Feeds

Unisys demands $5k licence fee for use of GIFs

From practically everybody, apparently...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Greedy bean-counters at Unisys are proposing to milk great swathes of the Web for $5,000 a pop in licence fees. The company's scheme, which came to light in the last couple of days, is effectively a souped-up reprise of the its 1994-95 attempt to enforce patent rights concerning GIF files. Unisys owns the patent to the LZW compression algorithm, which is used in GIF files. CompuServe discovered the patent last time around shortly after standardising on the GIF format, but the position was regularised then by CompuServe taking out a licence from Unisys. But this time Unisys seems to be after bigger bucks, from what appears to be practically anybody using GIF format graphics or other types that use LZW. The latest bid is wide-ranging, but looks difficult to enforce. Unisys is asking for a $5,000 licence fee from company Intranet sites and what it calls Billboard Web sites. The latter it describes as a site "fully open to the general public without cost or other consideration (that is, no restricted access or user cost of any kind or form)." So apparently Unisys wishes to enforce the patent for limited access company Intranets, commercial Web sites and non-commercial ones. Unisys does seem to make a kind of partial exception for use of graphics generated by software from developers who already have a licence, but it's still restrictive: "If you use any of the types of images specified above [GIF, TIFF-LZW, PDF-LZW images or other LZW graphical formats] on your Web site that you received from an unlicensed software developer or service, you should have a license from Unisys to use the LZW patent. Or even if the developer or service provider has a license, but it doesn't cover your use of the particular application you received, you should have a license from Unisys to use the LZW patent..." The company doesn't however make it clear either how you're supposed to identify whether or not your GIF is hot, or how it proposes to determine this in order to collect its fees. Rather than generating money for the company, the net effect is more likely to be to expose it to widespread loathing, and to trigger widespread abandonment of formats using LZW.The move has already generated the aptly-named burnallgifs.org ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more
Oh yeah ... and a 30% cut for Amazon to seal the deal
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Nintend-OH NO! Sorry, Mario – your profits are in another castle
Red-hatted mascot, red-colored logo, red-stained finance books
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
Chips are down at Broadcom: Thousands of workers laid off
Cellphone baseband device biz shuttered
Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London
Plus: Almost NOBODY uses pay-by-bonk on buses - Visa
Twitch rich as Google flicks $1bn hitch switch, claims snitch
Gameplay streaming biz and search king refuse to deny fresh gobble rumors
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.