Technical board discussion of patent-encumbered media codecs in main

Matthew Garrett mjg59 at
Tue Jan 2 20:51:22 GMT 2007

The issue of patent-encumbered media codecs in the archive was brought 
up at today's technical board meeting. The summary of the discussion is 
broadly that current practice is to include patent-encumbered media 
codecs in main where appropriate, providing that they are not in ship.

This is predicated upon the belief that including these files on remote 
servers and only providing them to users on request is less likely to 
leave us open to lawsuits than including them on pressed CDs. Scott was 
of the belief that we have received legal advice of this nature. Is 
anyone able to confirm this?

Tollef noted that it would be easy for these packages to accidently end 
up included in ship as a result of dependency chains. Therefore, we also 
suggest that it be possible to flag certain packages as "not-ship" in 
order to avoid this eventuality.

James - does this broadly fit with your understanding of the current 

Having noted all the above, there's a certain degree of inconsistency in 
our current packaging. xmms is included in main, along with libmad. 
However, I believe that all other media players in main have had mp3 
support disabled. We /do/ provide mp3 support in universe, which leads 
me to think that we'd be in pretty much the same legal position if we 
enabled mp3 support in main (but not ship).

Matthew Garrett | mjg59 at

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