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Why do many distros offer NO mp3 support from scratch? I installed Kubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn and was apalled to find out that I had to connect to the internet to download the updates (and the mp3/video codecs) Is there an especific reason for this, because Ubuntu Ultimate and Musix offer mp3 support right from the start! Thank you for your time...and your answers.
It's not appalling. If anything its a miracle we can even legally use them. Because mp3 technology (and most video formats) are patented and non free. (see fsf playogg campaign for a better explanation)
Some Ubuntu "spins" include libraries capable of Mp3/Video playback from installation. I believe "Linux Mint" is one of them.
Also, because I assume you are a Windows user. How does windows media player or windows itself retrieve new codecs? You connect to the internet for them. Much like Kubuntu. There's no difference there right?
Last edited by Xel'naga666; 09-23-2007 at 11:18 AM.
Reason: Some corrections needed.
But basically the owners of the patent on mp3 decided to require licenses due to their patents. In the US software patents are generally used and accepted even though the Supreme Court hasn't ruled that software is patentable (as opposed to copyrights which definitely apply).
Companies significant enough to be sued either avoid the issue (as you experienced), pay for it (as I believe but could be wrong is true of the special version of ubuntu you mention), or are able to work out of a country where patents on software are not enforceable.
The US by the way is far from the worst on software patents.
Another strange thing about this is that it was an MPEG specification before it was patented. Thompson (RCA) just owns the company who was first to implement it.
About the only good patent I've heard of was on a "Moebius ball" (A "ball" made up of several rings, each ring going through every other ring). patented simply so that no large company can start to make their own, and the chainmailling community can go about making them no problem.
Originally, the owners of the MP3 rights allowed people to use MP3s without cost, but it was never a free standard in the full sense.
Then, controversially, they decided that had got the world hooked on their IP and felt that they could get away with charging. For people who charge for their products, it is easy enough (not necessarily what they had wanted, but easy) to factor in a small license fee going elsewhere and price their product to the end user appropriately. For someone who is going to give you something for zero cost, it is more difficult to factor that license fee to someone else, and have your business model stay intact...
So why isn't everybody using the superior and free Ogg/Vorbis setup? Well, MP3 was shiny, here, now and, at that time, zero cost. No one got worried about freedom until they had realised that their mp3 suppliers had pulled the old heroin dealer trick of giving out the first hit for free and, of course, by then they were hooked bad. And its not even too apparent today if you buy a commercial product and they hide from you the fact that you a paying a percentage to the rights holders.