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Old 22nd September 2003, 13:53   #1  |  Link
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New EU Software Patent Directive might make xvid legal

Article 6a
Member States shall ensure that wherever the use of a patented technique is needed for the sole purpose of ensuring conversion of the conventions used in two different computer systems or network so as to allow communication and exchange of data content between them, such use is not considered to be a patent infringement.
It's a long shot, but xvid could use this clause to become free of infringement if its purpose is to interwork with DivX.

"I'm not infringing any MPEG-4 patents because I'm only using MPEG-4 to be compatible with another MPEG-4 product."

I say a long shot because the same argument could be used by any company that would otherwise need to license MPEG-4 (or MPEG-2 or WMV or whatever). Hmm, I don't think MPEGLA would be happy about losing all income from the EU overnight....

original slashdot thread
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Old 22nd September 2003, 14:10   #2  |  Link
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Very interesting indeed. It will also make MS-IP a useless thing.
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Old 22nd September 2003, 14:29   #3  |  Link
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When you say legal, do you mean that releasing stable official binaries won't be a problem?

That would be good news as much more people would use the codec.
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Old 22nd September 2003, 14:40   #4  |  Link
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Yes, releasing binaries would be much less risky. Of course it would still be open to interpretation.


I just discovered that they misquoted on slashdot. That article should read:

Article 6a

The rights conferred by patents granted for inventions within the scope of this Directive shall be without prejudice to acts permitted by way of exception under Directive 91/250/EEC on the legal protection of computer programs by copyright, in particular the acts specified and described in the closed list set out in Articles 5(2) and (3) and 6 of Directive 91/250/EEC.
Which doesn't sound anything like as good.

EDIT: It's actually much worse than I imagined. From http://swpat.ffii.org/papiere/eubsa-.../index.en.html

Art 6 pretends to do create an exemption for interoperability purposes, but in fact only ensures that the effect of patents is not limited in practically relevant way even when they are a part of standards.


Imagine you own a small software company. You have written a powerful piece of software. This software is a creative combination of 1000 abstract rules (algorithms) and a lot of data. The rules take a few minutes or hours each to [re]invent, whereas developping and debugging the whole work took you 20 man-years. 900 of the rules were already known 20 years ago. 50 of the rules are now covered by patents. You own 3 of these patents. In order to obtain these patents, you had to rush to the patent office, disclose your business strategy and pay lawyer fees. IBM and Microsoft are meanwhile already turning your patented ideas into profit. You want them to stop? Their lawyer teams say you are infringing on 20-30 of their 50000 patents. So you reach a gentlemen's agreement: 3% of your annual sales revenues go to IBM, 2% to Microsoft, 2% .... Nonetheless, one day you enter the profit zone. You are now an attractive company. A patent agency approaches you. You are infringing on 2-3 of their patents, they say. Their claims are very broad. They want 100,000 EUR. Litigation could take 10 years and cost 1 million EUR. You pay. A month later, the next patent agent knocks on the door .... Before long you are broke. You seek protection from a big company. Microsoft offers to buy you for a symbolic fee. You accept. Under a copyright-only system, you would now be independent and rich. But by means of patents, Microsoft and others were able to steal your intellectual property.

You have just a few days to change this: if you want to see legal xvid binaries in the EU, then phone/fax/email your MEP today!!!

Last edited by temporance; 22nd September 2003 at 14:57.
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