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Google Chrome's Inclusion of FFMpeg Vs. the LGPL

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the to-make-one's-head-spin dept.

Patents 245

An anonymous reader writes "Google has recently added FFMpeg to Chrome to better support HTML5's video element. FFMpeg is licensed under LGPL 2.1, which states that 'if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Library by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Library.' Google admits to having obtained a patent license for their use, but still claims they are not violating LGPL. Among the confused we find Håkon Wium Lie and Miguel de Icaza, who wonders what FSF might say. Google doesn't feel like asking FSF for clarification."

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fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245417)

n/t

Re:fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245681)

I fucked your dead great grandmother while you were first posting!

Re:fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246313)

Thats okay, I was first posting from your brothers closet while he was ass diving me with his thick, meaty dong.

f

Re:fp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246613)

Hmm, didn't see that one coming..

What's all this license crap anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245419)

It's open source, what more do you want?

Re:What's all this license crap anyway? (0, Troll)

XanC (644172) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245441)

It's open source, what more do you want?

It isn't when it's inside of Chrome.

Re:What's all this license crap anyway? (5, Informative)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245499)

It isn't when it's inside of Chrome.

The LGPL expressly allows closed-source and even non-free-as-in-beer software to link to an LGPL library, either statically or dynamically, without violation of its terms. That's what makes it lesser than the GPL.

I agree with sentiment in the last link though, this is none of the FSF's business -- the FFMPEG people are the only ones that can claim to be aggrieved here. Until that happens, this is much ado about nothing since there can be no violation of license terms to which the holder of the copyright does not object.

Terms of The Licences (4, Interesting)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245607)

I have to reserve judgement until I know the details of Google's patent deal. It is possible that it includes downstream use.

All patent licenses are not the same. Some are a per-unit royalty, others are a lump-sum purchase of the use of the invention. It's even possible that Google did negotiate "downstream redistribution" of the library if they paid enough cash.

Re:Terms of The Licences (5, Interesting)

stinerman (812158) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246187)

The Chrome people say that you're getting a patent license for H.264, etc. if you use Chrome. Fine.

The interesting question is "Does my patent license for H.264, etc. extend to any decoding, or only that done by Chrome?". Said in another way, is my patent license only good if I'm doing the decoding in Chrome or does it apply to decoding done by me? If it is the latter, then anyone who wants a patent license can just download Chrome -- now they have a free patent license.

Re:Terms of The Licences (2, Insightful)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246575)

The Chrome people say that you're getting a patent license for H.264, etc. if you use Chrome. Fine.

The interesting question is "Does my patent license for H.264, etc. extend to any decoding, or only that done by Chrome?". Said in another way, is my patent license only good if I'm doing the decoding in Chrome or does it apply to decoding done by me? If it is the latter, then anyone who wants a patent license can just download Chrome -- now they have a free patent license.

I think the fact that if the patent license applied to decoding done by software other than Chrome then everyone could get a patent license strongly implies it doesn't. I.e. the patent holders won't sue Google and they won't sue users of Google's software. If those users use other software that decodes H.264 I can't believe that the patent holders have agreed not to sue them.

Re:Terms of The Licences (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246731)

The Chrome people say that you're getting a patent license for H.264, etc. if you use Chrome. Fine.

Doubtful. Google is getting a license to distribute patented technology to you.

Re:What's all this license crap anyway? (1, Interesting)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245951)

Exactly. It's only a problem if

a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Library by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you

But in the link, dannyb@google.com says

I doubt its worth asking the fsf, since at least in the US, only the ffmpeg folks would have standing to enforce, so its their view that really matters.

He should definitely look at the terms of his patent license instead of deciding whether it's worth asking permission. Also his comment is just stupid because any contributor to ffmpeg has "standing to enforce" and sue google.

Re:What's all this license crap anyway? (4, Insightful)

Mihg (2381) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246215)

On the other hand, DannyB is an intellectual property lawyer, and you aren't. Furthermore, "the ffmpeg folks" would include "any contributor to ffmpeg", so your point is moot.

Re:What's all this license crap anyway? (1, Redundant)

greentshirt (1308037) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246271)

+mod points that I don't have. Layman opinion professional opinion

Here's a scenario (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245967)

I download it from Google. I redistribute FFMPEG under terms of the GPL. I get sued by someone for distributing something they hold a patent for. I in turn sue google on the grounds that their licensing terms indicated this would be OK and it's not. I'm not sure what the specifics would be, and it doesn't seem likely. However, I suspect anyone wanting to use FFMPEG for commercial purposes without a patent license would now get it from Google.

Re:Here's a scenario (5, Interesting)

stinerman (812158) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246067)

IANAL (but I try to keep up on patent/copyright law), but here's how I think that would go:

gr8_phk: Here you are, sir. One compiled binary of FFMPEG, with source!
customer: Thanks!

patent_lawyer: Hold on there! You don't have a patent license; pay up gr8_phk!
gr8_phk: I don't need a license, Google gave me one since I got this off of Google.
patent_lawyer: Google didn't give you shit. Pay up!
Google: He's right, we didn't give you anything.
gr8_phk: Grr!

FFMPEG developers: Wait a tick there Google! You can only use our code if you give everyone who got the source from you a patent license.
Google: Well, that isn't the agreement we have with the patent holders. Sorry.
FFMPEG developers: Fair enough, our lawyers will be suing you for copyright infringement.
Google: Ha! You're going to sue us? I doubt it. We'll tie this up in court for years until you throw in the towel.
FFMPEG developers: ...

Re:Here's a scenario (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246127)

FFMPEG developers: Tie us up in silly litigation for years? We'll see you in court -- we will sue for copyright infringement and barratry. Explain it to your shareholders when you lose.

Re:Here's a scenario (1)

smidget2k4 (847334) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246451)

Where can I purchase the kool-aid you are drinking?

Re:Here's a scenario (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246685)

The FSF exists for the sole purpose of doing this sort of litigation. The FFMPEG developers don't have to lift a finger. And the FSF is not going to throw in the towel unless it goes away (even if Stallman kicks it, I'm sure he has a variety of Lisp Daemons ready to kick into gear and manage the war after his demise.)

Re:Here's a scenario (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246083)

So based on your own admittedly unlikely scenario of something that has not happened yet, we should all assume that google drugged, kidnapped and tortured everyone who's ever contributed to FFMPEG and based upon a patent license that none of us have seen and that not all of us think exist, google should be sued into submission in the name of the LGPL which is itself half-assed.

I'm all for ignoring all this "license bullshit" as someone above has so insightfully put it.

I thought copyright was wrong, Slashdot? (1)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246385)

Slashdotters think copyright law is wrong and piracy is okay. Yet, they expect people to follow the copyright license of the the GPL. Which is it?

Re:What's all this license crap anyway? (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246459)

the FFMPEG people

not people, giants!

Re:What's all this license crap anyway? (3, Insightful)

i.of.the.storm (907783) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246689)

Not sure why this was modded troll, since it's factually correct. Chromium is open source, yes, but Chrome itself is not. It's a fine distinction, and I'm not sure what parts of Chrome differ from Chromium, but I think the automatic updater service is not installed with Chromium, among a few other things. I think Chromium also lacks Google branding, probably for sticky copyright issues. Of course, the parts that use FFMpeg are probably open source, although we can't say for certain since the Chrome source is not available, but there's no reason why they should be different in Chrome than Chromium.

Oh Miguel (2, Informative)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245447)

It's not surprising that Miguel wants in on this.

What projects has he worked on in the past decade that didn't revolve around patents by Microsoft or others?

Re:Oh Miguel (0, Troll)

symbolset (646467) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245879)

Came here to say this, leaving satisfied.

Seriosly, the guy's problem seems to be that the code doesn't violate any Microsoft patents.

Maybe Google could work that in to shut him up.

Reminds me of the RIAA and MPAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246069)

God damn, you can't havei both ways, you fucking swedes!

Seems to be some confusion here (0)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245457)

According to the emails I saw flying back and forth, only Chromium links against FFMPEG. Chromium is an OSS version of Chrome and thus leaves it to the user to have necessary patent rights when linking in FFMPEG.

Chrome is a different beast. Google claims that it links against the native video/audio library to handle multimedia functions.

Re:Seems to be some confusion here (2, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245505)

I should probably clarify that Google didn't say *which* libraries would be used, but I assume they were referring to Windows Media Player for Windows, Quicktime for Mac, and GStreamer for Linux. Someone in the know can probably confirm or deny.

Re:Seems to be some confusion here (2, Interesting)

spandex_panda (1168381) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245603)

I noticed that google does give credit to ffmpeg on its "about" page, funnily enough I checked it out last night and clicked the ffmpeg link to read about what they had to say! So I think it is now included.

Re:Seems to be some confusion here (5, Informative)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245683)

Nope, you've got it wrong. Chrome includes ffmpeg.

http://lists.whatwg.org/pipermail/whatwg-whatwg.org/2009-June/020035.html [whatwg.org]

Re:Seems to be some confusion here (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246455)

Seems you're right. The confusion is my own. The thread didn't start with the email you linked to, it started here:

http://lists.whatwg.org/htdig.cgi/whatwg-whatwg.org/2009-May/019994.html [whatwg.org]

When I read it a few days ago, I understood it as "loading native codecs" rather than loading a binary library of FFMPEG. After that I paid little heed to the thread as these A\V codec discussions get a bit heated. :-/

Oddly, I have Chrome 2.0.172.30, but no FFMPEG license in sight. Oddly, the license for the V8 assembler is listed as Copyright (c) 1994-2006 Sun Microsystems Inc. WTF?

OT: V8 history (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246695)

Oddly, the license for the V8 assembler is listed as Copyright (c) 1994-2006 Sun Microsystems Inc. WTF?

V8 author Lars Bak used to work for Sun, so maybe he borrowed something.

Re:Seems to be some confusion here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246029)

did you even rtfa?

Re:Seems to be some confusion here (2, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246095)

Stop making sense, AKAImBatman. You're gonna spoil all the fun of this thread before it even gets going.

We need to destroy Google immediately! After all, what have they ever done for us?

Re:Seems to be some confusion here (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246621)

Reg: All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?

Attendee: Brought peace?

Reg: Oh, peace - shut up!

Re:Seems to be some confusion here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246105)

You probably shouldn't be seeing "emails" going back and forth. ;)

Re:Seems to be some confusion here (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246475)

The emails were on the WHATWG mailing list. Anyone can join and participate. I mostly keep an eye on things. Ideally, I want to be able to jump in and say "HOLD IT!" if things are going off-track, but it seems the browser makers have some good heads on their shoulders. Except for Microsoft. I'd love to pop in with the occasional exclamation of "bullshit", but that wouldn't accomplish much. ;-)

Oh no! Also, what about xiph? (2, Interesting)

TD-Linux (1295697) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245491)

So, what you're telling us is that although all of us in the States have been using FFMpeg illegally without a license for years, when someone finally decides to try and be legal and purchase a license, now they are still in the wrong?

Sounds like the FFMpeg people need to start dual-licensing or something - from what I can tell they are OK with people obtaining licenses to use FFMpeg.

Of course, I'm still missing the biggest point here - since when do they need FFMpeg for HTML 5 support? It doesn't require any patented codecs, and they could always use DirectShow filters.

Re:Oh no! Also, what about xiph? (1)

Ian Alexander (997430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245555)

Of course, I'm still missing the biggest point here - since when do they need FFMpeg for HTML 5 support? It doesn't require any patented codecs, and they could always use DirectShow filters.

Not if they want to port it to Mac or Linux, which, while it's coming glacially slow, is indeed coming.

Re:Oh no! Also, what about xiph? (4, Informative)

rfuilrez (1213562) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245727)

Exactly. I'm taking the Mac beta for a test run as we speak. Some of the stuff is obviously still missing as noted in the recent article here a few days back. It works fairly well, and I look forward to replacing firefox with it.

Re:Oh no! Also, what about xiph? (4, Interesting)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245735)

So, what you're telling us is that although all of us in the States have been using FFMpeg illegally without a license for years, when someone finally decides to try and be legal and purchase a license, now they are still in the wrong? Sounds like the FFMpeg people need to start dual-licensing or something

Exactly. Unfortunately, they'll probably just say "we don't care about patents" [ffmpeg.org] which doesn't help anyone.

Of course, I'm still missing the biggest point here - since when do they need FFMpeg for HTML 5 support? It doesn't require any patented codecs, and they could always use DirectShow filters.

In reality Theora isn't that great and Google probably wants to save bandwidth, so they support H.264. Since XP/Vista includes no H.264 decoder, Google has to ship their own.

Re:Oh no! Also, what about xiph? (0)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246129)

Unfortunately, they'll probably just say "we don't care about patents"

Unfortunately? It's one of the reasons I love them so much.

Re:Oh no! Also, what about xiph? (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246453)

Let me put it another way. When someone says "we don't care about US law or whether our software is illegal in the US", that's pretty unhelpful to a lot of people.

Re:Oh no! Also, what about xiph? (4, Insightful)

msuarezalvarez (667058) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246509)

It is unhelpful to a lot of people, probably. But writing software to follow the particularly idiotic US law in this regard ends up being unhelpful for way more people. Reflect on the fact that the whole US population is, in a global perspective, only a very loud minority...

Where is the controversy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245507)

This is obviously a grey area in the law. It's not really spelled out very clearly for regular, intelligent people to parse properly so it can be interpreted in many ways. Google's representative have said that if FFmpeg doesn't like what they're doing, they'll move to another library.

There's nothing controversial, Google isn't doing anything malicious, and they already have an exit strategy if the owners are upset about it.

And it doesn't (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245551)

if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Library by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Library

See that word "if"? The patent license permits royalty-free redistribution of the Library... so it's not an issue.

Similarly, we've heard nothing from the authors of the Library - you know, the copyright owners, the only ones who have any legal standing? So maybe the peanut gallery should shut the hell up already.

Re:And it doesn't (4, Insightful)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245599)

Internet rule #28854, everyone has a right to complain about everything.

Re:And it doesn't (3, Funny)

youn (1516637) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245711)

Internet rule #28854 corollary: that includes complaining about a complaint :p

Re:And it doesn't (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245889)

I really hate that corollary and I think it should be removed.

Re:And it doesn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246157)

Fuck you AC, you're out of your element! You came in half-way through the conversation, you've got no idea what we're talking about!

Re:And it doesn't (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246015)

How the hell did we get up to #28854 before we decided to enshrine that in the Bill of Tubes? Did the porn rules really take up all 28853 previous entries?

Re:And it doesn't (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246147)

Did the porn rules really take up all 28853 previous entries?

No, the first 28500 comprise the codicils to the blogging ethics rules, which enumerate the exceptions thereof.

Re:And it doesn't (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246027)

Internet rule #2: Complain long enough about topics you have no knowledge of, and you WILL look like an idiot.

Re:And it doesn't (1)

the phantom (107624) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246171)

Internet Rule #34: If it exists, there is porn of it. No exceptions.

Though I hesitate to even consider what Google on free software porn looks like...

Re:And it doesn't (3, Funny)

jo42 (227475) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246251)

Internet Rule #42: What was the question?

Re:And it doesn't (1)

Miseph (979059) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246601)

Internet rule #3: Complain even longer and you will become an "expert"

Re:And it doesn't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246507)

God dammit that rule bugs the hell out of me. WHY can't you cite a better internet rule than that?!

Re:And it doesn't (2, Insightful)

Stumbles (602007) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245753)

If the peanut gallery did shut the hell up.... Slashdot would not exist. Come to think about it, Slashdot is the pachyderms heaven.

Re:And it doesn't (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245777)

The patent license permits royalty-free redistribution of the Library

I doubt that. [mpegla.com]

For branded encoder and decoder products sold both to end users and on an OEM basis for incorporation into personal computers but not part of an operating system, royalties per legal entity are 0 - 100,000 units per year = no royalty; US $0.20 per unit after first 100,000 units each year; above 5 million units per year, royalty = US $0.10 per unit.

Re:And it doesn't (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245837)

For branded encoder and decoder products sold both to end users and on an OEM basis

Reading comprehension, you failed it.

Re:And it doesn't (0, Troll)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246421)

Copyright owners? According to Slashdot, copyright law is wrong and piracy is okay. Hell, this website supports the "pirate party" of Sweden. So Google can distribute all it wants according to Slashdotters, because the GPL is a copyright license that requires copyright law in order to be enforceable.

Which is it, Slashdotters? If copyright law is wrong, then nobody has to follow the GPL. You can't pick and choose which parts of copyright you want to serve you.

Re:And it doesn't (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246487)

For a start, much as trolls such as yourself would like to portray Slashdot as being a group mind with a single opinion, that simply isn't the case. There's people on here who think copyright is great, there's people on here who think copyright is completely morally repugnant and there's people on here who sit somewhere in the middle suggesting that copyright is just "broken". But, as I happen to be in the group of people who think copyright is morally wrong, allow me to explain my position, and please accept that it is solely my own position and doesn't necessarily represent the views of others on this site. I, indeed, believe Google should be free to do with the FFMpeg code whatever the hell they want, regardless of what the LGPL, copyright law or patent law says. Until they actually cause physical harm to another person (and I have no idea how they'd go about doing that with the distribution of code) I say their actions are moral. However, my personal opinion of copyright law and patent law is completely irrelevant to the current discussion. We're talking about what Google are legally allowed to do.. not what they are morally obliged to do. I didn't make any statements about their moral obligations, nor would I, as I think what they're doing is morally fine.

If copyright law is wrong, then nobody has to follow the GPL. You can't pick and choose which parts of copyright you want to serve you.

Morally? No. Legally? Well that really depends on the copyright owners.. clearly they applied the LGPL to their code for a reason.. if they didn't intend to enforce their license then it was just pointless. It's perfectly reasonable to have a discussion about Google's legal obligations without implying anything about their moral obligations. But seeing as some people are confused about this, I hope specifically stating my opinion of their moral obligations has cleared it up.

Now kindly go back under your bridge.

Re:And it doesn't (2, Informative)

laughingcoyote (762272) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246449)

if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Library by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Library

See that word "if"? The patent license permits royalty-free redistribution of the Library... so it's not an issue.

Similarly, we've heard nothing from the authors of the Library - you know, the copyright owners, the only ones who have any legal standing? So maybe the peanut gallery should shut the hell up already.

By any downstream user whatsoever, and any possible one downstream from them? Even if I were to download this library from Google and resell it for profit? Even if IBM were to do the same?

If Google really does have me, and IBM, and any other possible reuser covered for distribution of any possible type, that's fine. Otherwise, if there are conceivable circumstances under which a patent could prohibit a downstream user from redistribution, they're violating the license. I don't know what's so hard about the terms here.

Re:And it doesn't (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246535)

What's really funny about that part of the license is that it really isn't saying anything. It's like a statement of fact. They might as well have added "If you eat too many bananas you'll get a tummy ache". They make no requirements or restrictions. It's unsolicited legal advice at best.

Section 11 even ends in:

This section is intended to make thoroughly clear what is believed to be a consequence of the rest of this License.

Google knows this which is why they're saying "butt out" to all the arm chair lawyers out there.

Re:And it doesn't (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246489)

>Similarly, we've heard nothing from the authors of the Library - you know, the copyright owners, the only ones who have any
>legal standing?

For all we know, they have an undisclosed relationship with Google and are laughing about all this noise.

>So maybe the peanut gallery should shut the hell up already.

You might as well be screaming at city buses :-)

mHOd up (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245573)

all parti3s it's thAt has lost To happen. My

Opera enforcing the LGPL? (2, Interesting)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245579)

I must say, it seemed more than a little ... odd ... for the founder of a completely and utterly proprietary competitor to post off-topic messages to a mailing list trying to probe his direct competitor on their adherence to a free software license.

Re:Opera enforcing the LGPL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245761)

AFAICT, the thread was started by a Google employee as an offshoot of a discussion of requiring a subset of MPEG-1 supported for the video tag.
While Opera obviously have some interest in what codecs they will have to support/licence, it doesn't seem like Lie is speaking in any official capacity here.
I guess he was browsing the whatwg list (for obvious reasons) and happened to take personal interest in the thread? It honestly doesn't seem odd to me at all for a browser standards geek to engage in a discussion about open source licensing details, even an off-topic one.

Re:Opera enforcing the LGPL? (4, Interesting)

jps25 (1286898) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245819)

Have you even read any of the messages on the mailing list?
Hakon is simply asking for their interpretation of the LGPL. He even says that he's not a lawyer and understands the LGPL in a different way, the way he's been trained, a spec guy. Icaza says that he's just as confused as Hakon.
How are his questions offtopic?

I think you're quite trollish.

Re:Opera enforcing the LGPL? (2, Interesting)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245867)

I've been participating in the threads themselves, as you'd know if you'd be reading them. The discussions are off-topic for working out HTML5, because H.264 is no way no how being required in HTML5 while software patents exist.

Re:Opera enforcing the LGPL? (4, Interesting)

jps25 (1286898) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245941)

Yes, I saw what you wrote and may I quote your trollish behaviour?

http://lists.whatwg.org/htdig.cgi/whatwg-whatwg.org/2009-June/020215.html [whatwg.org]

I question the relevance to HTML5 of someone from a completely
proprietary software company closely questioning a direct competitor
on their conformance to the GPL.

Yea, you're not a troll at all.

Re:Opera enforcing the LGPL? (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246341)

It makes perfect sense. It's unfair to have one company abiding by the rules, while another breaks them.

LK

(L)GPL is the only evil here.. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28245583)

Producing legal spagetti crapazola like that should be punishable by hanging by the nuts. F*** GPL. Go BSD, go free.

royalty free redistribution (2, Interesting)

umeboshi (196301) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245595)

Is there really an issue here? Is it impossible to freely redistribute Chrome? According to this page:

http://code.google.com/chromium/terms.html [google.com]

It seems that anybody can redistribute the code and/or binaries, with the possible exception of the parts that are trademarked (similar to Mozilla).

Re:royalty free redistribution (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245911)

with the possible exception

Unfortunately, the error handler crashes on exceptions.

Re:royalty free redistribution (1, Interesting)

BZ (40346) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246119)

That's Chromium. It does not include ffmpeg. Chrome (which is not quite the same thing) does, and Chrome cannot in fact be redistributed without OK from Google last I checked.

Re:royalty free redistribution (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246551)

Chromium is not the same thing as Chrome.

FFMpeg Libraries Seem to be Isolated (5, Interesting)

Zerocool3001 (664976) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245679)

From the attached article I can gather that since FFMpeg uses the LGPL 2.1 (not 3.0) that their obtaining a third party license for something else that prohibits them from granting similar rights for that bit of code does not affect their ability to grant rights for use the FFMpeg libraries. As they put it:

The fact that Party B may have a patent license with an unrelated third-party is irrelevant as long as it doesn't prevent Party B from granting people the rights LGPL 2.1 requires they grant them (namely, only those rights it in fact received from Party A).

Again this all seems rather moot anyway. A lot of operating systems these days include FFMpeg libraries as well as the H.264 and AAC libraries (which is really what this is all about). I know people feel like the idea of linking native libraries from the OS (which may or may not be there) goes against the universality of the HTML5 video/audio spec (and I can't say I disagree), but it would seem that for something as ubiquitous and freely licensable as the FFMpeg libraries, this argument is a bit overblown.

Re:FFMpeg Libraries Seem to be Isolated (2, Informative)

roca (43122) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246533)

> A lot of operating systems these days include FFMpeg libraries as well as the H.264 and AAC libraries (which is
> really what this is all about)

Where by "a lot" you mean "Mac"? Windows 7 will be the first version of Windows to include H.264. No freely redistributable Linux includes it, for obvious reasons.

> it would seem that for something as ubiquitous and freely licensable as the FFMpeg libraries

The ffmpeg source code is freely licensable, the patent licenses you need in the USA and elsewhere are not.

Relying on a technicality (5, Interesting)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245691)

I think Google's relying on a technicality, but it's a significant one. In this case Google isn't the creator of the library, they received it from it's creator. So either it's creator could grant them an LGPL 2.1-compatible patent license, or the library can be distributed without a license, or it's creator couldn't have legally distributed the library to them. I think that, right or wrong, Google's probably on solid legal ground there. They didn't introduce the patented code into the library, they didn't create the library, so I don't think the law'll have much trouble allowing them to redistribute the code under the same terms and with the same rights as they got from it's creator.

I think it's a situation the GPL and LGPL don't contemplate explicitly. The situation where Google was adding the infringing code to a library they received under (L)GPL terms and then redistributing the results, that's exactly what the v2 language covers. But I'm not sure even the v3 language covers the situation where the holder of the patent license isn't the one who put the infringing code into the library and where the person who did put it in doesn't hold a patent license and has no rights to grant downstream recipients. If the library was under LGPL v3 I think you could make an argument that the automatic grant of rights in paragraph 11 kicks in, since Google does hold a relevant patent license, and that if their license doesn't let them do what paragraph 11 requires then they can't redistribute, but LGPL 2.1 doesn't contain anything explicit corresponding to v3's paragraph 11.

I think Google's right here, it does in fact come down to what the patent-holder says. If they sue Google and get an order blocking Google from distributing infringing code, then Google can't distribute the library. If the patent holders sue the library's author and get an order blocking distribution of the library without a patent license, Google can't distribute the library. But until then, Google can't be forced to add any rights that they didn't get when they received the library.

Re:Relying on a technicality (1)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246073)

Furthermore, the fact that there is at least a reasonable argument that Google is in the clear here ought to at very least relegate this to a contract issue. I, for one, think that reasonable contract disagreements should never impose copyright infringement penalties on the losing party. (see my most recent journal post for more on this.)

I don't think it is possible to support both Lori Drew and RMS on this issue.....

Re:Relying on a technicality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246269)

its its its my GOD!

Re:Relying on a technicality (2, Insightful)

Jiro (131519) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246337)

Anyone who has copyright in a work cannot violate their own license. They could create a license which says "you can only distribute this if you compute pi to the last digit". Anyone who receives it wouldn't be allowed to distribute it (since the requirement is impossible), but they, being the creator could distribute it just fine. The license only restricts other people.

If ffmpeg is under a license which says, basically, "you can only distribute this if you can pass on an impossible patent license", the creator can still distribute it without a patent license. They would, of course still be violating the patent, but they wouldn't be violating the copyright. A third party *would* be violating the copyright as well as the patent, and could be sued for copyright violation (permission to distribute only under impossible conditions means no permission).

<i>So either it's creator could grant them an LGPL 2.1-compatible patent license, or the library can be distributed without a license, or it's creator couldn't have legally distributed the library to them.</i>

The creator can always legally distribute the library to them (with respect to copyrights), even if the copyright license is impossible.

Re:Relying on a technicality (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246497)

It is possible to compute pi to the last digit if you are free to choose the base.
In base pi, pi is exactly 10.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to compute 1+1 to the last digit in base pi.

Re:Relying on a technicality (3, Insightful)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246503)

I think Google's relying on a technicality, but it's a significant one. In this case Google isn't the creator of the library, they received it from it's creator. So either it's creator could grant them an LGPL 2.1-compatible patent license, or the library can be distributed without a license, or it's creator couldn't have legally distributed the library to them.

You're confused. The author of the product doesn't have to abide by the license, they own the copyright and can do anything they want. The LGPL doesn't apply to them. It's perfectly legit for them to say, "hey, here is this code that implements patented algorithm X. if you want to use it you'll have to get your own license from the patent holder."

As far as this goes with the ffmpeg authors violating the patent by implementing this stuff in the first place, there is a certain amount of protection from patent litigation if you are doing research. Not as safe as having a license, but better than selling a blue-ray player without one. Additionally these developers are probably pretty close to judgment proof (ie. they mostly have no money to pay any judgments against them.)

It's FFmpeg (2, Informative)

relaxed (661238) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245745)

Not FFMpeg! That is all.

Re:It's FFmpeg (1)

RichM (754883) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246263)

Wow, a capital letter...

Re:It's FFmpeg (1)

relaxed (661238) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246389)

Wow, you're clever! Good job on noticing the difference. Give yourself a pat on the back for me, RiCh.

Re:It's FFmpeg (3, Funny)

hampton (209113) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246493)

Wow, a capital letter...

http://bash.org/?367896 [bash.org]

Re:It's FFmpeg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246581)

Tell that to LaTeX

Read the fine references (1)

sjvn (11568) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245797)

Google is in the clear here.

This is tempest in a tea-cup stuff.

Steven

Need a car analogy (1, Funny)

Quick Reply (688867) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245825)

I don't understand this at all.

Could someone please put this into a car analogy?

Re:Need a car analogy (1)

ruckc (111190) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246079)

I think it goes like this:

MPEG-AV made a great engine idea and patented it. They also sold licenses to MPEG-AV Manufacturing and quite a few other companies to manufacture the cars with the engines

FFmpeg manufactures vehicles in all shapes and sizes that may or may not infringe on Ford's engine patents.

Google, uses FFmpeg's engines in their vehicle, and since it may or may not infringe on MPEG-AV's patents, they license the technology from Ford-AV.

At least this is what i gathered from the above mailing list quips.

Re:Need a car analogy (2)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246515)

I think I understood it better before I read that.

Re:Need a car analogy (3, Insightful)

QCompson (675963) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246607)

Christ dude, if you're going to go car analogy, you have to go full-car. Leave out FFmpeg and MPEG and all that other confusing crap and just talk about cars.

Google's explanation is quite clear and complete. (5, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245861)

They are distributing the library under the terms of the LGPL with no additional restrictions and so are complying fully with the license. Whether or not they are violating their patent license by doing so is their problem.

The situation this clause of the LGPL is aimed at is one wherein Google would be obligated by their patent license to require that everyone they distributed the program to sign a patent sublicensing agreement that took away rights granted by the LGPL.

Re:Google's explanation is quite clear and complet (1)

CyDharttha (939997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246559)

The situation this clause of the LGPL is aimed at is one wherein Google would be obligated by their patent license to require that everyone they distributed the program to sign a patent sublicensing agreement that took away rights granted by the LGPL.

Wouldn't they be able to license included libraries under different agreements to compensate for this? Or does a patent agreement not work the same as copyright agreements in that respect?

Re: (0, Troll)

clint999 (1277046) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246025)

If the peanut gallery did shut the hell up.... Slashdot would not exist. Come to think about it, Slashdot is the pachyderms heaven.

RE: The Greater Evil (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28246053)

The Department of Homeland Security and all sub-departments and personages, are the Greater Evil; unleashed upon this world by George Walker Bush (who deserves death by hanging for Crimes Against Humanity), they must at all costs be removed from life itself; they Are the true evil in this world.

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