[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: 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?

Hmmm, I think I have missed something; what makes you draw this
conclusion? AudioCoding.com has removed all binaries including those
related to decoding. I see no reference to encoding only in [2]. The
licensing authorities in [1] have licenses that cover decoders. I did
look at their patent portfolio, but is was brief and shallow. I'm having
a closer look now.

libxine:     libfaad (AAC decoder)
vlc:         libfaad (AAC decoder); libx264 (AVC decoder)
libavcodec0: libfaad (AAC decoder); libx264 (AVC decoder)

AFAIK, libx264 is a decoder only but the decoding functions are called

>  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?

My apologies, that should read 'It does not appear to me that..." which
is based on the conclusion of the previous sentence. I was rather hoping
someone would be able to support or contradict this. Regarding my
comments on 'prior art', I did not consider 'prior art' to be
semantically identical to 'no inventive step'; however, I considered
both to be sufficient condition to deem the patents invalid. Of course,
I'm not a patent lawyer.

Matthew W. S. Bell

Reply to: