[vlc-devel] AAC audio patent questions

Rippit the Ogg Frog rippit at oggfrog.com
Mon Jun 26 09:05:23 CEST 2006

Hi, I just subscribed.

I'm developing a Free Software application, Ogg Frog at 
http://www.oggfrog.com/ in which I would like to include support for 
playing and encoding AAC (mp4 or m4a) audio.  But the format has many 
patents, and I'm not able to find any mention of patent licenses for 
free players or decoders.

Yet VLC both plays and creates AAC files.  Is this because there are no 
software patents in France, because you have a license, or because there 
is an exception for Open Source software?

In my research I found that the creator of FAAC was forced to take his 
binaries offline because Dolby complained he was infringing his patent.

I live in Canada.  Canada has software patents, but not to the extent 
the US does.  The official policy seems to be on this page:

Manual of Patent Office Practice
Chapter 16: Computer Implemented Inventions

The MPEG-4 Licensing FAQ says in one place that fees are due upon the 
"sale" of encoders or decoders, but in another place it says fees are 
due when they are "provided":


I looked at the fee schedule for AAC audio and I didn't see any 
exception for free or open source software.

Does it make a difference whether I provide just a player, or both a 
player and an encoder?  I understand one must get a license to encode 
MP3s, for example, but not to play them.

I'm planning my first test release for a week or two from now.  I'd like 
to support AAC, but I don't want to get sued!  Please advise.

Mike Crawford
rippit at oggfrog.com

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