(MPEG-1 patent status more complicated than FAQ implies)
Revision as of 13:49, 24 April 2009
MPEG-1 patent status more complicated than FAQ implies
The FAQ states "The MP3 and MPEG formats are covered by patents, and the patent owners have not released the technologies under licenses which are compatible with Fedora's requirements." MPEG formats covers quite a few different formats. MPEG-1 which includes MP3 (MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3) was first publicly documented with the ISO 11172 committee draft in December of 1991, which means that in the US at least, any patents would have to have been filed by December of 1992, and therefore (assuming that they got through the patent office in less than three years) would be all expired by the end of December of 2012 (all the patents that I have seen listed as applying to MP3 and for MPEG-2 that were filled by December of 1992 will have expired by December of 2012). The only part of MPEG-1 specification that I have seen patent claims on is MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3. MPEG-1 Video is quite similar to H.261 which is often described as patent free. MPEG-1 Audio Layers 2 and 3 are quite similar to MASCAM, which was described in "Low bit-rate coding of high-quality audio signals. An introduction to the MASCAM system" by G. Thiele, G. Stoll and M. Link, published in EBU Technical Review, no. 230, pp. 158-181, August 1988.
I think (and I am not a lawyer) that MPEG-1 Video and MPEG-1 Audio Layer 2 can probably be implemented today with no more patent risk (or possibly even significantly less patent risk due to age) than Ogg Theora and Ogg Vorbis. I have not found anyone able to name a single patent that would apply to this subset of MPEG-1. If both encoding and decoding could be done for this MPEG-1 subset, Video CDs could be fully supported (as they only use MPEG-1 audio layer 2) and DVD could be created since MPEG-2 is a superset of MPEG-1 (but not in general played). I have created some pages on wiki describing in much more detail everything I know about MPEG-1 patent status. Jrincayc 13:49, 24 April 2009 (UTC)