×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

421 comments

More info (5, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | about 9 years ago | (#12169859)


In the interest of stimulating more discussion, some more information about this subject can be found here [ffii.org]

Re:More info (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12169889)

and in the interest of stimulating less discussion, free porno can be found here [thehun.net]

This is exactly why... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12169883)

You should only use MS media player. Then you wont run into these problems.

Re:This is exactly why... (1)

Ulrich Hobelmann (861309) | about 9 years ago | (#12170007)

Then why will some movies only show at half speed or with broken sound on WMP??

WinAMP or VLC just work, the latter one even on the Mac. Tell me where I can get WMP for the Mac, please.

AC to the RESCUE!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12170070)

here you go, Microsoft Media Player for Mac

http://www.microsoft.com/mac/otherproducts/other pr oducts.aspx?pid=windowsmedia

OMGWTFBBQ an AC posted an imformative post WITH a link!!!

Re:This is exactly why... (1)

therodent (253032) | about 9 years ago | (#12170081)

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?Fa milyID=1e974157-5031-4ac6-840a-6e07547b6aeb&displa ylang=en

please, do your own google searches next time.

Re:This is exactly why... (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 9 years ago | (#12170120)

WMP for the Mac works, although I have read somewhere that it won't play DRM'd files. I think WMP Mac works better than VLC for Mac, or VLC for Windows for that matter.

what about MS patents? (2, Interesting)

Virtual Karma (862416) | about 9 years ago | (#12169885)

Correct me if I'm wrong. I remember reading somewhere that MS hold many many patents of code/methodologies used in Open Source. If this is true then I guess Open Source exists only because MS defends the patents passively.

Re:what about MS patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12169933)

That, or things would come to light about Microsoft using evil Open Source software themselves, like say the BSD networking stack.

Re:what about MS patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12170296)

That does not violate the BSD license.

Re:what about MS patents? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12169979)

Correct me if I'm wrong. I remember reading somewhere that MS hold many many patents of code/methodologies used in Open Source. If this is true then I guess Open Source exists only because MS defends the patents passively.

*If* MS holds patents where the subject matter is being used in an Open Source project and *if* MS does not grant an Open Source license or some other action like a cease letter, then said patents become worthless. If a company knowingly allows infringement, then they cannot enforce the patent. You either enforce it on all (via licensing, etc) or you loose the right.

Re:what about MS patents? (3, Informative)

aetherspoon (72997) | about 9 years ago | (#12170118)

I think you are thinking about trademarks, not patents. Hence why submarine patents are such a big problem.

Re:what about MS patents? (1)

jonabbey (2498) | about 9 years ago | (#12170136)

f a company knowingly allows infringement, then they cannot enforce the patent. You either enforce it on all (via licensing, etc) or you loose the right.

This is incorrect. You're thinking of trademark law. In the United States (and presumably elsewhere), patents can be selectively enforced to the heart's delight of the patent holder.

Re:what about MS patents? (1)

UWC (664779) | about 9 years ago | (#12170160)

I know that's how trademarks are kept and lost, but is that also the case with patents? And what might constitute "knowingly allowing" the offense? Could ignorance be claimed if no action is taken? Is there some sort of "due diligence" involved in patent enforcement, too?

Re:what about MS patents? (1)

Macadamizer (194404) | about 9 years ago | (#12170203)

Well, there is something of a time limit for patents:

"35 U.S.C. 286 Time limitation on damages.

Except as otherwise provided by law, no recovery shall be had for any infringement committed more than six years prior to the filing of the complaint or counterclaim for infringement in the action.

In the case of claims against the United States Government for use of a patented invention, the period before bringing suit, up to six years, between the date of receipt of a written claim for compensation by the department or agency of the Government having authority to settle such claim, and the date of mailing by the Government of a notice to the claimant that his claim has been denied shall not be counted as a part of the period referred to in the preceding paragraph."

Not the shortest of time periods, but at least you can't wait until the last week of a patent's validity to file the lawsuits...

Re:what about MS patents? (1)

stinerman (812158) | about 9 years ago | (#12169984)

MS hold many many patents of code/methodologies used in Open Source

I have no idea what that means ... please clarify.

Re:what about MS patents? (2, Interesting)

Dr. Evil (3501) | about 9 years ago | (#12170073)

You can enforce patents selectively.

The GPL clause which forbids distribution of code with additional restrictions, including patents, makes it utterly worthless for most companies to persue GPL'd software for patents.

If Microsoft wanted to anihilate Linux, I think they could very well do this. But... much of the rest of the industry would unload their patent arsenals on Microsoft until they relented...

Re:what about MS patents? (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 9 years ago | (#12170187)

Why does it make it worthless for companies to persue GPLd software for patent violations? Regardless of whether theres a clause in the GPL saying you cant add extra restrictions like patents, you can easily still have a case where there is a patented implementation within the GPLd codebase, and its perfectly persuable by the patent holder.

Just because you subscribe to a different point of view than the next person doesnt give you protection.

Re:what about MS patents? (4, Funny)

dyfet (154716) | about 9 years ago | (#12170092)

You mean things like the infamous "@todo" patent on the use of comments in source code to document future todo items??! Yes, they actually received a patent on that! And I received a tatoo in a special place for that, so they can go and try to license my you know what :).

Patents... (4, Interesting)

ImaLamer (260199) | about 9 years ago | (#12170095)

I have not RTFA, but I'm sure almost all of the codecs and the patents that are being discussed are owned by the MPEG group (being they are using MPEG-2 encoding/decoding without a license).

LAME is already illegal in the U.S. because it did MP3, and I suspect the rest of these projects will be killed off for similar reasons.

I'm not suprised - when you look for "free mpeg-2 decoders" you don't find much. Well, you don't find anything that is gratis. After careful research you find that open source projects are doing a lot of mpeg-2 work, but they usually don't advertise that fact.

I didn't say it was "right", but it's not suprising. Really, you can't do anything with SVCD or DVD on Windows without owning a MPEG-2 decoder. If I was someone who made money on selling MPEG-2 codecs, I'd go after VideoLAN too. It's a lucrative business.

Re:what about MS patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12170246)

America is not the world.

Enough said

Weren't they aware of this during implementation? (4, Interesting)

Future Man 3000 (706329) | about 9 years ago | (#12169911)

I recognize that there aren't a great deal of resources available to the average Free Software programmer, but surely after the deal with GIF a little more dilligence has been put into patent research?

Don't get me wrong; I'd rather we just do away with patents entirely, but it's a fact that Europe will buy into this system sooner or later. Maybe now's the time to clean up any potentially infringing code or move it to an even more legally-backwards locale?

Re:Weren't they aware of this during implementatio (2, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | about 9 years ago | (#12169941)

Actually, isn't Europe implementing *some* sort of grandfathering system? If they aren't, then do they realize that they may be causing massive liabilities for their constituants? Forget VideoLAN, this may be a much larger problem.

Re:Weren't they aware of this during implementatio (4, Insightful)

DaveJay (133437) | about 9 years ago | (#12169951)

...or move it to an even more legally-backwards locale?

Actually, considering the nature of software patents, I should think we're looking for a place that is more legally forward-thinking...

Re:Weren't they aware of this during implementatio (1)

natrius (642724) | about 9 years ago | (#12169981)

I'm sure they were aware of it, but if the compression algorithm used in a certain video format is patented, how are you supposed to encode or decode a compatible file without infringing on the patent?

Re:Weren't they aware of this during implementatio (1)

stinerman (812158) | about 9 years ago | (#12170033)

I think thats just the point. They don't want you encoding/decoding that file. They want to lock you in to their software.

Imagine if the only MP3 encoder/decoder combination was the Fraunhofer one? How popular would MP3 be? Would Vorbis or something similar be the de facto standard?

Re:Weren't they aware of this during implementatio (1)

SoTuA (683507) | about 9 years ago | (#12170085)

Licensing the patent from the owner, my dear Watson...

Their dream is that you can't play or create content without a properly blessed (read: licensed) encoder/decoder...

uhhmmm (1)

ImaLamer (260199) | about 9 years ago | (#12170156)

Well you don't.

Not trying to be a prick, but you don't work with it. DVD? Gone! SVCD? Gone! MP3? Gone!

Widespread adoption is what makes it hard huh? Well develop a new codec with brand new methods and you won't have to worry so much. Go help the vorbis project.

Re:Weren't they aware of this during implementatio (5, Insightful)

Wesley Felter (138342) | about 9 years ago | (#12169998)

During their implementation (which started years ago), they were aware that there were no software patents in Europe.

Given the number and scope of multimedia patents, the only way to clean up any potentially infringing code would involve rm -rf...

Re:Weren't they aware of this during implementatio (4, Informative)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 9 years ago | (#12170014)

Programmers are generally recommended NOT to investigate patents at all. If they knowingly offend, they pay triple damages when taken to task over it in the US (holy mecca of patent litigation)

The generally accepted practice in the business world is build it without having any awareness that it was previously discovered or patented, then have your lawyers look for infringement and negotiate a deal. The developers, engineers, etc are generally prohibited from going anywhere near patents.

Consciously avoid being exposed to other ppls ideas, reinvent the wheel, employ a bunch of people who could be doing something productive to find out after the fact if anyone has invented this before, and then hope that there's enough revenue for your new idea left after you pay to license the patents.

Kind of puts the lie to the whole "in the interests of progress" thing, doesn't it?

You can't "clean up" code. (5, Insightful)

Bruce Perens (3872) | about 9 years ago | (#12170177)

I don't believe that it is possible for any significant work of software to be non-infringing on granted patents. Unfortunately, you can't prove that your program is "clean" by searching patents. Modern patents are written to be as vague as possible in order to allow enforcement of the patent on the widest possible range of software - including things the purported inventor didn't think of when filing the patent. So, you can't necessarily find a patent that applies to what you are working on, even if the patent holder would be disposed to prosecute you under that patent. You can't determine that you are not infringing a particular patent due to its vagueness, without bringing a suit against the patent holder to determine the issue. And worse, there are so many granted patents on basics of computer science. These things weren't inventions, there is prior art, but given that it costs up to US$5 Million to defend yourself (Economic Survey, American Intellectual Property Law Association), you will not be able to prove your innocence.

In other words, unless your company is so big that you can use your huge patent portfolio against all equal-sized or smaller companies, you're hosed. This is a game that only multinationals can win - and that's why IBM and HP lobby for Software patenting in Europe despite their affiliation with Open Source. It's more important to them to be able to dominate the entire computer software industry than it is to work with us.

Bruce

MPlayer too... (5, Informative)

Einherjer (569603) | about 9 years ago | (#12169956)

On a sidenote, mplayer has the same message on its website. have a look: http://www.mplayerhq.hu/homepage/index.html [mplayerhq.hu]

From their site: (1)

ImaLamer (260199) | about 9 years ago | (#12170210)

Multimedia is a patent minefield. All important techniques and formats are covered by broad and trivial patents that are harming progress and alternative implementations, such as free software multimedia players.

That really is a mischaracterization of what the truth is. It should read:

Multimedia is a patent minefield. All invented formats are covered by patents that are harming progress and alternative implementations, such as free software multimedia players.

It's not that the simple things are patented, it's the complex things like MPEG-2. Not that someone can't come up with their own decoder - it's just not okay with the MPEG group. (Which I know is redundant)

It isn't that you can't write your own codecs, not at all. It's that you can't decode their formats without paying a license.

If it was debian this software wouldn't be included in the US distributions (although it is).

it is time to make a difference and take action (2, Insightful)

krunk4ever (856261) | about 9 years ago | (#12170292)

from that site:

The European parliament will now be taking the last stand against software patents in a voting for which an absolute majority is needed. Such a majority is hard to come by in a parliament with a low attendance level.

But not all is lost yet as long as you decide it is time to make a difference and take action. This is our last opportunity to fend off software patents worldwide, there will be no second chance for the foreseeable future.

Signing petitions [eurolinux.org] will not suffice. Contact your local EU representatives and educate them why software patents are a bad idea in the first place [mit.edu] and why they must attend that parliament session to vote against them. Make it clear that they need to stop the machinations of the EU council [ffii.org] and reaffirm the power of the EU parliament, the only democratically elected EU institution. For in-depth information and starting points to get active visit the software patent page of the FFII (Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure) [ffii.org] and NoSoftwarePatents.com [nosoftwarepatents.com].

excellent planning. (0, Redundant)

spir0 (319821) | about 9 years ago | (#12169959)

shouldn't they have checked all these patents and licenses before implementing them?

would charging their users a small fee pay for all the licenses? I use VLC on windows and OS X, and there must surely be a linux version too. so they've cornered all major markets.

who wouldn't pay US$5-10 for such a useful program?

Re:excellent planning. (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | about 9 years ago | (#12170039)

US$5-10 wouldn't cover all the patent licenses; I suspect it would be over $20. And I suspect few people would pay, given that the corporate media players cost $0.

Re:excellent planning. (1)

LnxAddct (679316) | about 9 years ago | (#12170041)

The idea is to be able to implement this freely without restrictions using commonly known algorithms. If the euro patents don't go through then all will be fine, otherwise we're screwed. What they are doing now is coding because they like to and giving it away for free. They have no intention of making money off of it, and they shouldn't have to. Software patents need to be otulawed and it doesn't get any simpler then that. Don't tryto justify what is happening by saying that we should all just pay a little bit.
Regards,
Steve

Re:excellent planning. (2, Insightful)

Ulrich Hobelmann (861309) | about 9 years ago | (#12170053)

That's exactly the problem with patents on software.

The ideas don't really cover rocket science, but just common engineering sense.
When you develop *any* non-trivial application, you are sure to violate at least ten patents, as *all* patents are in a way trivial and so end up in one or another application.

Ideas should not belong to anybody.

Die Gedanken sind frei! (German: thoughts are free/libre)

Making free (beer) software non-free to pay for some people monopolizing on ideas isn't the solution to this problem.

Re:excellent planning. (1)

piquadratCH (749309) | about 9 years ago | (#12170094)

shouldn't they have checked all these patents and licenses before implementing them?
Problem is, if they avoided all those patents, vlc wouldn't play much more than Ogg Theora and Ogg Vorbis. Sadly, all major media formats make use of dozens of patented procedures.

Re:excellent planning. (1)

nunchux (869574) | about 9 years ago | (#12170104)

would charging their users a small fee pay for all the licenses? I use VLC on windows and OS X, and there must surely be a linux version too. so they've cornered all major markets.

This could possibly get them into more trouble, as someone who makes a profit (or could be perceived as making a profit) could be sued for damages, while a freeware product would more likely be told to cease and desist.

That said, VLC for OSX must be kept alive. It's the only Mac app that plays every file you throw at it-- especially those avi/divx files that Quicktime can only handle half the time (and that's with all of the proper codecs in place.)

checking patents... (1)

John Seminal (698722) | about 9 years ago | (#12170119)

so that means if i come up with an idea, before i can use that idea i must first check to see if anyone else had that idea before me?

why not have a law that says stealing technology or reverse engineering is illegal, but not having a thought which is useful because someone else had it before you.

this is going to get ugly. every useful thing will have a patent and we'll have only one option, buy from the patent holder or live without.

Re:excellent planning. (4, Informative)

Dr. Evil (3501) | about 9 years ago | (#12170144)

One stitch of GPL'd code and it is forbidden.

http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html [gnu.org] Section 7:... "... For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program 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 Program."

Since when did algorithms became patentable (1)

thanasakis (225405) | about 9 years ago | (#12169965)

...in Europe? I thought that this is possible only in America.

I am not being ironic, could someone clarify this?

Re:Since when did algorithms became patentable (2, Interesting)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 9 years ago | (#12170010)

They are about to become patentable in Europe under new legislation for the EU, and due to world wide treaties (that mainly benefit the US in this case) foreign patents will apply here in the EU when the Patent laws are enacted.

Re:Since when did algorithms became patentable (5, Insightful)

thanasakis (225405) | about 9 years ago | (#12170126)

Thanks! But isn't it an oxymoron that projects and software that are around for years will become illegal suddenly? I mean, presently, nobody has the ability to patent an algorithm in Europe. So, imagine someone in Europe that has thought of an original algorithm for, say, image compression. He is the first to think of it, but naturally he can't patent it. A year later, a company in America goes an patents the same technology. Now suddenly the EC decides to pass this stupid stupid stupid law. The original inventor would be in danger of getting sued for using something he originaly invented.

Re:Since when did algorithms became patentable (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 9 years ago | (#12170224)

Its a case of Grandfathering the older code in, but how do you prove how old code is? Interesting question. In your scenario, it can and probably WILL happen, but the European developers code can still be used as Prior Art to nullify the American developers patent in either the US or the EU courts. Just because you couldnt patent the thing here, doesnt mean it looses its ability to act as prior art.

A brief synopsis as I understand it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12170030)

They aren't, strictly speaking, allowed at the moment. The issue is that they may well soon be allowed (legislation is going back and forth in the EU on the matter at the moment) and if that happens then, due to international agreements, existing software patents granted in the US (and other places too I guess) will suddenly apply in the EU too...

Does This mean .. (2, Funny)

macaulay805 (823467) | about 9 years ago | (#12169972)

OSS Developers will have to start migrating to the US to develop free software????

Re:Does This mean .. (1)

Ulrich Hobelmann (861309) | about 9 years ago | (#12170084)

The USA already have software patents, Europe will "only" get them.

If this indeed hinders unrestricted programming, I might go to South America. Those countries will be happy to get some more taxes from software sold to the USA and the EU via the internet. ;)

Greed vs. Societal Advancement (5, Insightful)

superrcat (815508) | about 9 years ago | (#12169982)

It should be legal to reverse engineer/use patented techniques when it is used to enable integration and compatibility in a non-commerical manner. Using patents to stiffle integration and compatibility should be considered a violation of fair use.

Re:Greed vs. Societal Advancement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12170057)

in a non-commerical manner

By that do you mean 'give away for free'?

Re:Greed vs. Societal Advancement (1)

Ulrich Hobelmann (861309) | about 9 years ago | (#12170149)

IMHO it should just not be legal to patent ideas. All those ideas *will* end up in any non-trivial piece of software, or will be discovered by any clever human being (of which there are many billions!).

There's nothing that justifies one human being (or even corporation) to gain a monopoly on an *idea*.

If a company thinks they have the coolest technology ever, they should develop a codec and sell (license) it to others, not patent it!

If everyone just hoards ideas, we can forget innovation and progress. The world needs actual products and services (gasp!) to be a better place for people to live in.

Re:Greed vs. Societal Advancement (1)

therodent (253032) | about 9 years ago | (#12170157)

You patent processes, not ideas.

Ideas cannot be patented.

Re:Greed vs. Societal Advancement (1)

Ulrich Hobelmann (861309) | about 9 years ago | (#12170201)

Most patents seem to cover the idea of a process (algorithm). If you want to protect the actual (implemented) process, you don't need to patent it, as copyright already protects it!

Most patents (like one click or the isNot operator) seem awfully idea-like to me, even if they cover "processes" (like buying stuff on the web, or checking for inequality).

Let me be the first to say... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12169986)

Patents which exist solely for the sake of preventing compatibility aren't "innovation."

One modern video codec is as good as any other. They're just all different implementations of the same basic mathematics. They all produce similar quality from similar file sizes. Businesses do the same stupid thing every time: patent one particular method (which is not necessarily better than any other method) of encoding, distribute EITHER the decoder to recipients or the encoder to content producers, whichever is easier for your business, and thereby bully the other group into paying for the use of your amazing "technology."

Gah. It's all bullshit.

this patent madness (3, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | about 9 years ago | (#12169999)

" VideoLAN is seriously threatened by software patents due to the numerous patented techniques it implements and uses.

Let us get the names of those entities that are threatening with software patents. I will be very willing to join the effort to turn these companies the SCO route. My fear though, is that VideoLAN and other OSS companies will simply shift production to Asia where patents are not that well respected. This will mean that the US will be left behind. We are not doing that well in cell phone technology already. Asians and Europeans seem to be very advanced. We all know that the cell phone technology we are now getting as Americans is kin-of old if one compares it with what the Asians are doing now.

Re:this patent madness (1)

TerminaMorte (729622) | about 9 years ago | (#12170035)

That might be true, but atleast we think up on snazzier names. We win!

Re:this patent madness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12170105)

You mean like 'Mandriva'? /shudder

Re:this patent madness (1)

superrcat (815508) | about 9 years ago | (#12170086)

Just because the mobile phone market in the United States has a smaller feature set than that of its European and Asian peers is not because of the lack of patent enforcement in other parts of the world. It is because Asia, especially Japan, generates demand for such products. Companies that produce those products in Europe and Asia are the same companies that produce in the United States.

Re:this patent madness (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 9 years ago | (#12170176)

Certainly ... but there's more than one reason why those products aren't distributed here. America is affluent enough to afford these toys, and given the number of cell phones I see out there there is demand for them, but the situation regarding IP rights is a quagmire that many foreign companies would simply rather not deal with. Why should they? They've already got plenty of customers, now that the rest of the world is industrializing and building communications infrastructure. U.S. customers are getting screwed out of the latest tech so that lawyers and patent farmers can get rich quick. I sincerely hope that the European Commissions succeeds in implementing software patents ... at least then the United States won't be alone in its long slide towards technological oblivion.

Re:this patent madness (1)

superrcat (815508) | about 9 years ago | (#12170234)

However, there is just as much bureaucracy and obstacles in making products available outside the United States as there is inside. For example, the difficulties in selling digital music online, such as the iTunes Music Store. The iTMS was available to consumers in the United States before other parts of the world.

Re:this patent madness (1)

jimicus (737525) | about 9 years ago | (#12170232)

Don't know about the Far East, but in Europe it might have something to do with 3GPP [3gpp.org] dictating pretty much all the standards and heavy government regulations, there's less time spent letting the market decide something basic like "how do we all talk to each other?" (a question which your average customer is singularly unqualified to answer) and more time spent trying to differentiate your product from everyone elses.

Result: products compete on useful features.

Re:this patent madness (1)

Pfhreak (662302) | about 9 years ago | (#12170175)

...This will mean that the US will be left behind....

This isn't a legal battle within the US. IIRC this patenting algorithms nonsense has been legal in the US for a while. This comes a result of a new ruling within the European Union [ffii.org], and these projects are all hosted within EU countries.

There's still a chance that this can be stopped, it still needs to pass the Euorpean parliament, so anybody within the EU who's concerned should contact your representative in the EU parliament and explain why software patents are a bad idea [mit.edu].

a huge step backwards (5, Informative)

qwp (694253) | about 9 years ago | (#12170019)

If this project disappears then it will be a huge step backwards for digital multimedia. On every system I use this is one of the first packages I install. One cannot trust quicktime or windows media players.

it is semi odd that Europe is anti media players in Windows, and then they are threatening to slay free media players. Seams like a double standard.

Re:a huge step backwards (2, Funny)

rangek (16645) | about 9 years ago | (#12170209)

it is semi odd that Europe is anti media players in Windows, and then they are threatening to slay free media players. Seams like a double standard.

Maybe they don't like digital multimedia in Europe so they want no media players available at all. It seems like that is what they are going to wind up with.

Re:a huge step backwards (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 9 years ago | (#12170260)

Way to take a very narrow view of whats happening. The EU is anti media player in Windows because a number of companies say it hurts them, and they can get a large cash injection from it. They arent 'threatening to slay free media players', they are however 'threatening to implement software patents', which is an entirely different thing, the only thing joining the two cases is that media players may be affected in both cases.

Is anyone surprised by this at all? (1)

jb.hl.com (782137) | about 9 years ago | (#12170027)

Given that Microsoft is firmly entrenched in the media and content industries, as are Apple, Dolby, Fraunhofer and others, is it really any surprise these days that a lot of patents are being trodden on these days? Hell, even foobar2000 [foobar2000.org] must be stepping on a few peoples' toes.

patents? (3, Interesting)

John Seminal (698722) | about 9 years ago | (#12170059)

can someone explain patents to me, because i am baffled.

if i see a video stream, and decide to write a program that takes any chuncks of "000000000" and replace it with a "01", and so forth, and that is my way of compressing a file, but someone else programed that before me and filed a patent, does that mean i can't use that kind of code?

it is stupid to me to have patents on things that anyone can think up. what happens if a professor at a university thinks up something, but does not patent it. he teaches it to students, and they are free to use it. 2 years later a start up company in california has an employee who thinks up the same simple idea, and has it patented. what does that mean? that the original professor can no longer use it? that his students who might have used that idea in projects now have to remove it?

what is the purpose of patents. it seems to be very anti-competitive, and creates monopolies.

Re:patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12170202)

It's called prior art (because someone else was doing it first) and the patent will be void once it's shown that prior art exists. It's pretty simple. Now say that I am a small time software developer, and I thought of a really neat software idea no one else has thought of. Without a patent, I'm not going to go through starting a company and all the expense of getting a product out there because everyone else in the world will just rip off my idea, especially the Open Source Community. So either I get to have a patent, and I can create a company, sell a product, or I can have no patent, and just sit on my idea. Currenlty I am in that situation, but since getting a patent is so expensive, I have to sit and wait until I have more money backing me. In the meantime, computer users miss out on my new stuff. That's the tradeoff.

Re:patents? (1)

Otto (17870) | about 9 years ago | (#12170237)

does that mean i can't use that kind of code?

Pretty much, yeah. Of course, they wouldn't patent turning chunks of "000000000" into "01"'s, they'd patent "turning sets of numbers into other numbers by a predictable algorithim using intrinsic compression methods". Then they'd also be covered if you decided to turn it into "02" or something. :)

And now you see why software patents are bad.

Re:patents? (1)

John Seminal (698722) | about 9 years ago | (#12170282)

Pretty much, yeah. Of course, they wouldn't patent turning chunks of "000000000" into "01"'s, they'd patent "turning sets of numbers into other numbers by a predictable algorithim using intrinsic compression methods"

Yeah, but those algorithims are something that any math major or computer science graduate student would probably come up with if they spent some time thinking about it. Are we talking about something like an unsolvable math problem that for hundreds of years is not solved then someone figures it out?

Would it be better to have laws which prohibit reverse engineering or intellectual theft?

Re:patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12170268)

Well, I'm no expert, but generally, something's not meant to be patentable if you can show "prior art".

Unfortunately, to fight this type of thing requires vast reserves of cash, and it is this, as much as anything, that is the reason I am opposed to software patents.

*Many* patents have been awarded that should not have been for this reason- particularly in the USA. Now someone has to contest them.

The solution (3, Interesting)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 9 years ago | (#12170060)

1) Only play unpatented formats. 2) Make sure utilities are available to translate to those unpatented formats but don't own them. Just release them free out into the wilds of the internet where they will never entirely disappear despite efforts to squash them. 3) Encourage all encoders to only use open formats. --- Within the next 5-10 years, you will not be able to get content short of video taping it off a screen. They are going to have it completely locked down. It won't be because of technology per se but technology combined with severe legal penalties for circumventing that technology. They will send encoded audio and video streams that will be decoded as close as possible to the point where it becomes audeo and video. Picture a solid state combination speaker code and decoding device impossible to separate or patch into.

Does anyone else have rights? (-1, Flamebait)

DaHat (247651) | about 9 years ago | (#12170063)

I always find topics like this interesting under the header of "Your Rights Online." Not too often do you hear about the rights of the patent holders, or the rights of the inventors, or the creators... do they have no rights?

Re:Does anyone else have rights? (1)

John Seminal (698722) | about 9 years ago | (#12170183)

I always find topics like this interesting under the header of "Your Rights Online." Not too often do you hear about the rights of the patent holders, or the rights of the inventors, or the creators... do they have no rights?

That is a difficult question. Where do your rights end and mine start? If you have an idea first, does that mean you are the only one who can benifit from that idea? At the same time, should I be able to steal your idea? The anwser is to protect companies or people from stealing ideas others developed, yet at the same time not stopping people from using their own spontaneous ideas.

When it comes to media players, I can only ask the question, if a compression is made by microsoft, is it so obvious that in the next decade someone else would have saw the same pattern and made their own compression format? Or is the idea so unlikely to have been concieved without theft that we can assume it was reverse engineered or hacked?

Re:Does anyone else have rights? (1)

stinerman (812158) | about 9 years ago | (#12170186)

Not too often do you hear about the rights of the patent holders, or the rights of the inventors, or the creators... do they have no rights?

Regarding software patents? No they have no rights, AFAIK.

Nope (1)

iamacat (583406) | about 9 years ago | (#12170214)

I have a right to use knowledge inside my head in any way I choose, and nobody has a right to restrict me. If you don't want me to use your invention, keep it secret from me. Any alternatives are dangerously close to slavery and will have similar results as use if information becomes more important in daily lives.

Funny (1)

thrill12 (711899) | about 9 years ago | (#12170065)

just when they start to get used in the corporate world, the corporate world is killing them through patents ...

Hosting? (3, Interesting)

nizo (81281) | about 9 years ago | (#12170074)

Why can't all these software packages just be hosted in outer mongolia (or somewhere where the patents don't apply that actually has hosting)?

Re:Hosting? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12170204)

It doesn't matter where the server is; what matters is where the people live. Unless the programmers are totally anonymous, they can be sued.

Well, I suppose that's one way to kill OSS (4, Insightful)

Vip (11172) | about 9 years ago | (#12170079)

You just threaten that it breaks one of your patents, it ties up the developers into looking at the code and the patents. Development will be slower because of tied up resources, and you can attempt to kill it off. Even if the claim is bunk, you still make them lose much development time.

While it's probably not what DTS is after, they really don't compete with MPlayer, perhaps other companies will try it.

I'm just surprised DTS would even bother. After all, if your decoding capabilities are built-in to the most commonly used players, wouldn't that give prospective clients more incentive to use DTS? *shrug*

Vip

Not under immediate threat of closure (0, Troll)

reddazz (848454) | about 9 years ago | (#12170182)

Quite a few opensource projects are carrying the same message but non of them have been threatened by anybody yet. Last year other opensource projects like Knoppix were carrying the same message. I think the messages on their websites are a shock tactic to make people in Europe oppose the introcduction of software patents.

Oh, but how can that be? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12170196)


Oh, how can it be that all of these innovative products and applications be threatened by software patents? Patents stimulate innovation, not crush it! Patents are good, for if patents crush these innovative products and applications, that will stimulate competition!

Yeah. What bullshit software patents are. Companies with them will cheerfully sit on their collective patents, and not do a damn thing with them till someone comes along and tries to innovate. BANG! Pay up or die! Uh, yeah, that *really* stimulates competition. Techno-terrified lawyers *really* innovate by sitting on their collective arses and doing nothing with technology they don't understand, but because they don't know their collective arses from the ground, doesn't mean that they will sue yours off if you try to innovate (reguardless of whether they came up with the idea first, or stole it out of a book they found at the computer store). Software patents are evil, evil evil. Collectively those doleing out software patents, as well as those recieving them should be rounded up, and shot! Legislators who think they are a good idea can join them also.

Lack of innovation? (0, Flamebait)

sangreal66 (740295) | about 9 years ago | (#12170217)

Doesn't anyone find it odd that open source software seems to be so threatened by software patents and closed source products seem fine? Why are open source projects so reliant on patented techniques, and if they are infringing what are they bringing new to the table anyway?

Re:Lack of innovation? (1)

Vengeance (46019) | about 9 years ago | (#12170245)

It's simple.

Anyone can SEE the source code and find out if patents are being violated.

When patent violations are essentially protected by the perpetrator maintaining 'trade secrets', they go unseen and unprosecuted.

im confused (5, Interesting)

mr_tommy (619972) | about 9 years ago | (#12170244)

So whilst writing a letter to my local MEP, I did a little research around the subject - and stubled upon this speech [eu.int].

"Before concluding, I would like to say a few words on the substance of the proposal, since Parliament will now need to turn its attention to this. The Commission proposed to clarify the legal rules on patentability for software-related inventions. This does not include computer programs or other software as such. It means inventions that make a technical contribution and that are truly novel. Such inventions are present in a number of everyday consumer goods such as cars, mobile telephones and domestic appliances. The Commission's intention in making its proposal was to avoid the patenting of pure software and make a clear distinction between the European Union and the United States. Nothing that is not patentable now will be made patentable by the directive.

The current rules in the European Patent Convention leave patent examiners very wide decision-making powers. There can be different interpretations as to whether an invention can be patented. This leads to uncertainty for businesses. Small and medium-sized enterprises in particular are negatively affected by the lack of clarity in the existing rules.

I would like to remind Members that, in the absence of a directive, patents will continue to be granted. If patent offices decide to grant patents for pure software, then expensive procedures before the Courts will be the only option for those who wish to object.

Those of you who have been directly involved in working on this proposal know as well as I do that this is a very complex area. Any modifications will need to be carefully examined. The directive cannot be turned on its head. We need to maintain a proper balance between stimulating innovation and making sure competition is not stifled."

I'm a little confused...
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...