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Re: mplayer / divx

On Tue, Aug 28, 2001 at 09:32:57PM -0700, Aaron Lehmann wrote:
> I would like to package Mplayer with the ffmpeg modifications that
> allow it to play DivX videos without non-free code. The upstream code
> of Mplayer includes OpenDivx which is non-free and I am willing to
> strip this code from it in favor of the ffmpeg code if the OpenDivx
> license is not changed soon.
> I think that takes care of licensing, but I know that patents are a
> problem when it comes to DivX. Unfortunately I don't know much detail
> beyond that. Rules of my home country governing me beside, what
> patents are problematic and how would it affect my hope to package?

So far the biggest problem I know of regarding MPlayer at the moment is
the CSS decryption option.  The MPAA is trying their best to make that go
away anywhere they can using a United States law, the DMCA.  But this much
I assume you know - it has so far successfully kept us from distributing
anything from the Debian website that would allow you to watch a DVD out
of the box (or the apt-get install at least..)

So far nobody's making a big deal about the patents on the DivX encoding,
but that could change.  Debian has an unwritten and unevenly enforced
policy of rejecting software implementing a patent or placing it into
non-free regardless of its license.  But for patents that are not very
well-known or the holder is not being antagonistic, you can probably get
the software into main.

Debian has of course ignored truly pathetic patents such as the patented
Save As dialog (it exists!) and we're probably all a lot better off for
it.  Expect politics can and will get in the way, especially if whoever
has claim to mpeg4 (isn't that Apple?  I forget now) decides they don't
like DivX and try to make it go away.

Since I live in the US, I had to decide how I react to this stupidity,
since so much of it seems to originate here.  The portions of the DMCA
that concern me place unconsitutional restrictions on my guaranteed
freedoms and are therefore illegal law.  I refuse to obey.  And if you
think about what a patent is and isn't, it can't control what you are
allowed to make or use - only what you can sell.

Debian obviously has to take more conservative views (though IMO they have
in the past couple years been a bit too conservative.)  And while I'm sure
most corporations would rather I could not choose to do otherwise, I can
and have.  If they don't like it, they can go to hell and inquire about
blizzard conditions when they arrive.

Joseph Carter <knghtbrd@debian.org>                 Free software developer

Oh no, not again.
        -- Manoj Srivastava

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