Sigma Designs Still Violating Copyright

By TS | Thomas
Aug 25, 2002
  1. The following was posted on the Sigma Designs Newsgroup by Paul C. Bryan, presumably one of the XVID team

    The following is my correspondence so far with Sigma Designs regarding their apparent violation of the GNU General Public License, which constitutes a violation of the copyright of the authors of XVID.


    Date: Fri, 23 Aug 2002 16:05:24 -0700
    Subject: MPEG-4 Video Codec Source Code

    To whom it may concern:

    Thank you for making the source code to the REALmagic MPEG-4 codec available. As you are now aware, this is a required term of the GNU General Public License (GPL). I have downloaded the source code release ( from your website, and have concerns pertaining to the notices that appear at the top of the source files.

    In the top of the source files, there is a vague assertion that they are related to the XVID MPEG-4 video codec with the following statement:
    "This code inspired by the XVID MPEG-4 VIDEO CODEC".

    I have performed a side-by-side comparison between the above-mentioned REALmagic MPEG-4 codec and the XVID (xvid_snapshot_20020822.tar.gz) source code, and it is clear to me that the source files you published are not merely "inspired by" the XVID MPEG-4 codec, but are in fact derivative works.

    If this is true, then your source distribution appears on its face to be in violation of the GPL. Section 2(a) states: "You must cause the modified files to carry prominent notices stating that you changed the files and the date of any change." I could find no such notices of changes in the source files you released.

    I request you remedy this problem by ammending the source code files in accordance with section 2(a), so that this apparent violation can be corrected. Doing so is a legal requirement of the license you accepted by creating a derivative work of the XVID MPEG-4 video codec. Failure to adhere to the terms of the GPL constitutes a copyright infringment by Sigma Designs.

    You are clearly using and benefiting from the work of the authors of the XVID MPEG-4 video codec, yet you have hardly credited the development team for making this possible. I strongly urge you to consider to properly acknowledge the XVID development team. Please, give credit where credit is due.


    From: Tech Support <>
    Date: Fri, 23 Aug 2002 19:59:09 -0700

    Interested Parties concerning Sigma's MPEG-4 CODEC

    Thank you for contacting Sigma Designs and requesting information that relates to our MPEG-4 CODEC and the availability of its source code. We would like to take this opportunity to address the relevant issues that have been raised.

    To begin with, Sigma developed an MPEG-4 CODEC to assist in the proliferation of MPEG-4 content and to ensure that users can create content libraries compatible with the ISO MPEG-4 video specifications and its implementation in silicon. Fulfilling this goal was carried out in two steps. The first was the introduction of an MPEG-4 CODEC, provided free of charge, so that worldwide users could begin encoding new content. The second was the release of source code, so that the development community could continue with technical improvements. Sigma never intended in making, nor realized, any profits from this code base.

    Several weeks after the CODEC was first released, Sigma was contacted by the XVID development team regarding the use of certain portions of their code. Upon examination, it was determined that one of our programmers, unbeknownst to management and contrary to Sigma's policy, had utilized some routines posted by XVID as open source. During the past four weeks, Sigma had communicated with XVID to resolve the situation. As a result, Sigma has decided to make the current version of the MPEG-4 CODEC available under the GPL license.

    Sigma is a supporter of the Linux operating system, appreciates the work being done by the open source community, and continues to issue certain other code under open source arrangements. Though we believe that we have acted as expediently as possible, Sigma Designs sincerely apologizes to the open source community for this inadvertent use of GPL code and for the several weeks it took to resolve the situation.


    Ken Lowe
    Vice President of Business Development


    Date: Fri, 23 Aug 2002 21:42:33 -0700
    To: Tech Support <>
    Subject: Re: (no subject)

    Dear Mr. Lowe:

    Thank you for your prompt response to my message regarding the Sigma Designs REALmagic MPEG-4 video codec. I URGE YOU TO READ THIS MESSAGE CAREFULLY.

    In your response, you indicated that Sigma has decided to make the current version of the MPEG-4 video codec available under the GNU General Public License (GPL). This is indeed great news.

    You also alluded to the fact that the situation is now resolved. UNFORTUNATELY, THIS IS NOT TRUE.

    As I mentioned in my previous message, it appears that Sigma Designs is presently in violation of section 2(a) of the GPL. This section stipulates that any modifications to source code carry a prominant notice stating that you made changes and the date of the change. I can find no such notices in the REALmagic MPEG-4 codec source code.

    If true, then SIGMA DESIGNS IS STILL VIOLATING THE COPYRIGHT OF THE AUTHORS OF XVID. I strongly urge you to take action, by either ammending the REALmagic MPEG-4 video codec source code to adhere to section 2(a) of the GPL, or else stop distributing the REALmagic codec altogher.
    Either action will remedy your current violation of the GPL.

    Also, I urge you to give proper credit to the XVID development team in your source code. My comparison of REALmagic and XVID reveals that the Sigma source code is much more than "inspired by the XVID MPEG-4 VIDEO CODEC"; it is clearly a derivative of XVID and as such deserves proper acknowledgement to the original authors.

    Please, give credit where credit is due.
Topic Status:
Not open for further replies.

Similar Topics

Add your comment to this article

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...