[gst-devel] GStreamer applications and change of licensing

Christian Fredrik Kalager Schaller Uraeus at linuxrising.org
Wed Jun 25 14:20:24 CEST 2003

Hi everyone,
We did some discussing during GUADEC what it would take to allow people
to legally distribute multimedia applications. Some of this discussion
we did in the context of Red Hat not shipping mp3 currently. It turns
out that one of the major reasons for Red Hat not shipping mp3 support
in their distribution is not so much the unclarity of the mp3 licensing
terms (altough that is a part of it), but the fact that it is illegal
according to the GPL. The GPL clearly states clearly in its section 7
and 8 that you can not distribute the application if there is a patent
or similar that hinders you to meet all the obligations of the GPL.

This means that for a distribution it is not permitted according to the
GPL to link applications to a library that contains patented code.

So what is the solution to this?

Well first of all we want to change the license of all current GStreamer
based apps to the LGPL. That would solve the problem of using these
applications with non-free code, which code relating to patented stuff
unfortunatly are in some cornerns of the world (no matter the licensing
of the actuall code in question.)

We will also mail around to the authors of the libraries, that are under
the GPL or LGPL, and ask them to add a clause to the license saying that
they give an exception for accessing to non-free stuff.

Although you could say that it would be strange if the author of a GPL
mp3 decoding library did not want you to be able to use his code to
playback mp3 it would be more legally correct if the license actually
stated it.

So I hope that all maintainers of GStreamer and GNOME multimedia
applications that read this will take steps to relicense their
applications under the LGPL if their applications are meant to be used
with non-free media formats. Any people who have contributed patches to
said applications are also asked to mail the maintainer giving your
permission for the relicense (and please do CC the mail to me).

I will try to keep tabs on the relicensing effort and tap maintainers on
the shoulders to get it done :)

I know that this move might be seen as controversial by some, and I
welcome any discussion of it.

Christian Fredrik Kalager Schaller <Uraeus at linuxrising.org>

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