Subject: RE: Mp3, patents, and Ogg/Vorbis
From: "Lawrence Rosen" <lrosen@rosenlaw.com>
Date: Wed, 28 Feb 2007 19:19:30 -0800

Hi Don, 

> > * the DVD-CCA agreement apparently requires Macrovision as part of any
> > DVD player implementation, and no one has implemented Macrovision on
> > Linux. So they may not have gotten sued yet, but that doesn't mean
> > they've actually got a DVD-CCA agreement.
> 
> IBM did once do Macrovision on Linux, as a kernel
> module.  (I'm sure Tivo and other embedded vendors
> have implementations, too, but that doesn't really
> count.)  Don't have the original of this but here's
> a forward:
>   http://zgp.org/pipermail/linux-elitists/2001-April/002236.html

This is fascinating. Thanks for rescuing and sharing this email. 

I'm confused about the intellectual property at issue here that presumably
prevents Linux from running MP3 drivers. The email refers to "legal" risk as
if that is one subject. MP3 is a patented technology. Is there a fear that
Linux drivers can't implement MP3 because they don't have a patent license?
Or is this a copyright-related fear, that it might be a DMCA violation to
decode MP3 data streams within a computer running Linux? 

Keith Frechette wrote that, "[for] example, enabling the user to transfer
DVD movies to other media (video tape, for example) via the S-Video port
would likely have triggered a flood of lawsuits." Certainly that would be a
risk if the enabling of copyright infringement were the motive or primary
use of that technology. But primarily enabling a user to replace the
operating system on her MP3-enabled (and patent-licensed) computer so that
she may play her own (legal) DVDs is almost certainly not an infringing act.
Nor is it an infringing act to ship a product that the consumer herself
later "hacks" in order to infringe; connecting your radio to loudspeakers at
the shopping mall is an infringing act, but not for the manufacturer of the
radio or the loudspeakers! 

What intellectual property is preventing Linux-based computers from loading
MP3 drivers and playing MP3 DVDs? Remember the exhaustion doctrine: If I buy
a Dell computer with Windows and later replace the operating system with
Linux, what other licenses do I need in order to play my own MP3 DVDs? In
fact, what specific MP3 licenses do I need in order to load Linux on a Dell
computer to start with, given that I'm buying legal DVDs? Is there anything
that prevents Dell from obtaining MP3 patent licenses on behalf of its
customers for its computers regardless of which operating system runs on
them? 

Keith wrote this: "Under Linux, however, video drivers (X servers) are
generally open-sourced, so handling Macrovision control logic in the video
driver is not appropriate. Instead, the code is placed in a separate,
binary-only, kernel driver." What is it about MP3 technology that is
incompatible with Linux or the GPL? 

/Larry

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Don Marti [mailto:dmarti@zgp.org]
> Sent: Wednesday, February 28, 2007 5:41 PM
> To: fsb@crynwr.com
> Subject: Re: Mp3, patents, and Ogg/Vorbis
> 
> begin Luis Villa quotation of Wed, Feb 28, 2007 at 05:56:20PM -0500:
> > From what I understand of DVD licensing* they are practically begging
> > to get sued on DVD issues, so I'm not sure one should take their
> > position on mp3s to be a strong indication one way or the other of the
> > relative legal liability of mp3s/oggs, or even their own legal
> > position wrt mp3s. But yes, they do offer you the option of paying for
> > an mp3 decoder. :)
> >
> > (And no idea on the encoder front. Any particular reason you need (a
> > legal) one that vorbis won't suffice?)
> 
> Lots of cheap portable devices support MP3 but not
> Ogg Vorbis.  And I don't know of any CD player that
> supports Ogg Vorbis on a CD, but there are quite a
> few MP3 CD players on the market now.
> 
> > * the DVD-CCA agreement apparently requires Macrovision as part of any
> > DVD player implementation, and no one has implemented Macrovision on
> > Linux. So they may not have gotten sued yet, but that doesn't mean
> > they've actually got a DVD-CCA agreement.
> 
> IBM did once do Macrovision on Linux, as a kernel
> module.  (I'm sure Tivo and other embedded vendors
> have implementations, too, but that doesn't really
> count.)  Don't have the original of this but here's
> a forward:
>   http://zgp.org/pipermail/linux-elitists/2001-April/002236.html
> 
> --
> Don Marti
> http://zgp.org/~dmarti/
> dmarti@zgp.org