[Flac-dev] slashdot article

Josh Coalson xflac at yahoo.com
Thu Nov 29 22:00:03 PST 2001

--- Woodrow Stool <woodrow_stool at hotmail.com> wrote:
> I saw your post and read the replies with great interest.  Did you
> draw any 
> conclusions from the /. replies?  Where do you think you might go
> with the 
> licensing issues for embedded systems?

There was some good feedback there even though a lot of people
missed the point.  Some of the best comments were emailed to
me directly.  I'm pretty sure that from a licensing perspective
I don't want to go to BSD.  Now I have some good leads as to
some licenses similar to LGPL but that are just a bit more
flexible when it comes to linking (like Guile).

If it becomes necessary I might switch libFLAC to such a
license.  But I would have to get formal permission from a few
contributors.  Eventually I might have a 'donation clause'
for patches (like Sleepycat does with Berkeley DB) to make
licensing more solid.  I would really rather not be in the
business of doing one-off licenses for multiple embedded

I really didn't do FLAC for money; even though at this point
I have done most of the work, there have been significant
contributions and I hope that will continue to grow.
Thinking about that, I have half a mind to just donate any
license fees (if there ever are any) to EFF or something.

> Here's another licensing question.  Your source code lays out the 
> functionality of the FLAC codec and the file formats.  What if
> someone comes 
> along and uses this code to implement FLAC with a different set of
> tools or 
> targets different operating systems.  Say a Kylix port for Linux or
> an ASM 
> port to embedded MSDOS.  Would this now be considered a derivative
> work that 
> would fall under the GPL/LGPL, even though none of your original
> source code 
> was used?

I believe that under U.S. copyright law they are not
derivate works.  With respect to the actual format
specification, the verbiage on the web page says to
the effect of "it's in the public domain but the FLAC
project certifies compliance".  I don't think this
will hold water in any serious test but if there is
always a "Free" alternative and some momentum I don't
really see too much danger in the actual format being

If someone wants to implement a proprietary, closed-
source decoder from scratch, that's their prerogative.
But I'll still might pester them to Free the code :)


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