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[LinuxDVD] Sigma Designs response to non-css info
Paul Volcko pvolcko@concentric.net
Thu, 1 Jul 1999 22:43:47 -0400 

I've been in touch with my contact at Sigma Designs and the initial 
reaction to releasing information and/or code for the Hollywood+ so 
that we'd be able to do MPEG-2 decoding and access the video 
outputs and whatnot, without CSS decryption information, was a 
resounding NO. The main reason (and one I hadn't really 
considered) is the stuff related to Macrovision. The second main 
reason was because of IP issues (they don't want to release code). 
Other reasons included:

No support structure.
Region code setting information is necessary even in non-css 
modes, information that they can't release due to NDAs with the 
DVD Forum.

This is a minor setback only, really. A hollywood plus is little more 
than a MPEG-2 decoder with some TV and VGA outputs (as well 
as some audio outputs). All AC3 and CSS happens in software. 
As such, we could just as easily try supporting some kind of 
mpeg2 card that information may be available for. I'll bring the 
issue up with this guy at Sigma Designs again sometime, but not 
immediatelly since there is little point in badgering him on this. I 
do suggest, however, that if you want to see support for linux 
coming from Sigma Designs that you send them email to the 
appropriate contact(s) on their web pages. The more they see 
people writing in, especially developers, the more likely we'll see 
timely linux support.

Paul Volcko
LSDVD Project

[LinuxDVD] Wrote to Sigma & Creative; Linux DVD as commercial app
Nothing like a bad decision says who you are robotech@eyrie.org
Fri, 2 Jul 1999 23:46:05 -0500 

Just thought I would mention...I wrote to Sigma Designs Tech Support
and asked them about Linux and the reply was:

> The Linux support is under study. We don't have any further
> information about it at this time.

followed by my entire message, quoted.

When I wrote, a few weeks ago, to Jacob Hawley at Creative
(jtaylor@creativelabs.com)--the guy who hired the Linux coder to do
the SB Live drivers, in regard to the SB Live drivers, I also happened
to ask if they would be doing DVD drivers for their DXR3 card.  He
said:

> As for DVD, we are working on a prototype right now.  Unfortunately
> we are a very small team and it may take us a while.  I have no
> estimate right now because we are also fighting a legal issue with
> the DVD Consortium, that may end up holding us up indefinitely.  If
> we can get the legal stuff taken care of then there may be a beta
> this summer.  Stay tuned...

> Thanks for your feedback, and keep the faith (Linux will rule the
> world someday)...

Personally, I don't care if the Linux DVD decoder/player is open or
closed source, just as long as it runs on my machine; I'd even be
willing to pay a $30-60 retail price for it as long as it had all the
functionality of your average Windows player.

That's been something I haven't seen in discussion on this list, by
the way--the idea of selling the program to help cover licensing
costs.  I have no doubt that this won't sit well with many Linux users
who feel that all Linux software should be free as in beer (which,
IMO, is one of the major obstacles that has always stood in the way of
Linux getting more commercial software, like games and productivity
suites), but let's consider this for a minute.

It seems obvious that this program is not going to be (completely)
open source, due to multiple legality issues (AC3, Dolby, Macrovision,
region-encoding, and so forth).  If it's not going to be open source,
and hence gain the great Bazaar-boost from everyone contributing to
it, it might as well go commercial or at least shareware to support
the Cathedral or quasi-Cathedral effort to build it.  If the program
went for as little as $10, and even 10,000 people bought it, that
would be $100,000--probably ample to pay off all the licensing fees.
(Given that most of the licenses mentioned thus far don't seem to
discriminate between commercial and noncommercial use, this might make
things a whole lot simpler.  IANAL, etc.)

I think that a lot of the people who want a Linux DVD app
_immediately_ would, like me, probably be willing to pay some amount
of money, if just for the convenience of not having to boot into
Windows to watch a movie.  You could even discount it or make it free
after the first year or two, thus letting the early adopters pay for
the brunt of the development--they're the ones who want it most
anyway.
-- 
Chris Meadows aka  | Co-moderator, rec.toys.transformers.moderated
Robotech_Master    | Homepage: 
robotech@eyrie.org | PGP:    
robotech@jurai.net | ICQ UIN: 5477383

[LinuxDVD] Wrote to Sigma & Creative; Linux DVD as commercial app
Paul Volcko pvolcko@concentric.net
Sat, 3 Jul 1999 01:20:03 -0400 

> Just thought I would mention...I wrote to Sigma Designs Tech Support
> and asked them about Linux and the reply was:
> 
> > The Linux support is under study. We don't have any further
> > information about it at this time.

They are having similar personal/resource issues as Creative 
seems to be having. They will not support anyone not hired on by 
the company to do the work, either, as they are an intellectual 
property based organization and don't want to open source 
anything. This is perfectly acceptable and I've been trying to make 
it clear to them that a non open source linux app is perfectly 
acceptable. That isn't the main issue here (but a nice bonus if it 
can happen in some way), as you point out below.

> Personally, I don't care if the Linux DVD decoder/player is open or
> closed source, just as long as it runs on my machine; I'd even be
> willing to pay a $30-60 retail price for it as long as it had all the
> functionality of your average Windows player.
> 
> That's been something I haven't seen in discussion on this list, by
> the way--the idea of selling the program to help cover licensing
> costs. I have no doubt that this won't sit well with many Linux users
> who feel that all Linux software should be free as in beer (which,
> IMO, is one of the major obstacles that has always stood in the way of
> Linux getting more commercial software, like games and productivity
> suites), but let's consider this for a minute.

The idea, I'm sure, has been considered within the teams working 
on their projects. I know it has been considered in mine. You 
have to keep in mind that many if not most of the people involved in 
these projects do not have the case required to start these kind fo 
projects in a commercial way. For instance, Dolby licensing is 
broken up into $5K up front (you get reference code, tech support, 
and the like). Once your implementation is tested okay, then you 
owe the rest, before you can sell a single piece of software. You 
then have another $5K/$5K split for the systems license. Thats 
$20K before you get to sell a single bit of product. 

In order for this to happen, I fully agree with you, that it will have to 
be "commercialized" in some way. Whether it is someone starting 
a company and getting financial support and making it happen or 
some team that gets a commercial Linux distribution to foot the 
licensing bill, I don't know. But it is becoming very clear that 
unless someone wants to fight some lengthy and expensive court 
battles with the likes of Dolby, MPEGLA, and the DVD Forum, 
there is not likely to be a free dvd application (open source or 
closed source isn't even an issue, it will be mostly if not entirely 
closed source). 

LinuxTV.Org ran a poll on their site to get a feel for the market for 
their product, I suspect. I'd be interested to know what the results 
of that poll were. 

> the Cathedral or quasi-Cathedral effort to build it. If the program
> went for as little as $10, and even 10,000 people bought it, that
> would be $100,000--probably ample to pay off all the licensing fees.
> (Given that most of the licenses mentioned thus far don't seem to
> discriminate between commercial and noncommercial use, this might make
> things a whole lot simpler. IANAL, etc.)

Again, there are major "upfront" costs involved (just for development 
and assuming free labor for programming it and putting together an 
online-only sales point). While $100K would cover licensing, it 
would only barely cover royalties. Assuming a software only dvd 
decoder and app, there are Dolby royalties and MPEG-2 royalties. 
There are no DVD Forum or CSS royalties involved. For a 
hardware solution you have to throw in Macrovision royalties as 
well and manufacturing costs and more expensive sales costs. 
$20-$30 for a minimal development and sales cost software only 
solution would probably be the lowest price one could reasonably 
expect.

> I think that a lot of the people who want a Linux DVD app
> _immediately_ would, like me, probably be willing to pay some amount
> of money, if just for the convenience of not having to boot into
> Windows to watch a movie. You could even discount it or make it free
> after the first year or two, thus letting the early adopters pay for
> the brunt of the development--they're the ones who want it most
> anyway.

I hope that you are right. If the market isn't there then this will not 
be happening in the near term, especially support and products 
from current industry players like Sigma and Creative Labs and 
others, will not be forthcoming.

Paul Volcko
LSDVD Project

PS - I support Open Source software entirely and consider it A 
Good Thing (tm), it is not my holy grail though. I see no reason 
why Linux should remain synonymous with Open Source and free 
software. Indeed, the current trend for corporate support of server 
level applications and services for Linux will hopefully bring the 
change around in a way that preserves the stability and technical 
superiority of Linux and it's apps while opening the Linux OS up to 
wide scale industry acceptance via profitable software sales and 
support. Linux and Open Source are two entirely seperate entities. 
While the former utilizes the later, the same is not true the other 
way around.

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