Re: Patents and Playback? [Re: GNOME-media on the road to 2.4.0]

On Thu, 2003-08-14 at 16:02, Alan Horkan wrote:
> ubject: Re: GNOME-media on the road to 2.4.0
> >
> > On Thu, 2003-08-14 at 05:07, Richard Stallman wrote:
> > >     If a proprietary or patent-licensed mp3 plugin is clearly
> > >     independently written (does not contain gstreamer code) and gstreamer
> > >     only accesses it via generic, well-defined interfaces it would use to
> > >     access any other plugin, then the plugin may not be a derived work of
> > >     gstreamer and thus the GPL does not apply.
> > > If the interface protocol is common to gstreamer and other real
> > > programs, that reasoning would not go through.  In that case,
> > > non-free plug-ins could be designed to speak this protocol,
> > > and the user could use them with gstreamer.
> > question is if the applications can legally be distributed in countries
> > where patents might apply or if GStreamer insulates them from the GPL vs
> > Patent conflict.
> What are the patent issues specifically?  (I expect this has been asked
> many times before but please humour me)
We are speaking in a general fashion. The issue is not just mp3. There are 
also a lot of other patents out the covering misc audio and video formats.
> Can functionality be removed to give basic playback (but definately
> no encoding and messages explaining why) without infringing the patents?
> Do the patent issue really effect even playback?
> (I was under the distinct impression that it was the psycho acoustic model
> required for encoding on which Frauenhofer had patents)
Could be that mp3 is not specifically a problem, but as stated mp3 is just used 
as an example.
> > > The right way to solve the MP3 problem is to urge people to switch
> > > to OGG.
> Unfortunately that does not solve legacy issues, but OGG is definately the
> way to go for new files.  Reripping and reencoding even a moderately sized
> collection is impractical for most people.
> > True, and GStreamer wants to help people do this by having functionality
> > to transcode mp3's to oggs, quicktimes to Matroskas and so on
> I am surprised that you would actually recommend transcoding given the
> unpleasant loss of quality, but perhaps
> there is some way to transcode from MP3 to Ogg without adding horrible
> amounts of artifacting that I dont know about?
Guess it depends on your demand for quality, personally I think the quality of
the oggs I have transcoded are fully usable, but then again I have never
been a audio buff.

> Again surely if you can legally transcode you can legally do some kind of
> crude playback?
Well if it is illegal to playback it would be illegal to transcode
afaict, unless you by just having transcoding could claim to just 
offer interoperability which I know the DMCA have an exception for. I
doubt however that it is the case.

The situation here is often that it is not clearly illegal to playback
stuff now, but if people suddenly started enforcing their patents as
unisys did with gif then our current transcoding capabilities might have
helped people over to free formats, so at the time we 'lose' the
patented format people can still access their already transcoded media
at least.


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