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Re: Software patents and Debian

On 8/16/06, Bas Wijnen <shevek@fmf.nl> wrote:

When looking for some video-editing software, I found avidemux.  According to
the wnpp bug, there is a problem with license issues regarding the MPEG2/MPEG4
codec.  There is a software patent on this codec, and a paid license is needed
in order to use it, appearantly.

My question is how Debian handles software patents.  I thought we didn't care
about them except if they were actively enforced, because it's completely
impossible to avoid all patented software, considering the junk that gets
patented.  If that is the case, would any of you know if the MPEG[24] codec
patents are actively enforced?  In other words, can this be in Debian?

Some days ago I saw a "Legal Mini-FAQ"[1] for FFmpeg which says, among
other things:
Q: Since FFmpeg is licensed under the LGPL, is it perfectly all right
to incorporate the whole FFmpeg core into my own commercial product?
A: You might have a problem here. Sure the LGPL allows you to
incorporate the code. However, there have been cases where companies
have used FFmpeg in their projects, usually for such capabilities as
superior MPEG-4 decoding. These companies found out that once you
start trying to make money from certain technologies, the alleged
owners of the technologies will come after their dues. Most notably,
MPEG-LA (licensing authority) is vigilant and diligent about
collecting for MPEG-related technologies.

Anyway, ffmpeg[2] is included in Debian

[1] http://ffmpeg.mplayerhq.hu/legal.html
[2] http://packages.debian.org/stable/graphics/ffmpeg

DISCLAIMER: IANAL, IANADD, and I'm not active with Debian, except by
reading few mailing lists.

Markus Laire

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