Is having MP3 support on Ren'py even legal?

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Ivlivs
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Is having MP3 support on Ren'py even legal?

#1 Post by Ivlivs » Wed Mar 21, 2007 7:32 pm

I know that MP3, unlike Ogg Vorbis/Speex, requires a license to support.

http://mp3licensing.com/

Someone on some old thread said to just use Ogg Vorbis for the sound. However, the core programming for Ren'py, and therefore any game made with Ren'py, can still support MP3 files even though no actual MP3s are being used.

If the Fraunhofer Institute finds this little project, what are you going to do? Or did you actually license MP3 from them?

Technically, we can't really sell any of our games. Even the ones that do not directly use MP3s still have the inherent ability to support it thanks to Ren'py's structure. Unless we plan on selling only 5000, we'll have to pony up the cash to the Institute.

Even this free distribution may not be legal, since it can be construed as "selling for zero."

I'd hate to see good software like this get C&D'd.

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#2 Post by Laveil Kurtis » Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:02 pm

Ren'Py supports Ogg Vorbis.

It's unusual to see commercial games with MP3 because of the license. But think about the people who do their games without commercial purposes and don't know about Ogg or can't play them.

Lame MP3 is free, but as the name suggests, Lame Aint an Mp3 Encoder. But is a great tool used to make Mp3s.

And anyways, is easy to convert mp3 files into ogg files. They take much less space and sounds perfect.

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#3 Post by Misuzu » Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:04 pm

Though to the extremely picky, you do get some quality loss, as going from one lossy codec to another always results in quality loss to some degree.
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#4 Post by Ivlivs » Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:14 pm

Actually, LAME is an MP3 encoder:

http://lame.sourceforge.net/about.php

The site itself even suggests getting a patent license if you are going to use it in a product. I know that LAME itself is open source, but Fraunhofer owns the patent, so there is still the issue of licensing.

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#5 Post by PyTom » Thu Mar 22, 2007 1:00 am

Right now my policy is that I tend to follow the example of Debian and Ubuntu, as to what I'm willing to include or exclude for patent reasons. They're cool with including mp3 decoding, but not mp3 encoding, so I'm following their lead.

Debian is pressed onto CD and sold, as are its component programs. Ditto with Ubuntu. The libraries Ren'Py uses have been around for the better part of a decade, without problems.

Those are my thoughts on this, but I'd be interested in knowing what other people think. Mp3 decoding is present in two parts of Ren'Py:

- The music/sound playback code.
- The video playback code.

The former is easily format-replaceable, since we already support the superior ogg format. The video code is more problematic, since suitable replacements are harder to come by, usually have worse patent issues, and are often not playable on reasonable hardware.
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#6 Post by Ivlivs » Thu Mar 22, 2007 10:06 am

I never even thought of the video format.

But just in case though, is there a way to remove the MP3 support from our games, since this is what matters.

The licensing fees are clear, even for decoders:

http://www.mp3licensing.com/royalty/software.html
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2001/06/26 ... t_stroppy/

I heard from unreliable Wikipedia that they decline to enforce patent licensing fees on open-source developers, but the Guardian article seems to say otherwise.

Like I said before, if Fraunhofer finds Ren'py, this project is going to get hit with a cease-and-desist order. We shouldn't have to operate on the down low.

UPDATE:

ttp://www.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=02/08/29/1633205

This article states that MP3 can be used in freely distributable software, but not in software you plan to sell (though the accompanying comments contest this assertion.)

Unless there is a way to remove MP3 support from a game before release (since the mere existence of a decoder is all that matters; doesn't matter if you don't actually include any MP3s), you cannot, in practice, sell any games without paying Fraunhofer any royalties.
Dave Arland wrote:"We developed the technology in partnership with Fraunhofer. We license the technology. It is not free. It has never been free. We're not going to give it away. That's the way it is."
I think he made his point pretty clear.
Hypothetical MP3 fan wrote:"But you can archive your Ogg Vorbis music with the pictures, then remove the *.rpy files. This way, a game's music cannot be replaced with MP3; therefore, the game does not really support MP3 playback."
Yes, but all that matters is that an encoder is being distributed. Even if the software physically cannot play MP3s, it still has code in there that allows it to do that had the Vorbis files been MP3s.

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#7 Post by Enerccio » Thu Mar 22, 2007 10:56 am

I wonder how they will know that game is using mp3 when it will be in archives? And un-archive is illigal too :P
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#8 Post by PyTom » Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:40 am

Reading:

http://www.mail-archive.com/cooker@linu ... 72930.html

we have a post from the owners of the patents, that says:
To clarify, since the beginning of our mp3 licensing program in 1995,
Thomson has never charged a per unit royalty for freely distributed software
decoders.
I believe that Ren'Py, and especially the mpglib and smpeg decoders used as part of Ren'Py, count as "freely distributed software decoders". I believe that this is the case even if they are sold alongside a commercially-licensed game... the end user can always separate Ren'Py from the commercial part, and re-distribute it for free.

It's important to note that while mp3 _encoders_ have been the subject of a number of lawsuits, mp3 _decoders_ have not. Ren'Py only ships with decoders, so I think we're on reasonably safe ground here, especially given the permission written above, and that free mp3 decoders have been sold for years.

(Which is good, since I was getting a little worried.)
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#9 Post by ChXris » Sat Mar 24, 2007 10:49 pm

So, if i dont have my own music, and i use music of another artist/composer, i cant publish my game on the net? even if its free?
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#10 Post by PyTom » Sun Mar 25, 2007 1:02 am

ChXris wrote:So, if i dont have my own music, and i use music of another artist/composer, i cant publish my game on the net? even if its free?
Well, you can always have him convert the music to ogg, which should be free enough. While theoretically they are trying to license mp3 music services, I question the grounds under which they would be able to do so.

We always suggest that you either make the music in the game, find someone to make it for you, ask someone for permission to use the music, or find music that is free to use. We frown on taking someone's music without their permission, and including it in a game.
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#11 Post by ChXris » Sun Mar 25, 2007 4:51 pm

Well, you can always have him convert the music to ogg, which should be free enough [...]We frown on taking someone's music without their permission, and including it in a game.
In that case, i should start making my own music :? (Or change them to ogg format)

Its hard to find someone who makes music. I guess ill do it myself. Mid music is easy to create, anyway :) (i know it isnt supported, but i can change the format)

Thanks for the answer 8)
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#12 Post by Counter Arts » Mon Mar 26, 2007 6:37 pm

How about the video counterpart to Ogg... thedora was it?

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#13 Post by PyTom » Mon Mar 26, 2007 6:52 pm

Ogg Theora is an option which I may pursue in the future. It seems like a bit of work for a feature (video) which, frankly, noone is using.
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