[FFmpeg-devel] Searching for a ffmpeg BCLO (bastard chief legal officer)

Diego Biurrun diego
Mon Mar 10 19:11:44 CET 2008

On Thu, Mar 06, 2008 at 12:21:57AM +0100, Diego Biurrun wrote:
> On Wed, Mar 05, 2008 at 05:10:36PM +0100, Diego Biurrun wrote:
> > On Wed, Mar 05, 2008 at 01:24:52AM +0100, Michael Niedermayer wrote:
> > > On Wed, Mar 05, 2008 at 01:13:22AM +0200, Ivan Kalvachev wrote:
> > > > 
> > > > Have you contacted Software Freedom Law Center?
> > > 
> > > No, I thought diego wanted to do this?
> > 
> > This slipped through the cracks somehow, mail sent.
> I'll talk to them on the phone on Monday.  It's very refreshing to deal
> with a lawyer that does not top-post :)

So, I've just been on the phone with Dan Ravicher.

Executive summary: It all sounds very good.

They are willing to accept us as clients and would in fact welcome
taking us on as clients.  They have different modes of operation
that we could choose from:

1) The SFLC can handle licensing violations from start to finish like
   they do for BusyBox.  The BusyBox devs just forward all reports of
   licensing violations to them and they take it from there.

2) They can step in and take over when negotiations get stuck or do
   not proceed satisfactorily.

The latter is what Michael favored.  If we have somebody willing to
handle initial contact/negotiations, this could work out.

The SFLC works completely pro-bono.  There would be no costs to us.  If
their clients allow this, they try to recover their expenses from the
license violators, if their clients do not want this, they don't.
According to their client's wishes they can also try to get damages from
the license violators.  Again, if their clients do not want this, they

Dan's personal recommendation is to demand reimbursements for costs
and/or damages.  If the only punishment for failing to comply with the
license is to get compliant, you might as well wait for the demand
before you invest the time to become compliant.  It's also unfair to
those who do make an effort to respect licenses from the start.

Since FFmpeg is not a formal entity, the SFLC would have to represent
one or more individual developers.  Best suited are devs that hold
copyrights over substantial portions of the code.

All in all I think this sounds almost too good to be true, we should
definitely go for it.

Remember that I'm summarizing from memory here, so I might have forgotten
or misrepresented some things.  Shoot forth any questions you might have.


P.S.: The SFLC also provides other services, like the Software Freedom
Conservancy, which we might want to look into in the future:


But that's for the future, the license violations are the most pressing

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