05.06.10

Canonical, Ubuntu, and Software Patents

Posted in Europe, GNU/Linux, Patents, Samba, Ubuntu at 9:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: How software patents tax comes into Ubuntu (at OEM level)

YESTERDAY we mentioned Canonical’s awkward situation when it comes to MPEG-LA. This whole subject has generally been explored recently in (chronologically ordered):

  1. Microsoft Brings MPEG-LA-LA Land to the Web and Threatens GNU/Linux With Software Patent Lawsuits
  2. Steve Jobs: “A Patent Pool is Being Assembled to Go After Theora and Other “Open Source” Codecs Now.”
  3. Apple’s and Microsoft’s New Motto: Do More Evil, Together
  4. “Behind the Open Codec FUD Attack, W3C Captured by Microsoft, Apple, Nokia and So On?”
  5. Behind the Microsoft Puppetmaster: SCO-Type Libel, Acacia-Type Patent Trolls, and Novell-Type Patent Deals to Make GNU/Linux Not Free (Gratis)
  6. Patents Roundup: Red Hat on Patent Trolls; Apple Antitrust; Microsoft Attacks Theora, Which is Needed to Save Our Video Culture
  7. Apple and Microsoft a Threat to Culture (Data), Not Just Software (Tools)
  8. “The fight has been around a long time, now the target of Microsoft is Theora”

Canonical is based in the UK, where software patents are mostly invalid (bar Nokia’s utter greed [1, 2], which makes no sense).

Gizmodo and Engadget have both just covered the legal minefield which is H.264 and more comments on the latter article can be found in LWN (a GNU/Linux perspective).

The president of the FFII interprets the above by quoting “In order to ship an H.264 decoder with Firefox, Mozilla would have to pay the MPEG-LA something around $5 million a year” and he also cites this item from The Register, which says: “What’s more, Canonical – Ubuntu’s commercial sponsor – is now the only Linux maker to license H.264/AVC, the closed and patented technology used to compress video.”

This is not entirely new to us and it can certainly explain price oddities. The H says that “Canonical clarifies its H.264 licence” and so does The Register.

When purchasing an OEM machine with Ubuntu pre-installed, there is currently no way to tell, without the manufacturer explicitly specifying them, which software and codecs are bundled with the machine. A device may be validated as Ubuntu Compatible, which means the OEM has tested the system and Canonical has verified the test, or as Ubuntu Certified, which means that Canonical have performed the testing. Kenyon points to the Ubuntu Certified list on the Canonical site, which lists systems from Lenovo, ASUSTek, HP, Toshiba, Samsung and Dell. Kenyon added “We have explored setting some minimum requirements for codecs, but this is not something that we presently do”.

So the rule of thumb is that an arbitrary Ubuntu system does not have a H.264 licence via Canonical, unless it’s an OEM system which specifically lists the H.264 licence in its documentation or marketing materials.

H.264 is not the only patent issue in Ubuntu. Last week we wrote about Likewise in Ubuntu and here is someone who is not concerned about it:

It’s funny, but when you talk to Jerry Carter, he doesn’t sound like someone who’s part of a conspiracy to bring down Linux/Windows interoperability and from there enable the downfall of Linux itself. He comes across as far less evil.

Yet last summer, Carter, who is Director of Engineering at Likewise Software, and his co-workers were practically accused of doing exactly that when Likewise CEO Barry Crist detailed the hows and whys of Likewise-CIFS pulling away from the Samba codebase.

In our previous posts about Likewise [1, 2, 3, 4] we explained their role in playing the software patents game. They are former Microsoft staff, hacking on Samba and selling it with patent ‘protection’. Ubuntu should stick with just Samba. As for codecs, people can fetch these themselves (if they are required at all).

Share in other sites/networks: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Reddit
  • email

This post is also available in Gemini over at:

gemini://gemini.techrights.org/2010/05/06/ubuntu-and-h-264-tax/

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Was Microsoft Ever First in the Market?

    Confronting the false belief that Microsoft ever innovates anything of significance or is "first" in some market/s



  2. Links 1/8/2021: 4MLinux 37.0, IBM Fluff, and USMCA Update

    Links for the day



  3. Microsoft Knows That When Shareholders Realise Azure Has Failed the Whole Boat Will Sink

    The paranoia at Microsoft is well justified; they've been lying to shareholders to inflate share prices and they don't really deliver the goods, just false hopes and unfulfilled promises



  4. [Meme] Nobody and Nothing Harms Europe's Reputation Like the EPO Does

    Europe’s second-largest institution, the EPO, has caused severe harm/damage to Europe’s economy and reputation; its attacks on the courts and on justice itself (even on constitutions in the case of UPC — another attempt to override the law and introduce European software patents) won’t be easily forgotten; SUEPO has meanwhile (on Saturday, link at the bottom in German) reminded people that Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos have driven away the EPO’s most valuable workers or moral compass



  5. IRC Proceedings: Saturday, July 31, 2021

    IRC logs for Saturday, July 31, 2021



  6. [Meme] When it Comes to Server Share, Microsoft Azure is Minuscule (But Faking It)

    Don't believe the lies told by Microsoft's charlatans and frauds; Azure has been a total failure and that's why there are layoffs as well



  7. [Meme] Mozilla Has Turned From Technical to Marketing

    Way back, long before Mozilla and Firefox got hijacked by politics (turning Mozilla into a VPN reseller that lies about its stance on privacy), geeks were driving the company, not corporate lawyers and spying/marketing people



  8. Over 1,500 (Known/Unorphaned) Gemini Capsules and Over 160,000 Page Requests in gemini.techrights.org During July

    Techrights is expanding at gemini:// (Gemini space) and over 1,500 capsules are reported to have been found (less than 4 months ago it was about 1,000)



  9. Links 31/7/2021: Kernel Additions and Linux Mint 20.3 Release Date

    Links for the day



  10. Microsoft Azure Stagnating

    Reprinted with permission from Mitchel Lewis, former Microsoft employee



  11. For 17 Days (and Counting) António Campinos Has Failed to Respond to Call for Compliance With the Law

    Team Campinos has been so arrogant and so evasive that there’s no indication (yet) that it will follow court orders (Willy ‘Guillaume’ Minnoye openly bragged about ignoring court orders and he's still cheering for the EPO's abuses); therefore, staff of the EPO takes collective action



  12. Raw: Elodie Bergot Breaking the Law by Threatening Against the Exercise of Fundamental Rights

    Over the years we saw a number of rude letters from Elodie Bergot, the grossly under-qualified spouse of a friend of Vichyite Benoît Battistelli; most of these we never published (we already have these and can always publish if the need arises), but those paranoid and insecure “Mafia”-like ‘cabal’ need to be exposed for the mobsters they are; for nearly a decade they’ve illegally bullied EPO staff in clear violation of the law (and for over 3 years António Campinos has kept those bullies on board); why does Europe do nothing and why is it never holding high-profile abusers accountable (only low-level facilitators)? Is it because the EU too is being infiltrated by them?



  13. Linspire Should Be Avoided in 2021 Just Like It Was Avoided 14 Years Ago

    The brand "Linspire" was brought back, but the agenda seems to be more or less the same, namely pushing proprietary software and serving Microsoft's commercial agenda (in 'Linux' clothing)



  14. The Death of Freenode Would Be Freenode's Own Fault

    Freenode is going dark and now it’s asking people to create accounts at IRC.com (just to get back into the network that they may have already occupied for decades) as if Freenode owns “IRC” as a whole



  15. Links 31/7/2021: KDE Progress and Activision Catastrophe

    Links for the day



  16. IRC Proceedings: Friday, July 30, 2021

    IRC logs for Friday, July 30, 2021



  17. The Smartest Meter of All

    Yesterday a lady came over to take our power readings (electric/gas meter); secure these people's jobs as they help protect people's privacy (dignity) at home



  18. [Meme] A Web of False Dichotomies

    A reminder that Techrights is fully available (all blog posts and wiki pages) in gemini://



  19. Freenode Shrinks by Another Quarter and Gemini Continues to Grow (For Techrights at Least)

    Freenode continues to perish faster than we've imagined; it's a good thing that we've had contingencies set up; regarding the monopolised and increasingly centralised Web, we're still making baby steps towards weaning ourselves off it



  20. Links 31/7/2021: Wine 6.14 and Chrome 93 Beta

    Links for the day



  21. European Media Does Not Care About Europe's Second-Largest Institution Crushing Basic Laws and Fundamental Rights

    New video about the latest publication from SUEPO (the EPO’s staff union); it was published yesterday, seeing that the “Mafia” (what EPO staff actually calls the management!) hasn’t done anything to comply with a wide-ranging set of court rulings from ILO-AT; why has the media said nothing about this and what does that say about today’s media? The material is all in the public domain, in widely understood languages, and SUEPO spoke about it more than 3 weeks ago.



  22. Links 30/7/2021: Distro Comparisons and Tootle Introduced

    Links for the day



  23. [Meme] Enforcing ILO-AT Rulings...

    We’re still waiting for a statement — any statement (direct or indirect) — from EPO management, seeing that almost a month has passed



  24. 'Open Source' as a Failed Initiative

    A closer look at the dire state of the Open Source Initiative, or OSI, which no longer protects Open Source (let alone software freedom) but instead helps openwashing, Microsoft entrapment, and a coup against the FSF



  25. [Meme] Rowan and António Sittin' on a Tree...

    How much longer can Team Campinos keep issuing tons of noisy and self-congratulatory puff pieces to (perhaps) distract from the elephant in the 10th floor of the Isar building (EPO HQ)? Staff won't wait for eternity.



  26. IRC Proceedings: Thursday, July 29, 2021

    IRC logs for Thursday, July 29, 2021



  27. Half the People in This Letter Are IBM Employees

    IBM seems to be continuing its war on the FSF because IBM wants to own everything (CentOS being ‘canned’ was just part of the plan)



  28. The OSI Song

    The sad demise of OSI, which has become little but a front group of proprietary software companies in pursuit of openwashing services (and outsourcing to proprietary disservices looking to eradicate copyleft)



  29. [Meme] OSI is Doing Just Fine

    So what if OSI is run by someone who raised money from Microsoft (to sell Microsoft a keynote slot in a copyleft event — the thing that Microsoft attacks through GitHub!) while funnelling the OSI's funds to a serial GPL violator?



  30. The OSI's Defunct Elections (Privacy Breach), Conflict of Interest (Nicholson), and Other Lingering Problems

    The above, together with an email from the OSI below, serves to show they’re re-running a bad election and — yet worse! — there appears to be a conflict of interest implicating the OSI’s sole member of staff!


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts