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Re: MP3 decoder packaged with XMMS

On 7/18/05, Steve Langasek <vorlon@debian.org> wrote:
[consistently sane and well-judged things about MP3 and patents generally]

It does, however, strike me that it would be prudent for someone
appropriately qualified (as I am not) to look closely at the claims of
US #5,579,430 and, generally, the history of the "OCF process"
described in WO 88/01811.  (That's a published international patent
application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, and as I understand
it a practitioner can get its full text including diagrams from
several sources including Dialog.)  I haven't tracked that application
down; but a competent-looking survey of the prior art from an
interested observer aware of that document may be found at
http://gauss.ffii.org/PatentView/EP511692 .

Basically, Debian is distributing close cousins to things whose patent
infringement status has been brought into question by attempts to
enforce those patents on other distributors.  I have no idea at what
point Debian has "actual notice" but I would think that it likely that
a "duty of due care" has been triggered under at least one of the
world's legal systems.  None of the MP3 issues -- even encoders, if
you ask me -- seems to be an open-and-shut case of "drop it unless
competent counsel is optimistic" (which I would say that libdts is),
but IMHO the question warrants some competent attention.

Personally, I would kind of like to see a negotiated outcome with the
current Thomson people, whose public record appears reasonable to me. 
But as it seems very unlikely to me that Debian can scrape together
enough good will towards an 3vi1 pat3nt h01d3r to take an olive branch
if it were offered with respect to (say) LAME and ffmpeg, let me at
least suggest obtaining opinion of competent counsel.

- Michael
(IANADD, IANAL, TINLA, and I don't have any affiliation with Dolby or

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