Using FAAD in Play?

Discuss the development and future direction of Play.
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Maurits
Posts: 117
Joined: Sun Jan 29, 2006 1:36 pm
Location: London, Europe

Using FAAD in Play?

Post by Maurits » Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:35 pm

In this topic...
Paul Gotch wrote:
Maurits wrote:
sbooth wrote: Regarding gapless AAC, I'm not sure this is likely with the CoreAudio AAC decoder. Perhaps if I wrote my own AAC decoder (using faad?) this would be an option. Currently Play supports gapless for LAME MP3, Vorbis, FLAC, PCM formats, and Apple Lossless.
FAAD is actually a pretty decent decoder, when talking about features. It support more than just the AAC-LC profile that CoreAudio supports at the time. I believe there is some license controversy about it though. When the time comes to think about implementing it, I think we should have a separate topic on FAAD to discuss this.
I've just noticed that Foobar2000 0.9.4.3 (which uses FAAD2) can now handle iTunes encoded AAC gaplessly. However foobar is mostly closed source so I don't know if it's in the mainline FAAD2 code or if it's something that they have added to it.

Unfortunately Foobar using FAAD2 not under the GPL but by special agreement with Ahead Software under a different license which they don't disclose the terms of.

The problem with FAAD2 is that the copyright is owned by Ahead. They originally published it under the GPL then at some point in 2005 they modified the license such that it was a modified GPL that was incompatible with the GPL.

The problem is they added

** Software using this code must display the following message visibly in or
** on each copy of the software:
** "FAAD2 AAC/HE-AAC/HE-AACv2/DRM decoder (c) Nero AG, http://www.nero.com"
** in, for example, the about-box or help/startup screen.

to most of their files which represents an additional restriction over and above the GPL. So you could use it but you'd then have to license Play under a modified form of the GPL rather than the GPL itself.

At this point all the opensource projects using it forked using the prelicense change version which unfortunately has serious bugs in it.

There is also the slight point that apple foot the bill for patent licenses for AAC for the CoreAudio decoder.

(There is a whole side issue of if it's against the license to distribute GPL licensed software which requires a patent license to actually compile and use which makes my brain hurt.)

However I would recommend you don't touch FAAD2 with a bargepole.

I'll just have to convert all my FLAC to lame encoded MP3 for my laptop which sounds almost as good as AAC anyway.
I know the story. I don't see much trouble for Play to use FAAD. Either a fork or the latest 'regular' version with the added Nero blurb. Even the Free Software Foundation are in doubt whether Nero breaks the GPL license. As far as Nero is concerned they still release FAAD under the GPL. They are convinced they are not breaking the GPL.

* Copyright is no problem, the GPL could not even exist if it weren't for copyright.
* There are way bigger players everywhere that use FAAD and/or AAC, Play, being a player with a relatively small user base and free (as in beer), has nothing to fear.
* Compared to AAC, MP3 has a much stricter license, is more expensive to use, and has patent issues and rows all over. If there is anything to fear, it would be because Play handles MP3.

Paul Gotch
Posts: 23
Joined: Mon Oct 30, 2006 10:54 pm

Re: Using FAAD in Play?

Post by Paul Gotch » Tue May 01, 2007 1:47 am

Maurits wrote: * Copyright is no problem, the GPL could not even exist if it weren't for copyright.
I never said copyright itself was a problem.

To see the problem consider if you were writing an audio conversion daemon which had no GUI,no interactive command line and was accessed via a socket. In this case you could not comply with Ahead's terms that you "must" display their copyright notice in or on the software.

As far as I can see the FSF itself (as opposed to individuals that work for the FSF) hasn't ventured an opinion, in my limited experience they don't tend to get involved in anything that doesn't involve software they themselves have copyright on.
* There are way bigger players everywhere that use FAAD and/or AAC, Play, being a player with a relatively small user base and free (as in beer), has nothing to fear.
But Play is free as in Free. However Debian seem to be ignoring the issue at the moment for example

http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=419339

And they are usually even more zealous than the FSF.
* Compared to AAC, MP3 has a much stricter license, is more expensive to use, and has patent issues and rows all over. If there is anything to fear, it would be because Play handles MP3.
That's a different issue. That is a patent issue not a copyright issue. Currently play has no patent issue with AAC as it uses the CoreAudio AAC decoder and is covered by Apple's blanket license.

There was a tacit agreement not to sue for software MP3 decoders which was strong enough for even for Debian to allow decoders (but not encoders) into the main distribution. Alcatel-Lucent seem to have blown that out of the water recently though :/

However the FAAD2 issue is copyright license issue not a patent license issue.

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