Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Patents Businesses Google Graphics Software The Internet News

Google Chrome's Inclusion of FFMpeg Vs. the LGPL 245

Posted by timothy
from the to-make-one's-head-spin dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google has recently added FFMpeg to Chrome to better support HTML5's video element. FFMpeg is licensed under LGPL 2.1, which states that 'if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Library by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Library.' Google admits to having obtained a patent license for their use, but still claims they are not violating LGPL. Among the confused we find Håkon Wium Lie and Miguel de Icaza, who wonders what FSF might say. Google doesn't feel like asking FSF for clarification."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Google Chrome's Inclusion of FFMpeg Vs. the LGPL

Comments Filter:
  • Oh Miguel (Score:2, Informative)

    by binarylarry (1338699) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @07:01PM (#28245447)

    It's not surprising that Miguel wants in on this.

    What projects has he worked on in the past decade that didn't revolve around patents by Microsoft or others?

  • by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @07:08PM (#28245499)

    It isn't when it's inside of Chrome.

    The LGPL expressly allows closed-source and even non-free-as-in-beer software to link to an LGPL library, either statically or dynamically, without violation of its terms. That's what makes it lesser than the GPL.

    I agree with sentiment in the last link though, this is none of the FSF's business -- the FFMPEG people are the only ones that can claim to be aggrieved here. Until that happens, this is much ado about nothing since there can be no violation of license terms to which the holder of the copyright does not object.

  • by Wesley Felter (138342) <wesley@felter.org> on Sunday June 07, 2009 @07:34PM (#28245683) Homepage

    Nope, you've got it wrong. Chrome includes ffmpeg.

    http://lists.whatwg.org/pipermail/whatwg-whatwg.org/2009-June/020035.html [whatwg.org]

  • by rfuilrez (1213562) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <zerliufr>> on Sunday June 07, 2009 @07:37PM (#28245727)
    Exactly. I'm taking the Mac beta for a test run as we speak. Some of the stuff is obviously still missing as noted in the recent article here a few days back. It works fairly well, and I look forward to replacing firefox with it.
  • It's FFmpeg (Score:1, Informative)

    by relaxed (661238) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @07:40PM (#28245745)
    Not FFMpeg! That is all.
  • Re:And it doesn't (Score:3, Informative)

    by laughingcoyote (762272) <barghesthowl.excite@com> on Sunday June 07, 2009 @09:40PM (#28246449) Journal

    if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Library by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Library

    See that word "if"? The patent license permits royalty-free redistribution of the Library... so it's not an issue.

    Similarly, we've heard nothing from the authors of the Library - you know, the copyright owners, the only ones who have any legal standing? So maybe the peanut gallery should shut the hell up already.

    By any downstream user whatsoever, and any possible one downstream from them? Even if I were to download this library from Google and resell it for profit? Even if IBM were to do the same?

    If Google really does have me, and IBM, and any other possible reuser covered for distribution of any possible type, that's fine. Otherwise, if there are conceivable circumstances under which a patent could prohibit a downstream user from redistribution, they're violating the license. I don't know what's so hard about the terms here.

  • by roca (43122) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @09:54PM (#28246533) Homepage

    > A lot of operating systems these days include FFMpeg libraries as well as the H.264 and AAC libraries (which is
    > really what this is all about)

    Where by "a lot" you mean "Mac"? Windows 7 will be the first version of Windows to include H.264. No freely redistributable Linux includes it, for obvious reasons.

    > it would seem that for something as ubiquitous and freely licensable as the FFMpeg libraries

    The ffmpeg source code is freely licensable, the patent licenses you need in the USA and elsewhere are not.

  • by Compenguin (175952) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @10:28PM (#28246763)

    > Oddly, I have Chrome 2.0.172.30, but no FFMPEG license in sight.

    That's because <video> support was added in Chrome 3.x

  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Sunday June 07, 2009 @11:45PM (#28247175)

    This may come as a surprise to you however the slashdot community is made up of numerous individuals with their own differing opinions. Not everyone shares the same point of view which is why we're all here in the first place posting comments.

  • by TheoMurpse (729043) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:14AM (#28247301) Homepage

    Does my patent license for H.264 extend to any decoding, or only that done by Chrome?

    Let's see the EULA for Chrome:

    9. License from Google

    9.1 Google gives you a personal, worldwide, royalty-free, non-assignable and non-exclusive license to use the software provided to you by Google as part of the Services as provided to you by Google (referred to as the âoeSoftwareâ below). This license is for the sole purpose of enabling you to use and enjoy the benefit of the Services as provided by Google, in the manner permitted by the Terms.

  • Re:Here's a scenario (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheoMurpse (729043) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:27AM (#28247355) Homepage

    You're misinterpreting the LGPL. The language quoted by /. above says

    if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Library by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Library.

    Now, imagine it this way:

    Let A be some 3d party software covered by patents that is unrelated to FFMpeg. Let B be Chrome. Let C be FFMpeg. Google got a patent for A. The patent is unrelated to FFMpeg.

    The LGPL says that if you cannot distribute C without patent royalties, then you cannot distribute C at all.

    People are making one of two mistakes regarding this issue. They're either assuming that the patent Google has cover C (this is thanks to Slashdot's shitty summary that makes it sound like this, but Google points out [whatwg.org] quite clearly this is not the case) or they think the LGPL says that if any patent restricts the distribution of A contained in B, then you distribute C if it is contained in B. This is a poor interpretation of the above-quoted LGPL clause.

    The last link I provided (http://lists.whatwg.org/htdig.cgi/whatwg-whatwg.org/2009-June/020035.html [whatwg.org]) explains better than I the stance Google has taken. I think this stance is correct.

    Disclaimer: I am merely a law school graduate. I have not taken the bar yet. I am not a lawyer. I am not your lawyer. This is not legal advice.

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:08AM (#28247527) Homepage

    You're forgetting a few things. Both GPL v2 and v3 talk about granting the recipient rights to redistribute the license. If the author was the patent-holder or a licensee, then to grant people that license without granting patent rights would render those clauses meaningless. Without both rights to use the patent and some right to pass on those rights, the recipients can't exercise the redistribution rights the license purports to give them. Courts are loathe to declare terms of a license meaningless, so the typical reading of those kinds of clauses is that the grant of the right to redistribute implicitly includes all the other rights necessary for redistribution that the licensor has the ability to give out. So if the author was the author of the code and either held the patents or held patent licenses covering it that allow sublicensing, the courts are pretty likely to hold that they gave out rights to use the patents when they applied the GPL/LGPL to their code. They may not be subject to the license they give out themselves, but they are offering terms and the courts will require them to live up to their half of the deal if someone accepts their license.

    But since Google isn't the author of the infringing code in this case, none of that's really applicable to them. It's only applicable to the FFMPEG authors. They aren't the patent-holders and they aren't licensees, so the only question is whether their initial distribution of their library constitutes patent infringement. I'm pretty sure a US court would consider it to be, but it looks like there's serious jurisdictional and logistical problems with actually getting an enforceable judgment.

  • Re:Simple solution (Score:3, Informative)

    by julesh (229690) on Monday June 08, 2009 @03:05AM (#28248163)

    Mpeg AFAIK is a freely implementable spec

    This is not true. MPEG is covered by a variety of patents which may or may not be valid in a number of different countries.

God may be subtle, but he isn't plain mean. -- Albert Einstein

Working...