[XviD-devel] Re: License/legal discussions

Jan Rychter jan at rychter.com
Sat Dec 20 08:50:10 CET 2003

Christoph Lampert:
> I think, the problem is not that the copyright holders of XviD would
> have to "allow" Jan's company to use XviD, or that it would have to pay
> money for it. 
> We released XviD under GPL, and all Jan's company wants is to use XviD
> according to the terms of GPL. This includes the opening of sources, which
> for all other companies so far was the problem.
> The only problem is, that although we "try to" release XviD under GPL, 
> because of the patent situation it might not be possible for anyone else
> to redistribute XviD under GPL, totally contrary to what we intended. 
> So, changing the license is much more fundamental than just making some 
> company happy, it's about the fundamental rights we give to all users. 
> We shouldn't come up with just a quick-and-dirty solution for Jan, but 
> find a good solution for the future, too. 

Thank you, Christoph -- this is a *very* good summary of what we're
discussing. I couldn't have phrased it better.

I don't want to start several parallel discussions here, so I'll try to
refrain from correcting misstatements in other E-mails in this
thread. One thing to remember: this is not about closed-source vs
open-source at all (ChristianHJW, please note this). Binary or source
distribution has *nothing* to do with the patent issues I was talking
about, so please don't mix those things. Also, please try to keep money
out of the discussion -- it also has nothing to do with this.

best regards,

> On Sat, 20 Dec 2003, ChristianHJW wrote:
> > charact3r wrote:
> > > Even without the GPL restrictions, there is another
> > > reason why open-source + patents is a deadly mix for
> > > corporations:  If a company is using open-source in
> > > it's products, then a litigious patent-holder can use
> > > the source as evidence to prove infringement.  Let's
> > > make the reasonable assumption that there are several
> > > aspects of the xvid decoder implementation that
> > > infringe non-MPEGLA patents.  
> > 
> > My original reply to Jan, copied to the list, was not forwarded by the 
> > list moderators ( i hope this one will be sent trough ), but i was 
> > sketching the solution to this already :
> > 
> > The developers working on XviD can release their code under any license 
> > they want. Even double or triple licensing is no problem, as long as 
> > *all* devs agree. That way, the XviD team can allow Jans's company to 
> > license the XviD code from them and release a closed source product 
> > based on it. This being done, nobody can prove Jan's company easily that 
> > any other patents are infringed in the code, as they can claim to have 
> > rewritten those parts where XviD's sources maybe will have 
> > infringements, and nobody can easily prove different.
> > 
> > In contrary, Jan's company could pay the XviD team some money, and this 
> > money could be used by the XviD team to
> > - hire Gom-Gom or SysKin or God knows who to continue improving the code
> > - pay MPEG4 licensing fees and distribute binaries for free, until 
> > somebody actually steps in and accuses them for patent infringement ( 
> > this is no problem then, because XviD Ltd. is poor and has no money, 
> > other than Jan's company ;) .. you get me ? )
> > - pay for hosting costs, etc.
> > 
> > Just my 2 cents .....
> > Regards
> > 
> > Christian
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