Re: removed MP3 support in media players in fedora core 1

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You wrote:

On Fri, Dec 05, 2003 at 12:36:02AM -0400, Trevor Smith
> OK, wait a minute...
> There is no *legal* way to listen to MP3s in Linux?
There is no free
> player?

As far as I know, that is correct.

> What exactly is the licensing issue we're talking
about here?

It's twofold:

1. The algorithms used in encoding and decoding
mp3-compressed audio
   are covered by patents owned by Fraunhofer, and
licensed by
For a
   decoder like Xmms, the cost is a flat, one-time fee
of $50,000
For example,
   Nullsoft paid this fee to be able to distribute

2. Even if the creators of Xmms did pay the fee,
distributors like
   Redhat would not then be able to distribute their
software under
   the terms of the GPL.  Clause 7 of the GPL states:

"For example, if a patent license would not permit
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

Essentially, Xmms, Zinf, and the other free and Free
software MP3
players are betting that Thomson will never come after
them.  Redhat
(wisely, IMHO) decided not to take that bet.

Honestly, I quite agree with RedHat's decision. But if
it is true that XMMS payed the royalty fee, than
downloading it on the side after installation would
not be illegal in any sense, much like downloading
WinAmp. However I personally doubt XMMS did.

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