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Re: Dangerous precedent being set - possible serious violation of the GPL

On Wed, Dec 01, 1999 at 11:24:52PM -0700, Richard Stallman wrote:

> You are entirely right that programs prohibited by patents
> in some countries should not be treated like programs
> restricted by their authors.
> gimp-nonfree should be renamed and reclassified as a free non-us
> package.

LZW is patented in countries other than the US -- "United States Patent
No. 4,558,302, Japanese Patent Numbers 2,123,602 and 2,610,084, and
patents in Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom."
according to http://corp2.unisys.com/LeadStory/lzwfaq.html

The Debian policy -- http://www.debian.org/doc/debian-policy/ch2.html
-- says that non-us is for cryptography that can't legally be exported
from the US.  But there are countries from which you can export crypto 
in which the LZW patent is enforced.

As a practical matter, I discourage anyone from distributing any GIF
files or software to create them. I want GIF to join Betamax, DIVX, and
SDMI on the junk pile of formats whose "owners" killed them by trying to
keep them proprietary. It will help to make an argument for openness and
interoperability that even the most clueless of managers can understand.

But if you must have a category for "free software to create a GIF",
neither non-us nor non-free seems to apply.

Don Marti               |  Free the web. Burn all GIFs. 
dmarti@zgp.org          |  You can't spell "software patent reform"
http://zgp.org/~dmarti  |  without "U". 
whois DM683             |  http://burnallgifs.org/ 

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