Here are some of my ideas for Fedora 8 and Fedora 9

Erik Hemdal ehemdal at
Sat Jul 7 16:51:20 UTC 2007

> Message: 6
> Date: Fri, 06 Jul 2007 13:01:55 -0500
> From: Les Mikesell <lesmikesell at>
. . . 
> David Boles wrote:
> >>> FYI - All of the codecs are not supplied by Microsoft in Windows either.
> >>> Only the ones that they license for their bundled software. The Windows
> >>> Media Player is an example.
> >>>
> >>> Others can be added if needed or come with other media software that is
> >>> *bought and paid for by you*. And they can provide the codecs because they
> >>> pay a license fee.
> >> The question is, how many times do you have to pay for the right, for 
> >> example, to play a dvd?
> > 
> > When you buy the DVD player and hook it up to your TV maybe? The
> > manufacturer has paid a license fee to use the codecs when he built the
> > DVD player to sell to you.
> So it's once per device?  Once per user? Once per piece of software on 
> the device?   Per user times devices?  Per user times devices times 
> possible copies of software that might access the device?

It's however many times the patent holder and codec writer can negotiate
a payment.  If the codec writer wants to do both Windows and Linux
codecs, then he'll pay a larger fee for his patent license.  And if he
can embed the codec in some hardware device that the user will
eventually replace, then he'll get more money for his codecs.

This is the crux of the fight over CableCards in the US.  If I can buy a
CableCard, I can use it to get cable service legally in anything that
uses a CableCard -- a computer, a TV, whatever.  If I can't buy one, I
have to keep buying or renting cable set-top boxes from my cable
company, or paying more for cable-ready TVs.

> > Or when you *buy* the software to view the DVD on your computer that works
> >  because the company that *sold* you the software paid a license fee to do
> > that.
> Most computer DVD players also include software to play movies, 
> presumably with a paid license for all relevant patents.

Maybe some do, but then I only get a license to use that particular
software, not any software that relies on the same patents.

If I could create an emulator or virtual machine that ran that software
on a foreign OS, then _that_ might be a legal use, unless my software
license forbids it.

> > I do not recall any DVD bragging about you being able to watch it on your
> > computer when using Linux as your OS?
> Why is the OS any more relevant than the brand of the TV and receiver 
> you might hook to a player?  The patent covers the process of decoding, 
> nothing else.  In particular, why is it any of the patent holders 
> business when he has already been paid for the license?

Right.  He was paid by a developer for the right to take his process and
use it as the basis for some codec software.  If another developer (or
the same one, for that matter) wants to make a different codec -- for a
different DVD device or a different OS -- then it's a different (or a
more expensive) patent license.

If you or I want to use those codecs, we need to pay for them, because
the developers put up money for the patent licenses to make them legal.
> > Can you watch it on your computer in
> > Windows or MAC OSX? Sure. When using Windows, or MAC, software with a paid
> > license for the codecs.
> > 
> > And the license that you are referring to belongs with the software that
> > you can not use. Which they see, as do you apparently, is of your own
> > choosing to not use.
> But patents aren't tied to copies, they cover processes.
> > This is a round-robin argument. The people that own the codecs are not
> > going to give them away.
> Right, and I've paid for the right to use them.

No, you didn't, if all you did was buy a license for a codec.  You
probably have no license from the patent holder at all, and you can't
use his process to make your own codec or use an illegal one.  You do
have a license to use someone's codec, based on a patent.  But that's
it, and your rights are probably quite limited at that.

>   The people that provide Fedora to you, and me,
> > are not going to pay for the license, which I would think would be per DVD
> > ISO downloaded/sold/given away and for each and every piece of software
> > that could use it, and then *give* it to you for free. Nor do they want to
> > on policy and principal.
> > 
> > In other words? I don't ever see it happening until the codecs are FOSS.
> > And I seriously doubt that will ever happen.
> I'm not implying that they are free, I'm saying that paying for the 
> right to use a patented process should give you the right to use that 
> patented process even if the software version delivered to you isn't the 
> exact copy that you use.

A license to use software that relies on a patent is not a patent
license.  Buy a patent license if you want to write a codec that works
using a patented process.  Buy a legal software license if you want to
use a codec that already does that.  What "legal" means depends on the
laws where you live, and the laws don't have to be fair or reasonable.

> > I get paid for the work that I perform and my company gets paid for what I
> > do. I guess that they would like the same.
> Do you charge for services you aren't providing at all?  This is the 
> case for the patent fees included in bundled software you don't or can't 
> use.

Yes, if I can do it.  In most cases, like insurance or extended
warranties, I'm charging for taking on some risk that my customer
doesn't want to bear.  I'm gambling that the value my customer puts on
that transfer is higher than my cost to take it.

The "software I don't use" situation is different.  I"m free at any time
to remove Linux and go back to Windows, at which point my patented
software will presumably work again for no extra charge.   

> -- 
>     Les Mikesell
>       lesmikesell at

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