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Music Open Source Patents Red Hat Software Linux

Red Hat Announces Fedora Will Support MP3 Playback (fedoraproject.org) 140

Long-time Slashdot reader jrincayc shares news from Red Hat's Fedora Engineering Manager, Tom Callaway. On the Fedora-legal mailing list, Callaway announced: Red Hat has determined that it is now acceptable for Fedora to include MP3 decoding functionality (not specific to any implementation, or binding by any unseen agreement). Encoding functionality is not permitted at this time.
And the same day Christian Schaller announced on the Gnome blog that mp3 playback would be supported in Fedora Workstation 25. You should be able to download the mp3 plugin on Day 1 through GNOME Software or through the missing codec installer in various GStreamer applications. For Fedora Workstation 26 I would not be surprised if we decide to ship it on the install media.
He added, "I know this has been a big wishlist item for a long time for a lot of people..."
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Red Hat Announces Fedora Will Support MP3 Playback

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 13, 2016 @03:38PM (#53276933)

    Fedora users are gonna party likes its 1999!

    • Fedora Linux is intentionally limited, due to being American based. There are three reputable Remixes (A remix is Fedora++) which contains codecs and other inclusions from rpmfusion and from the Remix creator. The three Remixes, see links below, make Fedora, a truly remarkable workstation Linux. These Remixes are not American based, but use Fedora at their core. But without these, three Remixes, I would skip Fedora for some non-American Linux. It is American Patent Laws that are the Achilles heel, limitin

  • He added, "I know this has been a big wishlist item for a long time for a lot of people..."

    I am just wondering why this "big wishlist item" has taken this long. Anyone?

    • by wiggles ( 30088 )

      The MP3 format is closed and proprietary - owned by Fraunhoffer, if I recall correctly. It hasn't been legal without some sort of licensing agreement in place, and the community won't pay to license.

      • by dohzer ( 867770 )

        So if the community wouldn't pay to license in the past, I take it they are willing now?

        • by wiggles ( 30088 )

          ftfa:

          We cannot comment on specific patents, not now, not ever. Red Hat has determined that it is now acceptable for Fedora to include MP3 decoding functionality (not specific to any implementation, or binding by any unseen agreement). Encoding functionality is not permitted at this time.

          It appears Red Hat has entered into some sort of double secret licensing agreement with Fraunhofer that they can't disclose the details on.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Nah, decoding MP3 is no longer covered, but the final patent on encoding doesn't expire until December 2017.

          • No secret deals, double or otherwise. Fedora does not work like that.

            • by mattdm ( 1931 )

              No secret deals, double or otherwise. Fedora does not work like that.

              I mean, except for our deal with the Knights Templar to make systemd the one true init system of the new world order. That one, we did do, but it's triple-secret, so can only be revealed in Slashdot comments.

        • by knorthern knight ( 513660 ) on Sunday November 13, 2016 @05:22PM (#53277307)

          > So if the community wouldn't pay to license in the past, I take it they are willing now?

          Nope. It's just that the mp3-decoding patents have expired, so there is no need for a licence now. https://www.tunequest.org/a-bi... [tunequest.org]

          Some patents for mp3-encoding are still in effect, but they expire by the end of 2017. Expect Redhat to ship mp3-encoders then.

          • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

            Haven't software patenta essentially been struck down in the US?

            • Well more or less. Its no broad invalidation thats been done. But the line has moved. So if someone should go to court and try to get it invalidated it might work to get it invalid.

              But that cost alot of money. And its not 100% sure that it will work. It depends on the court what they say. So it can also take along time to get it invalidated. The owner of the patent will probably make sure to draw it out so expect several years of patent ligiation.

              So people just mostly wait for patent to expire.

              • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

                I believe one of the circuits has basically said that they're invalid using the supreme ruling.

                But I guess yeah, money until its firmed up. I'd think redhat has a lot to gain their though.

          • by yuhong ( 1378501 )

            And I would not be surprised if there were ways to work around the patents.

    • Patents.

      Last year, 2015, the majority of patents expired in the US [wikipedia.org]

      Fraunhofer IIS were a bunch of greedy assholes suing everyone who encoded mp3's and didn't license their codec. They decided to allow for free mp3 playback since that would be double-dipping.

      Red Hat probably stayed clear the entire minefield just to be safe and I don't blame them. Many geeks switched to FLAC (50% lossless compression) or Ogg.

      --
      HDCP = Hollywood's Draconian Copy Protection system which does nothing to stop pirates and only hi

      • Fraunhofer continues to advance technology, and the money to do that doesn't come from the magical unicorn printing press. It's anticapitalistic toads like you that make this world a worse place to live.
        • Ad hominem much?

          It is myopic materialistic leeches like yourself that want to hold society and Science hostage with paywalls, pretend you can patent math, inflict your bullshit copy protection schemes so that legitimate consumers can't backup their property meanwhile the pirates already laugh at your stupidity because they are "kracked" you nonsense, try to outlaw libraries for sharing knowledge, sue people for sharing CD's because you didn't get your precious "cut", bully and badger people for sharing numb

      • Fraunhofer IIS were a bunch of greedy assholes suing everyone who encoded mp3's and didn't license their codec.

        I wonder if the royalties they got were worth the PR damage.

        • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

          What PR damage?

          99.999999999% of the Earth's population has never heard of them.

          • 99.999999999% of the Earth's population has never heard of them.

            The small fraction of the world's population who has heard of them happens to include nearly all the engineers they might hope to employ. (BTW, you are challenged with counting decimal points.)

  • by geek ( 5680 ) on Sunday November 13, 2016 @04:27PM (#53277113)

    This type of shit really holds Linux back from the mainstream

    • Re:Welcome to 1999 (Score:5, Informative)

      by fibonacci8 ( 260615 ) on Sunday November 13, 2016 @05:06PM (#53277271)
      Software Patents? Yes we know. According to OSNews [osnews.com] the last of the patents expires in April of 2017. So the base install of the next version of Fedora should be safe to include software for encoding and decoding of MP3 by then.
    • Re:Welcome to 1999 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by caseih ( 160668 ) on Sunday November 13, 2016 @05:16PM (#53277285)

      You've been around Slashdot since nearly the beginning so you should know this is clearly untrue. MP3 support in Linux back in the early 2000s wouldn't have made a bit of difference to overall Linux adoption. In fact many distros ignored the IP issues and simply included the codec without paying for a license. It would be nice to have a clear explanation of why they feel it's okay to ship an implementation of this patented algorithm now vs a few years ago. This is of course ignoring the fact that there should never have been a software patent on something like mp3 playback in the first place.

      Linux has always been held back by the same things its always been held back by. It's an OS by geeks for geeks with a learning curve, bickering developers, petty egos, and contradictory goals. And more importantly there's the Windows/Office hegemony which still exists to this day, though it's weakening somewhat with MS's move to put Office in the cloud and sell subscriptions. Unlike Linux distributions and desktop environment developers, MS has always understood who their customer was. At least they used to.

      • Back in the early 2000s, it probably didn't matter since the typical Linux user knew how to work around stuff like this. Part of being a desktop Linux user was learning how to figure out the "little annoyances" - how to get wifi working, how to get your desktop scanner functional, getting your computer to sleep/hibernate, etc. Heck, I remember rebuilding the gnome-games rpm so it would include the games Red Hat removed over concerns about licensing issues...

        But now, at least at our university - I see a lot

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Not really. It only takes a download to fix just like with MS Windows. People are used to that on all platforms so I don't think mp3 made a difference one way or the other.
    • I don't remember MP3 playback being built in to Mac OS or Windows in 1999 either. If I recall correctly, I was using SoundJam MP on the Mac and Winamp on Windows, both third-party software that were not bundled with the OS, back then.

    • This type of shit really holds Linux back from the mainstream

      What the hell are you talking about. Linux rules the world at the moment, it's easier to enumerate the niches Linux doesn't dominate than the ones it does.

    • Only in that the default audio playback application bundled with the OS could not legally handle MP3's, forcing you to use a 3rd party application, which was the default behavior for most Windows users through at least XP. I'd imagine it had about as much relevance as being unable to burn a CD back in the day without software like Roxio (or whatever the OSS comparable app was, I was still in grade school.) The big drawback to Linux for decades was simply that it didn't ship with the computer you bought from
  • by allo ( 1728082 )

    Even my debian has mp3 playback.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      Debian is also not a commercial project, unlike Fedora which is the unstable branch of what will become Red Hat Enterprise Linux. It's therefore not quite as juicy of a target for East Texas lawyers.

      • by allo ( 1728082 )

        erm ... debian is the most careful project with copyrights and software patents. If something looks like it might have seen something which was in contact with proprietary code, they will not accept it.

        • Debian is willing to put something into the non-free archive area [debian.org] (and things that depend on it into contrib). In fact, the existence of the non-free section on Debian servers is why the GNU project cannot recommend Debian [gnu.org]. Fedora is more likely to instead leave out a package entirely, except for non-free firmware that executes on peripheral coprocessors instead of the main CPU. But even that's too much non-free software for GNU.

          • by allo ( 1728082 )

            yeah, but non-free is still mostly patent free. And free of other serious violations. You still don't get libdvdcss without debian multimedia.
            Non-Free is more like "Licence says it's okay to distribute it, but we only put in main what's free", while debian multimedia and others are like "if they would sue, we would need to stop this, let's see how long we can provide this repo".

  • I will stick with Freebsd thank you very much. Everything in /usr/ports is just a compile away and I can customize it to how I want

    • The linux way is downloading binaries from a repository.

      Sure, occasionally they compile stuff, but the BSD way of pushing source trees instead of the binary dependency hells just doesnt seem attractive to Linux users for some god awful reason.
  • I dumped ripping to MP3 years ago, I use FLAC. Only reason to use MP3 is because most car stereos are dumb that they can't use FLAC or PCM-WAV, same reason for many pocket "MP3" players. Smart mobile phones can mostly read the formats, but their sound is dreadful.

    If only online music stores would kill off MP3 for formats like FLAC.

    • Only reason to use MP3 is because most car stereos are dumb that they can't use FLAC or PCM-WAV,

      I can afford a bigger storage device, but I prefer to have my files copied and scanned in determinate time. High-bitrate mp3 sounds great pretty much always. Unless you need more than two channels, who cares?

      • Sounds like an argument to use Vorbis to me. Even smaller than high-bitrate mp3 and it sounds better! The only reason not to use Vorbis these days is because you're stuck with legacy equipment, just like GP said.

        • The only reason not to use Vorbis these days is because you're stuck with legacy equipment, just like GP said.

          The issue to me is that I can't tell the difference even with my Sennheisers, and MP3 plays in so many more places.

    • Why would you use FLAC if OPUS is fully transparent at 128kbps, and for real-world use 96kbps is fine (as opposed to MP3 which even at its max, 320kbps, has artefacts recognizable by ordinary people on cheap gear)? For stuff that's going to be further processed, perhaps, but not for music you're going to only listen to.

  • Some posters seem to think this has been difficult for Linux/Red Hat/Fedora users. It hasn't been, the mp3 support is in third party repos that are easily added. This is simply moving it from these to a core repo. This will eventually happen with all patented things (NTFS, exfat, h264, h265 etc), just some will take a very long time. User's of other platforms should be more concerned with their lacking support for open codecs e.g flac, taking until Windows 10 or still not in iTunes. But can be added as tr
  • Then again, nobody serious uses RedHat. It has been babylinux from its very inception...

    • Then again, nobody serious uses RedHat. It has been babylinux from its very inception...

      Red hat owns the top 500 supercomputers, and supercomputers in general, for no good reason. Otherwise, true that. Still a some dumbasses using Fedora in business, but otherwise rpm-based distros are fading fast. Not fast enough for my taste though. RPM: just say no.

      Executive summary of Red hat: everything they touch ends up as complete crap.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Red Hat is one of the dominating contributor to most large open source projects. Red Hat is the major player in Open Source.

  • this is NOT a mp3 library finally integrated ... <ironic>these are "mp3d" and "mp3ctl", integrated mp3 support in systemd, in few week we are going to finally have "journalctl --mp3" that give us journal logging in mp3 format!</ironic>
  • It's great that some of MP3 is out of patent but there are many more audio / video codecs which are in patent and people need. It would be nice if Fedora could curate these codecs and stick them on RPMFusion and make it easy for people to install them without effort. I doubt it would take much effort to wrap it up in a simple UI with some legal disclaimers and present it to the user when they attempt to play an affected file.
  • Early in my career I had some tech discussions with Tom "Spot" Callaway. Always helpful; good guy.

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