[whatwg] Google's use of FFmpeg in Chromium and Chrome Was: Re: MPEG-1 subset proposal for HTML5 video codec

Daniel Berlin dannyb at google.com
Tue Jun 2 18:29:04 PDT 2009

On Tue, Jun 2, 2009 at 8:20 PM, Chris DiBona <cdibona at gmail.com> wrote:
> Looping in Danny (in transit)
> On Wed, Jun 3, 2009 at 1:38 AM, Geoffrey Sneddon
> <foolistbar at googlemail.com> wrote:
>> On 2 Jun 2009, at 02:58, Chris DiBona wrote:
>>> One participant quoted one of the examples from the LGPL 2.1, which
>>> says "For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free
>>> redistribution of the Library by all those who receive copies directly
>>> or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it
>>> and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the
>>> Library."
>> I'm still unclear as to how this does not apply to Chrome's case. If I get a
>> copy of Chrome, you are bound (by the LGPL) to provide me with a copy of the
>> source ffmpeg, and I must be able to redistribute that in either binary or
>> source form.
Which you can.

>  I would, however, get in trouble for not having paid patent
>> fees for doing so.
No more or less trouble than you would have gotten in had you gotten
it from ffmpeg instead of us, which combined with the fact that we do
not restrict any of your rights under the LGPL 2.1, is the important

>  Hence, as that example concludes, you cannot distribute
>> ffmpeg whatsoever.
Not quite :)
Nowhere in the LGPL 2.1 are we required to grant you patent rights
that we may have.  We are only required to ensure any other licenses
we may have signed do not prevent us from distributing the library
under the terms of the LGPL 2.1, and that we place no further
restrictions on use/redistribution/etc of the Library than the terms
of the LGPL 2.1.

Note that the actual *clause* (not the example) in question says
"If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your
obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations,
then as a consequence you may not distribute the Library at all. "
It then gives the patent example as an example of when you could not
fulfill your obligations under the license.  The restrictive license
in the example falls afoul of this condition (part of #10): "You may
not impose any further restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the
rights granted herein."  Nothing in any licenses we have with other
parties imposes any *further restrictions* on the recipients who get
ffmpeg from us.  You get *exactly* the same set of rights and
obligations we got from ffmpeg.
As such, we can simultaneously satisfy our obligations under this
license (which again does not require us to pass along patent rights
we may have obtained elsewhere, it only requires we grant you the
rights you find in terms 0-16 and place no further restrictions on
you) and any patent licenses we may have, and do not run afoul of this

In short, the only thing this clause does is prevent you from getting
a license that restricts your ability to fulfill the obligations of
the other clauses of the LGPL, or would restrict the ability of those
downstream to fulfill their obligations.
No patent license we have does that.


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