Re: [rtcweb] H.261

Ron <> Sat, 23 November 2013 18:49 UTC

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From: Ron <>
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Subject: Re: [rtcweb] H.261
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On Sat, Nov 23, 2013 at 04:45:26AM +0000, Mo Zanaty (mzanaty) wrote:
> All major distros including Debian already include x264, ffmpeg, etc.
> Those packages offer no patent license at all. What is the perceived
> unique risk of Cisco¹s H.264? It attempts to license the patents legally
> instead of leaving users bare naked. If the FOSS community sees this as
> worse than the current situation, and feels its users are better off
> naked, it would be good to understand why.

That's not a package which I maintain, or have had anything to do with,
so if you're looking for an explanation of what the people who do might
be thinking, then I'll have to disappoint you, sorry. [1]

If you're looking for legal advice, then I'm doubly not your man, I'm
just a software guy, you'll want to address that to the role address
that Debian has for such things,


[1] - So I shouldn't need to clarify this here, of all places, but since
there's talk of voting, ramming through a mandate for things which have
strong objections and a single unguaranteed supplier, cabbages and kings,
and other clear nonsense like having unknown and unaccountable sysadmins
at random companies install "DPKGs" on everyone's machines - and people
making summaries that talk about "Debian's opinion", I guess I need to
restate the obvious ...  if only for the people who actually know nothing
at all about what Debian is and how it works.

I do not, and indeed cannot, speak _for_ Debian.  I don't hide my
significant affiliations, but since I'm not a Chair or AD, or hold
any other role in the IETF, I can only, ever, speak solely as an
individual contributor.  And only ever have.

There have been people here who have sought to express "their employer's
opinion", but since that's just obviously irrelevant extra baggage here,
that's not a hammer I've ever swung in any working group.

Debian as an organisation, is actually similar to the IETF in many ways.
Aside from a small handful of people endowed with delegations for various
tasks (of which I'm not one), contributors are all volunteer individuals,
who are essentially responsible for only their own contributions.

If you want the "Opinion of Debian", you're going to need to have a shit
fight on another list, to draft a position statement (or several dozen
options for one), and then hold a General Resolution, where 1000-odd
people will vote to see if we can 'agree' on any of them.  And there
you'll again face many people who (like me), think voting is a useless
way to determine anything more important than whether our logo should
be the chicken or the swirl - and from past experience know that trying
this for actually significant contentious issues, is typically intensely
damaging and divisive, leaving scars that take years to heal, if they
ever finally do.

I would strongly, as an individual, recommend the Chairs of this WG
learn from our mistakes there and not seek to repeat them here too. [2]
Whatever the result of the vote may be, it _will_ escalate through
every level of protest available, and possibly invent several new
ones too.  People who wanted nothing more than for this group to
fail spectacularly, will laugh their asses off at the havoc wreaked
beyond their wildest imagination.

[2] - Since as every pilot knows, you won't live long enough to make
      them all yourself :)