[FFmpeg-devel] Potential license violation in Google Chrome

Alex Converse alex.converse
Mon Jun 1 20:01:02 CEST 2009

On Fri, May 29, 2009 at 3:36 PM, niko <niko at ornia.hampshire.edu> wrote:
> In preparing for the upcoming boom of HTML5 <video> tag integration, it's
> fairly well-known that all major web browsers (except for IE) are planning
> on integrating patent-free Ogg Theora and Vorbis decoding support alongside
> the HTML5 spec. ?But I was just informed of an extra move by Google Chrome
> to implement H.264 decoding as well, using code from FFmpeg in a very fishy
> way that smacks of a license violation. ?The post in question is four posts
> into a thread which started by considering MPEG-1 PRF decoding (after
> confirmation of similar patent-free status) alongside Theora support, to
> which a Product Manager at Google admitted to including H.264 decoding in
> Chrome, and said:
> http://lists.whatwg.org/pipermail/whatwg-whatwg.org/2009-May/019994.html
> So three things pop to mind concerning potential violation of FFmpeg's
> license.
> #1: Assuming that Google got a license from MPEG LA or whoever to distribute
> H.264 decoding support in Chrome (doesn't surprise me, I'd imagine they'd
> rather get a license than transcode all YouTube and Google Video content to
> Theora/Vorbis), then this would make their distribution of FFmpeg stuff
> violating the LGPL because the license becomes non-transferable.

Assuming that they have an MPEG LA license is speculation.

> #2: From the post, it seems that Google is only distributing the FFmpeg bits
> in binary-only form with Google Chrome, as opposed to also including the
> source code in chromium (not sure why they choose to do this or what they
> are hiding). ?Dynamically loading the code at runtime is NOT an excuse, ask
> the FSF on that one.

They are including source code:

> #3: This is just speculation, but there may be GPL-violations on top of the
> LGPL ones. ?From the README file in the FFmpeg trunk: ?"The files
> libavcodec/x86/idct_mmx.c, libavcodec/x86/h264_deblock_sse2.asm, and
> libavcodec/x86/h264_idct_sse2.asm are distributed under the GNU General
> Public License" ?While these files are not *required* persay to implement
> H.264 decoding, if they are walking over the LGPL then it would not surprise
> me that they would not pay attention to the GPL either.

I can't find any evidence from the binary that these files are included.

> I'm not an FFmpeg developer, so hopefully those who are more knowledgeable
> about all of this can take a look at these three points and figure out
> what's what. ?It would be bizarre indeed if Google Chrome were to be added
> to the Hall of Shame, but hopefully we can take action on this before this
> development release of Google Chrome becomes stable.


Alex Converse

More information about the ffmpeg-devel mailing list