Eric Dunbar eric.dunbar at
Wed Mar 29 19:52:50 UTC 2006

On 29/03/06, Brian Puccio <brian at> wrote:
> Sorry, need to play devil's advocate...
> On Wed, 2006-03-29 at 13:03 +0100, Toby Kelsey wrote:
> > Chanchao wrote:
> >
> > >  1 Ubuntu simply cannot distribute (support for) anything that is
> > >    patented or otherwise not completely Free.
> >
> > According to Wikipedia:
> >
> > "Additionally, patent holders declined to enforce license fees on open source
> > decoders, allowing many free MP3 decoders to develop.
> They have declined to enforce it in the past, who is to say they won't
> change their mind next week if Linux gains 40% desktop market share over
> the next 5 years?  (Pure speculation, but it COULD happen.)

No need to play devil's advocate. That's standard practice in the
world of patents. Allow something to build up in value and then go
after it when someone _really_ has something at stake (rather than
just future earnings).

Also, as you point out, without freedom from the _threat_ of patent
litigation, no one would be able to reasonable commercialise a "free"
MP3 playing/encoding Linux and generate a profit off it, safely. Only
if the patent holders grant irrevokable rights to the patents can a
company safely commercialise MP3 playback.

> > Perhaps that would still not be "free enough" for those opposed to using any
> > patented process on principle, even if free.
> MP3 will never be Free in the Debian/FSF/GNU/etc sense of the word.

MP3 will be 'free' once the relevant patents expire!

> > What legal restrictions are there in developing functional replacements for
> > w32codecs, and are there any other patents affecting Ubuntu?
> w32codecs are a whole nother issue as they involve a breach of the MS
> EULA among other things.

Ah yes, this doesn't feed the assertion that Linux users are a bunch
of pirates ;-). No, not at all ;-P ;-P!

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