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[libreplanet-discuss] Fw: [school-discuss] Re: need advice on building m

From: Joel Kahn
Subject: [libreplanet-discuss] Fw: [school-discuss] Re: need advice on building multimedia software
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2012 04:51:16 -0700 (PDT)

By sheer coincidence, this recently appeared at SchoolForge. It should be a 
nice big hunk of raw meat for you folks to chew on. Enjoy.


--- On Wed, 10/3/12, LM <> wrote:

> From: LM <>
> Subject: [school-discuss] Re: need advice on building multimedia software
> To:
> Date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012, 6:52 AM
> I make a lot of assumptions about
> Linux based on what I've read.  I've
> just found another fallacy in my assumptions about
> Linux.  My
> assumption was that libre distributions approved by the FSF
> would be
> the best place to look to find out what software had the
> least legal
> issues.  It seems that the FSF and the libre
> distributions I looked at
> are only concerned about copyright issues.  They don't
> appear
> concerned about patent issues.
> Here's a list of software that the FSF avoids:
> The interesting thing is that they'll take issue with a GNU
> licensed
> program linking to a BSD licensed program like
> openssl.  They consider
> that a copyright violation.  However, they don't list
> any issues where
> software is using patent encumbered technologies. 
> Issues like
> problems combining OSI licensed copyrighted code could
> actually hurt
> the spread of Open Source software rather than improve it.
> I did find out the best place to look for information on
> what software
> would give the least legal concerns is with Linux
> distributions
> provided by companies making money from them.  If the
> companies are
> big enough targets, they need to worry about the legal
> situation.
> Here's a list from Red Hat as to what they consider issues:
> Note they include DVD playback in general and mp3 use as
> issues.  They
> also have some interesting information on how other
> distributions may
> get around this (only in certain regions).
> As to ffmpeg, it appears to have mpeg and aac support in the
> ffmpeg
> code, not just in the libraries.  So, it doesn't look
> like a matter of
> just using libraries with open codecs.  One would need
> to rip out code
> from ffmpeg.  This left me wondering why there wasn't
> some flag or
> mechanism to avoid using the code or some alternative
> software that
> would avoid the issues.  I think most of the major Open
> Source video
> players out there use ffmpeg or similar libraries. 
> (Here's something
> I found posted at the vlc site:
>  I
> also noticed mention in
> more than one place that distribution of patented
> technologies as
> source code only was considered okay because it's considered
> free
> speech, but actually building the source code was another
> issue.  I
> have a hard time understanding how this could be considered
> "legally"
> safe when similar situations that would involve copyright
> infringement
> (such as plagiarism) or trademark infringement would not
> fall under
> the category of being protected by free speech.
> The technologies that look like they might have the most
> issues with
> patents appear to be MPEG (2 and onwards which includes MP3
> format),
> AAC (
> ), H.264.  One other disturbing thing, now that most
> countries have
> switched over to digital for television transmission they
> are using
> MPEG with their digital signals.  So, not only were
> publicly owned
> airwaves sold by the US government, the replacement now
> appears to be
> patent encumbered.
> Unfortunately, I can see where schools in areas that need to
> deal with
> patent laws are more comfortable buying their software than
> using Open
> Source.  I can't help wondering if there's anything
> that can be done
> about the situation.  It would be nice if a school
> could create,
> distribute and use its own Open Source distribution without
> having to
> deal with a legal minefield.  Any ideas?
> ###
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