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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.
> 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.

If the package is patent-encumbered (see below) and in main, then you
should file a serious bug on that package. I think gs has this problem
also; it creates LZW TIFFs.

> 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"?

The operative word is *encumbered*. Patented software is fine (DSA is
patented, and every DD must have an OpenPGP key) as long as, in your
words, it is not "problematic". The debian-legal standard for
problematic is not the number of countries, but rather the
aggressiveness of the patent holder. The LZW patent holder, Unisys, is
very aggressive and their patent still threatens a large number of

Brian M. Carlson <sandals@crustytoothpaste.ath.cx> 0x560553e7

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