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Re: libdts patent issue?

On Sat, Jul 16, 2005 at 12:44:11AM -0700, Michael K. Edwards wrote:
> This came up in the course of a curiosity-driven review of the patent
> status of various audio codecs, and also in a recent MPlayer thread. 
> It would probably be wise not to wait for a cease-and-desist letter
> before quietly discontinuing the distribution of libdts.  See
> http://developers.videolan.org/libdca.html and
> http://www.via.ecp.fr/via/ml/vlc-devel/2005-04/msg00230.html .  Might
> want to give derivatives a heads-up too.
> I don't say I like it, but it's probably the wrong battlefield on
> which to fight the "software patent" wars.  The patent (US #5,956,674,
> EP 864 146) is "presumptively valid" to within the relevant legal
> standard,

Software patents are not legal in Europe.  Period.  The European patent
convention from 1972 explicitly excludes software from patentability.
Attempts to pass legislation that would have allowed software to become
patentable have failed.  The worst thing we could do now is give in to
the patent scare tactic and stop developing and distributing software
that might infringe patents that might have some validity.

If DTS Inc. would have prevailed in court is very very questionable.
Regretfully the university hosting libdts and the VideoLAN developers
did not have the motivation, energy and money to fight this out.

> we already collectively have knowledge of it and can't
> really pretend otherwise given things that are already in the mailing
> list archives, and AFAICT (IANAL, TINLA) it can't possibly describe
> anything other than the tweak of a hack on a kludge that is the DTS
> format.  Contrariwise, given the thicket of claims (49 in the US
> version, which is a monstrous 261K in HTML), it strikes me as quite
> impossible to determine whether it is 100% unoriginal without
> litigation.

Why stop at libdts anyway?  During the course of the discussion we came
up with a lot of MPEG-related patents, so why not remove all multimedia
packages same as Red Hat did?

This is a very slippery slope, if a few software patents get accepted as
valid soon all of main will have to be removed.


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