K3b & MAD (MP3)

Matthew Flaschen matthew.flaschen at gatech.edu
Tue Jun 12 17:22:07 UTC 2007

Peter Lewis wrote:
> As I understand it, copyrighting is about asserting a moral right as the 
> author of a work. A patent is a different beast entirely, originally devised 
> for economic reasons rather than moral ones

At least in the USA, both were supposed to be economic incentives.

, and intended to give the
> developers of technology a headstart in the marketplace. Copyright lasts for 
> over 70 years depending on the jurisdiction. Patents usually much less (i.e. 
> once the headstart has had its effect).
> Some of the technology behind the MP3 codec is patented, not copyrighted 
> (though to what extent those patents are valid in Europe is debatable, but 
> potentially expensive).

Right.  In theory, that's the reason Ubuntu still distributes it, albeit
not by default.  They say you should be able to install it if you live
in a jurisdiction without software patents.  And then everyone in the US
just installs that software anyway.

> In the MP3 example, for institutional  use and distribution, you have
to pay
> them a licence fee. For personal use you don't.

I'm pretty sure you do, even though they would be unlikely to actually
sue.  Why do you think there's an exception for this?

> Therefore, Ubuntu can't ship
> the codec (as they are an organisation, distributing it to whomever under the GPL), but can't guarantee 
> that personal use is its only intent (indeed it's contrary to the spirit of 
> the free software).

Right, but by offering it for download from their servers, they're still
 distributing illegallly, just on a smaller, less traceable scale.

> YOU the user however, can download the MP3 codec for 
> personal use, as that's one of the conditions under which the patent holder 
> will let you use it.

I really don't think that's correct.

> In addition, I believe that the MP3 patent will be expiring in 2/3 years...

That's almost definitely wrong.
http://mp3licensing.com/patents/index.html lists at least one patent
expiring in 2013.

Matt Flaschen

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