[vlc-devel] Re: VLC on TheOpenCD

Gildas Bazin gbazin at videolan.org
Sat Nov 27 12:36:15 CET 2004


This answer comes a bit late but better late than never ;)

On Monday 08 November 2004 23:01, Henrik Nilsen Omma wrote:
> Hello,
> I've posted in the forum, but it was suggested I repost here:
> We've been using the VLC player for some time to launch some videos from 
> the CD browser of TheOpenCD. This time we have also decided to include 
> it as an actual featured program on the disc as well. As always we have 
> several issues and questions Smile
> As before, there is the issue of deCSS. We would prefer to distribute a 
> copy by default that does not have deCSS on it so that the same version 
> of the CD can be distributed to all sorts of places without concern. 
> TheOpenCD is increasingly being distributed by schools, universities and 
> government agencies who tend to ask specifically whether there are any 
> IP issues to be concerned about, and we need to be able to answer 
> clearly No. (in fact most of these people are unfamiliar with open 
> source and are really asking about the copyright of the applications 
> themselves, but still, there cannot be any gray issues).

I will not dwell into this, somebody already gave you a quite exhaustive 
answer. Just wanted to add that it is simply not possible to completely 
protect yourself from IP issues. You could of course license the codecs 
supported by VLC (MPEG2/4, etc...) but even that wouldn't protect yourself 
completely. An you'll have the same problem with whichever player you 
choose, even proprietary ones (except that in this case you might be able 
to switch the liability to the software maker).

> Last time I solved this by simply removing some .DLLs, which was fine 
> for running from the CD, but now that we plan to actually let users 
> install it on their machines, we should probably do it properly. Murray 
> mentioned in this 
> <http://forum.videolan.org/viewtopic.php?t=35&highlight=opencd> tread 
> that it was a matter of compiling with the --disable-dvdcss option. But 
> also that Windows compilation was a bit tricky. I wonder if we might 
> have some help with that? (it might of course again simply be a question 
> of removing DLLs and re-packing, please advise)

Easiest way would be to remove the DLLs that provide the DVD support 
(libdvdread_plugin.dll and libdvdnav_plugin.dll).
Alternatively we could build a version of these plugins without decryption 
support (which would make them mostly useless).

> So, we would like to keep deCSS off the CD, but we don't want to just 
> duck the issue. We all feel quite strongly about the dangers of software 
> patents, and would like to inform our users about it. So we would like 
> to point our users to your original version on-line that they can 
> download, or ideally a small patch that would enable DVD functionality 
> for them. This should be accompanied with text explaining the issues of 
> software patents, using the VLC/deCSS issue as a clear example. Perhaps 
> we should write such a text in collaboration. We could also include 
> relevant literature such as 'Free Culture' by Lawrence Lessig.

AFAIK the DeCSS issue is not a patent issue but a "circumvention of copy 
protection" problem (covered by the DMCA is the states).

To come back to your issue with VLC, I think the best thing to do for you 
would be to ship a version without the DVD support. Just removing the DeCSS 
support could be quite confusing for users as they will still be able to 
play some DVDs (unencrypted) but most of them won't play. And there would 
also be the risk of having the crippled version being distributed as the 
official one. IMHO, removing the DVD support completely will make it more 
clear that it is a restricted version.

> Also, what would you recommend as the best method for running it off the 
> CD? Previously, with our old browser technology, we launched the player 
> with some command line options, including resolution and the file name. 
> We then grayed out the launch button for 5 seconds to stop people 
> pressing it twice while waiting for the player to launch. I understand 
> start times have improved in v0.8, so that should help, but we might 
> still want to do something similar. This time we are actually using a 
> Mozilla based browser technology. I see that v0.8 has a Mozilla plug-in. 
> How does that work? Does it play in the browser itself like quicktime 
> does, or does it launch a separate window?

The mozilla plugin allows you to integrate the video into the web page. 
Unfortunately there is a bug in the windows version of this plugin which 
makes it quite unusable (when the plugin stops it crashes the browser), so 
I wouldn't advise to use this method until the problem is fixed.


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