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

Re: MP3 decoders' non-freeness

On Tue, Aug 06, 2002 at 03:02:59AM -0500, David Starner wrote:
> At 05:09 PM 8/6/02 +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> >You mightn't have noticed but Debian is distributed by mirror sites
> >hosted by a bunch of universities, ISPs, companies, and others all around
> >the world. There's plenty of blood to be gotten from those turnips, and,
> Many of whom also distribute Red Hat or other mp3-decoder carrying
> distributions. 

Oh, sorry, my bad I wasn't paying attention. Debian includes mp3 decoders
too; there's been rumours and mild scaremongering about whether mp3
decoding has been patented, but nothing definite. OTOH, there has been
something definite about mp3 encoding. Debian doesn't include any mp3

> The amount of money to be got from a unknowing non-commercial
> infringer is also pretty limited.

The issue isn't how badly we can be hurt.

> Distributing large amounts of software that we didn't write, and that
> we don't have a large body of software patents to trade on, inherently
> opens us up to lawsuits. 

Only in the same sense that breathing can open you up to lawsuits.

> The owners of the
> patent have gone after free MP3 encoders, but I've never heard of them
> going after free MP3 decoders. And most independent analyses I've have
> said that the claim that the patents cover decoding is at best shakey.

This is exactly the issue; claims that no one would bother suing us over
what we distribute is entirely irrelevant.

> We also don't have any patent-free place to put the mp3 players.

If someone wanted to find a bandwidth sponsor somewhere that it would
conceivably be possible to host patent encumbered stuff, or DMCA-violating
stuff, or similar, and wanted to spend the time learning about the
issues involved enough to talk to lawyers about ensuring that it was
done in such a way that wasn't directly or indirectly violating US laws,
we might be able to one day have such a place.


Anthony Towns <aj@humbug.org.au> <http://azure.humbug.org.au/~aj/>
I don't speak for anyone save myself. GPG signed mail preferred.

 ``If you don't do it now, you'll be one year older when you do.''

Reply to: