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I'd like to build and sell/or free a software based on ffmpeg and some other mp3 library lgpl, So I know in U.s.a. there's a patent and royalty problem,

But if I live in Europe I'd like to know if I can create software with mp3 encoder/decoder and mpeg decoder/encoder should I pay royalty? Or can someone (mp3/mpeg creator) put me in front a Court?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Feb 17 '11 at 12:35

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StackOverflow is not your lawyer. –  robert Feb 17 '11 at 12:24
    
Hello and welcome to StackOverflow! Note that while your question is somewhat related to programs, we are programmers, not lawyers (and certainly not your lawyers) - the legality of a given action may depend on many things such who you are, why you are doing it, when, where, how, what you intend to do with it, not to mention which specific libraries and licenses are involved. While we could take an educated guess, I would bet that it would be more harm than good, as we don't have much details, and I suspect most people don't have much experience with law either. –  Piskvor Feb 17 '11 at 12:25
    
This isn't a subjective question, and doesn't belong on programmers.se. It isn't really a programming question either. There is a Stack Exchange site called "Software Law" in the commitment phase, and if it makes it into beta this would be a suitable question there. Also, mention specifically which country you'd be living in and which you'd plan to distribute to. Laws aren't absolutely consistent over the EU. –  David Thornley Feb 17 '11 at 18:44
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

There are no software patents in europe, but copyright does exist. Redistributing someone elses code means you have to follow their license, which may mean paying royalties. OSS is probably ok, if you also distribute your sourcecode.

LGPL is also ok for commercial use, as are MIT and BSD licenses.

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Even "no software patents in Europe" is a risky statement; in fact, European software patents do exist, but are currently rather hard or impossible to enforce. –  user281377 Feb 17 '11 at 13:12
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@ammoQ: More accurately: they currently do not exist, but the European patent agency has been handing them out. Those patents are currently expensive but essentially worthless pieces of paper: they can't be enforced. If software patents ever do become possible in the EU those will probably be valid and immediately enforced. –  Kristof Provost Feb 17 '11 at 14:16
    
ok, so if I well understand I can make a code/encoder mp3 with Lgpl library without problem of law because here in europe fraunhofer patent are not valid (at this time) :)??? –  user17564 Feb 17 '11 at 14:30
    
Kristof: In general I think we agree, but how can you say "they do not exist" when the patent agence has been handing them out? –  user281377 Feb 17 '11 at 14:34
    
user17564: You should be aware that copyright is enforceable, so you should respect the lgpl license for the lib! –  user281377 Feb 17 '11 at 14:35
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LGPL permits you to redistribute and even make changes provided you maintain the LGPL for that portion of code you received and did not change, I believe.

Just be careful not to sell to any country that permits software patents. This is achievable through your own licensing agreement and probably some good faith effort not to sell to IP addresses coming from countries that permit software patents, however, IANAL, and you should consult a lawyer on exactly how to arrange things so you're not liable for infringement.

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