Linux and Legality/Illegality of Multimedia Codecs

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by blink56k, Jul 24, 2006.

  1. blink56k macrumors member


    Apr 19, 2006
    Rita Repulsa's Moon Palace
    Hey all...maybe a Mac forum isn't exactly the most ideal place to post this, but I 've seen many Linux heads around this nick of the woods, so here it goes:

    I've been messing around with Linux for almost a year and one of the most common complaints people have is the general abscence of multimedia readiness distros have out of the box (which of course can be easily alleviated by a little tweaking or simply using distros like MEPIS or Linspire).

    In the case of Ubuntu, one downloads multimedia codecs by using things like EasyUbuntu/Automatix and/or enabling disabled repositories, which of course tends to be illegal in the United States due to patents and such.

    Now my question is, by illegal do they mean it's illegal for the distros to include these codecs by default or that it's illegal for the user to download and use them?

    Will I have RIAA-like organizations knocking at my door for downloading these codecs (ok, that's a bit paranoid, but how is it hypothetically enforced)?

    Also, distros like Ubuntu only include free (as in freedom) software by default because they don't want to get in that sort of legal trouble. However, if that's true, how come multimedia-ready distros like PCLinuxOS and MEPIS haven't gotten into said legal trouble?
  2. benthewraith macrumors 68040


    May 27, 2006
    Miami, FL
    I'm pretty sure it's only applicable to those that upload them (the people that distribute the codecs). No, you aren't going to have RIAA jerks breathing down your back (god I hate the RIAA).
  3. Queso macrumors G4

    Mar 4, 2006
    As I understand it, it more to do with codec licensing. The organisations that own the codecs expect those who distribute them to pay a license fee. Linux suppliers would have to pay these license fees were the codecs to be included, which would mean that Linux would have to be charged for.

    As to the legality, the MP3 codec (for example) is free for users, just not hardware and software suppliers. So it's unlikely you will ever get prosecuted, but those repositories may get targetted at some point.

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