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Re: License grant for Open Source MP3 decoders?

"Michael Crawford" <mdcrawford@gmail.com> writes:

> I have long been under the impression that there is a blanket
> license grant for Open Source MP3 decoders, mainly because there are
> so many of them.

You have my sincere sympathy for being a literal victim of the
wasteful extortion racket that is the US Patent system.

> Unless someone can point out an Open Source or Free Software
> zero-cost license grant, I'll have to remove MP3 playback from Ogg
> Frog. Will that be the case?

If you wish to avoid infringing the patent claims of those specific
patents, yes.

Getting that specific license will not, of course, protect you from
some uncountable *other* patents that each also happen to claim some
part of your work.

> I know Fraunhofer has gone after lots of Open Source *encoder*
> publishers; have they yet threatened any Open Source *decoder*
> publishers?

Yes, at least as early as 1998:

    Fraunhofer IIS-A, Audio & Multimedia

    From your publications and your web-site we learn that you
    distribute and/or sell decoders and/or encoders that use the MPEG
    Layer-3 standard.

    To make, sell and/or distribute products using the standard and
    thus our patents, you need to obtain a license under these patents
    from us.


> If they haven't, could the legal principle of estoppel - that is,
> failure to enforce their IP rights - be used to allow my use of
> their patents?

My understanding of case history (which is that of an outsider who
doesn't keep good records, so take this as anecdotal only) is that no,
omitting to enforce a patent for some period of time does not
materially diminish its force when wielded later.

> Thanks for any advice you can give me.

I hope that helps.

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_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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