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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

VideoLAN is seriously threatened by software patents

The popular and probably best OpenSource multimedia player on earth VideoLAN is seriously threatened by software patents due to the numerous patented techniques it implements and uses. Also threatened are the many libraries and projects which VLC is built upon, like FFmpeg, and the other fellow Free And Open Source software multimedia players, which include MPlayer, xine, Freevo, MythTV, gstreamer.
Multimedia is a patent minefield.
All important techniques and formats are covered by broad and trivial patents that are harming progress and alternative implementations, such as free software multimedia players.
The DADVSI (roughly "Author Rights and other Rights in the Information Society") is the French
transcription of the european EUCD (European Union Copyright Directive) text, which itself comes from the american DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act). The main goal of this law is to restrict the rights of digital content purchasers. It most notably forbids them from working around technical content protection measures. Doing so, writing or publishing software allowing to do so, or even merely talking about ways to do so becomes an offence that can be punished with three years in jail.

The french Ministry of Culture has started presenting a new text for this Feburary session. Good news! With the old version, users and developers of VideoLAN could be threatened with 3 years in jail and a 300 000 euros fine. Now, users could only get a small fine (something like 40 euros), and developers would only get one year in jail and a 100 000 euros fine.

The most important parts (mostly about DRM and Peer-To-Peer) will take place in February, so the battle is not over. It is still very important to keep spreading the word about the dangers of this law. Please spread the word. Thanx

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