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The end of GIF format [was : Dangerous precedent being set - possible serious violation of the GPL ]

On Thu, Dec 02, 1999 at 09:42:09AM -0800, Don Marti wrote:
> 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.

I know, this will be highly controversive :

we should get rid of all gif-making packages except 1 package
a2gif in non-free, which will allow you to convert other images to gifs if
you REALLY need it. In description of this package there should be :
`using GIFs is HIGHLY discouraged due to patent problems.
Consider chosing another format (ex. jpeg or png)'

I have already made a little (ok, very little) effort in this way,
and Ive sent patches to xearth 1.1 so the future version of xearth
may be finaly free (+jpeg, +png, -gif)

I hope maintainers and developers of other gif-making software
will do sobme effort to use other formats and eventually will
make GIFs thru pipes, so this soft will temportary be in contrib
and will go main with a very little hacking

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