MP3 patent issues?

Josh Coates jcoates at archive.org
Wed Aug 3 13:28:37 MDT 2005


>...which is why I came here looking for good resources, and advice. 

LOL.

Josh Coates
www.jcoates.org

-----Original Message-----
From: plug-bounces at plug.org [mailto:plug-bounces at plug.org] On Behalf Of
Kenneth Burgener
Sent: Wednesday, August 03, 2005 1:17 PM
To: Provo Linux Users Group Mailing List
Subject: Re: MP3 patent issues?

Michael Torrie wrote:
> I'll be honest here and say that I don't understand how this would be 
> a problem.  I really don't.
> 
> If you have an mp3 requirement then you need to buy a licensed 
> encoder/decoder package.  Pure and simple.  For you the content 
> producer, there is no other choice.  This is business, as they say.


There is nothing simple about this issue at all.  Patents are NEVER simple,
which is why I came here looking for good resources, and advice.

The first problem I noticed is that there are more then 1 group that holds
patents on different parts of the MP3 encoding.  So just because you say you
need a license, doesn't mean anything helpful as each group has their own
sets of rules, licenses and royalties.

So if we get the wrong license from the wrong company we are still held
liable if we didn't cover the other groups patents as well.  And from
reading the patent laws, ignorance is never a workable excuse.  In fact
ignorance gets you fined at one level, and willful violation is fined at a
different level.

You assume that because it is in a business environment, then it is a
requirement to buy a licensed encoder?  What if we are using the MP3
encoding for in house use only, where no direct revenue will be made from
it.  Does this fall under "personal use"?  If no revenue is being made does
this fall under the non-business use case?

The next question to you is this, why do we need to use the "patented" 
MP3 encoder.  I may be completely wrong on this, but according to one site,
LameMP3 does not use the ISO code for encoding.  If they use a different
breed of encoding to come up with an MP3 file, is it a patent violation to
use a competing algorithm?

The next question is, let's say that we do need to get a "licensed" and
approved encoder.  Do we have to pay royalties on EVERY MP3 that we encode,
or are the royalties for each MP3 covered with the encoder's license.

As I said, it is NEVER simple when dealing with patents, nor the law for
that matter.  I really am astonished that companies flourish at all with all
the crap and legality that gets kicked at them.

I have sent an email to the primary patent holders looking for more
information on this as well.  Hopefully they give me a straight answer.

Kenneth


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