Sale of codecs

Martin Owens doctormo at
Thu Sep 25 16:49:39 BST 2008

OK Misinformation busting time:

It is not illegal to distribute or operate most of the codecs in the
US or anywhere else. So long as it's the free software packages,
liblame (mp3), ffmpeg, libdecss, and so on. none of these packages
have copyright problems and none have been challenged for patent

(as an example) Accatel and mp3 parents. We have _NO_ idea if liblame
breaks any of the patents. It's just not safe for a _company_ to
_distribute_ considering they may or may not be sued and may or may
not loose the case against a patent suite.

The big problem with the US law is that we can't investigate or
research the problem because as soon as we do that we invite triple
damages if any court case was lost (because we know about the patent)

OK now libdecss is slightly different, it's not patents that are the
problem but the DMCA and in the EU the EUCD. These acts of law
prohibit the distribution and use of software which can break
encryptions. This library has only ever been challenged in the EU, so
far not losses. In this case the law is technically prohibiting you
from playing your own DVDs with a criminal prosecution and a maximum
of 10 years in jail. That is what makes this law so breathtakingly
dumb. BUT this means it's bad news all over the place not just in the

Regards, Martin

2008/9/25 Derick Eisenhardt <derick.eisenhardt at>:
> For those of us who live in the US, with all the software patents and
> whatnot we have to deal with, it's currently the only true legal venue for
> us to receive our codecs. I'm not saying it's right, but it is sadly the
> only way for Ubuntu to fully support the multimedia needs of those in
> America and other countries with similar copyright/patent laws.
> - Derick Eisenhardt
> Mississippi LoCo Team
> On Thu, Sep 25, 2008 at 1:59 AM, Corey Burger <corey.burger at>
> wrote:
>> On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 11:38 PM, Neil Coetzer <nit006.5 at> wrote:
>> > Dear all,
>> >
>> > I have just had a rather embarrassing situation arise over the
>> > announcement
>> > of proprietary codecs being for sale. We have just submitted an article
>> > (which we do monthly) to a local newsletter published by the Computer
>> > Society of Zimbabwe, and along with our article bragging about the
>> > Ubuntu
>> > promise of always being free, they also published a link to this
>> > article:
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> > which claims that Ubuntu has become commercial and is no longer free
>> > based
>> > on this codec issue. I have so far been unable to find out for sure,
>> > whether
>> > or not the free download of codecs is still available? I would assume
>> > so,
>> > but can anyone confirm this before I start complaining to the people who
>> > mass-mailed that link? I would appreciate it if anyone can shed any
>> > light on
>> > what is actually happening and what the implications are.
>> >
>> > Urgent feedback would be appreciated so that I can jump on the Computer
>> > Society of Zimbabwe and ask them to retract that publicly if necessary.
>> To put none to fine a point on it, Sam Varghese is a garbage
>> journalist (He may be a perfectly wonderful person, but his
>> jounrnalism is terrible).  I would ignore what he says.
>> Medibuntu is not going away (afaik) nor are the free codecs in
>> multiverse. I honestly have no idea if we are planning to go the
>> Fedora route and only sell codecs, but I seriously doubt it.
>> Corey
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