Tag Archive for 'license'

Do you use H.264 or MPEG? You need a license.

Recently it was confirmed by the MPEG LA that a license is needed for any use of H.264 and that everyone on the chain is liable. Free software projects are not exempt from this either and neither are end users.

Ben Swartz has an excellent summary about why H.264 should not be used.

A lot of commercial software comes with H.264 encoders and decoders, and some computers arrive with this software preinstalled. This leads a lot of people to believe that they can legally view and create H.264 videos for whatever purpose they like. Unfortunately for them, it ain’t so.

The license that comes with commercial software, such as Apple’s Final Cut Pro, does not cover commercial works. Even so, if you use a commercial software package to create something non-commercial and give it to a friend, they need to be properly licensed also.

You have a license to use their software, provided you don’t make any money, your friends are also all correctly licensed, and you only produce content that complies with the MPEG standard. Using video for a commercial purpose? Producing video that isn’t within MPEG’s parameters? Have friends who use unlicensed encoders like x264, ffmpeg, or xvid? Too bad.

This last thing is actually a particularly interesting point. If you encode a video using one of these (open-source) unlicensed encoders, you’re practising patents without a license, and you can be sued. But hey, maybe you’re just a scofflaw. After all, it’s not like you’re making trouble for anyone else, right? Wrong. If you send a video to a friend who uses a licensed decoder, and they watch it, you’ve caused them to violate their own software license, so they can be sued too.

That’s right folks. Use Handbrake to rip a DVD, or create, view, watch or distribute any H.264 video and you’re liable (royalty free streaming via the Internet has been extended until the end of 2016).

Won’t somebody please think of the children?

Christopher Blizzard: HTML5 video and H.264 – what history tells us and why we’re standing with the web

Christopher Blizzard has a great article about H.264 and what it might mean if it becomes the de-facto standard for video on the web.

Remember, this is still very early in H.264’s history so the licensing is very friendly, just like it used to be for MP3. The companies who own the IP in these large patent pools aren’t in this for the fun of it – this is what they do. They patent and they enforce and then enjoy the royalties. If they are in a position to charge more, they will. We can expect that if we allow H.264 to become a fundamental web technology that we’ll see license requirements get more onerous and more expensive over time, with little recourse.

Windows based Internet cafés “illegal”

I never realised before, but Windows based Internet cafés violate Microsoft’s license terms, because:

Windows desktop operating system and Microsoft Office system licenses do not permit renting, leasing, or outsourcing the software to a third party.


Now however, by paying an extra licensing fee to Microsoft café owners can become legit.

Seems to me that a Linux based kiosk with OpenOffice.org is just going to become even more attractive..

Sun to relicense X.Org code under standard MIT

Sun has been contributing to X for 21 years and now they have announced that all this code will be made available under the standard MIT license, rather than a derivative thereof.


Azureus (Vuze) violating GPL?

Mike has an interesting post on his blog about Azureus (now called Vuze) which might be violating the GPL.

The source code is available via the website and appears to be licensed under the GPLv2.

The program itself however, has additional terms of service which would appear to be in stark contradiction to the license itself, vis-à-vis:

8.10 use the Vuze Platform if You are under the age of eighteen (18) years old;
8.12 reverse engineer, decompile, disassemble or otherwise attempt to discover the source code of the Vuze Platform or any part thereof, except and only to the extent that such activity is expressly permitted by applicable law notwithstanding this limitation;
8.13 modify, adapt, translate or create derivative works based upon the Vuze Platform or any part thereof, except and only to the extent that such activity is expressly permitted by applicable law notwithstanding this limitation;”

I guess the question is, what is the “Vuze Platform” exactly? If it’s build on GPL software then they simply cannot do this.

Wikipedia has this to say:

Up to version, Azureus was distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL); beginning with the version 3 distribution, the license presented upon installation changed. While it still states that the “Azureus Application” is available under the GPL, completing installation requires the user to agree to the terms of the “Vuze Platform”, which include restrictions on use, reverse-engineering, and sublicensing. As with many similar licenses, the Azureus licence includes a prohibition on use of the software by people “under the age of 18″. Allegedly, the TOS only applies to the website, vuze.com, and not the software, however the actual TOS include the application as part of the platform.