Image Processing Reference
You could choose to just put your software in the public domain, without any copy-
right attached at all. This allows anyone to share the code. It also allows commercial users
to appropriate the code and profit from it without paying you a cent.
The GNU project aims to give users the ability to redistribute and change GNU soft-
ware, at the same time preventing commercial exploitation from stripping the rights from
In order to “copyleft” a program, it is first copyrighted. Then distribution terms are
added to give everyone the rights to use, modify, and redistribute the code. These rights
are inherited by any derivative product.
The term copyleft was coined because it does the opposite of copyright. Copyright
takes freedom away from end users; copyleft gives those same freedoms back again and
ensures that users get to keep them.
The specific distribution terms used by the GNU project are enshrined in the GNU
General Public License, or GNU GPL for short. A similar licensing mechanism exists for
manuals and documentation and is called the GNU Free Documentation License (FDL).
Can We Ever Make Money from This?
End users are open to being convinced of the need for digital rights management provided
it allows them to legitimately enjoy the products they have purchased. A certain amount
of fair use must be allowed. I believe that people are generally honest and understand the
concept of a fair reward for the effort put in.
The system must be robust enough to prevent massive copyright infringements by
pirate duplicators without making the general public out to be criminals as well.
If you intend to do any encoding for profit, in particular encoding products to be
replicated and sold on a retail basis in quantity, check all of the small print. This includes
reading the encoding licenses for your tools in addition to knowing that you have done
your research and ensured that you have the rights to use any source material. You must
know where you stand at the outset rather than discovering a liability later on when you
have a successful product. The standards documents may include an annex listing the IPR
holders that are relevant. Search out any license holders and patent pools for details of
how to obtain clearance or to find out whether you are exempt. In the end, you may find
no license is necessary.
DRM systems are still in a constant state of flux and are likely to continue like that for
some time. The main focus is on securing audio formats at present. If this is accomplished
effectively, securing video formats should not take as long. At this time, no one can predict
the delivery of a reliable and completely satisfactory solution. It could take another 10 years
to reach a workable compromise.
GNU Copy Left initiative: http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/copyleft.html