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The Sleeping Dragon Awakes, mp3 patents re-awaken
spoon
post Jul 21 2004, 09:51
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Just had a demand from Thomson that I pay royalties on the mp3 decoder and encoder in dBpowerAMP, two scenarios:

they accept a negotiated royalty rate - $2.50 per encoder and $.75 per decoder with minimum of $15,000 y/r is more than is affordable ( dBpowerAMP makes about as much money as working at McDonalds would net you, it is not much but has never been pushed as a money making wagon ),

or the Lame codec + mp3 decoder are removed and links are provided to Russian servers - 'that old trick'.


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loophole
post Jul 21 2004, 10:33
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Just host the offending components on an offshore server, and have the program download them off the internet automatically on first launch.
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evereux
post Jul 21 2004, 10:46
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Sorry to hear that spoon.

You have to wonder what other apps will be approached by Thomson too.


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Teqnilogik
post Jul 21 2004, 10:59
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Hmmm, interesting. I thought I remember reading on Thomson's site that they would not pursue royalties on freeware applications. Maybe its the fact that dBpowerAMP Music Converter has a PowerPack add-on you pay for that has Thomson wanting money even though the PowerPack does not add MP3 encoding. I guess they figure that Spoon is making money off a program that has MP3 functionality so they want some of that money.
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Gabriel
post Jul 21 2004, 12:08
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QUOTE
they accept a negotiated royalty rate - $2.50 per encoder and $.75 per decoder with minimum of $15,000 y/r

This negociated rate seems to be identical to the usual rate.
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spoon
post Jul 21 2004, 12:23
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QUOTE (Gabriel @ Jul 21 2004, 11:08 AM)
QUOTE
they accept a negotiated royalty rate - $2.50 per encoder and $.75 per decoder with minimum of $15,000 y/r

This negociated rate seems to be identical to the usual rate.
*



Those were the rates which were unacceptable smile.gif what I do not mind it paying a certain rate (no minimum) on the parts that are charged for, it is silly to assume (for them) they can extract $2.50 per encoder on a free converter - I would owe them millions!

I will also make a point of geographically splitting up where people are from - I will only pay for those in Germany and USA (where their society has accepted that a mathamatical formula can be patented, ie E=mc^2 - really this has existed, nothing has been invented, it was discovered that is mathamatics).

This is one thing I will not bend over and take it ** *** ****, I will fight as much as possible, I have a strong view of what is fair and what is not.


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spoon
post Jul 21 2004, 12:43
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Does anyone know when Mp3 patents expire? is it 2008?


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Peter
post Jul 21 2004, 13:20
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Cobra ban evasion posts + replies moved here.


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robUx4
post Jul 21 2004, 14:03
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QUOTE (spoon @ Jul 21 2004, 09:51 AM)
or the Lame codec + mp3 decoder are removed and links are provided to Russian servers - 'that old trick'.


If you're talking about mitiok, it's hosted on free.fr...
Or you have other options in mind ?
(BTW www.matroska.org is now hosted in Russia...)


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mithrandir
post Jul 21 2004, 14:31
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I'm confused. I thought recent versions of LAME had completely removed any patent-infringing code. Or are all MP3 encoders subject to patents, i.e. anything that produces MPEG Layer III compliant files? If so, I guess this would also mean that FAAC infringes on the AAC patent.
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Gabriel
post Jul 21 2004, 15:05
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We removed all ISO code.
This means that ISO does not have anymore any copyright regarding Lame.

But it does not change the patent situation.
In an mp3 encoder implementation you could avoid SOME of the FhG/Thomson patents, but not ALL of them.

So anyway, an encoder is always using those patents.
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JSonnabend
post Jul 21 2004, 15:17
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QUOTE (spoon @ Jul 21 2004, 12:51 AM)
Just had a demand from Thomson that I pay royalties on the mp3 decoder and encoder in dBpowerAMP, two scenarios:

they accept a negotiated royalty rate - $2.50 per encoder and $.75 per decoder with minimum of $15,000 y/r is more than is affordable ( dBpowerAMP makes about as much money as working at McDonalds would net you, it is not much but has never been pushed as a money making wagon ),

or the Lame codec + mp3 decoder are removed and links are provided to Russian servers - 'that old trick'.
*


I'm a patent attorney located in NYC. I'd love to take a look at the patents. Does anyone have the patent number(s) handy?
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guruboolez
post Jul 21 2004, 15:28
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Maybe here:
http://www.mp3licensing.com/patents/index.html
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dreamliner77
post Jul 22 2004, 00:00
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QUOTE (JSonnabend @ Jul 21 2004, 09:17 AM)
I'm a patent attorney located in NYC.  I'd love to take a look at the patents.  Does anyone have the patent number(s) handy?
*



It's nice to have someone with the legal experience to take a look at this stuff. I'd love, just for once, to see the little guys smack a large corporation.


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Daffy
post Jul 22 2004, 02:46
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QUOTE (dreamliner77 @ Jul 21 2004, 06:00 PM)
It's nice to have someone with the legal experience to take a look at this stuff.  I'd love, just for once, to see the little guys smack a large corporation.
*


Why? Don't you invest in "large corporations" everyday?
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Dibrom
post Jul 22 2004, 04:03
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QUOTE (spoon @ Jul 21 2004, 12:51 AM)
Just had a demand from Thomson that I pay royalties on the mp3 decoder and encoder in dBpowerAMP, two scenarios:
*


Can we see the letter or e-mail?

I think it might be prudent to see exactly what they had to say before everyone starts speculating and making a bunch of assumptions about this situation.

It's a little hard to offer anything more than "that sucks" for something as vague as what you've told us so far wink.gif
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JSonnabend
post Jul 22 2004, 22:17
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QUOTE (guruboolez @ Jul 21 2004, 06:28 AM)

That's a long list of patents. Anyone know which of these they've asserted in the present instance? I wouldn't be surprised, of course, if it were all of them.
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Gabriel
post Jul 23 2004, 08:56
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QUOTE
That's a long list of patents. Anyone know which of these they've asserted in the present instance? I wouldn't be surprised, of course, if it were all of them.


It is a portfolio. Licenses are granted for the whole portfolio or nothing.

edit: Lame is probably infringing all of them except
*mp3pro ones
*multichannel ones


But beware, there are other portfolios...

This post has been edited by Gabriel: Jul 23 2004, 08:58
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spoon
post Jul 23 2004, 09:27
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I cannot disclose the exact letter they sent as it had confidential all over it, but it is VERY similar to:

http://divineintervention.biz/pdf/divine-c...ng-10-24-02.pdf

A group of companies banded together to get that impressive collection of patents, really (as I have said to them) it is a monolopy and is very anti-competitive for small guys wanting to license - part of the requirements of becoming an ISO standard was that licenses were offered on fair terms, I will drop a letter of complaint to ISO standards, the guy that sells 100 'codecs' should not have to pay the same as the guy that sells 7000, but (see below) that does not seem the problem.

Negotiations are not going so great, but these things take weeks if not months, on further discussion it is not the fact that I am making a little money and they want a cut of that money, it is the fact that there is a free encoder in my free music converter (that is the one the other patent holders have complained about), this is weakening their patent, so any agreement will have to be central around that, it is looking very doubtful I can supply any free mp3 encoder. What gets my back up is that they want to charge me $2.50 per encoder, but they will not charge apple that - apple must have 40,000,000 iTunes out there for which they paid one sum - otherwise apple would have a bill for 100 million dollars, so if you are big then you are ok, if you have limited finances you get pissed on.


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Ben Johnson
post Aug 5 2008, 00:04
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Spoon, what is the status of this MP3 licensing issue with Thomson? Are they still breathing down your neck, or did you reach an agreement with them? Obviously, you're still including MP3-encoding capabilities and have a licensing model set-up, but I'm curious to know how it all went with them.

Also, if one purchases the MP3 encoding license that comes with dbpoweramp, a) is there any limit as to how many MP3 files can be encoded using the software, and b) is there any restriction on what can later be done with those files? Can the MP3s be sold without the need to worry about additional royalty problems with Thomson?

I am curious for the sake of my own projects.

Thanks in advance,

Ben
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chelgrian
post Aug 5 2008, 01:26
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QUOTE (spoon @ Jul 23 2004, 09:27) *
What gets my back up is that they want to charge me $2.50 per encoder, but they will not charge apple that - apple must have 40,000,000 iTunes out there for which they paid one sum - otherwise apple would have a bill for 100 million dollars, so if you are big then you are ok, if you have limited finances you get pissed on.


Unfortunately the world, and particularly the part of it known as patent licensing, is unfair.

Apple will have paid a truckload of money for a royalty buyout which allows them to ship a unlimited number of encoders/decoders. They've done something very similar with H.264 encoders and decoders, although even then they probably haven't bought out their users from the "Internet Broadcast" bits. Interestingly they didn't buy out the MPEG2 patents and to this day it costs $19.99 to license the "QuickTime MPEG2 Playback components".

VC-1 is even more vicious, for example the following is taken from the MS Silverlight EULA

"THIS PRODUCT IS LICENSED UNDER THE VC-1 PATENT PORTFOLIO LICENSES FOR THE PERSONAL AND NON-COMMERCIAL USE OF A CONSUMER TO (A) ENCODE VIDEO IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE VC-1 STANDARD ("VC-1 VIDEO") OR (B) DECODE VC-1 VIDEO THAT WAS ENCODED BY A CONSUMER ENGAGED IN A PERSONAL AND NON-COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY AND/OR WAS OBTAINED FROM A VIDEO PROVIDER LICENSED TO PROVIDE VC-1 VIDEO. NO LICENSE IS GRANTED OR SHALL BE IMPLIED FOR ANY OTHER USE."

This basically says you are in violation of the license agreement if *you* decode something which has been encoded without a valid license from MPEG-LA. This clause caused my company to ban the installation of Silverlight.

A thought does occur though, you could write a script which downloads the lame source and a C compiler (VC Toolkit 2003 can be got for free from MS) then compiles the lame dll on the user's machine after a big click through warning (which everyone will ignore) saying the user needs a patent license from MPEG-LA if they wish to use the binary. As a particularly nasty note you could include a link in the click through which sent a proforma email to MPEG-LA asking for a license for a single encoder/decoder. If you user says no to the click through you fail back onto the MS licensed directshow codec that Windows comes with with a warning saying the quality sucks.
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sinspawn
post Aug 5 2008, 01:31
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QUOTE (chelgrian @ Aug 4 2008, 16:26) *
it costs $19.99 to license the "QuickTime MPEG2 Playback components".

Mac OS X, unlike Windows XP (and maybe Vista) comes with DVD decoders pre-installed meaning you can play the dvd from the moment you pop it in the drive.

This, of course, does not apply to QuickTime for Windows.

Speaking of sleeping dragons waking up.... this thread is 4 years old.
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saratoga
post Aug 5 2008, 01:42
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QUOTE (chelgrian @ Aug 4 2008, 20:26) *
VC-1 is even more vicious, for example the following is taken from the MS Silverlight EULA

"THIS PRODUCT IS LICENSED UNDER THE VC-1 PATENT PORTFOLIO LICENSES FOR THE PERSONAL AND NON-COMMERCIAL USE OF A CONSUMER TO (A) ENCODE VIDEO IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE VC-1 STANDARD ("VC-1 VIDEO") OR (B) DECODE VC-1 VIDEO THAT WAS ENCODED BY A CONSUMER ENGAGED IN A PERSONAL AND NON-COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY AND/OR WAS OBTAINED FROM A VIDEO PROVIDER LICENSED TO PROVIDE VC-1 VIDEO. NO LICENSE IS GRANTED OR SHALL BE IMPLIED FOR ANY OTHER USE."

This basically says you are in violation of the license agreement if *you* decode something which has been encoded without a valid license from MPEG-LA. This clause caused my company to ban the installation of Silverlight.


I'm not really sure how 'free for noncommercial uses' is more viscous then 'not free for noncommercial uses'. Actually, compared to the usual MPEG terms, that sounds surprisingly reasonable.

Actually, I'm wondering since I don't have the rest of the license in front of me, do they allow those terms on any VC-1 codec, or just the precompiled one in Silverlight? Because it would be really nice if those terms applied to ffmpeg.
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chelgrian
post Aug 5 2008, 13:44
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QUOTE (sinspawn @ Aug 5 2008, 01:31) *
Mac OS X, unlike Windows XP (and maybe Vista) comes with DVD decoders pre-installed meaning you can play the dvd from the moment you pop it in the drive.


It comes with DVDPlayer and decoders specifically licensed for use with DVDPlayer for playing DVDs. To my knowledge the only version of Windows which comes with the required codecs so that WMP can play DVDs is Vista Ultimate. AFAIK OS X does not come with QuickTime components allowing MPEG2 video to be played a normal QuickTime player, if it did there would be no reason for Apple to continue to sell the MPEG2 playback component http://www.apple.com/quicktime/mpeg2/.

Of course if you buy Final Cut Studio it comes with a "free" copy of the required components...

QUOTE (Mike Giacomelli @ Aug 5 2008, 01:42) *
I'm not really sure how 'free for noncommercial uses' is more viscous then 'not free for noncommercial uses'. Actually, compared to the usual MPEG terms, that sounds surprisingly reasonable.

Actually, I'm wondering since I don't have the rest of the license in front of me, do they allow those terms on any VC-1 codec, or just the precompiled one in Silverlight? Because it would be really nice if those terms applied to ffmpeg.


The license just applies to the binary codec in the MS Silverlight distribution, if it applied to anything then MS wouldn't have the Windows lock in they desire for example it would make Moonlight actually useful, rather than being pointless, if it applied there. You can find the EULA on MSes website if you dig hard enough.

Regarding the viciousness of the license I don't think you understood what I was pointing out. I've not seen a license before which attempts to say that the user *playing* the video is in violation of license agreement if the video was originally *encoded* in without a valid patent license for the codec. How on earth can you know if a video hosted on a random website has been encoded with in the confines of either the Silverlight license or a separate commercial license agreement with MPEG-LA for another implementation of VC-1?
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Livy
post Aug 5 2008, 14:33
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QUOTE (Gabriel @ Jul 23 2004, 01:56) *
QUOTE
That's a long list of patents. Anyone know which of these they've asserted in the present instance? I wouldn't be surprised, of course, if it were all of them.


It is a portfolio. Licenses are granted for the whole portfolio or nothing.

edit: Lame is probably infringing all of them except
*mp3pro ones
*multichannel ones


But beware, there are other portfolios...


Gabriel - I'm new to this subject, but work in a semi-legal environment and I'm curious about LAME. Has Fraunhofer ever come after LAME? What is the legal status of all the rips I've made with it? Thanks!
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