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Re: whether there is a patent on MP3 decoding [was Re: Bug#65794: freeamp must go to non-free]

On Sat, 17 Jun 2000, Josip Rodin wrote:

> severity 65794 normal
> severity 65796 normal
> severity 65797 normal
> thanks
> On Sat, Jun 17, 2000 at 02:27:23PM +0200, Adrian Bunk wrote:
> > freeamp is a MP3 decoder. Decoding of MP3s is patented.
> > 
> > http://www.mp3licensing.com/royalty/swdec.html
> > says about license fees for MP3 decoders:
> > 
> >  mp3 Software Decoders/Players distributed free-of-charge via the Internet
> >                        for personal use of end-users
> >        
> >     No license fee is expected for desktop software mp3 decoders/players
> >    that are distributed free-of-charge via the Internet for personal use
> >                                of end-users.
> > 
> > [you have to pay license fees in all other cases]
> > 
> > This seems to conflict with the DFSG. freeamp must go to non-free
> Actually, patent issues don't concern DFSG, the copyright/licensing issues

The first point of the DFSG is:

     Free Redistribution
          The license of a Debian component may not restrict any party from
          selling or giving away the software as a component of an
          aggregate software distribution containing programs from several
          different sources.  The license may not require a royalty or
          other fee for such sale.

If you read the text above: "distributed free-of-charge via the Internet"
doesn't cover the distribution on a CD.

> do. But yes, the packages would move to non-free...
> I am not completely convinced that this is a real threat. There was no
> threat for a lawsuit ever by the Fraunhofer or Thomson people against a free
> MP3 decoder that we shipped (although yes, this can be a problem for those
> CD vendors that make >10000 copies). The mp3licensing.com or

Until now there was no threat for a lawsuit, but if they want they can try
it with EVERYONE who sells a CD - and if they want they can pick a very
small one (I think of that there is currently someone in Germany who has a
trademark on "webspace" and his lawyer sends letters that you must say you
don't use that word again - and that you have to pay at about 1000,-
Dollar for the lawyer who sent this letter. They always pick people /
small companies that don't have the money for a long lawsuit.).

> thomson-multimedia.com sites have no clear reference or text of a patent
> that covers decoding. Rumour has it that decoding of MP3s is a simple
> Fourier transform, and there's a prior art for that process which dates back
> to the start of the century, so the patent wouldn't be valid, if it existed.
> Until further investigation (i.e. until someone quotes a patent that our
> free software packages infringe), let's downgrade the severity of these bug
> reports below release-critical.

I think these bugs are RC: Do you really want the risk of a lawsuit for
everyone who sells a CD with main of Debian?


A "No" uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a
"Yes" merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble.
                -- Mahatma Ghandi

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