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Legal question: Distributing MPC in own program, Want to use MPC to compress musics
Tiberius
post Feb 12 2003, 11:08
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I want to write a computer game, and thought of using MPC to compress musics and sound effects used by it (all music and sound are made by my own team, so the sources don't have copyright problem.)

My question is: If I link MPC decoder with my program, and distribute all sound files with it, will it have any legal problems ? I think the decoder itself can be freely downloaded on the net so that's okay, but I'm not sure about those sound contents ...

By the way, I'm making the game with Python together with pygame library (an interface to SDL), and currently I don't have a clear solution to play MPCs directly using them. Therefore ... Is there any attempts to use MPC with SDL worked ? Or I have to write interfaces myself ? Maybe I will write a plugin to interface with foobar2000 ......... rolleyes.gif
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Garf
post Feb 12 2003, 11:18
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MPC has legal issues because it uses patented methods, so I do not think you can do this. Why not use Vorbis instead?
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ChristianHJW
post Feb 12 2003, 12:06
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Yes, Vorbis as a completely patent free solution is much better suited for this, at least right now ...


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Dibrom
post Feb 13 2003, 00:04
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I think (though I could be wrong), that the only really patented technology in MPC is based on the phillips subband patent. I'm not sure if phillips still owns this or if another company does. A possible approach you could take if you'd really prefer to use MPC is to contact the company that holds the patents and ask them about any issues.

IIRC, the reason the whole patent issue with MPC kind of died out awhile ago (or at least Buschel stopped talking about it) is because the company wasn't interested in persuing any sort of licensing deal over MPC.. they simply didn't care enough to follow up. Though it may be questionable, it seems to me from this that it is then OK to use MPC, with this subband technology, in freely distributable programs. Buschel seemed to feel the same way I think which is also why MPC never became commercial software -- there were no licensing fees to pay, so no need to charge money.

I'm kind of under the impression that if the company that owns a patent isn't actively enforcing the patent (stating that you have to pay royalties/licensing fees/etc), then it's legally OK to use technology based on the patent.

Another situation which might provide insight into something like this exists with the Linux kernel. There was some talk awhile ago about how certain technologies used in the kernel were patented, and what should be done about the situation. IIRC, Linus and the rest of the developers decided simply not to worry about it as long as nobody was actively enforcing these patents. They took a "we'll do something about it if it's actually an issue" type attitude I think.

On the other hand, simply using Vorbis would provide you with that extra sense of security, and it should be considered that the main selling point of the codec is that it is pretty much 100% certain to be patent free and free of legal issues (AOL's lawyers seemed to agree by letting Nullsoft package the Vorbis decoder with their software). Also, as you seemed to have discovered, MPC doesn't have any decoding libraries available yet (Case is working on some I believe, perhaps you should contact him) so you might have to code your own -- with Vorbis this is not the case.

If you do decide to use Vorbis, I'd recommend using Garf's GT3.

At any rate, I've been wondering about this sort of thing lately myself. I have some lawyer friends who can probably give me a definitive answer so I'll ask them what they think.
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Tiberius
post Feb 14 2003, 11:47
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Thanks for all your informations, these ideas are really helpful to me.

Actually the reason that made me want to use MPC at first is: I already have many music encoded with MPC, and using it in my program is a reasonable way to 'promote' this format. What's more, I can provide all my audios in (almost) original quality without using much space.

But now it seems I'd better use Ogg Vorbis - Pygame (and underlying SDL library) already have capabilities to handle Ogg Vorbis files really well, therefore I don't have to do much work to use this format. And, I've already seen some titles that are completely using Ogg Vorbis ......

After all, it's all about faith doesn't ?! rolleyes.gif
That's why I'm still willing to use MPC if there's a workable solution ...
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greenirft
post Feb 14 2003, 17:14
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QUOTE (Dibrom @ Feb 12 2003 - 11:04 PM)
I'm kind of under the impression that if the company that owns a patent isn't actively enforcing the patent (stating that you have to pay royalties/licensing fees/etc), then it's legally OK to use technology based on the patent.

I am going to have to disagree here. As of lately, many companies have been enforcing patents which they never had enforced before (and frankly, should probably have never been given). One example would be SBC with frames, and then the whole FhG deal with MP3 a few years back (there is another very recent example, starts with an A, can't remember the rest of the name). Just because a company doesn't enforce a patent, doesn't mean that they won't in the future.

So I would just be careful and use Vorbis in this case.
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Garf
post Feb 15 2003, 12:50
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Two more examples are both GIF and recently JPEG (though the laters validity is under dispute, you'd still be screwed)
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Artemis3
post Feb 15 2003, 16:09
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Yet i think you are missing an issue: Are these patents valid worldwide? It would seem some countries will not accept patents from other countries, and some countries don't even accept to patent certain "things" at all.

I also have faith in MPC, and that last Phillips patent expiring soon. Maybe they are just waiting this (or it is SV8?) to release the encoder sources?


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Garf
post Feb 15 2003, 16:22
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QUOTE
Yet i think you are missing an issue: Are these patents valid worldwide? It would seem some countries will not accept patents from other countries, and some countries don't even accept to patent certain "things" at all.


Most of the industrialised world has agreements about this. It's not because there are some exceptions (Brazil springs to mind) that it's safe to just say 'fuck the patents' and hope you make it through.

QUOTE
I also have faith in MPC, and that last Phillips patent expiring soon. Maybe they are just waiting this (or it is SV8?) to release the encoder sources?


Encoder sources have been released a while ago (don't have the link handy, sorry)
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Garf
post Feb 15 2003, 17:20
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This was an old post from Klemm:

QUOTE
MPEG Layer 1 & 2 are infiltrated by 3 patents.
- Efficient subband filter
- Saving multiple samples with one common Scalefactor
- Blockwise data processing

2) and 3) stand a good chance of failing either because of being "Prior Art" or lack of inventive ingenuity.
I estimate the chance of that happening with 3) to be 100%.

What remains is 1). Here I'd have to look again, if it [the patent] only covers the numerical implementation, or the exact filter design. If only the first is patented, a considerably slower equivalent could be written. That would hardly have an impact on the encoder (in which the subband splitter only accounts for < 3% and isn't even optimized the Klemm way), whereas it currently accounts for ca. 40% [of needed processing time] on the decoder side.

If only the numerical implementation is patented, one could write a slower workaround for those who do not wish to use/pay for the non patented version. I would have to invest 2 days to work myself through the patent.

On the other hand, the patent will expire in the next years. It was granted in 1986! The durations of patents are between 17 and 20 years.


Would be interesting to check out whether patent #1 has expired or not. As far as I understand Frank, you could infiringe on the other two with reasonable hope of getting the patent revoked when you're sued (I don't think this is very reassuring though).

Edit: As far as I can gather, whether it expired or not depends on where you live. Either in 2003 or in 2006.
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p0wder
post Feb 15 2003, 17:51
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I agree with Garf and would go with Vorbis.
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Secret Chief
post Feb 15 2003, 18:27
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If you don't know the rules of the game, don't play it. Perhaps patents #2 and #3 could be invalidated--do you want to incur the legal costs of doing so? They'd likely be more than enough to tank your company.

As for patent #1, the fact that the company which holds it has not enforced it is irrelevant. Look at Acacia; they bought patents that weren't enforced yet now have full "rights" to their so-called "patents."

Don't even try to incorporate MPC because the upside of it is likely non-existent (Vorbis -q5 should be more than enough for your needs) and the downside is horrific. Odds are nothing will happen if you choose MPC, but is it really worth it?
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JohnV
post Feb 15 2003, 20:03
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Hmm.. I hope that we can soon find out what's the real deal with MPC and patents.
The thing is, that atm. an Italian company named SISVEL seems to handle the licencing of mp2 patents. Anyway, the www.audiompeg.com site, which should show detailed information about licencing is not in order at the moment of writing this, but from archive.org interesting info can be found:

"SISVEL has received from KONINKLIJKE PHILIPS ELECTRONICS (Eindhoven, The Netherlands), FRANCE TELECOM AND TELEDIFFUSION DE FRANCE (Issy-Les-Moulineaux, France), BRW (Bayerische Rundfunkwerbung GmbH, Munich, Germany) and IRT (Institut für Rundfunktechnik GmbH, Munich, Germany) the task to license the MPEG 1 Layer 1, Layer 2 and Layer 3 and MPEG 2 Layer 1, Layer 2 and Layer 3 Audio PATENTS for a certain field of use, namely television receivers, set-top boxes, PC audio accessories, MP3 players and software applications.

Should you be interested in taking the License, please contact us"


Here is the latest page about patents which licencing should be handled by SISVEL, as saved by www.archive.org in Sep 28, 2001.
PATENTS

Also check this:
http://www.licensing.philips.com/licensees...patmpegmp3.html
"Philips patents related to MPEG are licensed by:
MPEG LA, LLC (USA) for MPEG-2 video related patents for all applications except CD applications.
SISVEL S.p.A. (Italy) for MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 audio related patents for all applications other than CD and DVD-Video or DVD-ROM applications.
Patents related to MPEG, not licensed by MPEG LA, LLC or Sisvel S.p.a. are handled by Philips itself."



My personal opinion is, that people here talk too eagerly about sueing, when discussing about MPC and patents, like if you use MPC, you are likely to be sued just like that. Rediculous! I don't know what's the deal with mp2 patents, since the company which should handle those, seems not to provide info anymore, or provides old data. I have really hard time believing that even IF sisvel is still interested in mp2 licence fees, the fees are probably very low, and the patents seem to be close to expiring. But this issue should be further examined.

This post has been edited by JohnV: Feb 16 2003, 05:12


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Garf
post Feb 15 2003, 20:14
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QUOTE
Here are the latest page about patents which licencing should be handled by SISVEL, as saved by www.archive.org in Sep 28, 2001.
PATENTS


Would be interesting to email them about licensing and patent details...I don't see any Philips patents from 1986.

QUOTE
My personal opinion is, that people here talk too eagerly about sueing, when discussing about MPC and patents, like if you use MPC, you are likely to be sued just like that. Rediculous!


For personal use, you are of course absolutely right. However, the original poster explicitly asked about legality issues, and since he wants to use the technology for a game, he is a potential target for ligitation. (That will depend on how 'big' the game is too of course, and indeed on whether there is still anyone remotely interested in enforcing those patents).
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JohnV
post Feb 15 2003, 20:48
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Yeah, but it doesn't mean automatically sueing, like people here seem to eagerly assume. I'd guess that mp2 patent fees which apply to mpc decoder at this point aren't anything remarkable, if anything, anymore.
I'm referring to Secret Chief's comment that using MPC the "downside is horrific", which imo is rediculous claim.


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Secret Chief
post Feb 15 2003, 20:58
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QUOTE (JohnV @ Feb 15 2003 - 11:48 AM)
Yeah, but it doesn't mean automatically sueing, like people here seem to eagerly assume. I'd guess that mp2 patent fees which apply to mpc decoder at this point aren't anything remarkable anymore.

A quick scan of the flags says it all. Both greenirft and I, the ones urging the most caution, are American. I can't comment on the IP laws in Belgium or Finland, but I strongly doubt they're harsher than the US, or else your tech industry would have already ground to a halt.

US companies routinely enforce patents for seemingly no reason at all, including patents ignored for several years. Some companies exist solely to purchase patents and enforce them for even the most minor infractions, because they've already got the lawyers on staff and know they'll either:

1) win

or

2) force the defendent to incur such high litigation costs that they capitulate anyway.

Likely nothing will happen if you use MPC in a game. Unfortunately, the possibility still exists that some legal chop-shop will buy up that patent (or a similar overly broad one, which will still usually work in court) and enforce it against anyone they can find, including someone who published a game that only 1,000 people bought, just because they know that whoever built that video game likely doesn't have a hotshot IP lawyer on retainer that can afford spending 16 months on the case.
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JohnV
post Feb 15 2003, 21:08
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Somehow I have hard time believing that somebody could buy patents used in MPEG product, and suddenly start charging insane patent fees... I don't know, but isn't there some treaty against that, maybe that MPEG patent features can't be essentially changed?

And as I said, I'd guess that mp2 patent fees which still apply to mpc decoder must be pretty low.


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