Re: GNOME-media on the road to 2.4.0

On Wed, 2003-08-13 at 17:58, Havoc Pennington wrote:
> On Wed, Aug 13, 2003 at 05:41:03PM +0200, Christian Fredrik Kalager Schaller wrote: 
> > The question is not a purely legal question in my view, but also a moral
> > one. As we (gstreamer) has discovered when talking to library
> > maintainers asking them to relicense to LGPL we have sometimes
> > experienced that the library authors used the GPL with the clear intent
> > that they didn't want their code to be used by non-GPL compatible stuff.
> > This means that even if we could contruct a legal argument, like the one
> > you outline above (that reading of the GPL isn't uncontested afaik),
> > there is the moral question if we really want GStreamer or any other
> > GNOME component to be tools for abuse of the original authors license be
> > it GPL or something proprietary. So while we MIGHT be legally in the
> > clear, there is the question wether we would be doing what we think are
> > morally right here.
> The question is whether you want to allow the use of mp3 and other
> patented codecs prior to the expiration of those patents.  I take it
> the answer is "yes" since gstreamer currently ships those codecs.
Well there are many factors here. First of all patents only cover select
areas of the world. Secondly they might formally have been made
available under terms that makes them usefull for people in certain
circumstances. Thirdly they might not be enforced, which might sound
like a cop out, but I think if all software patens where upheld the only
software developer in the US would be IBM.

> If your answer is "yes", you need to take the position that
> gstreamer's LGPL license doesn't apply to those codecs, or you need to
> add the exception clause to make it extra clear.
The LGPL allows linking to non-free stuff

> Of course, your exception clause won't cover GPL *applications*. I
> find it hard to argue that if GIMP plays beeping noises via GTK which
> has a plugin which invokes gstreamer which has a plugin which plays
> the sound, that the sound-playing plugin is a derived work of the
> GIMP. However, if you say that the plugin is a derived work, then you
> should not be shipping the patented plugins, since you know full well
> almost all the apps using them are GPL.
Well the logic here is that an application is only covered by the license
of plugins they use, so if the beep is an unencumbered wav then you are
fine. If the beep is a mp3 however then I would say yes.

> Shipping the codecs in gstreamer and saying "well really they are not
> distributable along with any apps, but use them anyway wink wink" is a
> stupid thing to do.  If you think the plugins can legitimately be used
> and distributed, then ship them; otherwise don't.
We think they often can be legitimately used, but not by GPL apps.

> When the codec itself is (L)GPL, and patents apply to it, that codec
> is blatantly illegal to distribute according to the license, so
> shipping patented codecs under (L)GPL is just wrong (at least in the
> United States).
Think I covered this earlier.

> Basically, you need to be consistent, and make the licensing and what
> you distribute reflect the reality. The "wink wink" stuff is broken
We are trying to be consistent. We started by adding a license field to
the plugin factory information to help developers see what kind of
license a plugin is covered by. Secondly we have now started this drive
to relicense applications to the LGPL, starting with gst-player that we
have relicened and which next release will be LGPL

THe basic issue is that we want GStreamer and GStreamer applications to
be as legally unencumbered as possible and shipable by as many companies
and organisations as possible. To do this we are trying hard to
accomodate the wishes of Red Hat, Sun, GNU, international law and so on.
Personally I think it is a quagmire we probably never get completely out
of, but it is still important to try IMHO


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