Eric Dunbar eric.dunbar at
Sat Apr 1 03:28:50 UTC 2006

On 31/03/06, Alan McKinnon <alan at> wrote:
> On Friday 31 March 2006 22:41, mrwolff wrote:
> > Alan McKinnon wrote:
> > >On Friday 31 March 2006 05:00, Chanchao wrote:
> > >>I'm only asking a similar level of
> > >>support in Ubuntu: Having the (a) included media player be able
> > >> to play mp3.
> > >
> > >Reasonable thing to ask for, the way to do it is this:
> > >
> > >Get a letter from the mp3 patent holder which gives a permanent
> > >irrevocable right to anyone to implement the mp3 standard without
> > >payment of a license fee or signing of a contract.
> > >
> > >The ONLY reason Ubuntu doesn't have default mp3 support is because
> > >no-one has that letter yet. We can bitch and moan all we want but
> > > the truth is that we don't include it because in many places
> > > there is a valid legal law that says we can't do it.
> >
> > The one thing I never got about this stuff is why one of the large
> > corporations, for example IBM, doesn't just throw down a very large
> > one time sum of money to buy the rights to whatever they need to
> > make it free.  Especially since it is in the best interest of those
> > companies to promote and spread Linux.  If the cost is too great,
> > what about a partnership with a few other companies who extensively
> > use Linux like Novell, etc?  You might say the cost of doing that
> > is too great, but I haven't even heard of any of the corporations
> > trying.  The same I think could be done with other formats.
> Again, possibly a good idea, but consider this:
> How many software patents are out there, and what kind of precedent
> would that set?
> The last thing that IBM wants is to suddenly have the community look
> to them to buy out all 50,000 patents that could be useable in Linux
> The last thing WE want is to have IBM OWN all those patents.

But, if the patent holder has granted the use of said patent under the
GPL to that particular project, it really shouldn't matter _who_ owns
the patent. Even Microsoft, the epitome of the open source haters,
could hold the rights to the patent and do nothing if it knowingly
allow that project the use of the patent under the terms of the GPL.

(is it the GPL that covers the granting of a limited but irrevokable
licence (except in cases where the plaintiff using the patented
software is trying to enforce other patents against the defendant (I'm
thinking I'm missing a condition there)))

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