sorry, you are so false in several important points
that i have to reply to you in public via the list.
andy ross wrote:
> magenta wrote:
> > But they're not transferring the license to others, they're just
> > providing a reference implementation. nVidia themselves
> wouldn't be
> > sued for it, but someone releasing new software using that
> > implementation could be.
> By that same logic, DRI can't be sued for providing the code to
> XFree86, you'd have to sue XFree86. And XFree86 is immune from suits
> because they only provide it to distribution vendors, who can't be
> sued because you'd have to go after the users instead. :)
patents are quite different from what you do know as software licenses.
software licenses are based upon the copyright law.
copyright law means, the originator can sell his right to copy and use
a text, images or computer software to individuals with the option
to re-distribute it. the GPL is just one special flavour of it.
patent law means, that nobody else on earth can make use of that technical
idea for comercial (most likely industrial) targets without the approval
of the patents holder. there are patents which you can use by paying
a fee to some lawyer office that itself transfers the money to the patents
in other cases the patents owner has explicitely expressed that he wont
charge you for a fee, sometimes restricted by a time frame, somtimes
restricted by the amount of usage. typically there is only direct
licensing, typically its done on a per unit base with some large scale
volume rebate or volume limit. sub-licensing happens when a vendor that
uses some patent pays a fee to the patents owner so that his customers
does not have to apply for the license itselves. this means a vendor
does not have a "redistribution" license, its a per unit license.
and the object it applies typically is not at all originating from
the patents holder but its the very own design and built of the vendor.
> Remember this is a patent. The IP isn't the code, it's the algorithm.
> If NVidia can grant us a license to use the algorithm, then we can use
> the algorithm. If they can't, then they're equally as liable for
> patent infringement because they're distributing infringing software
nVidia might have the copyright on their possibly very own written S3TC
code, but they do not have the S3TC patent on the very same piece of code.
patents only apply to products - but they do not apply to "free speech",
meaning that there is no fee for talking about, spreading documentation
on it (copyright fees might still apply), having academic disussions and
ther is no fee at all for doing your very own academic research on patented
But as soon as you are an end user or a product vendor, you must face
the truth that anything on the market that is covered by the patent
can raise a fee at any time. When using such a patented idea in a real
world device then either pay for using it or get sued at a later time.
> None of that says that we won't get sued.
Exactly that's the point.
It could happen anytimes - you will never know when.
And it must not hit DRI directly only those that do
operate with some money on it and therefore do make
a business out of it. Sourceforge, RedHat, some embedded devices vendor,
the networking company that does host the XFRee86 servers,
Do you propose that whole DRI should go that risky way?
At least me would feel somewhat blue eyed if doing it.
> But the fact that NVidia
> has not been asked to remove their code seems to me to be strong
> evidence that VIA takes a liberal and reasonable view of patent
> licenses for software implementations of the S3TC algorithm.
Thats just a hint, but that does not give you any sort of true certainty.
Not for today, not for tomorrow, the patents holder can sue you
anytime he wants when he sees enough reason.
Have you never come to the idea, that the free software community
is a strong danger for the comercial software market? Charging no money
for things that others will pay much money is a big reasoning for getting
sued in order to save the receiver of the money his continued income.
And thats why all the world on the stock marked emphasizes on their
patents protfolio, its money and power that those patenst sometimes
do represent. Of course there is much vapourware, but such key
technologies like S3TC that anybody wants to use are valueable
to its owner.
> They may
> not be bureaucratically set up to *grant* licenses to free software
> implementations, but they aren't nailing anyone to crosses either.
The normal burocracy is this:
- find out who is the patents owner
- ask the patents owner for his licensing terms, especially fees
- wait for the patents owner to answer
- pay the fee
you can get stuck waiting for an answer for an infinite time.
not only because the owner does not at all grant licenses to third partys,
but also because you are to small scale, because you are a competitor,
because you are not like by someone else (say Microsoft) that has some
strong market position so that the patents owner would feel heavy pressure
if he would issue you a license. of course not hearing anything can be
sort of "lazyness", e.g. the patens owner is not well enough organzied
for your query, he does not meet his patents lawyer in the next few days,
the secretary just accidentally dropped your mailing into the recylce bin.
> > Good point, in theory. In practice, see how Fraunhofer handled
> > their compression patent. Didn't they sue a lot of the
> free encoder
> > makers for damages based on the spurious claim that they were
> > "funded by banner ads?"
> In fact, I don't believe they did. They *threatened* to sue, and the
> software was removed from download areas in a few cases. I'm not
> aware of any actual court proceedings or depositions that took place
> regarding free software MP3 implementations. Someone correct me if
> I'm wrong.
No one wants to go to court if all is already toally clear.
So the out-of-court agreement case is the common case.
Assume they all payed for their past usage and either are continued
to pay now or are not paying now but stopped marketing their products.
> Again, I'm not a lawyer. But it would seem to be *very* hard for VIA
> to claim damages from DRI distribution of an algorithm that is already
> freely available. At worst, they could force the algorithm's removal
> from the code base.
again, you can distribute it all for educational purpose without any
restrictions, but you cant use it in a product without paying for it.
The algorithm is free for itself, but its implementations usage is not.
There is no restriction of doing S3TC on an academic attempt and making
that availabel, even for DRI, but i dont want to call DRI beeing academic.
Dont tell me that DRI code is not at all hunting for real world usage...
Due to quite different national patents laws the only reasonable approach
is similar to that what is done for Linux kernel and the strong
its done in a distinct codebase that can be merged into production kernels
for usage on a per user decision. neither SuSE, nor RedHat have merged with
that because they dont want the related trade restrictions on their
open source programming has tiny funding, it can not afford any such
but if at least one company thinks it can sue DRI and by this possibly
or at least "weaken" a quite disliked competitor by that then it will do
dri should not expose itself to such a danger. but a modular path like the
that was taken with the crypto api should be quite doable.