Ubuntu Linux: Legal Codecs and DVD Playback For All Users

by on September 19, 2008 · 10 comments· LAST UPDATED September 19, 2008

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In the United States and many other countries, companies or developers or manufacturers must pay patent royalties to use an MP3 player or MP3 Encoder or Windows movie decoders. There is also conflicts between patent licenses and the licenses of application source code, so mp3 support is not provided out of box. This has been done for legal reasons. Now, Canonical (parent company for Ubuntu) offering proprietary Codecs for Ubuntu Linux. From the blog:

For the first time we are making codecs for media playback and a DVD player, from our partners at Fluendo and Cyberlink, available through the Ubuntu store. We have had relationships with these companies for a while and to date we have offered their products to our hardware partners as pre-install options.

Now though, we are making them available to all users. It is important to us that no matter how you choose to access Ubuntu, pre-installed or as a free download, that you can have a similarly rich experience. The vast majority of our current users will have installed Ubuntu themselves. These users should also be allowed legal DVD and media playback and so we have built a way of letting them do this.

This is available for both supported and freely downloaded version.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ciacob September 20, 2008 at 10:07 am

…Which is just great :)

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2 Ali Ross September 22, 2008 at 11:10 am

Yes, this *is* great. I can see a lot of newbie users breathing a great sigh of relief over this, as to newcomers to Linux often there is a notion that Linux is ‘inferior’ because ‘it doesn’t support MP3/DVD out of the box’. Great to dispel this untruth.

However, this article doesn’t state how Canonical/Fluendo/Cyberlink got round this issue. Does this mean that Canonical are now paying the royalties for the necessary codecs? If so, that’s generous, but how long can they manage to finance such a deal?

-Al

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3 Stephen September 23, 2008 at 11:30 pm

$40 USD seems like a lot of money to license a few codecs. I think it’s a good idea to give people he option, but the price is far too high.

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4 leamanc September 24, 2008 at 5:57 am

Ali Ross,

If you click through the link,you will see that these codecs are being sold through Ubuntu’s store for £ 12.28 (MP3/Windows Media) or £ 19.66 for “Complete Playback” (same as the other one plus other codecs and DVD playback.

Legal issues aside though, I would still prefer to use Ubuntu’s existing “restricted” multimedia codecs. Ubuntu covers itself legally by not including them with the distro, forcing end users enable the repositories where they exist.

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5 Ali Ross September 24, 2008 at 8:11 pm

Ahh, this article did not make that major rather fact apparent.

In this case, I don’t see this as a major advance by Canonical at all, in fact almost the opposite. It’s just another way to generate revenue. The fact that you still have to download it post-install is no better either. The article made it sound like the next version of Ubuntu was coming with DVD and MP3 support, and Canonical were footing the bill somehow. If you have to use your brain, go to the ubuntu shop and buy it, then download and install it, then I can’t see how that’s going to bring new users to Linux. It’s still an un-necessary un-user friendly hassle. The more experienced Linux users won’t care about this, but for the new users which Ubuntu caters for so well, this is not good.

I do hope that they will continue to provide DVD/MP3 support via their restricted repositories also, as I certainly won’t be paying this amount of cash for something I can get for free in Windows – even although I’m kinda paying for it with Microsoft’s EULA.

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6 chris July 7, 2009 at 2:47 am

Please don’t forget, folks, that using “restricted” codecs w/o paying a royalty is stealing. cut-and-dried!

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7 monteyfisk September 26, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Do you work for the MPAA Chris? The MPAA already got paid when I purchased the DVD, the DVD-ROM drive, the laptop that came preinstalled with Windows and Cyberlink PowerDVD software. Tell me EXACTLY how anyone (who is not an idiot) could possibly see it as “stealing. cut-and-dried” if I don’t pay them yet again if I want to watch my DVD on a second partition where I have installed Linux on the same laptop.

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8 Patrick April 6, 2010 at 4:26 am

i noticed there is not much competition for linux dvd player software, yet there are many countries that have many linux users. Most countries are allowed to play movies using open source software which is claimed to give enough room for copying movies. If there were free closed source dvd players for linux than recording industries may be able to push more countries into stopping distribution of software that readily plays any region without any restrictions. If enough countries got involved with this, there wound be less of a need for regions and potentially more money for them if the idea of open source software is such a bad thing. Otherwise it seems like there is more of a potential that the MPAA is only about using lawyers to annoy and discourage customers from buying their products instead of trying to create solutions that might actually be more appealing to their customers. What is the point in watching the movies of the companies that seem more geared towards making their customers hate them? Im sure this is not their intention, but that is what results from a long list of issues that seem geared only towards punishing their source of money.

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9 vishalbandre March 21, 2011 at 5:02 am

Where is codecs download link , other information was helpful for me @

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10 Joe July 18, 2011 at 11:44 pm

The MPAA looks at it this way:
You are not buying the product. You are buying permission to view the product with severe pre-set limitations, which are determined and subject to change by the owner at any time for any reason with no notice or notification whatsoever. 1. You do not own the product. 2. The owner of the product has the right to demand return of the product, for any reason, at any time, with or without refund (more likely without). 3. You may not use the product other than the manner in which the owner deemed fit. 4. You may not redistribute, share, loan, or in any way allow any other person to use the product, even if they have already purchased the product in question. 5. The product may not be resold to another party at any time other than by the owner.
FYI…. you are not the owner… the record label or producer of the film is the owner.

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