MP3 and the OLPC
dcbw at redhat.com
Mon Jan 14 18:41:28 EST 2008
On Mon, 2008-01-14 at 15:03 -0800, Wilhelm Fitzpatrick wrote:
> I'm trying to understand the legal state of MP3 versus the OLPC
> platform. Looking at this wiki page:
> Seems to indicate that handling MP3 requires a license, and thus an
> MP3 decoders is not packaged by default, yet I know I can open and
> play MP3s within eToys, which implies there is an MP3 decoder.
> Anyone have any insight into this situation?
To be shipped on the OLPC platform, code and binaries must be a few
1) Open Source
2) Free of known patent encumbrance
Yes, you can ask the MP3 licensing association for a license for your
MP3 decoder/encoder, even pay them a flat fee of $50,000 for an
unlimited license IIRC. But that license is _NOT_ transferable to other
parties. After having paid for that license, you can distribute the MP3
software to your friend, but that friend cannot then give that software
to another friend without buying a license himself. And that's the
problem with MP3 and open-source.
As a small digression, most standards are usually RAND (Reasonable And
Non-Discriminatory). MPEG (and hence MP3) is such a standard. That
does _NOT_ mean that the standard is free of patent protection, or that
licenses are not required to implement the standard. It simply means
that the owners of the intellectual property on which the standard is
based cannot charge everyone a wildly different amount of money, and
cannot refuse to license the technology to somebody just because they
don't like them. But that doesn't mean the standards are free and clear
to implement and redistribute.
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