[linux-elitists] MP3 patents

M. Drew Streib dtype@dtype.org
Sun Sep 2 12:21:18 PDT 2001


> > That has to be wrong though, or else the patent is unenforceable,
> > because there are many people distributing mp3 players that aren't
> > paying, and I havne't heard of anyone getting a letter.

<IANAL>
One other thing about patent law.

The patent holder can choose to enforce the patent selectively and 
with prejudice, so the danger is this.

For _some_ reason, a friend of FH doesn't like the linux BBC. Maybe this
is Microsoft, maybe someone else. They can ask FH to enforce the patent 
and bring a lawsuit against the BBC authors. Since the amount of money
or damages is likely pretty big, they'll end up settling in some manner
which will prevent the BBC authors from working on the project at all
in the future (unless the authors care to file for bankruptcy protection
or some similar non-happy resolution).

This can be the only suit brought against anyone. FH is not required
to treat BBC the same as anyone else. Patents are dangerously protected
by US law.

Not a likely scenario, but _possible_. :/
</IANAL>

Ever wonder why many people oppose software patents in general?

-drew

-- 
M. Drew Streib <dtype@dtype.org> | http://dtype.org/
FSG <dtype@freestandards.org>    | Linux International <dtype@li.org>
freedb <dtype@freedb.org>        | SourceForge <dtype@sourceforge.net>
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