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Java Programming

Java Media Framework Drops MP3 186

realinvalidname writes "Sun had stopped downloads of its Java Media Framework about a week ago due to an undisclosed 'licensing issue.' Now we know what it is, as they've removed MP3 encoding and decoding from the JMF that's downloadable now. Of course, this isn't surprising given recent news about new MP3 licensing terms."
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Java Media Framework Drops MP3

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  • Re:Oh (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Com2Kid ( 142006 ) <> on Monday September 02, 2002 @12:03AM (#4182467) Homepage Journal
    Next time, when you post a story that's clearly going to cause paranoia and misunderstanding, try to be a bit more adult about it.

    Take all the fun outa reading /. now wouldn't it? Yee freakin gads, if a person just checks /. for all their news then yah they are gonna be screwed.

    Then again, err, /. has a comments section, want more info/discussion on/about a story? Go to comments. Oh look, you are already there, congrats.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 02, 2002 @12:05AM (#4182476)
    Um..try reading what the License says, not what a suit says. Remember when push comes to shove that's what Thompson and a court of law will be going by.

    Besides why take out the passage from the license if it already agrees with a policy?
  • Confusion.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MortisUmbra ( 569191 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @12:09AM (#4182485)
    I thought it was already decided that the "changes" weren't new at all to the MP3 license terms.... I could be wrong though but thats what I thought the follow-up said....
  • Re:Unfortunate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 02, 2002 @12:10AM (#4182486)
    The problem with Sun "donating" the licenses is that commercial products using JMF would normally be required to pay for the encoder. Say, a portable MP3 player running on an embedded Java platform. Sun is not in a position to say who will be using the codec in an acceptable way and who won't. So the only solution they have is to drop the distributed support. They had a similar situation a while back with the Java Cryptography Extension.

    All's not lost, however. JMF is a pluggable API, after all. Commercial products can make their own arrangements, while a freely-distributable codec could be made (by someone else) which can just be dropped in.

    As for Ogg... give them a bit of time. It's easier to remove something (especially for legal reasons) than it is to put a replacement in. If you can't wait, write an Ogg codec for JMF and everyone using JMF will be able to drop it in and take advantage of it. :)
  • Re:Unfortunate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by plierhead ( 570797 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @12:15AM (#4182499) Journal
    Sun couldn't donate the license fees unless they struck a bulk deal with Thomson - they'd leave themselves wide open to someone downloading billions of copies of the JMF with the meter ticking for each one.

    This does suck though, the JMF is a really nice framework, we built a servlet that played MP3s through the office stereo system using it.

    The weird thing though is the disconnect here between Thomson, who claim the licensing rules have always been clear, and Sun, the sort of company who you would think would not embed someone else's IP unless they were very clear on the licensing issues. Sounds like Sun was very stupid and Thomson was very cunning.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 02, 2002 @12:15AM (#4182502)
    which still has the patent issue, which may well invalidate the project being GPL.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 02, 2002 @01:20AM (#4182624)
    You'll notice that the statement by Thompson is one of policy, not license text. Thompson can change that policy at any time, since it amounts to non-enforcement of their rights to collect on the patent.

    Depending on the 'kindness of corporate strangers' with regards to just how long they will continue this non-collection policy seems a bad idea for anyone writing decoders.
  • JOrbis (Score:4, Insightful)

    by harmonica ( 29841 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @01:45AM (#4182661)
    JOrbis [] is a GPL'ed Ogg decoder. Maybe the developers and Sun can work something out to reuse that code (GPL probably won't be OK with Sun for JMF).
  • by Citizen of Earth ( 569446 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @02:52AM (#4182759)
    "Thomson has never charged a per unit royalty for freely distributed software decoders. For commercially sold decoders - primarily hardware mp3 players - the per-unit royalty has always been in place since the beginning of the program,"

    We have always been at war with Eurasia.
  • Re:Unfortunate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @03:15AM (#4182826) Homepage
    sounds like Sun was very stupid and Thomson was very cunning.

    Or that Thomson is plain lying about the licensing rules having always been clear.

    Given the recent change and the furor it generated, I'm inclined to the latter view myself.
  • by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 ) on Monday September 02, 2002 @04:20AM (#4182974)

    The page you linked to states explicitly that MP3 decoders are not necessarily subject to per-unit royalties: either pay a per-unit fee ($0.75) or a one-time royalty of $50 000. Pay the latter, and you're covered for any number of decoders shipped.

    That's all nice and fine. However, it misses the point.

    The attention came from a change to the license; specifically the removal [] of an exemption for software players/decoders distributed free of charge. And I believe THAT exclusion came about in responce to some concern over the license several years ago - although I might be remembering that wrong.

    If Thompson's agent was saying something along the lines of "we changed our license - its our technology and we can do that. Pay up or stop using our stuff" then fine. Or even if the rep had claimed it was all a mistake... a simple oversight... and the license was modified to include the origional exclusion, then even better. But that's not what is going on here.

    The license has changed. It is a very distinct and important change to the development community. And it is the very kind of change that a project like Ogg Vorbis has been created to handle.

    Meanwhile, there is a PR representative demanding that everybody ignore that license behind the curtain. And, of course, he also insists that any attention on this matter is not a responce to their own actions (changing their license) but a devious mud-slinging campaign by the Ogg Vorbis group.

    And an anonymous poster/shrill attempting to further Thomson's story while ignoring the contrary evidence included in the very article he/she mentions.
  • by alienw ( 585907 ) <alienw.slashdot@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday September 02, 2002 @09:51AM (#4183669)
    The attention came from a change to the license; specifically the removal [] of an exemption for software players/decoders distributed free of charge.

    The real reason they removed that exemption is so that players such as Winamp, which are commercial but distributed free of charge, have to pay a license fee. If you formally list an exception for free decoders, they wouldn't have to do that, because they technically are free (even though they are made by a large corporation and are supposed to make money). Also, pretty much anyone would be able to have an MP3 decoder in their application (even if it costs money) by shipping it separately free of charge. It's a gaping loophole. So, Thomson now is saying that the fees still apply to everyone, although Thomson is not enforcing them for what they consider free decoders. If you show me one free project that has gotten a cease-and-desist letter from Thomson, then I'll believe you. As it is, it does look like a Vorbis publicity stunt.

    I highly doubt that Thomson will ever start cracking down on free, open-source decoders, because it just doesn't make any business sense. Besides promoting Ogg Vorbis, it would also generate bad publicity for them and the MP3 format, while not earning them a single cent in extra revenues.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato