Re: [gst-devel] Re: Helix Player virtual team meeting

Hi Thomas,

Comments inline:

On Thu, 2003-12-11 at 02:59, Thomas Vander Stichele wrote:
> To clarify, the quote came from the terms and conditions that we get
> presented with when registering on the site.  The two licenses seem more
> or less fine as far as I can make out as a non-legal person.
> However, it seems that once you are ready to register and download code
> and what not, you get presented with a terms and conditions page
> (
> where the paragraph regarding ownership was lifted from.
> Now, both Julien and I have tried getting an explanation of what this
> paragraph means and why these terms are completely different from the
> two licenses.  In one mail you quoted parts from those two licenses, but
> Julien wasn't asking about those two licenses, he was asking about the
> terms of use.

My apologies.  I misunderstood your question.

Our intention with the Terms of Use was not to trump any of the other
agreements on the site.  In particular: "This Web Site may contain other
proprietary notices, licenses and copyright information, the terms of
which must be observed and followed by you. In the event of any conflict
between the license(s) applicable to content on this Web Site and the
Terms of Use, the applicable license(s) prevail."

Also, note: "If you submit code to the Helix Community via the Helix
Community patch process or other code submission process on the Web
Site, you agree to become a become a "Contributor" and submit your code
under the following terms (unless other terms are specifically provided
at the time you submit code)"

So, there are three possible things that can happen to things submitted
to Helix Community:

1.  You can explicitly state what terms you're submitting under
2.  You can sign a contributor agreement
which assigns joint copyright to RealNetworks while letting you keep
3.  The default is that the code you submit to us does belong to us.

I spoke to our legal staff about this, and we realize that we should
work on the wording of our site Terms of Use, so we'll try to make that
clearer in the next revision of the document.

> Let me repeat this part very clearly: we would like to know if the part
> quoted in the previous mail from the Terms of Use are valid, intended as
> written, and really mean that Real owns copyright on submitted code.  We
> can discuss other stuff all day long but without an answer to this I
> don't think you will get people going and submitting code.  So let's
> clear that hurdle first.
> > I'm not sure I see how this hurts a potential contributor.  Yes, we
> > could use their code in a proprietary product, but it's not like the BSD
> > situation where you can have total parasites who take from the
> > community, and never give back.  This is a special right granted to us
> > as contributors of the code....
> As said, it all depends on whether or not the Terms of Use are valid. 
> Start there.
> > it seems like reasonable quid pro quo to
> > me.
> Right, and I might agree to some level :) On the other hand, you're not
> trying to get you to develop.  You're trying us to get to develop :) So
> it needs to seem reasonable to us.
> > I'd be disappointed if a potential contributor turned away because they
> > dwell too hard on the rights RealNetworks gets rather than focusing on
> > the rights the contributor gets.
> When courting a community that has built their whole reason of existence
> around a legal invention that focuses on the rights each of the parties
> gets in using software, it would be naive to think that potential
> contributors would not dwell hard on the rights both parties get.

Fair enough.  However, I think we can justify the extra rights, and the
fact that we have extra rights doesn't take away from the rights the
community gets.  Moreover, the extra commercial rights we get allow us
to invest more in the code, which benefits everyone.

Let me paint a possible ironic outcome:  RealNetworks concedes on this
point, and removes the notion that we have full rights to do whatever we
want with submitted code.  We then move to the next issue: adding GPL as
an option.  Our response could very well be: "sorry, it's not
practical.  We'd have to get the permission of every single contributor

Having a single copyright holder to negotiate with is a benefit for the
community, too.

> I want the users of my framework to have access to them, not myself.

I guess if you want users of GStreamer to have access to RealAudio and
RealVideo, you'll need to go through the same expensive combination of
licensing and R&D that we did.  

You might be able to convince us to come up with a license for use with
GStreamer, but I'm not optimistic.  The challenge is that RealNetworks
wants the industry to standardize on Helix, and uses RealAudio and
RealVideo as incentives to move to Helix.

That's the bad news.  The good news is that we're willing to invest
heavily in Helix, and plan to build up a large industry-wide ecosystem
on top of Helix.  It already is a great hybrid of open source and
commercial licensing, and the more successful we are with it, the more
we'll invest.

> >  as well as access to a
> > number of open source codecs and datatypes (including Ogg Vorbis and
> > SMIL 2.0)
> Haven't checked SMIL recently, but Ogg Vorbis has been accessible long
> before Helix.

The combination of Ogg Vorbis and SMIL is very nice.  It already allows
for perfect synchronization of JPEG, GIF, or PNG slide with Ogg Vorbis
audio.  With the transition effects and the panning that's available,
the Ken Burns-style documentary is well within reach.

> > So we are asking for contribution, but we're contributing in turn.  Not
> > merely with more development, but in acquiring patent licenses,
> > developing for other platforms, making business deals to get more open
> > source contributors, etc.  We're making the licensing as liberal as we
> > can, while still ensuring we can run our business in parallel.
> This makes perfect sense to us.  This is also where we are very
> interested.  I believe it was Bruce Perens who was quoted as saying the
> crown jewels were missing from the Helix initiative.  

Bruce doesn't get how valuable Helix is, independent of the codecs.

> I agree with him. 
> How hard can it be to
> a) make binary-only codecs freely available without clickthrough license

Very.  We have very specific licenses to our codecs, and we're
contractually bound to specific terms.  Moreover, as stated above, we
don't make money on codecs.  We *pay* money for codecs.  We make money
off of Helix, so we want people to use Helix.

> b) write a GPL/BSD/Real License/... API and library for using them

So that you don't have to use Helix?  And why would we do that if our
goal is for you to use Helix?

> I'm assuming Helix does b) fine at this point, but I'm not going to
> accept the terms of use presented to me on the site as a potential
> contributor without some explanation.

I hope my explanation helps.  As I said, we would like to revise our
site Terms of Use.  Our legal staff is booked up for a while, but we
plan to get to it early next year.  In the meantime, I hope my
explanation above clears things up.

Rob Lanphier, Helix Community Coordinator - RealNetworks

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