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MPlayer revisited


Somewhat over a year ago I started a thread [1] about MPlayer on this
mailing list in order to resolve the endless history of conflicts
between the MPlayer and Debian projects and eventually get MPlayer
included in Debian.  The last remaining issue was deemed to be the lack
of proper modification notices in the spirit of GPL §2a.  Some files we
include from external sources were missing them.  This has now been
resolved.  Shortly before the 1.0pre7 release [2] I ran through the
source tree and added notices similar to the following one

  Modified for use with MPlayer, changes contained in libdvdread_changes.diff.
  detailed CVS changelog at http://www.mplayerhq.hu/cgi-bin/cvsweb.cgi/main/
  $Id: dvd_reader.c,v 1.14 2005/05/25 08:48:32 diego Exp $

as suggested back then by the members of this mailing list.  This is
supposedly the last issue keeping MPlayer from entering Debian.  If
there is something I have overlooked, please let me know, I will fix it.
Should there be need for clarification of any kind, please ask, I will
do my best to answer.

MPlayer includes libdvdcss for CSS decryption, but the package that was
uploaded for inclusion in Debian does not.  Furthermore the MPlayer
project provides MEncoder, a movie encoder, but this is not being
packaged.  So neither should be a problem.

I was told that it is now up to the FTP masters to review the package
and admit it into the distribution.  I was also told that these people
are worried that MPlayer might infringe upon software patents.  Claiming
that it does not would be dishonest for several reasons.  MPlayer
contains more than half a million lines of code.  In the present day and
age where progress bars are not only patentable but patented and
thousands upon thousands of frivolous and trivial patents have already
been granted anything beyond the complexity of "Hello World!" infringes
software patents.  Unfortunately the multimedia arena is filled with
software patents, prompting the FFII to call the situation a patent
thicket[3] and Red Hat to drop almost all multimedia support from their

But at the same time MPlayer is not special in the sense that it is just
another multimedia player and very similar to VLC[4], xine[5], avifile[6],
ogle[7] or FFmpeg[8] and many others, all of which are already a part of
Debian.  These players differ in their feature set somewhat, but MPlayer
does nothing that several of the others will not do as well.  Thus there
is no reason to treat MPlayer differently, all players are affected
equally by patents.

To clarify: My intention is not to start a flamewar nor to pressure
anybody.  There is a lot of confusion surrounding MPlayer that I wish to
clear up in order to pave the way for MPlayer to enter Debian.

friendly regards


[1] MPlayer reloaded:
[2] MPlayer 1.0pre7 was released on 2005-04-16.
[3] FFII initiates research on the MPEG-LA Patent Thicket
[4] http://packages.debian.org/stable/graphics/vlc
[5] http://packages.debian.org/stable/libs/libxine1
[6] http://packages.debian.org/unstable/graphics/avifile-player
[7] http://packages.debian.org/stable/graphics/ogle
[8] http://packages.debian.org/stable/graphics/ffmpeg

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