AAC audio patent questions
Hi, I just subscribed.
I'm developing a Free Software application, Ogg Frog at
http://www.oggfrog.com/ in which I would like to include support for
playing and encoding AAC (MPEG-4, mp4 or m4a) audio. But the format has
many patents, and I'm not able to find any mention of patent licenses
for free players or encoders.
Yet VLC (http://www.videolan.org/) both plays and creates AAC files. Is
this because there are no software patents where it is developed in
France, because they have a license, or because there is an exception
for Open Source software?
(I just asked on the vlc-devel list, but I'd like to also hear from
In my research I found that the creator of FAAC, a free AAC encoder, was
forced to take his binaries offline because Dolby complained he was
infringing its patent.
I live in Canada. Canada has software patents, but not to the extent
the US does. The official policy seems to be on this page:
Manual of Patent Office Practice
Chapter 16: Computer Implemented Inventions
The MPEG-4 Licensing FAQ says in one place that fees are due upon the
"sale" of encoders or decoders, but in another place it says fees are
due when they are "provided":
I looked at the fee schedule for AAC audio and I didn't see any
exception for free or open source software.
Does it make a difference whether I provide just a player, or both a
player and an encoder? I understand one must get a license to encode
MP3s, for example, but not to play them.
I'm planning my first test release for a week or two from now. I'd like
to support AAC, but I don't want to get sued! Please advise.