[vlc-devel] close source plugin for vlc

Michael Gao mgao at neurostechnology.com
Thu Apr 24 21:51:07 CEST 2008

Thanks for the feedback, please see comments below.

On Thu, 2008-04-24 at 22:14 +0300, Rémi Denis-Courmont wrote:
> 	Hello,
> Below is my interpretation, not any kind of legal advice.
> I am not a qualified lawyer under any jurisdiction.
> Le Thursday 24 April 2008 21:42:44 Michael Gao, vous avez écrit :
> > Checking the possibility here, not to ruin the Open Source spirit in any
> > regard. ;-)
> >
> > With that said, does vlc allow close source codec plugins?
> Assumed that "close source" means released to third parties without source 
> code. Assumed that "plugins" mean using the VLC/LibVLC plugins API. 
> Therefore, assumed that plugins are derivative works of fore-mentioned API. 
> Assumed that the last versions of the GNU General Public License is version 
> 3.0.
> Then, close source plugins are in explicit violation of the only currently 
> valid copyright license for VLC. Or such is my understanding.
Understood, makes sense.

> > or codec plugins linking with close-source libs?
> That depends. Just reading the GNU GPL version 2:
> If said libraries are _not_ provided along with any such plugins, it seems OK. 
> More generally, if the libraries "can be reasonably considered independent 
> and separate works in themselves", it should also be OK.
> If said libraries are "modules" of the plugins, then it is a violation.
> Concretely, if can ship a GPL'd plugin, so long as you don't ship the closed 
> source lib, it works. That's why VLC can use (proprietary) Windows codecs - 
> on any i386 platform. Symmetrically, you can ship the closed source lib, so 
> long as you don't ship the GPL'd codec.
> You can also ship both alongside, if the libs is not at all a derivative of 
> VLC. For instance, I believe that a plugin for the Fluendo/gstreamer codecs 
> would be legally OK. I would be morally OK with such things, but I cannot 
> speak for the other copyright holders.
A bit more background info on this part for those who do not know yet,

- Neuros is looking to port VLC to next-gen OSD (see below signature
link for details), a device based on TI Davinci dual core (ARM + DSP)

- Neuros project is under GPLv2, however the video codec running on DSP
is not, nor is the ARM side codec supporting code (so called Codec
Engine). So in a nutshell, I am looking at a VLC plugin structured in
the following way,

Neuros-VLC-Plugin    (NVP)   --- license TBD
TI Codec Engine Lib  (TCEL)  --- proprietary binary
DSP side video Codec         --- proprietary binary

- NVP uses VLC/LibVLC plugins API for sure, also it uses TCEL APIs in
order to fulfill the codec plugin functionality (which then eventually
routes data back and forth with DSP side Codec). If we ship LGPLed NVP,
and also proprietary TCEL, would that be ok with VLC?


Michael Gao
Neuros Technology-Open Consumer Electronics

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