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

Don Marti dmarti@zgp.org
Wed May 9 23:30:08 PDT 2001

begin  Joey Hess quotation of Wed, May 09, 2001 at 11:47:54PM -0400:

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

There are two anti-GIF strategies.  Most readers are probably aware
of both of them, but here they are again.

Here's the Burn All GIFs strategy:

GIFs are common because a lot of image-viewing and -editing software
supports them. Lots of software supports GIFs because they are common.
This feedback loop is an ideal situation for Unisys, who can go after
only deep-pocket GIF users for license revenue, while letting the small
fish escape in order to prevent any pressure to change.

The point of Burn All GIFs is to get enough web sites to go GIF-free
that any web browser, in order to be useful, has to support non-GIF
formats (especially PNG). Once a large majority of software supports
non-GIF formats, and the web development community is aware of that,
even the big fish can safely drop GIF without losing users.

Here's the "flip Unisys the bird" (FUTB) strategy as far as I understand

The LZW patent is invalid. Sites should use GIF and make a point of
refusing to pay Unisys, so that either (1) Unisys will sue and lose or
(2) everyone else will realize that the patent is invalid, and will stop
paying royalties too.

The advantage of the Burn All GIFs strategy is that it made people think
about software patents, and got some attention to the software patent
crisis in the mainstream media. The advantage of the FUTB strategy is
that it's an opportunity to provoke a lawsuit.

I don't think that the fact that a Debian package, or any free software,
includes a GIF is a bug. It's only a missed opportunity to use the Burn
All GIFs strategy, which I think is better than the FUTB strategy.

If you're going to file a Debian bug regarding GIFs, you might try
filing one agianst vrms for not correctly matching the behavior of the
original RMS, who, of course, does not distribute any GIFs whether he
created them or not.

Don Marti              "I've never sent or received a GIF in my life." 
dmarti@zgp.org            -- Bruce Schneier, Secrets and Lies, p. 246.
http://zgp.org/~dmarti/        (Free the Web: http://burnallgifs.org/)

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