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Re: MPEG-4 patent license issues - libfaad* and libx264* and other codecs.

On Sat, Apr 29, 2006 at 11:37:39PM +0100, Matthew William Solloway Bell wrote:
> The packages libxine1, ffmpeg,  include libfaad*, libx264* or another
> codec which implement the MPEG-4 Advanced Audio Coding and Advanced
> Video Coding standards. Unfortunately, these are patent encumbered in at
> least the USA, and many other countries. To distribute code implementing
> any of these patents, a license is required[1], assuming that the
> claimed patents are valid. This license requires signing an agreement
> and the payment of royalties, which hasn't been done AFAIK, and is
> contrary to policy. 
> There is evidence of prior attempts of enforcement, specifically against
> FAAD at AudioCoding.com[2].

This appears to refer to enforcement of patents covering encoding using the
codecs in question.  Do libxine1 and ffmpeg implement encoding of these, or
just decoding?  Is there a history of enforcement of patents on decoding of
the codecs in question?

 Further, it has been brought to my attention
> that a reasonable belief that patents are not valid is sufficient
> condition for being able to distribute software that comes under such a
> license (subject to ftp master agreement). This is the only evidence I
> could find supporting such a belief[3]. It does not appear that
> significant prior art exists for any/all of the MPEG-4 patents.
> There has been some discussion on the lists before about this issue with
> no particular conclusion[4].

The ffii.org page you point to explicitly states their opinion that the
patents in question contain no substantive creative element, i.e., the
patents are invalidated by prior art in the field.  Why do you draw the
opposite conclusion that "it does not appear that significant prior art
exists", citing only the ffii.org page itself?

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
vorlon@debian.org                                   http://www.debian.org/

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