[Mageia-dev] Mirror layout : Why validate software patents ?

Michael Scherer misc at zarb.org
Wed Dec 8 12:59:23 CET 2010

Le mercredi 08 décembre 2010 à 09:51 +0100, Wolfgang Bornath a écrit :
> 2010/12/8 andre999 <andr55 at laposte.net>:
> >
> > By presenting a special set of repositories for patent-affected software, we
> > could be seen as justifying these patent sharks.
> > In their minds, why else would be accommodate them ?
> Patented software is a reality in some countries. You can't discuss it
> away with logical reason or morale arguments.
> > Ok, I think, how many other distros have such repositories.  According to
> > comments on the list : none.
> Oh, really? Some (like Mandriva) do not have such a repository because
> they do not distribute such software at all, PLF does that for
> Mandriva. What about Ubuntu? What about Fedora?

Fedora has rpmfusion ( http://rpmfusion.org/ ) and livna
( http://rpm.livna.org/ ) for libdvdcss. There is stringent
requirements :  http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/ForbiddenItems

Ubuntu has a multiverse repository, and there is also various ppa, and
medibuntu ( http://medibuntu.org/ ). Medibuntu is a fork of the PLF
project ( even if they never credited us for the content of their start
page ... ). Ubuntu is not as rigorous than Fedora or Debian.

Debian either do not care of the patent problem, or use some individual
repository ( the one of Marillat for example ). AFAIK, the main problem
they had with mplayer were around the licensing and the technical issue
more than patents. The ftp-masters group check packages, there is a FAQ
of the various issues : http://ftp-master.debian.org/REJECT-FAQ.html ,
but I never noticed any specific discussions around patents. Even the
latest discussion about lame on debian legal was around the license

Gentoo do not care at all, as does most source based distribution ( or
the BSD, for the ports ). There is no use flag to filter for patents or
anything, according to http://www.gentoo.org/dyn/use-index.xml

Mandriva has PLF ( http://plf.zarb.org/ ), even if the patent issue is
lightly treated ( given the lack of written policy on this regard ).

Opensuse do not ship mp3 or various restricted codecs, according to
http://opensuse-community.org/Restricted_formats/11.3 . AFAIK, this is
handled by http://packman.links2linux.de/ .

Arch seems to offers the software too.

> > And what happens if there is a patent pursuit against Mageia or it's mirrors
> > ?
> > Even if we have a separate repository, the package in question might end up
> > being withdrawn.  But it seems doubtful that one would want to withdraw all
> > potentially threatened packages.
> > (That would be a big victory for patent sharks.)
> A patent pursuit will not be aimed against Mageia because Mageia is a
> french organisation where there are no software patents. But lawsuits
> could be aimed at those mirror maintainers who are runnning their
> mirrors in such countries which allow software patents. 

There is also the case of private society who could provides services
around the distribution.

Michael Scherer

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