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Re: Bug#220464: gimp: LZW patent is still valid in Europe and Japan

On Wed, Nov 12, 2003 at 01:17:18PM -0800, Ben Gertzfield wrote:
> I am copying debian-legal on this mail.  Please include me on any 
> replies, as I am not subscribed to that list.

I'm not subscribed to debian-legal, too.
Please Cc me on replies.

Below are my opinions on this issue.

> Adrian Bunk wrote:
> >the LZW patent is still valid in Europe and Japan.
> >
> >Due to the possible legal risk for your users in Europe and Japan it's 
> >still required to keep LZW code out of main.
> >
> > 
> >
> I'm quite sure we have cryptographic software in main that is 
> patent-encumbered and illegal for other reasons in many non-US countries 
> worldwide.  Isn't this exactly the same thing?  It's been rehashed many 
> times.

Cryptographic software and non-US have nothing to do with patents or
non-free software. It was and is always possible to use the software
from non-US/main both inside and outside the USA (with at about half a
dozen exceptions like Iraq and Afghanistan). Only exporting 
cryptographic software from the USA was an issue.

If patented software was in non-US/main, it wouldn't e.g. be possible to 
mirror non-US in Germany.

> As far as I understand, at this point, the conclusion is that some 
> patent-encumbered software is still allowed in main, as long as its 
> distribution does not become "problematic" (Policy manual 2.2.3).  How 
> many countries need to have patents on a given piece of code before it 
> becomes "problematic"?

Section 2.2.3 of your policy says:

     Packages must be placed in _non-free_ or _non-US/non-free_ if they are
     not compliant with the DFSG or are encumbered by patents or other
     legal issues that make their distribution problematic.

This section clearly states, that packages that "are encumbered by 
patents" must go to non-free. The "their distribution problematic" only 
refers to the "other legal issues".

Besides this, the distribution of patented software is IMHO problematic
as soon as there's a patent without a patent licence that allows DFSG
use of the patent: Otherwise the patent owner can at any time start

> I'm quite sure debian-legal will have more to say on this point.
> Ben



       "Is there not promise of rain?" Ling Tan asked suddenly out
        of the darkness. There had been need of rain for many days.
       "Only a promise," Lao Er said.
                                       Pearl S. Buck - Dragon Seed

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