K3b & MAD (MP3)

Peter Lewis prlewis at letterboxes.org
Tue Jun 12 21:49:05 UTC 2007

On Tuesday 12 June 2007 18:22:07 Matthew Flaschen wrote:
> 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.

Interesting, I'm in the UK and have heard a number of lawyers describe 
copyright as a moral right. I can understand the economic argument though.

> > 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?

From mp3licencing.com, the website of the consortium of MP3 patent holders:

"Note: No license is needed for private, non-commercial activities (eg: 
home-entertainment, receiving broadcasts and creating a personal music 
library), not generating revenue or other consideration of any kind or for 
entities with associated annual gross revenue less than US$100 000.00"

This is AFAICT the clause allowing end users to download and integrate MP3 
codecs into their systems.

> > 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.

I think the issue is about a conflict with the licences, requiring it to be a 
separate download. A free software system can't be compatible with the above 
clause, as it allows use and distribution "for any purpose".

> > 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.

See above.

> > 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.

Ah, that may well be true then. I wrote the earlier post from memory and 
remember that the patents will be expiring in a few years. It's quite 
probable that it's in 6 years rather than the 2/3 I mentioned.


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