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Re: gif-creating applications?

On Fri, Aug 08, 2003 at 01:02:13PM +0200, Andreas Barth wrote:
> Hi


> what's the legal status of inclusion of gif-creating applications in
> debian? Is it ok to include it in main, contrib or non-free?
> http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/gif.html says that the latest patent
> expiry is 7 July 2004, but Unisys seems to have given parts of their
> patent free (but only for non-comercial use).

Unisys has changed its collective mind several times. It is not safe to
rely on the opinion of Unisys.

> Any new uploaded code
> would go only to testing, and release if probably after patent expiry.

Actually, they would go to unstable, and then when the testing scripts
decided that it was appropriate, only then would they go to testing.

> (I'm not asking about a new programm, but of code that's already in
> non-free at the moment, so a total remove will break existing
> programms.)
> So, my question is:
> 1. Is it ok to have gif-producing binaries in testing/main?

No. The GIF algorithm uses (in most cases) LZW (Lempel-Ziv-Welch), which
has not yet expired in Germany. We cannot include it main, because
Unisys is only willing to license the patent for it under non-commercial
terms, and those terms are not sufficient to fulfill the DFSG.

GIF-producing binaries that use only RLE (run length encoding) are not
patent-encumbered and may be placed in main.

> 2. Is it ok to have gif-producing binaries in testing/non-free?

Yes, assuming the binaries otherwise would be eligible for non-free.

> 3. Is it ok to have the source of gif-producing binaries in testing/main?

No. LZW is prohibited in the source and binaries. Many a developer has
had to change the orig.tar.gz file because it contains LZW code which
must be extirpated.

> I'm not a reader of debian-legal. I really would prefer if I just can
> get a "verdict" after your discussion, but it's probably better if you
> would Cc me on replies.

Thank you for including a proper Mail-Followup-To:. That's the best way
to get a proper response where you want it.

Please note that I am not a Debian Developer.

Brian M. Carlson <sandals@crustytoothpaste.ath.cx> 0x560553e7
"Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable. Let us prepare
 to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it
 after all." --Douglas Adams

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