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

On Wed, Feb 02, 2005 at 01:58:55PM -0600, J.B. Nicholson-Owens wrote:
> 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.

We've had these discussions before and it doesn't go anywhere.  There
are too many schools of thought on how to go about this.  But let me
ask you this:

You get a LiveCD, overall you liked what you see you want to use it 
for whatever stuff.  You decided to play on the huge pile of mp3s
you have and find that it doesn't work.  You have a whole hard drive
worth of stuff that you want to play and none of them work.

How useful is this LiveCD to you?  Would you recommend it to anyone?
I'll assure you, general users who come from Windows where mp3
dominates won't.

This is the same kind of discussion we have with RMS.  It's really up to
what your stance is on free software. People will only switch to a free
format when they know what is at stake.  mp3 from their perspective is
'free'.  They pay nothing.  But until they figure out the issues you've 
got to do something to make it useful for them otherwise they won't 
take the bait

> 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.

We don't know that for sure.  Unless you have some data that says that
people will be confused.  What they will be confused is why their music
collection won't play or their book report they wrote last week doesn't
laod up. :-)

> 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 think you can put the 'best of the breed' media on there.  That 
means you get ogg stuff that sounds way better than mp3, theora stuff
that looks way better than mpeg.  You can do that.  One can even write
some sort of walk through explaining why these formats are great.  If
you can show that ogg will give you better quality at half the amount
of space or something then you win.  They might convert their stuff
to ogg.

> 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.

The free software purity discussions is never productive.  Please see
our mailing list archives on foundation-list and desktop-devel to
know what I'm talking about.  What it does do is just get people
riled up.


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