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Re: MP3 decoders' non-freeness

On Wed, Aug 07, 2002 at 05:00:22PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> No, that's really entirely irrelevant. The only thing that's relevant
> is whether we're violating IP laws or not, not whether patent holders
> think we are, nor whether copyright holders don't really care.

Is it?  That's easy: we are violating IP laws.  gcc is known to
infringe on a at least one patent.  RMS himself has stated this
in a USPTO hearing about the value of software patents.  Of course,
he refrained from saying which one :)
(His speech is archived at http://lpf.ai.mit.edu/Patents/rms-pto.html)

We can't handle patents in a sane and consistent manner, because
we're distributing software, and software patents are not sane.
The only feasible way is to deal with patent threats in an ad-hoc
manner, when they arise.  At that point it becomes very relevant
who wants to hurt us, and why, and what their means are.

If you're saying, "we can ignore this threat because Fraunhofer
doesn't have a leg to stand on", then that's fine with me.  But
please don't try to generalize it into a rule about our reaction
to patent threats.  It just doesn't work, there is no such rule
that makes sense.  Unisys didn't have a leg to stand on about
LZW either (IBM had an older patent on the same algorithm), but
we moved GIF encoders to non-free anyway -- more as a political
statement than anything else.

Richard Braakman

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