[linux-elitists] bzip2 patent status

Rick Moen rick@linuxmafia.com
Wed Jul 10 09:38:34 PDT 2002

Quoting Sean Neakums (sneakums@zork.net):

> I just came across this:
> http://www.openbsd.org/2.8_packages/m68k/bzip-0.21.tgz-long.html

The arithmetic coder in Julian Steward's original bzip and its
main block-sorting algorithm are said to be thought to possibly infringe
some (unidentified) USA-only patents.  That's why Steward changed to
Huffman coding for bzip2.  But none of the information resources I've
found about bzip list which patents -- which is unfortunate, since that
means we don't know when the nuisance therein will expire.


I found a section about compression-algorithm patents in the
comp.compression FAQ, http://www.faqs.org/faqs/compression-faq/part1/ ,
"Subject: [8] What about patents on data compression algorithms?".
Subsection "(d) arithmetic coding" lists a (large) number of IBM-owned
patents on arithmetic-coding techniques.  It seems likely these are the

Cheers,            There are only 10 types of people in this world -- 
Rick Moen          those who understand binary arithmetic and those who don't.

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