This just came in last night through the OSFlash and Red5 mailinglists. A company called Struktur AG based in Germany put out a tender for an Open Source implementation of the Nellymoser Asao codec that is used in the Flash Player. They pay up to $6000 for a succesfull implementation. According to Nico Gulden, who sent out the email:
"The idea is comparable with the Google Summer of Code. LiSoG wants toconnect skill, ideas and money to support the development of certain features in Open Source Software. The Linux Solutions Group e.V. (LiSoG) is an association founded in March 2005 with the goal to promote linux based business. With its
business orientation and its cross-national approach it has an unique
position in the German-speaking area."
Obviously, legal questions arise, but Niels Mache from Struktur replies on the mailinglist:
"...the question addresses potential license issues or copyright/patent infringements. Struktur as the principal of the open source implementation of the codec will be fully responsible for potential legal issues. The contractor will be exempted from legal responsibility.
It may be uncommon to implement a proprietary algorithm as open source but it is not in reality. There are many examples of proprietary (and patented) software with co-existing, OS software equivalents. Some examples are DES, DSA(?), GIF, JPEG, MPEG-1/2/4, MP3, Quicktime etc.
Please note our situation in Europe. Algorithms can not be patented by the
patent law in Europe. This is also the (current) legal situation with software.
OS implementations of proprietary "whatsoever software applications" are just
normal. However, Nellymoser ASAO is not patented. If so, the implementation would
be obvious. The algorithm would have been described in detail as part of the
There has been lots of talks on the choose of Macromedia to go for a closed-source audio codec in the Flash Player. Stefan Richter says the following about it:
"For those who don't know: Nellymoser is the name of the audio codec that is used when you record audio via the Flash Player (and subsequently save it to FCS/FMS). While the codec itself is not a bad one it's extremely restrictive. It's practically impossible to convert the flv audio portion to a portable format (such as mp3) if the Nellymoser codec was used for encoding. To make matters worse the developer has no choice but to use Nellymoser when recording audio through the Flash Player. Standalone encoders such as Sorenson Squeeze on the other hand can use mp3 instead."