[vlc-devel] Re: Help wanted for small (?) VLC development job

Jean-Paul Saman jean-paul.saman at planet.nl
Tue May 22 09:22:09 CEST 2007

Rémi Denis-Courmont wrote:
> Le lundi 21 mai 2007, Jean-Paul Saman a écrit :
>>> I am working with a company that wants to use VLC in a (hopefully)
>>> widely-distributed set-top-type video receiver box.  We are
>>> currently hoping to primarily use one particular codec.  The
>>> problem is that the codec in question is not supported under VLC
>>> and (importantly) is non-free.
>> If the codec is non-free, then it is not possible to link it with VLC
>> and distribute it to your customers. A way around this is having the
>> non-free codec in a DSP and interface with it through a DMA or
>> PCI-type of channel.
>> Pleas read the COPYING file in vlc source code or the GPL license
>> text on FSF.org
> IANAL (and neither are you), but this is probably not completely true. 

Indeed IANAL and Adam should consult company lawyers and maybe those of 
the fsf. The following is only my interpretation of the GPL.

> For one thing, I believe copyrights infrigements can only be proven in 
> court. Secondly, I assume that the GPL can only apply to derivative 
> work, which is a matter of interpretation and quite possibly of 
> country-specific IPR law implementations.

There is also a distribution clause.

> We do already have several plugins loading external non-free libraries: 
> Quicktime, DirectMedia Object (not counting that VLC runs on many 
> non-GPL C runtimes).

DMO, ActiveX, DirectX, DirectShow are part of the operating system and 
therefor don't count as derivative work.

> And we have the ActiveX (and Mozilla) plugins that makes it easy to use 
> VLC through non-GPL software, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer. I 
> understand that there might some subtleties with MSIE not being 
> distributed along VLC however.

In the ActiveX plugin case VLC uses/exports an interface technology that 
hasn't been specifically created for use with VLC and therefor don't 
count as derivative work.

> I am not a lawyer, but I presume that non-free codecs are actually not 
> subject to the GPL if they do not depend on VLC themselves and are 
> dynamic linked through a GPL'd "glue" VLC plugin.

This is certainly true for LGPL and non-free codecs, but not for GPL and 
non-free codecs. Well at least that is what I think.

> In any case, it is best to triple check the particular case with a 
> lawyer than make any strong statement (which the damn lawyers will not 
> make anyway but that's a different story).

True words.

> Note well: This email is NOT an advocacy of non-free codecs.

Just my 2cnts on the subject.

Jean-Paul Saman.

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