Re: Patents, gimp-nonfree and LAME
On Fri, 22 Aug 2003 07:04:14 +0000 Brian M. Carlson 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.
What about software that infringes upon patents and where it's not
clear under what conditions a license would be possible to obtain? I'm
thinking for example about Adobe's patent for tabbed palettes that many
GUIs are infringing upon. Although this patent is very broad Adobe has
been able to successfully sue Macromedia for infringing upon it (read
more on http://swpat.ffii.org/patente/wirkungen/palette/index.en.html
or, if you understand german, http://patinfo.ffii.org/patente.html). I
fear that once projects like e.g. the Gimp become too successful they
might also face legal actions from Adobe and others.
BTW, if you want to support the FFII in its protest about the upcoming
decision concerning the legalization of software patents in the EU, you
should read the press release at http://swpat.ffii.org/news/03/demo0819
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