[linux-elitists] Rick Moen uses gifs on the sly (but don't feel to proud)

Joey Hess joeyh@debian.org
Wed May 9 20:47:54 PDT 2001


Karsten M. Self wrote:
> Rick quickly owned up to running Debian on the box, so I've done my own
> inventory of packages including GIF formatted images on my own box.  I'm
> coming up with a nice, round, 100 packages (of 783 installed), having up
> to 649 GIFs apiece (mswordview).  Not all of these are free packages
> (yes, I do have realplayer installed - 145 GIFs).
> 
> I'm concerned about the free status of the software that's shipping with
> GIFs.  I've already reported a bug against apache-common, I've withheld
> reporting the other 100 packages. 

Please bear in mind that building gifs without LZW compression is not
subject to the patent. I think you'll find that Debian includes no software
capable of doing LZW compression.

Also, you need to bear in mind that Debian is an international project,
and we have many members in countries where software patents are not
valid (though this is changing). Plus, when we talk about free software,
we're talking about copyright, not patents. And while we reluctantly
comply with US patent law WRT to all but the most stupid software
patents (on hyperlinks and so on) in the software we distributre inside
the US, we're not interested in helping Unisys strongarm people into paying
money for GIFs just because they may have been produced using "illegal"
software.

So important severity bugs using terminoligy that will be incorrectly
interpreted by Debian developers (like "foo is not free"), based on a
higly dubious reading of a patent that does not necessarily apply to the
person who will receive the bug is probably not the way to make any more
headway on this issue. Mass filing of such bugs is liable to attract more
than a few flames.

This has all been discussed to death on debian-devel and debian-legal
before, anyway. Read the archives.

> I believe this is a problem and that actions should be taken to remove
> all GIFs from the DFSG-free packages.

I believe that this is a problem and something must be done about
brain-dead software patents.

-- 
see shy jo



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