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Do "Illegal" Codecs Actually Scare Linux Users? 510

Posted by kdawson
from the hardened-criminals-listening-to-music dept.
jammag writes "In this article, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes points out why he keeps giving money to Microsoft and Apple despite the clear advantages of Linux: the scary legalese dialogs you have to click through to install codecs for common multimedia formats. Quoting: 'Despite strong points that go far beyond price, Linux falls short when it comes to legally supporting file formats such as MP3, WMA/WMV and DVDs.' He talks about using Ubuntu and booting up Totem Movie Player, only to be confronted with a burst of legalese about what a hardened criminal he'll be if he uses Totem without a license. This problem is 'a deal breaker' for him."
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Do "Illegal" Codecs Actually Scare Linux Users?

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  • Not just linux (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pyrrus (97830) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @11:14AM (#19915443) Homepage
    Almost all software (especially proprietary) requires you to click through a EULA that threatens to assult you with lawyers if you don't play nice.
    • Re:Not just linux (Score:5, Informative)

      by plague3106 (71849) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @11:21AM (#19915563)
      This isn't the same; this is "by using this software you MAY in fact be breaking the law, and assume all responsibility." Not quite "copying this software is illegal."
      • Re:Not just linux (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Znork (31774) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @11:45AM (#19915993)
        Of course, the proprietary software may very well be violating various patents as well, so technically they should pop up the same disclaimers. FLOSS just tends to be slightly more nitpicky about being excessively verbose and honest with these issues (not to mention that part of the intent is quite likely to make end users aware of the actual damage the patent system causes).

        That said, I dont think I've even heard of any end-user of a product, ever, being successfully sued for any kind of patent infringement. With common licensing deals in the range of a few cents to a few percent per copy, lawsuits against end-users would be a massively unprofitable prospect.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sorak (246725)

          Of course, the proprietary software may very well be violating various patents as well, so technically they should pop up the same disclaimers.

          IANAL, but doesn't commercial software provide indemnification against lawsuits directed at the end-user? That was a big part of the whole SCO/Linux fiasco. SCO was saying that because all Linux distros are distributed with the "all bets are off/use at your own risk" caveat (with a specific denial of indemnification), that anyone who uses Linux can be sued for pirac

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by nevali (942731)
            No, they were just indemnifying them against any action they were thinking of taking.

            SCO basically just said "if you sign up for our 'Linux license', we won't sue you for copyright/patent/whatever infringement" (despite, of course, not being able to demonstrate that they'd have any shred of a case if they actually did).

            Take a look at your average EULA, it basically contains the same disclaimers as the GPL or the BSD license, but without any of the nice aspects to them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by zrl (899931)
        feel free to use any of the opensource codecs. they are written from scracth or reverse engineering. Well as long as you are using them for personal, not commercial purpose. Am I wrong? I don't really care anyway, I'm a communist.
    • ppl are used to EULA's everywhere. Almost all of them are long and tedious. How many ppl read them? Few if any. Why? because they are long and tedious. All of Linux's stuff is short and too the point. MANY ppl will read these. They do sound scary. Perhaps, what is needed is to make long convoluted EULA, or a very short one that says, we are not responsible.
      • by Jon_S (15368) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @12:27PM (#19916841)
        This totally misses the point. Winamp's (for example) EULA may be long and tedious and nobody reads it, but it doesn't say that using it may be illegal. Why? Because winamp (AOL) paid fruanhofer for a patent licence to decode MP3.

        Amarok (again, for example), hasn't paid Fraunhofer for a MP3 patent licence, hence you may actually be breaking the law by using a patented technique without a licence.

        Of course, I think this is totally ludicrous and algorithms shouldn't be patentable. But for now at least, that is the law in U.S.

        And that's why your comments are off the mark.
    • AAC and MP4 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by goombah99 (560566) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @11:42AM (#19915933)
      So why do people think that Linux players and community shun AAC or H264? here on slashdot posters tend to tout MP3. I think it's the conflation of AAC and fairplay DRM. Or simply that AAC permits DRM at all. But shouldn't people really embrace AAC precisely because it lacks MP3's player royalties?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mabhatter654 (561290)
        I knew about ACC, but I though H.264 was like MP3 with "submarines" all over the place. Much like MP3 originally was part of an open standard group, but clever companies withdrew their patents from the pool after the sharing was agreed so they could get more royalties... and it's happened AGAIN in the case of mp3. Ogg's formats were patented and officially granted to the program writers.. so it's 100% legal. If Apple would put it on iPods we'd be all set for a universal format. The source code is even BS
      • Re:AAC and MP4 (Score:5, Informative)

        by squiggleslash (241428) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @12:53PM (#19917367) Homepage Journal

        AAC players [wikipedia.org] do require the payment of royalties, unfortunately.

        If you want a free, royalty-free, codec comparable to AAC or MP3, the only choice right now is OGG.

      • Re:AAC and MP4 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @03:03PM (#19918811) Homepage
        ?Actually most people shun Anything other than Mp3. Have a nice high end digital jukebox at home? Mp3 is what it supports 100% most car stereos support mp3 100%. portable players? mp3 based outnumber the others 90 to 1 in different brands and types.

        What cant have DRM installed on it silently? MP3.

        what tries to hijack your music? Media player 9,10,11 add DRM silently and pisses off everyone the first time they try to move their music and are told their music is unauthorized.

        Mp3 survives because it was non DRM from the beginning has the absolute widest compatability and got a foothold so stron in the beginning that not even the superior OGG can touch it. WMA and AAC lose because they are late comers and certianly dont have the recognition.

        Ask anyone on the street. "whats an mp3" they will answer you. Ask what's an AAC and they look at you like you are wierd.

        mp3 - it's what's for dinner and will be the standard long after apple, microsoft and the others try to shoehorn in their "better" codec.
  • Can You Blame Him (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Luscious868 (679143) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @11:17AM (#19915491)
    With all the noise the RIAA and MPAA are making about copyright violations (and the subsequent lawsuits) can you blame him? If Linux ever starts making serious dents into Microsoft's market share, how long until they begin employing similar tactics?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sqldr (838964)
      Perhaps, but exactly how much by way of "damages" can they expect to get from you? If you download a file with bittorrent, you're enabling potentially hundreds of other people to pirate the same file while you download it. You could argue in court that that equates to lost revenue. Having a wmv codec though..?
    • by erroneus (253617)
      Some enterprising fellow really should capitalize on the opportunity really.

      What I'm talking about is creating a package for more Linux distros to work with several apps, installing all the Codecs they can get resale licenses for and selling them to people who wish to "remain legal."

      A slight profit might come of it and satisfy all the worried people out there. Additionally, these packages could be included with "commercial" (bought off the shelf) Linux distros and managed in the same way.

      The point is, why
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Etrias (1121031)
      Yeah I can blame him. This is a ludicrous argument.
      Is it the fault of Linux that they have to click through a simple warning written in plain English to take care of their legally mandated duty because of the way that certain laws are written, particularly in America?
      Have you seen a EULA? Most people don't read it but scroll to the bottom, click accept and then they're done, but they're signing away much more than what you agree to when you click on that codec acceptance. We don't notice a EULA becaus
    • by Tuoqui (1091447)
      You mean like coming up with an arbitrary number like say 235 Patents that Linux is Infringing upon [slashdot.org]

      Oh wait Microsoft already did that didnt they?
  • Shrug (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Durrok (912509) <calltechsucks&gmail,com> on Thursday July 19, 2007 @11:17AM (#19915511) Homepage Journal
    If there is no legal (or affordable) way for me to obtain the software/video/etc I would likeI pirate it. I watch a fair share of anime and typically the only way to get certain series or to not have to wait a few years for it to come stateside is to download the fan subs and then watch them with my "illegal codes" on my linux box. I never lost any sleep about it, not sure why anyone else would even blink at it. It certainly does not solve the problem at hand but it is an effective workaround for the time being.
  • by vivaoporto (1064484) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @11:18AM (#19915529)
    That is only a problem for countries that enforce software patents, that is, IIRC, the USA. If he admits that Linux is better than the alternative, but he feels somehow constrained by the warnings and restrictions, he can either vote with his money (that he does) and buy a software that doesn't "put him off", or vote with his feet and move from the country that imposes such restrictions on him. He can also join the choir and try to change this absurd legislation that allows people to patent algorithms instead of implementations, but I'm trying to keep it real, for once.
    • ...he can either vote with his money (that he does) and buy a software that doesn't "put him off", or vote with his feet and move from the country that imposes such restrictions on him

      Actually, there is a third option [wikipedia.org], the one that is actually most often used here, the one that the MPAA doesn't want anyone to acknowledge exists. Yes, it can have some dire consequences, but it doesn't change the fact that it's worked numerous times throughout history.

      Here's the way I look at it. I've paid good money fo

      • And it's one step away from copyright infringement. I mean, if you are breaking the law already...

        That's the problem with stupid laws --- It erodes respect for the law in general.
    • While I'm not saying that software patents are not an important issue at all, there are issues that affect the average citizen on a day to day basis FAR more than software patents. I think that abandoning your country and moving elsewhere is a little drastic for something that has such little bearing on the day to day lives of the average person.

      I condemn laws allowing software to be patented and I support legislation to prohibit it. I would gladly write my MP (I'm Canadian) to express my concern if the iss
  • Scared? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @11:18AM (#19915531)
    the scary legalese dialogs you have to click through [CC] to install codecs for common multimedia formats.

    apt-get install w32codecs

    Wow that was super scary. I'm so glad it's over...
    • by AvitarX (172628)
      Doesn't the same thing pop-up in an ncurses box?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Rob the Bold (788862)

        Doesn't the same thing pop-up in an ncurses box?

        I just checked on a Debian Lenny box that didn't have w32codecs already installed, and no, it does not. No muss, no fuss, no scary language. Didn't even need to cross my fingers or invoke executive privilege.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      Does that even work on a stock Debian install? I don't think so.... You first need to change your /etc/apt/sources.list to include "non-free" repositories.

  • by Scooter's_dad (833628) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @11:19AM (#19915541)
    If your entire collection of mp3s is illegal to begin with, who cares if the software you have to install to play them is illegal too?
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      My entire collection is in MP3, and none of it is illegal. It is either ripped off CDs that I own, or purchased from eMusic. Before anybody asks me why I don't rip to ogg, or flac, well, all my music players (ipod, DVD player) play mp3 so anything else doesn't work well for me. Just because somebody has MP3 files, don't assume they are illegal. That's the kind of thinking I would expect from the RIAA.
    • by pla (258480) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @12:20PM (#19916701) Journal
      If your entire collection of mp3s is illegal to begin with, who cares if the software you have to install to play them is illegal too?

      Not to detract from the humor of that, I think you more fairly should have received an "insightful" mod...

      Other than media I personally encode (basically ripped CDs and DVDs, which I own and have the right to format-shift) and Creative Commons material - Both of which would use an open codec anyway - I don't think I've ever encountered a legally-obtained sound and/or video file. Not even indirectly as a request to help someone else play something.

      Seriously.

      Sure, plenty of people ask me how to open videos received via email, or compressed music a friend gave them on CD, but those don't actually count as legal. Arguably they both could; Someone could have asked a friend to rip their music collecion, or they could send home videos to a relative. But no one does. Such content unwaveringly comes from (copyrighted) websites, or "sharing" a collection of music that frequently neither person actually owns.



      Not to say I consider those uses in any way immoral (illegal, whole different ballpark) - Fair use, IMO, exists so people can mail cheesy video clips to friends. I also don't have a problem with installing free codecs on the "wrong" OS simply because the EULA has the word "Windows" somewhere in it.

      But we delude ourselves by thinking that we actually have any legal right to such content; Indeed, we hurt fair use by not standing up and demanding both the right and the ability to share such content.
  • by kerohazel (913211) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @11:19AM (#19915545) Homepage
    From TFA: "...it's a perfect example of what's wrong with Linux and the concept of free software. Free software is great in isolation, but as soon as you have a situation where you're trying to integrate it with modern proprietary file formats, the idea falls apart at the seams."

    Maybe the problem is with all the modern proprietary formats? I think this is a pretty crap argument, similar to how a dearth of Linux drivers is somehow Linux's fault.

    There might be a better solution out there. By all means we should try to find it. But a click-through warning is pretty damn good, if it enables free to play with non-free.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Z0mb1eman (629653)
      I don't mean to single out your post, and I agree with it in principle, but that's a somewhat puerile argument.

      The average end user doesn't care "whose fault it is" ("they started it!" "don't make me turn this car around.") Assuming we care about Linux adoption, the ONLY relevant question to an end-user is "does it work out of the box". If it doesn't, the user won't stick around to follow the argument and finger-pointing as to why it doesn't work.

      Not that the article's argument is particularly objective..
  • EULAs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drooling-dog (189103) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @11:19AM (#19915547)
    He's apparently never read the EULAs for his Microsoft ware. Now that is scary stuff...
  • Perhaps the author of the article should instead complain about the way all these people make proprietary file formats and wonder how we got into the awful situation where we have to pay everybody and their brother in order to do a simple thing like listen to music on your computer. It seems to me that that's where the problem is. Patents and ridiculous companies who want their cake and eat it too by having their format be 'standard' while they still own all the rights to use it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by curmudgeous (710771)
      The owners of the mp3 codec only want a cut of profits from people who want to sell mp3 encoders/decoders. From their FAQ at http://www.webcitation.org/5MeUrGbFN [webcitation.org]

      "...no license is needed for private, non-commercial activities (e.g., home-entertainment, receiving broadcasts and creating a personal music library), not generating revenue or other consideration of any kind or for entities with associated annual gross revenue less than US$ 100 000.00..."
    • by kiwimate (458274) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @12:03PM (#19916327) Journal
      Way to be defensive by going on the attack, mate. By the way, did you read the article? It seems not.

      The bigger story is you (Linux community) *still* don't get it.
      • The vast majority of the population neither know nor care who or what the RIAA is or does.
      • Same with DRM.
      • This same vast majority actually doesn't think Microsoft is evil. They might complain about Windows or Word, but that's a far cry from the vitriolic hatred spewed forth by so many in the Linux community.
      • Which, by the way, often seems united more in their hatred for Microsoft than in their passion for Linux. Think about it.
      • And, unlike the majority of the posts I've read so far, many many people actually do possess a shred of respect for the law, whether it's convenient to them or irritating. One of the hallmarks of sociopaths is they think they have an absolute right to pick and choose how they act in the world without regard for laws which annoy them or they think are silly or unfair.

      One of the many, many reasons Linux hasn't taken over the desktop is that people are intimidated by the Linux community. You can respond all you like about big companies pushing Linux, how respectable it is, IBM is Linux friendly, etc., and all it demonstrates to me is you still don't get it. The perception is of the uber-geek community speaking in a foreign language with high disdain for users who don't care about the mechanics but just want to get their job done, enjoy the Internet, send e-mail, and maybe play the occasional game.

      So take this article and respond how you will. But if your response falls along the lines of "who cares about it being illegal" or "never mind that, the real problem is DRM" or the other stock standard responses from the Slashdot crowd, it only shows that you still don't get it. And perhaps you never really will.
      • And, unlike the majority of the posts I've read so far, many many people actually do possess a shred of respect for the law, whether it's convenient to them or irritating. One of the hallmarks of sociopaths is they think they have an absolute right to pick and choose how they act in the world without regard for laws which annoy them or they think are silly or unfair.

        That's a very dangerous point of view you have there. I have the unshakable belief that my government exists at my whim. If my government makes laws that I don't approve of, I will happily break them. I do it all the time. I also work where I can to change bad laws by communicating with my governmental representatives. That does not in any way make me a "sociopath." (It seems certain you don't know what sociopathy is.) This is, in point of fact, the long-established tradition of American behavior. If government starts acting in ways you don't approve of, and in addition starts to feel quite unrepresentative, our general solution is to stop following those laws.

        I'm sure if Slashdot was around 40 years ago, you'd have been saying "coloreds" don't get it. All this "front of the bus" lawbreaking is positively sociopathic.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Omnifarious (11933) *

        One of the hallmarks of sociopaths is they think they have an absolute right to pick and choose how they act in the world without regard for laws which annoy them or they think are silly or unfair.

        One of the hallmarks of a sociopath is implying that other people are by putting words in their mouth then telling people that anybody who feels that way is displaying one of the hallmarks of being a sociopath.

        Oh, wait, I have no idea what I'm talking about and am just spewing vitriol in a pathetic attempt to

      • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @04:40PM (#19919863)
        Sorry, but if you're serious about using Linux then it's up to you to get off your backside and devote some time to learning how an operating system and free software works - it is not going to just drop into your lap.

        There is a wealth of free Linux distributions & free software out on the Internet and a far greater number of people will to devote time to helping others with Linux issues - however, to interact with that community, you need to demonstrate some self motivation and interest in your own computer, rather than expecting someone else to fix it.

        Nobody is forcing you to use Linux. If Windows does the job you need it to do then stick with it - only one of the minority of Linux zealots would tell you to do otherwise.

        Only when you've put some serious effort into learning Linux, and the general UNIX mindset, can you appreciate what it can do for your productivity in terms of security, stability & automation. Until then, don't even try to understand it...

  • Bad title (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Virak (897071) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @11:24AM (#19915611) Homepage
    Should be "Do 'Illegal' Codecs Actually Scare Potential Linux Users?", because that's what the article's about. I don't think most actual Linux users (myself included, though I don't live in the US, so it's not even illegal for me) care about the legality of the codecs. They just want to listen to the music and watch the movies they paid for.
  • the scary legalese dialogs you have to click through
    But he has no problems clicking through the EULA screens that come with Windows and other Microsoft software which I consider more scary then anything I have observed in the FOSS world.
  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Thursday July 19, 2007 @11:29AM (#19915713) Homepage
    All a codec is is a way of encoding some content, so as long as the codec decoding s/ware is legal (ie not ripped off someone's copyright) then I cannot see what the problem is. Oh, I suppose that if you live somewhere like the USA where people can patent a format then you may need to think about it.

    What is important is the content - ie not ripping off someone's copyright for the piece of music, film, ... That I don't do. If I can't obtain it legally then I won't play it -- I might not like the copyright on music (being for so many years and all that) but I will respect it.

    See what I mean about the different between format & content ?

  • by GauteL (29207) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @11:30AM (#19915717)
    Fluendo [fluendo.com] currently sells MPEG2, MPEG4, Dolby AC3 and Windows Media codecs legally. They also give you the MP3 codec free of charge.

    If you want peace of mind and avoid being a criminal in countries with silly laws, then these may be something for you.
  • You can never take....our freeeeeeeeeeeeeedooooooooooooooom!!!!

    =p
    • Tried to post this in caps, but encountered a Slashdot "Lameness Filter"???

      "Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING."

      WTF??? I thought Slashdot was cared about freedom of speech/expression. Guess not!! Fucking nazis.
  • is an MP3 proprietary? Isn't it an ansi standard? Can't anyone take that standard and write a codec for it?
    • Sure, as long as they pay the appropriate patent license fees to all the necessary parties.

      This is why you hear complaints about software patents - they make it so that some standard file formats can only be legally implemented in software as payware.

    • by RiffRafff (234408)
      It's owned by Thomson (well, not "owned" by them, but they enforce the owners' wishes). I believe they've been known to go after F/OSS authors that allow encoding (but I can't check, 'cause my employer blocks the phrase "MP3" from the interwebz... ).

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomson_SA [wikipedia.org]

    • by abigor (540274)
      MP3 is patented. If you want to write an encoder/decoder, you are supposed to buy a license from Thomson Consumer Electronics and Fraunhofer IIS.
    • by Knuckles (8964)
      MP3 is patented, it's been a discussion point for like 5 years. How could you miss that? Buy Fluendo if you care.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Merk (25521)

      Since always?

      Check out the wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] or the patent licensing page [mp3licensing.com] for more info.

      Why would you assume it's an ANSI standard and freely available?

    • It's a patented open ISO standard.

      IIRC, anyone is allowed to take the standard, write a codec for it, and play mp3s as much as they like, legally, for either a royalty fee per copy or US $50 000. The license fees are here [mp3licensing.com]. (When it says US $2.50 - $5.00 per unit I presume it's per copy of the codec, not per song).

      I believe the technical term is "RAND" (Reasonable and Non Discriminatory) licensing: Thomson S.A and the Fraunhofer Institute are playing nice, they don't refuse anyone who wants to license th

  • I actually got an MPEG LA license to manufacture divx players/encoders. The license charge is $0 for the first 100,000 units. I then compile the codecs and players (with some local modifications), and give them away to myself . Every year I need to send in a report of how many I've sold.

    This doesn't take care of mp3, but my understanding is that Thomson doesn't mind people using free mp3 decoders (they said something about that years ago) as long as they don't sell them (that's GPL incompatible, I know).
  • by Locutus (9039) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @11:32AM (#19915763)
    why would they put up such clear and understandable dialog boxes which just end up scaring the user. They should follow Microsoft's lead and put all that in 5-10 pages of legalese and call it an EULA. Then, their users will see that, maybe read one or two lines before hitting the [OK] button.

    Shame on the Ubuntu developers for putting in such a simple and clearly understandable dialog box. ;-)

    LoB
       
    • by ylikone (589264)
      The Ubuntu developers are obviously not as skilled in the arts of deceit and trickery yet. You can't expect them to compete with the likes of Microsoft, whose employees are trained on this from day one, it being basically the creed of the company.
  • by fractalVisionz (989785) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @11:34AM (#19915797) Homepage
    Remember, you only have to wait 4 more years for the MP3 patent to become public:

    The various patents claimed to cover MP3 by different patent-holders have many different expiration dates, ranging from 2007 to 2017 in the U.S. [9]. However, U.S. patents can only last up to 20 years, and MP3 was released as a specification in 1991, so if U.S. courts applied U.S. law, no patent could apply beyond 2011 to MP3 itself.[10] In the U.S., any patent claiming to cover the fundamentals of MP3 after 2012 should (by law) be struck down as an invalid patent, due to the existence of published prior art (the MP3 specification) more than a year before the patent's filing. If it had been published earlier (such as in public drafts), the latest date would be even earlier. However, it is unclear if U.S. courts would enforce this. The situation in other countries that permit software patents is similar.

    --From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MP3 [wikipedia.org]
    • Sounds right. Software patents expire once the technique involved is blatantly obsolete. The only exception that I know if is the RSA patent - that just set back computer security by 20 years outright.

  • Quoting: 'Despite strong points that go far beyond price, Linux falls short when it comes to legally supporting file formats such as MP3, WMA/WMV and DVDs.

    This issue is actually a distro dependent problem. Linux cannot fall short as Linux is just a kernel, not a company or a distribution. Some distro's (such as Turbolinux) do pay the fees to legally distribute the proprietary codecs in question. These fees may be too high (overpriced) for many distributions to afford so many will find an alternative way

  • Why is it "illegal". Either it's legal or it's not.

    If it's morally questionable then say that. If it's yet to be tested in the courts then say that.

    But if it's illegal but you don't think it should be then don't muddy the issue by putting the world in speech marks and calling it "illegal" because that does nothing to move the discussion forward.

    Say it's illegal but an example of a bad law (and one that's perhaps yet to be tested) and move on.

    Yes, it would be nice if the DCMA, draconian licensing agreements
  • How can a EULA be scary? I never read them.

    Basically, all EULAs are are non-binary DRM - a text file that tries to tell you what you can and can't do with the software.

    I ignore them. It's in my possession, I'll do whatever I want with it, thank you very much.
  • But it does keep liability-conscious companies from adopting Linux.

    If you're going to make inroads into the proprietary-license software world, you've got to do it legally. Granted, we might not like software patents and draconian copyright terms, etc... but for now it is the law, at least in the US. To make Linux compelling, it has to give back to the community, rather than just piggybacking on the hard work of others. Implementing a copy of a popular product isn't innovation; producing a better cod

  • As far as I know, using a codec for personal use to decode media is not easily (and certainly not routinely) punished, though I may be mistaken. Obviously commercial software has been pulled off the shelves for illegally using codecs, like the DVD backup software a few years back, but I don't recall ever hearing about end users of it being sued, let alone convicted. Decoding MP3s with LAME or installing the Win32 codecs on a Debian system is probably not going to land you in the slammer, and I've never be

  • This is ironic because I consider the lack of click-through licenses to be one of the benefits of Linux. I forsee a day when people must sign a EULA to buy something at CompUSA and I'm fighting it as much as I can. You can't install anything on Windows without a 20-page EULA that denies people of things they take for granted. I my frustration I bought a Mac, only to find that they are just as bad.
  • ...Is it time yet?

  • I have maybe a dozen friends who have told me that they would use some linux distro regularly (after seeing what I'm using) specifically because my system plays/rips almost anything, except that they don't want to deal with having to go find and set up (flash, win32 codecs, decss...) It's not the illegality, it's the perceived hassle. They *want* free codecs -- which is to say the illegality is, in a way, an advantage -- but they'll pay to have it all done for them. When I talk about making a distro that
  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Thursday July 19, 2007 @12:12PM (#19916519)
    I laughed when I saw this article.

    This is just making excuses not to use Linux because they can't think of any real ones.

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