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VoIP - patented codecs - question

Hi there!

Some background info:


A few days ago GnomeMeeting ( http://www.gnomemeeting.org/ )
announced that from now on, we can place PC-to-Phone calls
using GnomeMeeting. 

MicroTelco Services ( http://www.microtelco.com ) is providing
the service. Of course it's not free, but the rates seem to be fair.

The only problem is that to use this service, audio must be compressed
using the G.723.1 codec, and it's patented.

OpenH323 used to support it, but the support has been removed when DMCA
came. ( http://www.openh323.org/fom-serve/cache/93.html )

So now the suggested solution is to buy extra hardware, which implements
the codec in hardware - for some 160 USD.
( http://store1.quicknet.net/cgi-bin/linuxedition?;;CH_LNX1 )


My question:

Could someone please enlighten me about the legal state of software
patents - all over the world?

I know (approximately) what the DMCA says.

I know that They are going to do essentially the same in the Europen
Union. ( http://www.eurolinux.org/ )

But what about the rest of the world?

For example I live in Hungary, Europe.
(Hungary is going the join the EU in a few years,
but we still have some time until that.)

I belive that software patents are not [yet] legal here.
(I might be wrong about this, can someone confirm or refute this?)

I wonder whether it would be possible to maintain a different [enhanced]
version of OpenH323 and GnomeMeeting in some state, where software
patents do not exist? Maybe it could be uploaded to Debian non-US or
something like that.

Maybe some of us could use G.723.1 for free (without breaking the law),
after all.

What do you think?

Csillag Kristóf <fenwick@freemail.hu>

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