[vorbis-dev] Vorbis license terms?

David Terrell dbt at meat.net
Mon Feb 14 18:06:16 PST 2000

On Mon, Feb 14, 2000 at 09:16:35PM -0500, Lynn Winebarger wrote:
> On Mon, 14 Feb 2000, David Terrell wrote:
> > A BSD-like license (or an MIT-X11 like license, if you'd prefer :)
> > doesn't restrict small corporate developers from building vorbis
> > players.  When you consider that a lot of the adoption curve of
> > vorbis will be getting winamp to support your codec, that's not a
> > small consideration.  Reengineering is certainly possible, but that
> > favors large companies (Microsoft, AOL) over smaller developers who
> > would not have the manpower/resources to build their own alternative.
> > 
>    This all depends on your interest in the adoption curve.  Neither the
> LGPL nor the GPL prevent anyone from using them.   Sometimes a developer
> may have to make a choice between two different incompatibly licensed
> pieces of software, but that's entirely up to the developer.
>    Of course, I have no sympathy for those writing non-free software not
> getting to use free parts.  If proprietary developers want to use someone
> else's software, why shouldn't they have to play on their own terms?

Because the big interests can afford to reimplement at minimal expense, 
especially with GPL code as a "guide".  Small companies, perhaps 
opensource friendly but looking to have some amount of intellectual
property to pay the bills, can't easily afford to do so.  If you're
really serious about protecting your code, the only way to do so is
through the patent system.  If not, why not just throw it open.

Also, vorbis is going to have an uphill fight in the commercial arena, 
where 90% of the userbase still is.  mp3 is heavily entrenched, and
most windows developers have little interest in open sourcing their code.
If you want to see the codec succeed, LGPL is a minimum, but a 
restrictions-free license would boost the adoption of vorbis.
How much of a difference that would make, I don't know.  But it would help
the codec gain acceptance and make it more useful.

> > An LGPL distribution would probably be enough for this to be the
> > case, so the point is somewhat moot.  Since the GPL doesn't prevent
> > redevelopment, it's really on the honor system anyway.  Why not
> > acknowledge that with a more free license?
>    What do you mean by "the honor system"?  There's nothing dishonorable
> about writing one's own implementation of a standard - indeed, I think
> (preferably friendly) competition is a good thing.  Keeps people on their
> toes.  

There's nothing that stops someone from taking GPLed code as a baseline,
writing their own very similar version, and using it.  Or for that matter,
if someone wrote "WinVorbis" and used libvorbis compiled in, is there
any way to know?  Probably not.  That's what I mean by honor system.

David Terrell             | "Anyone who says that is woefully
Prime Minister, Nebcorp   | underinformed.  IE, reads usenet."
dbt at meat.net              |  - Sean O'Connor

--- >8 ----
List archives:  http://www.xiph.org/archives/
Ogg project homepage: http://www.xiph.org/ogg/

More information about the Vorbis-dev mailing list