[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Are GPLed .gifs legal at all ???

On Wed, Jul 12, 2000 at 08:10:41PM -0700, Joseph Carter wrote:
> Modifying a GIF involves decompressing it into a pixmap, changing the
> pixmap, and writing over the GIF with a new one.  Provided you do not LZW
> compress the new one, you're okay.  Unless of course the program cannot
> read a non-LZW GIF file (some programs like at least the last version of
> zgv I used couldn't read the output of libungif), in which case you cannot
> freely modify its GIFs..
> > GPL requires people to whom you redistribute a file
> > to be able to modify and redistribute it.
> > But they can't modify .gifs they got, because of
> > patent problems.
> But you CAN modify GIFs, you just cannot use LZW compression on the
> result.

These images are INTENDED to be COMPRESSED.

Format distributed is *NOT* random gif that simply happened to be compressed LZW.
Format distributed is LZWed gif.

Mere existence of nonLZW gifs doesn't make any difference to FACT that,
due to patent problems, one can't modify LZW gifs.

> > GPL says. that if, due to patent problems, you
> > can't meet all licence's critaria, you can't distribute
> > GPLed file at all.
> > 
> > So it seems to me that you can't distribute GPLed LZWgifs at all.
> > 
> > ( so Debian probably has severe legal problem because several of
> >   packages containing .gifs are GPL/LGPL )
> It seems to me you're looking to start a crusade against free software
> using GIFs just because you don't like UniSys.  Find something worthwhile
> to crusade against - the UniSys patent on LZW is almost up anyway and even
> if that weren't the case, there are only a small handful of programs which
> use GIFs that cannot read one that is uncompressed.
> Next thing I know you'll be filing bugs against Quake because in OpenGL it
> saves screenshots as Targa (though uncompressed) and at least one major
> variant of Targa uses LZW.  Don't even think about it - I'd close the bug
> without a second thought.
> There is no legal problem here.  There might be a political problem, but I
> really don't care about that.

There is legal problem.
Problem is that LZW gifs aren't free, therefore :
b) shouldn't be i nmain
a) can't be distributed under GPL, and Debian breaks GPL distributing them

Reply to: