[Matroska-general] Re: Matroska in closed source products

Hauke Duden H.NS.Duden at gmx.net
Fri Dec 5 00:21:35 CET 2003

Hi Christian,

thanks for your quick reply, especially the in-depth explanations you 
gave and the suggestions you made. It gave me a much better 
understanding of our possibilities.

> However, you have to understand that the main reason for not giving the 
> libraries away to anybody with a much weaker license form, is not 
> because we dont want matroska to be supported in closed source apps, but 
> because in the present situation of the project we want to have as much 
> control as possible on apps that are CREATING matroska files, to avoid 
> incompatibilities and frustration of the users, at least until the 
> format has become widely adopted.

Just a few thoughts on that. I do not quite understand how NOT providing 
a library will help you achieve your goal of fewer incompatibilities. 
Ignoring the workarounds you mentioned at the end of your email for a 
moment, it seems to me that if the libraries are not available you force 
closed source developers to follow one of two paths:

1) Not support Matroska. That may or may not be what you want, depending 
on how much you advocate "pure" open source software. I do not know 
enough about the Matroska developers to take a guess here, but your 
response seems to indicate that you do want your format to be supported.

2) Implement Matroska support on their own. The consequence would almost 
certainly be that there would be more incompatibilities and different 
types of files, possibly even with vendor-specific "extensions".

Now about the workarounds:

> 1. Plugin System : The most easiest way to overcome the opensource 
> problem is via a player specific 'plugin' .

Our player already uses a plugin system, so this is quite interesting. 
We also have a DirectShow plugin for our player, so using a Matroska 
DirectShow Filter would be even easier. However, if I read the license 
correctly then we would not be allowed to distribute such a plugin 
together with our player, correct? I was hoping to add Matroska to our 
list of standard file formats that work out of the box.

> 2. New C library from BBB : Ronald 'BBB' Bultje has made a new library 
> in C, not C++ like libmatroska/libebml, so that maybe one day matroska 
> may get supported in FFMPEG/libavformat. The license for this library is 
> L-GPL, so this allows use in closed source programs also, as long as you 
> make the code for the library itself available, and even via a link in 
> your documentation.

That could be the perfect solution. I'll take a look at that library, 
see if it fits our needs. Thanks for pointing me to this!

> 3. If 2. is no option for you, and you absolutely cant build matroska 
> support based on a plugin, then as a last option we might be able to 
> license you on the code. We already have such a request from another 
> closed source program, and are admittedly a bit late in getting a proper 
> license agreement into a written form, and signed by all developers 
> involved in the making of the 2 libs.

Is there an ETA on when to expect the new license? Are we talking about 
weeks or months? If the standard library could become a viable option 
for us in the near future, then I'll put the decision of whether to use 
the LGPL C-lib or the standard C++ library on hold for a while, until 
you've worked out that new license.

Thanks again for your suggestions!


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