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

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

On Thu, Jul 13, 2000 at 05:19:51AM +0200, Tomasz Wegrzanowski wrote:
> > > 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.

Due to the TECHNICAL FACTS of how LZW works you cannot modify a LZW GIF
without decompressing it first.  Just as you must decompress a gzipped
file before you may modify it.

Are you going to tell me that some BSD compress'd program is GPL'd that
it's not free because it is distributed as a .tar.Z?  That's rediculous,
but the same issue (and same algorithm in fact!)  Nothing at all prevents
you from modifying the source since there are free tools that can
decompress the file (gzip can) and nothing is going to stop you from
distributing an uncompressed (.tar) version of the source code or using a
different compression scheme (.tar.gz) or a different packaging format for
that matter (such as .zip) if you so choose.

There is a problem in some cases (and there is a political statement to
make in trying to put an end to the GIF format) but the problem just about
never scales to the level that there are legal problems with GPL'd
software just because they use GIF files.

Even the FSF website admits that they could have used uncompressed GIFs,
but has instead made the conscious choice to use something else and
advocates that others do the same to help raise awareness of the issues
regarding the LZW patent.  Their choice was political, and so is your
crusade.  Don't think others so foolish to believe there is a serious
legal issue here that is going to cause 50 packages to be pulled from the
distribution if the problem isn't fixed before potato ships.

> > 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

I love your logic.  Take your holier-than-thou crusade and bother somebody

Joseph Carter <knghtbrd@debian.org>               GnuPG key 1024D/DCF9DAB3
Debian GNU/Linux (http://www.debian.org/)         20F6 2261 F185 7A3E 79FC
The QuakeForge Project (http://quakeforge.net/)   44F9 8FF7 D7A3 DCF9 DAB3

<dark> Knghtbrd: We have lots of whatevers.
<Knghtbrd> dark - In Debian?  Hell yeah we do!

Reply to: