I’ve read an interesting post of Hubert Figuiere tonight in Planet GNOME, and I’d like to leave a couple of comments about that.
While I don’t want to comment on Fluendo’s release, that already got some legal debate coverage and RMS’s attention while discussing GPLv3, I’d like to concentrate on what people don’t actually see about it.
Actually, Figuiere got the right wording the first time: “Christmas Present to the Linux community”, but then, he repeated it wrong: “a USD$50,000 gift to the open source community” it is not a gift to opensource community. It might be considered a gift to the Linux Community, not to the Linux Open Source Community, not to the Linux Free Software Community, it’s Linux or Linux Proprietary Community, because at the end of the day, the MIT license under which the sources are released is yet another patent’s trap; by all means that plugin is proprietary software.
Actually, one should change that again, it’s not yet a gift to the whole Linux Proprietary Community… it’s a gift to the Linux Proprietary x86 and x86_64 Community. Linux is not limited to those architectures, but all the rest of architectures can’t use it at all (building it from MIT sources? why should anybody? it can’t be considered the same of the binary version, it won’t have the same reasoning behind of the binary version, and while libmad might be flaky sometimes, it does exists since long time and it’s GPL-2).
It can’t be considered a generic gift to the Open Source Community because that plugin can run only on Linux, no *BSD at all.
And improving the MIT-licensed code will just make proprietary software better, not Free Software better at all… I think time can be better employed by using non-patent-covered formats and their support in true Free Software.