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Old 12th June 2008, 19:55   #1  |  Link
demistate
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How to License x264 in the US?

How would I go about licensing the use of x264 in my business and keep it 100% legal in the United States?
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Old 12th June 2008, 20:44   #2  |  Link
Dark Shikari
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The software itself is of course free software; since it is released under the GPL it has no restrictions on use, only on distribution, for which you must abide by the terms of the GPL (not at all difficult).

However, patents are still an issue; for licensing them, talk to the MPEG-LA. Facebook did it, my company (Avail) did it, so can you.

Its quite cheap, too, from what I've heard.

Last edited by Dark Shikari; 12th June 2008 at 20:49.
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Old 12th June 2008, 20:47   #3  |  Link
LoRd_MuldeR
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x264 is OpenSource software, released under the terms of the GPL.
So as long as you don't break any of the GPL restrictions, you can use it for free and for any purpose (included commercial purposes).

Nevertheless when doing commercial stuff, you might have to pay patenting fees to the owners of the AVC/H.264 patents...
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Old 13th June 2008, 00:22   #4  |  Link
MfA
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A patent pool license from mpeg-la will constitute due diligence in trying to make legal use of x264.

Legal distribution of x264 is completely impossible though, because only patents which allow free use in any GPL'd software are GPL compatible ... and if you think GPL'd software is covered by patents which don't allow that you can't distribute the software.
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Old 13th June 2008, 00:37   #5  |  Link
Dark Shikari
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MfA View Post
Legal distribution of x264 is completely impossible though, because only patents which allow free use in any GPL'd software are GPL compatible ... and if you think GPL'd software is covered by patents which don't allow that you can't distribute the software.
Isn't that only true of GPLv3? x264 uses GPLv2. If what you were saying was the case, ffmpeg couldn't be legally distributed, which is of course absurd because its used in a number of extremely high-profile commercial applications.
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Old 13th June 2008, 01:23   #6  |  Link
bob0r
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Just move to The Netherlands; more freedom, more bandwidth and a strong euro!
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Old 13th June 2008, 01:37   #7  |  Link
MfA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark Shikari View Post
Isn't that only true of GPLv3? x264 uses GPLv2. If what you were saying was the case, ffmpeg couldn't be legally distributed, which is of course absurd because its used in a number of extremely high-profile commercial applications.
Which mostly pretend the patent problems don't exist ... ignoring the letter of the GPL is common, even though it's really not that hard to read.
Quote:
7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent
infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues),
conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or
otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not
excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot
distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this
License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you
may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent
license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by
all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then
the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to
refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.
It depends a bit on how broadly you interpret "otherwise". IMO this already triggers if you believe you can not extend the full freedom of the GPL to recipients of the code because you believe they need a patent license (like you do). Certainly if you actively sign a MPEG-LA license it would take severe disingenuity to argue you can still distribute the code ... by signing the license you are codifying your belief the freedoms of the GPL can't apply.

Last edited by MfA; 13th June 2008 at 06:02.
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Old 13th June 2008, 01:45   #8  |  Link
Dark Shikari
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MfA View Post
It depends a bit on how broadly you interpret "otherwise". IMO this already triggers if you believe you can not extend the full freedom of the GPL to recipients of the code because you believe they need a patent license (like you do). Certainly if you actively sign a MPEG-LA license it would take severe disingenuity to argue you can still distribute the code ... by signing the license you are codifying your belief the freedoms of the GPL can't apply.
Avail Media's lawyers might disagree with you on that one, given that we both distribute x264 and pay MPEG-LA license fees.

And I'd leave this one up to the lawyers.
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Old 13th June 2008, 02:17   #9  |  Link
MfA
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Well as I said, it takes disingenuity ... we can safely leave that up to the lawyers
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Old 13th June 2008, 10:27   #10  |  Link
Gabriel_Bouvigne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MfA View Post
Legal distribution of x264 is completely impossible though, because only patents which allow free use in any GPL'd software are GPL compatible ... and if you think GPL'd software is covered by patents which don't allow that you can't distribute the software.
Only if the copyright holders object about this. If the copyright holders don't mind about this specific clause, then there is no problem.
We have the exact same "issue" with LGPL, and that does not prevent companies from buying mp3 patents licenses in order to redistribute Lame binaries. It is because the copyright holders don't object to it. (and that's why I would not want to transfer my own copyright to the FSF, which would then want to enforce this specific license clause)
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Old 13th June 2008, 10:34   #11  |  Link
Gabriel_Bouvigne
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark Shikari View Post
However, patents are still an issue; for licensing them, talk to the MPEG-LA. Facebook did it, my company (Avail) did it, so can you.

Its quite cheap, too, from what I've heard.
It should be especially cheap for Facebook, as free broadcasting over internet is royalty-free up to December 31, 2010
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Old 13th June 2008, 12:23   #12  |  Link
MfA
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Originally Posted by Gabriel_Bouvigne View Post
Only if the copyright holders object about this.
Yes, since copyright is mostly a civil matter you can violate it without consequence as long as the copyright holders don't object ... still without an actual agreement/license they can do so at any time they chose.
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Old 13th June 2008, 14:38   #13  |  Link
Dark Shikari
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabriel_Bouvigne View Post
It should be especially cheap for Facebook, as free broadcasting over internet is royalty-free up to December 31, 2010
Correct, it cost them a grand total of $0 (but they still needed an MPEG-LA agreement despite that).
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