#214 please make mp3 source code packaging requirements more clear
Closed: Invalid None Opened 9 years ago by mattdm.

Right now, https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Forbidden_items?rd=ForbiddenItems#MP3_Support reads

MP3 encoding and decoding support is not included in any Fedora application because MP3 is heavily patented in several regions including the United States.

There is a relatively widespread theory that distributing audio codec code in source form avoids patent issues. See for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Audio_Coding#Licensing_and_patents

Without commenting on the legal accuracy of this theory, but being aware of its existence, one can see that the above wording could very reasonably allow shipping a source package which includes code for MP3 but making sure that it is disabled (that is, ''not included'') in the compiled binary ''application''.

The guidelines at https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Packaging:SourceURL#When_Upstream_uses_Prohibited_Code say

Some upstream packages include patents or trademarks that we are not allowed to ship even as source code.

By the the logic of the exception that proves the rule, this can be seen as implying that some (unspecified) upstream packages include patents or trademarks which we are allowed to ship only as source code. (Again, a reading which makes sense if one has the above theory in mind.) I understand the desire for a lack of specificity here, but if we do mean for MP3 to be forbidden even as source code, we should say so.


I would welcome legal to provide an explicit list if they deem it to be desirable. However, such a list should absolutely not be in the packaging guidelines. If such a list existed I'd have no problem with the guidelines linking to it.

So I don't see any changes that could be made to the guidelines at this time. This is entirely a legal issue and should be brought up with the the legal team.

Replying to [comment:1 tibbs]:

I would welcome legal to provide an explicit list if they deem it to be desirable. However, such a list should absolutely not be in the packaging guidelines. If such a list existed I'd have no problem with the guidelines linking to it.

I'm asking for something much smaller than a whole list — just a change to https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Forbidden_items?rd=ForbiddenItems#MP3_Support in specific.

Should I re-file this with Fedora legal? (Are they responsible for that section?)

yes, legal is probably the best fit

I'm pretty sure that Forbidden_Items is open to anyone to change. If you just want that page to be clarified, you should be able to do it yourself.

I'd ask legal if there was a question of whether we could ship the source code, just not the compiled version of that source. But if you are willing to accept that we can't ship the source code as being the proper position, you should be able to go ahead and edit the page for clarity.

I have an opinion ("we should take the safe route"), but I'll ask legal.

Please reopen this as a Fedora Legal trac ticket (or via email to Fedora Legal (legal@fedoraproject.org) ).

Replying to [comment:6 spot]:

Please reopen this as a Fedora Legal trac ticket (or via email to Fedora Legal (legal@fedoraproject.org) ).

Yeah, I did the latter, and edited the wiki to reflect the more strict interpretation.

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