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Re: Bug#176267: ITP: mplayer -- Mplayer is a full-featured audioand video player for UN*X like systems

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On Wed, 29 Jan 2003, Don Armstrong wrote:

> On Tue, 28 Jan 2003, Seth Woolley wrote:
> > (I'm supposed to note that I'm not subscribed to debian-legal, but I
> > appreciate responses be CC'd to me.)
> Please set your Mail-Followup-To: appropriately then.

PINE apparently won't let me do that no matter how many different ways I
added that header to the Default-Compose-Headers.

I just followed the instructions on here:

If you don't want to CC me, it's up to you.  I'll see it anyways updated
every hour from the web archive.

> > we don't have to worry about "legal issues" as much, being
> > source-based, but I've been looking for that smoking gun that says
> > the MPlayer is illegal, or even risky!
> I really do hope you and SM find a lawyer and talk to him or her. Just
> distributing source does not magically make you immune to legal
> challenges.

We don't distribute sources.  We distribute links in variables, which when
used together with our "sorcery" allow a person to automatically initiate
a download from a website, when given a spell.  We do not have to store
anything on our servers.  Some spells in our z-rejected section require
user interaction if we've rejected the license, for example.  MPlayer is
not one of them because we evaluated the risks, at least on MPlayer...
like xvid is an optional dependency, which is in our z-rejected section
because it says they don't want people to download it who live in the US
or Japan.

Having a lawyer does not make one immune from legal challenges.  Getting a
lawyer to rubber stamp something as obvious as MPlayer's legality is not
something I'd look into paying someone for.

> > Legal objection, That isn't torn to pieces? Please speak it now or,
> > Forever hold your peace, eh?

BTW when I wrote the above, I had read the message that you linked

> There have already been numerous legal issues discussed in the mplayer
> saga, ranging from licensing irregularities to copyright problems and
> patent issues.

is jpeg removed?  Patent issues on that.  How about any one-click
programs?  Patent issus on those.  PNG?  Apple's got some IP they could
mine...  Linux Kernel?  SCO sees to have some patent issues with Linux.

ClearType ring a bell?

We all won't know until they do something.  That's what Linus did.
That's what MPlayer did...

I'll discuss the licensing and copyright problems lower, where you
mention them.

> Unfortunatly, no one in the mplayer team seems to think these legal
> issues are important, or seems to be willing to take the time
> necessary to do an audit of their own codebase. They seem to be
> relying on debian-legal's pundits to act as their pseudo-counsellor to
> determine what is legal and what is not.

MPlayer's website: "Also, why does debian-legal think they know what is
GPL and what is not better than MPlayer and XAnim authors."

They already think they know what is legal, so your characterization is
prima facie false.

> I'm sure you've read about the libmpeg2 problems I found after 5
> minutes of looking through the code.[2] As far as I am aware, they
> still haven't been fixed.

"It's an 1.2.1 cvs version. The changes were discussed with Walken (aka.
Michel Lespinasse, current libmpeg2 maintainer) he even helped me with
some things. Teh fact is that libmpeg2 was designed for OMS (nowdays
called xine). Since teh architecture of it and mplayer differs a lot,
it had to be changed, and he didn't wanted those changes in the official
libmpeg2. Later he wanted, and the current 0.3.1 is very close to something
we need, but tere are still a few problems, our patch is still waiting at
mpeg2-dev list for commit. but it's gettig OT.
"So, i really doubt that he will sue us for using libmpeg2 with


You really think that's an issue, at all?

Submitted patches?  You can admit you're wrong whenever you feel like it.

> Obviously, if after such a short bit of searching, that such a problem
> can be found brings a strong suspicion that there are other problems
> lurking within the codebase.

The "I can find a nit, thus the rest is suspect" slippery slope argument
doesn't convince me of much anything these days.

> Whoever takes it upon themselves to package mplayer for possible
> inclusion in Debian will most likely have to:
> 1) convince debian-legal that they have audited the codebase and
> determined that everything in the codebase is legal for Debian and
> it's distributors to distribute.

Why is MPlayer so special?

And, even if they have audited the codebase, and they have convinced you
that they have made a determination... what if they are wrong in their
determination?  Do you trust it?

> 2) inform debian-legal (and/or the DD's in general) about any patents
> that mplayer may or may not be infringing upon so an informed decision
> can be made.

Again with the patents...

BTW, I just saw a .deb posted to this list and -devel


> Until that happens, I'm pretty sure that the ftpmasters will refrain
> from allowing mplayer into the archives.[1]

It's happening right now.

> As far as I know, no Debian Developer or an individual sponsored by a
> Debian Developer has stepped forward and offered to do this. Until
> that happens, mplayer will (probably) not be in Debian.

I don't know if this is a "Debian Developer" but it looks like there are
volunteers aplenty.


> Note that I am speaking only on behalf of myself, not Debian. I am
> *NOT* qualified to speak on behalf of the project. If you think that I
> am, you're nuts, and should seek psychiatric or medical evaluation.

Of course...

> Don Armstrong

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