Restricted Formats on a Free Operating System [was: Another Unofficial UbuntuGuide?]

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Restricted Formats on a Free Operating System [was: Another Unofficial UbuntuGuide?]

Eamonn Sullivan
On 07/11/05, Timothy A. Holmes <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> My solution is to make sure that the there is excellent (read that as
> below basic level) documentation on EXACTLY what to type etc to do the
> source installs)  I understand we cant distribute the software, but if
> we can make the compile/install process as user friendly and painless
> and un-intimidating as possible, that would be a huge start

I wonder if another possible solution (and a business opportunity) is
to make it crystal clear to users how much money the patent holders
are demanding for some multimedia codecs/decrypters. A company could
package the codecs into ubuntu add-ons, priced at multiple levels,
depending on the pound of flesh demanded by the firms who control
them, plus a reasonable margin for the effort of tracking changes in
Ubuntu at six-month intervals. This could actually appeal to the
corporates, or the very honest.

These are just wild guesses on what it would cost:

MP3 playback -- $1 (or 75 pence, or 1 euro)
QuickTime/MP3 -- $20
QuickTime/CSS/MP3 -- $30 (demanded by the film cartel for a DVD
player, which would be region restricted probably).
QuickTime/Microsoft/CSS/MP3 (the whole shebang, essentially w32codecs
plus CSS2) -- $100 (or thereabouts, because  Microsoft would likely
want something close to a Windows XP license to allow this, especially
in its arch-enemy operating system.)

I had heard on this list several months ago that a company was doing
something like this, but I've heard nothing since. Whether there would
be enough honest users out there for a viable business model is an
open question, but it would make it much clearer to users why a *free*
operating system can't afford this.

-Eamonn

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Re: Restricted Formats on a Free Operating System [was: Another Unofficial UbuntuGuide?]

Derek Broughton-2
Eamonn Sullivan wrote:

> On 07/11/05, Timothy A. Holmes <[hidden email]> wrote:
>>
>> My solution is to make sure that the there is excellent (read that as
>> below basic level) documentation on EXACTLY what to type etc to do the
>> source installs)  I understand we cant distribute the software, but if
>> we can make the compile/install process as user friendly and painless
>> and un-intimidating as possible, that would be a huge start

In that case, I agree with you.  However, it's largely going to be up to
individual software developers.  This is a problem that's not unique to
non-free software.  Linux distros are developed by geeks who typically have
an antipathy to documentation.  A _lot_ of linux apps are short of
documentation.  Trying to get good documentation about what you need to add
to make a DVD player work - especially when giving that advice _may_ be
illegal - is pretty tricky.
>
> I wonder if another possible solution (and a business opportunity) is
> to make it crystal clear to users how much money the patent holders
> are demanding for some multimedia codecs/decrypters. A company could
> package the codecs into ubuntu add-ons, priced at multiple levels,
> depending on the pound of flesh demanded by the firms who control
> them, plus a reasonable margin for the effort of tracking changes in
> Ubuntu at six-month intervals. This could actually appeal to the
> corporates, or the very honest.

I knew someone who was trying to buy a license to develop MPEG4 software.
The licensor simply refused to sell it, at any price, for an app that would
run on Linux.
--
derek


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Re: Restricted Formats on a Free Operating System [was: Another Unofficial UbuntuGuide?]

Eric S. Johansson
Derek Broughton wrote:
> I knew someone who was trying to buy a license to develop MPEG4 software.
> The licensor simply refused to sell it, at any price, for an app that would
> run on Linux.

no surprises.  especially when you remember that the the licensor is
either a motion picture company or has very close ties to motion picture
companies which want to completely control the content from the actor to
the a-hole (that's analog hole you pervert ;-)

this is also a phenomenally good argument for compulsory licensing of
all patented technology.  If patents are for the social good by
encouraging investment in invention, then an inventor cannot deny anyone
from using that patent for any reason.  If they cannot negotiate a rate,
then the licensee can use the patent at a rate set by a licensing board
according to certain public criteria.

this policy mechanism allows licensees to escape monopoly rents charged
for intellectual property.  For examples, look at the conflict with
Brazil and South Africa with US and EU over licensing AIDS drugs.

--- eric


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