document that was the first public start
of the split. The one missing name from that list, Diego Petteno,
was also of that group that later became libav, but did not sign
the mail as he didn't consider himself an FFmpeg developer.
At that time, we (we being root, ie Mans Rullgard, Diego Buirrun and me)
explicitly tried not to involve MPlayer at all, because we thought of
this as an FFmpeg internal issue. That's why mphq (the server) was
otherwise untouched. 
Unfortunately, in April 2011, Michael Niedermayer threatened to sue
me personally over a redirection on the MPlayer homepage (for some
reason http://ffmpeg.mplayerhq.hu redirected to http://libav.org),
which i was not even aware of that it existed (i was not involved
in the website at all, beside keeping the webserver running).
Incidentally, he claimed to write to me in the name of all MPlayer
maintainers. Because i didn't want to waste my time and money in a pointless
legal battle, i decided to end my, over a decade long, involvement in MPlayer
and shut down mphq after some grace period to give them time to move the
services to an other server.
As you can see, all the infrastructure that people claim have been
stolen, misapproriated etc belonged to people who were of the libav
camp in the first place. And naturally, this infrastructure went with
them in the split. (would you invest your time and energy into maintaining
infrastructure for a project where its main proponents call you a "lying pig"
and threaten you with their lawyers?)
The only piece of hardware on which FFmpeg could have any claim on,
the mphq server, was handed over to a friend of Reimar Döffinger
(head of MPlayer) later that year (in August, if i'm not mistaken),
to be taken somewhere, where MPlayer could host it again. What
happend to the server afterwards, i do not know.
TL;DR: no piece of infrastructure of FFmpeg was ever stolen.
> In fact, it's pure slime. The
> fact that up until this point the Debian Project has been so accepting
> of a fork that runs so contrary to the free software spirit in its
> ethics has darkened my view of the entire project.
Well, if you believe in lies, then of course your view of the world
will darken. But i hope that this email clears things up.
 Interestingly, a few people on the MPlayer side didn't like the
involvment of root (the people who had root on mphq) in the whole
FFmpeg thing. A few even said that we should step down and hand over
the server to someone else. I offered back then, to hand the server
to anyone who had a claim on it, given they take over all the legal
registration as well (the server and its IP subrange were registred
on my name as MPlayer was not a legal entity). But nobody stepped up
and as such, the server was left in our care.
It is upon moral qualities that a society is ultimately founded. All
the prosperity and technological sophistication in the world is of no
use without that foundation.
-- Miss Matheson, The Diamond Age, Neil Stephenson