Re: [Rocky Caldwell thomson net: [David Neary]RE: MP3 licensing]

Luis Villa wrote:
But this discussion is not productive- [...]

I disagree -- reading the thread (and another related thread about the
media CD), it's obvious that some posters are quite unclear about the
intersection of patent law and free software for people living in
software patent observing countries (like the US).

For example, Dave Neary said more than once that he thought it was a
non-sequitur to talk about the relationship between patents and free
software after I mentioned this intersection and the conflict therein:
This is a non sequitur. I do believe that an important part of offerring people a free software option is interoperability. That said, I personally prefer to use open file formats. Also, mp3 *is* supported in free software - there are GPL and LGPL implementations of the mp3 codec. I think I am still missing your point...

The point is that just because a program can be non-free software for
some users despite that it is licensed under a free software license.
This is why the FSF discusses "free software" in terms of a particular
user -- a program is free software *for you* if ... -- some people live
under regulations others don't have to deal with.  Software patents and
the Digital Millennium Copyright Act are two of the most oppressive
problems for American free software users.

Sriram Ramkrishna said
We only need the [MP3] decoder, we don't need the encoder, liveCDs should only encode in ogg as far as I'm concerned. We're in the business of spreading free software here.

But there's a conflict here.  One cannot be "in the business of
spreading free software" and share an MP3 decoder because for some users
there are no free software MP3 decoders.  If someone in Germany shares a
GPL'd MP3 player with an American, that MP3 player is simultaneously
non-free for the American and free for for the German.  If this liveCD
has an MP3 decoder on it, copying the entire CD for a friend means
spreading non-free software.  Spreading the MP3 player without paying
the patent license fee is infringing upon the MP3 patent.

There is also a difference of opinion on the goals of the media CD -- is
it to provide complete compatibility with the outside world or
distribute free software, or something else?  Different people have
different answers, some people have conflicting answers.  This makes it
hard for outsiders to understand what this project is trying to accomplish.

I think it would be wise to put nothing but free software on the CD
because you can show off what free software is capable of doing, help
convince people that they don't need non-free software as much as they
have been taught to believe they do, and because it will make it
possible for people to copy the whole CD in the most ordinary way
without doing something unsavory or illegal.  But I don't run this
project, so I was trying to learn what the project is all about.

I find it entirely productive to get people on the same page with
what the project aims to do if you seek the public's advice on what
would best serve their needs in a media CD.

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