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Re: MP3 decoder packaged with XMMS

On Mon, Jul 11, 2005 at 01:45:24PM +0200, Diego Biurrun wrote:
> On Mon, Jul 11, 2005 at 03:54:12AM -0700, Steve Langasek wrote:

> > However, the reason Debian continues to include the mp3 decoder library is
> > that this patent, like so many other software patents, does not appear to be
> > actively enforced.  This is the standard Debian uses in deciding whether to
> > distribute the software; Red Hat evidently uses a different standard.

> Is that the standard Debian practise?  Is that in the policy somewhere?

Debian policy governs the technical details of package creation.  This is a
matter that's out of scope of the policy document; my comments reflect the
de facto policy of the ftp team as I understand it.

> AFAICT Debian includes many packages that violate software patents, even
> actively enforced ones.  It's simply impossible to avoid.  A very prominent
> example is libts/libdca, where the developers closed the project due to
> patent threats by DTC Inc.:

> http://packages.debian.org/stable/libdevel/libdts-dev
> http://developers.videolan.org/libdca.html

  DTS Inc. claims that distributing this software is a violation of their
  patent EP 864 146. At DTS Inc. request, we decided, as a precautionary
  measure, to provisionally suspend the distribution of libdca while reviewing
  DTS Inc. claim. This is not an acknowledgement of the validity of the claim.
  The previous name "libdts" was changed to "libdca" as a precautionary

So upstream hasn't even decided yet what to think of the patent claim,
they've just taken things off-line as a precaution.  That's a rather weak
precedent for "enforcement".

> Another example from the multimedia area are the patents on MPEG-2/4/H.264
> held and actively enforced by the MPEG LA (licensing association) and the
> many packages in Debian that support MPEG-2/4/H.264 (and all of them support
> MP3 as well):

Do you have any references regarding the enforcement of these patents?

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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