MP3 patent expiration?
Posted Jan 4, 2006 11:32 UTC (Wed) by Duncan
Parent article: GStreamer's MP3 for Linux
Unlike copywrong, patents aren't yet virtually eternal. AFAIK, it's
17-20 years here in the US. (I believe now 20, extended three as a
tradeoff for something else, don't know the details, a few years ago.
However, I believe we're still in the period during which some 17 year
patents haven't yet expired.)
It would have been nice if the article had included the expiration date of
the MP3 patents, so we'd know how much longer we had to worry about it.
Obviously, the format has been around for several years already, so it's
quite possible we're already half-way there.
This is of practical interest once one compares it to the GIF patents
which recently expired. Along that line, Gentoo has recently deprecated
libungif, and all new ebuilds depend on libgif, tho it's quite likely
folks' stable installations will have libungif dependencies for a few more
So... you see, it /does/ happen that patents expire within a software's
lifetime. =8^) If they'd just make the lifetime of software patents
something more realistic in terms of average software life, say five years
or so, I have a feeling there'd be far less pressure to do away with them
entirely. Maybe that'll be what will actually happen, eventually, as the
forces for serious patent reform continue to mount. Of course, doing away
with software patents altogether would be better, but five years would
certainly be better than twenty -- probably /enough/ better to take the
pressure off of killing them entirely.
So when /do/ the MP3 patents expire? Anybody know?
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