10.28.10

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MPEG-LA Codecs and Microsoft Racketeering Challenge the Redistributability of Linux

Posted in Europe, FSF, Microsoft, Patents at 4:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Eye of the beholder

Summary: The zero-cost advantage of Android is harmed by the advancement of software patents courtesy of patent aggressors like Microsoft and the patent troll-led MPEG-LA

THE OIN grows rapidly, but its expansion as of late included more controversial companies whose policies are in conflict with Free software but not with OIN’s perspective. Here is Fluendo joining:

Fluendo, the leading multimedia software development company and GStreamer expert, today announced its decision to join OIN as a licensee and to adhere to its obligations under the OIN licensing agreement.

Being an active part in the development of multimedia software based on open source technologies, and also as one of the most important contributors to GStreamer, the de-facto open source multimedia framework for Unix/Linux operating systems, Fluendo decided to join Open Source Network’s efforts to create a supportive ecosystem that ensures the growth and adoption of Linux.

GStreamer could become obsolete if dependence on MPEG-LA was to be ceased [1, 2, 3]. We are slowly getting there as more companies (including Google) override or circumvent MPEG-LA, which is headed by a patent troll [1, 2, 3, 4]. OIN may still be necessary as a temporary fallback.

Fluendo’s relationship with software patents makes its place at the OIN rather unique and according to the GPL violations guru, there is already an Android patent fee injection:

It is always surprising what kind of things the industry is coming up with ;)

Here at ELCE, ST-Ericsson has just presented how they replaced OpenCore with gstreamer as the supplier/provider of multimedia encoding/decoding to the Android software stack.

This is definitely an interesting technical solution – probably one that makes sense if you have existing gstreamer modules/drivers.

These companies are damaging the zero cost of Free software-based platforms and this cost issue is often an essential ingredient of redistribution rights (which the GPL depends on, although it depends what the payments are made for). But by far the biggest elephant in this room is Microsoft, which is still trying to claim other people’s code to be its own, using dubious and/or unnamed software patents. In Techrights — under the “Boycott Novell” banner — we have warned about this since 2006 when Novell opened those floodgates after it had voluntarily approached Microsoft with its warchest of software patents.

Microsoft to charge royalty fees to prevent Acer, Asustek from using Android in netbooks, say Taiwan makers

Microsoft plans to impose royalty fees on Taiwan-based vendors of Android handsets for using its patents in e-mail, multimedia and other functions, with Acer and Asustek Computer being targets in an actual attempt to prevent the two vendors from adopting Android and Chrome OS for their netbook and tablet PCs, according to Taiwan-based makers.

Microsoft already uses that as FUD at the very least. This type of racketeering [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] has led Red Hat’s Jan Wildeboer to saying quite provocatively: “Microsoft – from SW company to Patent Troll?”

Technically, Microsoft will become a patent troll when it just kills Vista Phony 7 [sic] like it killed “KIN”. Then, at least in the mobile space (not as a whole), Microsoft would be seen as non-practising entity.

Our reader David, who hopes to spread freedom in his country by developing Free software (GNU Telephony), wrote yesterday: “Some say Microsoft doesn’t innovate. In fact Microsoft has innovated plagiarism by patenting other people’s ideas.”

“This amounts to strong admission by Microsoft they can no longer compete on product, quality or service,” writes Georg Greve in response to the report above. Greve is the founder of the FSFE (Free Software Foundation Europe) and his successor, Karsten Gerloff, writes:

welfare-to-work for lawyers?

Georg Greve has told me about the FSFE’s work to stop software patents: “You’ll find some information on FSFE’s home page … Much work in early years was done through FFII though.”

Yes, the FFII is still doing a fantastic job and it is the main force in Europe that battles against software patents and thus protects both proprietary and freedom-respecting software makers in Europe. In general, software patents hurt software developers, not just Free/libre open source software developers.

Mobbyists still lobby for software patents over at Identi.ca, only to be smacked down by Georg Greve and others who are at least partly affiliated with the FSFE (which the mobbyist paid to be seen as associated with). As Greve puts it, “Software patenting fails the economic criteria for patenting defined by WIPO. So a economic rationale, not pro-monopoly dogma.” This whole discussion over there is amusing and the side which favours software patents comes from a company that fed Acacia with software patents. It is worse than what Samsung has been doing. No wonder quite a few people in Identi.ca have publicly and vocally blocked this mobbyist, whom they call “a troll”.

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