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LAME license

Dear debian-legal,

I'm currently working on the lame package that currently awaits
processing from ftpteam in NEW. During the review there some concerns
raised regarding the package licensing. I'm now asking you, dear
debian-legal regulars, to state your opinion.

a) The source files in the lame package all have a standard LGPLv2+
   headers. In the root directory of the source tree, the text of the
   LGPL is found in the file COPYING.

b) Additionally, there is a README file included, which contains this

,----[ taken from LAME's README file:
| This code is distributed under the GNU LESSER PUBLIC LICENSE
| (LGPL, see www.gnu.org) with the following modification:
| 1. If you determine that distribution of LAME requires a patent license,
|    and you obtain a patent license, you may distribute LAME even though
|    redistribution of LAME may also require a patent license.  
| 2. You agree not to enforce any patent claims for any aspect of
|    MPEG audio compression, or any other techniques contained in 
|    the LAME source code. 

Now the member of the ftpteam is concerned that this might be an
additional restriction that is not allowed by the (L)GPLv2.

I tend to agree here, and tried to ask upstream on their opinion on


Since there was no really helpful response on that inquiry, I've tried
asking at FFmpeg upstream, which provide software that can optionally
use LAME to encode to the MP3 format. On that mailing list, Reimar
Doeffinger points out that because this additional restriction is not
visible in the respective source files but hidden in the README, this
"almost certainly wouldn't hold up in any court":


Do you agree with this claim?

As a last resort, I think we can still redistribute lame under the terms
of the LGPLv3, which seems the be permitted by the LAME license. The
GPLv3 contains terms that are very similar to the modifications quoted
above in §11. This should address the "additional restrictions" concern.

Do you agree with this theory?

Reinhard Tartler, KeyID 945348A4

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