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Re: Patents, gimp-nonfree and LAME

On Thu, Aug 21, 2003 at 10:55:12PM -0700, Paul C. Bryan wrote:
> My question is: what are the guidelines on packaging code that has 
> patented technology? Does GIMP's GIF support get distributed because 
> Unisys is not actively enforcing its LZW patent, while LAME does not get 
> distributed because Fraunhofer is actively enforcing its MP3 patent?

No, Unisys is very actively enforcing its patent. It is acceptable to
distribute LZW in non-free because it can be used for non-commercial
purposes only, which would make it eligible for non-free. With LAME,
Frauenhofer requires that for every copy of an MP3 encoder, somewhere
around $.50 to $.75 be charged (I didn't look this up, so don't blame me
if this is wrong; look it up yourself) per copy. Debian doesn't want to
assume the responsibility for reporting, etc. to Fraunhofer, especially
since SPI is a US (Indiana?) corporation.

Generally, if a patented technology is only licensed under non-free
terms, it will be put in non-free, unless it requires affirmative action
on the part of Debian (like the MP3 patent), in which case Debian will
refuse to package it at all. Some patented technologies, such as the
encryption algorithm CAST-128 [0], are available for use under DFSG-free
terms, and so may be placed in main, assuming the software implementing
them is also DFSG-free.

> [1] http://www.debian.org/devel/wnpp/unable-to-package.en.html

[0] http://www.rfc-editor.org/rfc/rfc2144.txt

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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