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Can someone clear up the whole thing behind non-free and restricted? I am looking for a simple, honest "How is this ok" and "Is someone getting shafted out of their work because I am using their non-free/proprietary format that the owner/maker of the OS did not pay for, so the OS in its present state does not support it?"
I have read the statements about proprietary software (such as WAV and MP3) and basically want to be able to access my current files I have, like all my MP3's or watch DVD's and what not...but I don't want to do something morally wrong by downloading restricted drivers and stuff.
To you, it may not seem like a big deal, but I am speaking from terms of [I]actual/I] right and wrong, and not a "no one will ever know or care." Know what I mean Vern?
I have also heard that they are ok because they are being used for non-commercial use, but I have yet to find a real solid, easy to understand answer.
"Non-free" and "restricted" might be free as far as not having to pay for them is concerned, but not free in that they are closed source. Some people, on principle, will not use "non-free" or "restricted" stuff on a GNU/Linux system.
Just kidding (but not really). What are you trying to install to play mp3's, dvd's, et cetera? I use moc for mp3/ogg/flac/what ever, and mplayer to watch movies. You'll probably need libdvdcss2 to watch movies.
Restricted Formats" media does not not mean that they cannot be legally played. The formats and file systems may read by other means than their producers would care you to use, and encription may be illegal to break but not illegal to bypass. It is a question of patents, copywrite, contract law, trade secrets and binding agreements for the medium and the media in question.
The law and its interpretation varies also from country to country, although there are international agreements and treaties. Linux distributions often avoid restrictions and liabilities by not including players for proprietary media directly in their distributions, but having some information or link to sources where the neccessary packages are present. It is thereby the choice and responsibility of the individual to use them or not. There is in the U.S. the general doctine is that the owner of something has rights of use and disposition over what is owned despite the intentions and interests of other parties.
Restricted Formats" media does not not mean that they cannot be legally played. The formats and file systems may read by other means than their producers would care you to use, and encription may be illegal to break but not illegal to bypass.
I don't know what do you mean by "bypass". It's not like you have any choice. If something is encrypted you need to decrypt it to see it. There's no way to "bypass" or go around the encryption (other than getting an unencrypted copy of the contents, I don't know if that's what you mean).
The law and its interpretation varies also from country to country, although there are international agreements and treaties.
That's true. But the thing is not that trivial. When it comes to legal issues it never is. Even inside a given country, it all depends on the concrete case, the precedences if any, and the lawyer(s) you listen to/can pay... So, if the OP is really worried, he should ask to the lawyers on his country. As many as he can because probably there will be many different "buts" and "howevers".
That's the only sane recommendation I can give if you really care about legality, because in some countries patents are that insane that soon we will be sued for breathing.