MP3 Legal Issues
- While the LAME source code is free, the encoding technology that
ready-compiled LAME binaries use is patented. The patents are held by
Fraunhofer and administered by Thomson. Patenting raises a
theoretical possibility that in some countries a user might need to
pay a licence fee to legally encode MP3s. This might vary according
to the purpose of the encoding and whether the software being used is
licensed. There is no definitive list of countries where the patents
unambiguously hold sway. However they are generally assumed to be
enforceable in USA, Canada, the EEC and Japan. This means that in
these countries (in theory), software that encodes MP3s must be
licensed by the patent holders, and that anyone encoding MP3s with
unlicensed encoders may also be infringing patents.
The best advice that can be given is that the user makes their own decision, based on their conscience, the country they are in, and taking into account the following:
- The patent holders have tended to enforce licence fees against
commercial rather than free MP3 encoders
- Thomson themselves have said that no license is needed by individuals
creating music libraries of MP3 files for personal use
(interpretations vary whether that sanctions using unlicensed
encoders, free or otherwise)
- MP3 patents will expire worldwide between 2010 and 2012.
- In September 1998, the Fraunhofer Institute sent a letter to several
developers of MP3 software stating that a license was required to
"distribute and/or sell decoders and/or encoders". The letter claimed
that unlicensed products "infringe the patent rights of Fraunhofer
and Thomson. To make, sell and/or distribute products using the [MPEG
Layer-3] standard and thus our patents, you need to obtain a license
under these patents from us." The various MP3-related patents expire
on dates ranging from 2007 to 2017 in the U.S. MP3 license revenues
generated about €100 million for the Fraunhofer Society in 2005.
- The group that holds the patent on MP3's demands that for each player
with MP3 support a 75 cent fee must be paid:
- However, no license is needed for private, non-commercial activities
(e.g., home-entertainment),receiving broadcasts and creating a
personal music library), not generating revenue or other
consideration of any kind or for entities with associated gross
revenue less than US$ 100 000.00.
While you can legally distribute and use the MP3 format, the content of these files is what gets you "in trouble" i.e. you can't distribute Copyrighted Content such as Songs and make profit but of course you can use (listen to) them.
- Mp3 of course is open for all end-user applications (that is, we
don't license end-users).
If you live in a country where it is legal to use this format, to
encode MP3s, you can use Sound Juicer which uses gstreamer and the
LAME mp3 encoder. The following should also work with other programs
that use gstreamer:
- Enable the universe and multiverse repositories. Then, install the
ubuntu-restricted-extras (which is not included by default, it is the end-user that chooses to install it).
- If you now restart Sound Juicer via Applications > Sound & Video >
Audio CD Extractor you will find the new audio formats available
under Edit > Preferences.
(It is illegal to copy music from a CD and redistribute it unless you have the copyright owner's permission).
You can legally use the Fluendo MP3 decoder available in the Partners repository.
If anything you are better of using:
Ogg Vorbis, and FLAC are patent free.
- Ogg Vorbis is similar to mp3 except it is of course free. It
compresses audio to save space while retaining audio quality. The
quality of vorbis was tested to be higher or equal to competitors
such as wma and apple audio.
- FLAC is a lossless free software format, which means it creates an
exact replica of the audio you convert it from. (Mp3 and vorbis
remove quality to save space). I personally use flac, which means I
get full quality 44,100hz 16bit CD audio saving almost half the
JPEG 2000 Legal issues
JPEG 2000 is by itself licensed, but the contributing companies and organizations agreed that licenses for its first part—the core coding system—can be obtained free of charge from all contributors.
The JPEG committee has stated:
- It has always been a strong goal of the JPEG committee that its
standards should be implementable in their baseline form without
payment of royalty and license fees... The up and coming JPEG 2000
standard has been prepared along these lines, and agreement reached
with over 20 large organizations holding many patents in this area to
allow use of their intellectual property in connection with the
standard without payment of license fees or royalties.
However, the JPEG committee has also noted that undeclared and obscure submarine patents may still present a hazard:
- It is of course still possible that other organizations or
individuals may claim intellectual property rights that affect
implementation of the standard, and any implementers are urged to
carry out their own searches and investigations in this area
Because of this statement, controversy remains in the software community concerning the legal status of the JPEG 2000 standard.
However, many Linux distributions include a JPEG 2000 library
GPL & LGPL
“GPL” stands for “General Public License”. The most widespread such
license is the GNU General Public License, or GNU GPL for short.
This can be further shortened to “GPL”, when it is understood that
the GNU GPL is the one intended.
The GPL does not require you to release your modified version, or
any part of it. You are free to make modifications and use them
privately, without ever releasing them. This applies to
organizations (including companies), too; an organization can make a
modified version and use it internally without ever releasing it
outside the organization.
- Short for Lesser General Public License, the license that
accompanies some open source software that details how the software
and its accompany source code can be freely copied, distributed and
modified.The LGPL and GPL licenses differ with one major exception; with LGPL the the requirement that you open up the source code to your own extensions to the software is removed.
- The Creative Commons copyright licenses and tools forge a balance inside the traditional “all rights reserved” setting that copyright law creates. Our tools give everyone from individual creators to large companies and institutions a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work. The combination of our tools and our users is a vast and growing digital commons, a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon, all within the boundaries of copyright law