[MPlayer-dev-eng] KiSS of copyright

Edouard Gomez ed.gomez at free.fr
Fri Mar 5 16:47:20 CET 2004

Quoting Ivan Kalvachev <ivan at cacad.com>:
> 6. We should also discuss our compensation. I really doubt that a company
> will release it's propriate code without court order. More probably they
> will pay for copyright infringment. I don't think that we shold take money
> but some hardware and documentation (patent grants?) will be welcome.

The XviD example shows the opposite. Sigma Designs under public pressure
did release their codec. However their GPLed codec has never evolved since
its release. This proves that Sigma did never plan to do anything with this
open sourced product.

> 7. We should see how other projects have defended their copyrights (e.g.
> XviD)
> what layers have they used and in what contract. As somebody said we may
> request donnotation from our users. But first we should know how much money
> we will need.

First we accumulated proofs about the infringments, ranging from simple
filenames matchings (see the compiler .comment sections), to complete
assembly side to side comparison (showing what registers were changed,
what loops were unrolled etc...), typical common bugs...

In the same time we looked for legal advise from the FSF. Basicly, we
got the typical answer: "if you want us to defend your case then transfer
us the rights over the code, else we can only advise you and guide you
during the legal actions". We did not accept copyright
transfer, we wanted to solve this violation alone if posible, so we accepted
general advives, and legal advise from a French FSF member.

Then we contacted Sigma a first time so they could "undo" their mistake.
More than a month later, they released their 1.1 codec version which was 
supposed to be xvid clean. Their first plan was to remove all xvid code
from their codec (they obviously did not want to free the sources). But,
this 1.1 version was just a lame try at obfuscating our sources (change
of compiler, some loop unrollings, some register swapping...)

So we decided to go public with all the proofs. You know what happened then.
Slahsdot, Linuxfr, and even some IT business related sites posted the news.

Under public pressure, Sigma did release the sources, but was still
violating our copyrights (they had removed all xvid authors names/copyrights 
from source files, so we contacted them again. After this last contact, and
our copyright restitution, we decided not to go further.

Our decision was motivated by the fact none of the developers were ready
to spend more time on such a boring legal task, and that XviD would
probably attacked on its own legal existence (is xvid a MPEG4 product ?
if it is, then we could have had problems with the MPEG-LA...). 

> 8. If we cannot or don't want to defend out copyright they we really should
> think about giving copyrights to FSF that to defend it for us. GPL is one
> of the strongest and tough licences, we should be really lame asses if
> we don't use it.

Yes that's a solution. It's just up to developers to accept the loss of
their copyright on their mplayer code. Worth loss IMO if no one is going
to handle this among mplayer devs.

Edouard Gomez

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