Why can RedHat distribute software codecs?

I just saw this article on Phoronix: https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Fedora-31-Better-AAC-H264

Is there any risk for Fedora/RedHat in enabling users to acquire these codecs? Can Intel also enable these for users of Clear Linux*?

(I know this issue is brought up often but I still don’t understand why RedHat can do this and Intel can’t)

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As I understand it, the patented codecs can be licensed or used with permission. Otherwise, they can be used as “non-officially” supported. With users building ffmpeg for example, they assume the liability for using the patented codec not Intel.

this next release of Fedora Linux continues to improve the experience for proprietary multimedia codecs where the patents have lapsed. (emphasis mine, from the Phoronix article)

This is what I don’t understand. If the patents have lapsed, there shouldn’t be an issue. IBM/Red Hat is arguably just as “public” as Intel. I doubt they would implement support for these codecs if there would be any chance of litigation against them. Fedora 31 is officially supporting AAC OOTB and easily allows users to enable a repository with an open implementation of an h264 decoder. If this was illegal redistribution, I doubt Fedora developers would push this through.

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It might just be that IBM or Red Hat had previously licensed the AAC codec. After some research, I still think that the distribution from a company such as Intel or even IBM would be an issue if they are not licensing the codec.

Some thoughts here:

The question is in the wrong location. You should ask Redhat, or, Fedora, or IBM. They are unlikely to be able to give you an answer here. :slight_smile:

Second, it doesn’t really matter much because the Clear Linux OS team will have to abide by their own rules as well. These rules are probably different, and people have given obvious factors already that may cause the end result to be different.

Nonetheless, we’ll certainly evaluate everything and continue to try and improve the situation around codecs for Clear Linux OS users. It’ll take time, though.