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The Almighty Buck

IPIX persecutes free software developer 147

Ellen Spertus writes "Interactive Pictures Corporation (IPIX) has been threatening anyone who distributes software to create 360 degree panorama images, including free software developer Helmut Dersch. While Dersch's free tools (including a Gimp plug-in) are back online, he has had to remove information about creating high-quality panoramas. Meanwhile, IPIX, which charges $25 per panorama created, is preparing for its IPO. Read all about it. If you haven't seen 360 degree panoramas (outside of RL), take a look at Virtual Parks (requires free plug-in) or Sydney Olympics 2000 panoramas (requires free plug-in or Java). "
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IPIX persecutes free software developer

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    This sounds like they really have patented the laws of nature. The two patch cover of a sphere is the minimal open cover from topology. Thats even more fundamental, maybe, than RSA patenting a simple application of Wilson's 200 year old theorem.

    Cowardly as ever
    his mark
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have an idea.. Have some bored patent lawyer write up a patent of something.. Say a sphere, a telephone, an automobile.. and see if you can get it patented. Perhaps if this sort of thing was then made public (or a number of these cases) public pressure would force a review of the patent system and the idiots who work there.

  • The IPIX file format is simply a archive of jpegs..
    Its a very simple concept, very obvious, what IPIX is doing is a crime.

    Here is some code to alter the texture of a sphere that has been planer mapped...
    This code Assumes radius of sphere is 4.0f....
    And scale and offset are dependant on which hemisphere you are mapping too, exmple scale=0.5 offset=0.0 when you are working with the first hemisphere on a texture mapped (0,0) to (1,1)...

    rad=(float)sqrt(point[i]->x*point[i]->x+point[i]-> y*point->y);

    Also note this could be used to create a sphere and saved to VRML for users to spin around in. Been there done that, what they are doing is a crime.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Agreed - it's important not to make the open source community seem vindictive, but at the same time I think it's perfectly reasonable to bring this whole fiasco to the attention of financial journalists - I suggest www.wsj.com, www.nytimes.com, and (definitely) www.redherring.com.

    Make sure the site is mirrored first in several countries, then publicise the URLs as well and make this part of the story.

    The angle should be that IPIX doesn't appear to have a leg to stand on with its patent claims, and that the open source developer has performed a valuable service to (a) the imaging/VR community with his software and (b) potential IPIX investors, by inadvertently showing that IPIX is also overvalued.

    It would be rather good if every investor in a company first did a search for open source software that is also in the same market and possibly invalidates patent claims. Venture capitalists do quite a lot of technical 'due diligence' to check out whether a new product development is really what is claimed, so this would fit quite well.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Lets do a patent discovery pre 1985, and disclosure, looking for bits of the product that contain GPL code, either now or in the future.
    And if their documented change history withers an exhausive examination.

    Thou should not throw stones. Ps. Go the improved file format. Go to the satellite imaging era, aka 1970's. Geo surveys from orbit, and terran based pictures: same concepts = old hat.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The legal firm who represented Ipix in their jury court case against Infinite Pictures (now Smoothmove) http://www.smoothmove.com/ was
    Banner and Witcoff who have a page about the case here:http://www.bannerwitcoff.com/press.htm Note that not only did Ipix get a $1,000,000 damages against Infinite Pictures but the same amount against an individual software user a Bill Tilman, who downloaded (bought) and made content with it which he put on his site. This victory followed two unsuccessful court actions by Ipix against Infinite Pictures. This page by Banner and Witcoff replaces an earlier one where they explained how by demonstrating how IPIX's software made a "blurry" picture sharp in the courtroom in Tennessee they convinced the jury (!)- they also emphasised in this page how case-setting it was that they managed to get damages against an individual software user. Ipix posted a notice about this victory at the time emphasizing its victory over Bill Tilman as well as Infinite Pictures effectively threatening web developers individually. Then a few months later
    (after the court victory against Infinite Pictures) IPIX started to tackle Live Picture which had introduced 8mm stitching functionality in Photovista. LivePicture put a page up (no longer available) saying they "strongly resisted" the accusation that their software infringed IPIX's patent and that it was "in no way" true but the cave-in was accomplished a few weeks later. Then they bought out joint press statements saying they would "work together" with Ipix saying it would use LP's "Flashpix" (streaming zooming functionality) in a future Ipix version.http://www4.zdnet.com/intweek/daily/970915 e.html Here is a version of the actual press release by Live Picture
    http://eva.dc.lsoft.com/scripts/wa.exe?A2=ind970 9C&L=realvr_forum&P=R388
    This joint development effort never eventuated. At the time Eric Chen (the inventor of Quicktime VR, who had left Apple and set up Realspace which was the precursor to LivePicture's panoramic technology (now called Zoomit -John Sculley, ex Apple CEO with his son Jack had bought Live Picture, the image program, Realspace, another image streaming technology OLIVR and an interest in a chat company
    Talk City and was talking up a grand synthesis of online virtual photoreal interaction) - anyway, Eric Chen said to the disgruntled community of Photovista users, who had "supports 8mm fisheyes"
    all over their product boxes and documentation, in a posting to the online support list this: sorry folks, you really didnt want to use those 8mm lenses anyway - well more literally this is what he said
    http://eva.dc.lsoft.com/scripts/wa.exe?A2=ind970 9C&L=realvr_forum&P=R647
    So LivePicture not only gave in on the 8mm fisheye setting it removed fuctionality which allowed users to define "custom" rectilinear lenses with focal lengths of less than 14mm (on 35mm format presumably!) So Ipix's claims appear to include some rectilinear lenses. Note though that the use of the 16mm full frame fisheye lens type was allowed to remain and Chen explains how with more shots these can be used to create fully spherical scenes with Photovista.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They didn't do it first, as far as I know Apple did with its Navigable Scenes project in 1993. In high school we did a similar thing using a homemade camera mount that spun 360 degrees horizontally, then 90 degrees vertically. Each frame was added to a a quicktime movie, so to look to your right, move ahead 1 frame, to look left, move previous 1 frame, to look up move ahead 36 frames (10 degrees between shots).

    Then there's QuickTime VR which has full stitching support and has been around for years.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This really is theft of knowledge, a crime against
    humanity. This company, claiming patent rights over cartesian geometry (discovered hundreds of years ago) is outlaw, and is a blight upon the face of the earth.

    I've seen 3-d panaroma java applets over a year ago, but that's not the point. The technology is nothing new, and no big deal. You can create much better just by placing the camera inside a Povray scene within a sphere, against which images are wrapped or projected onto the inside surface, or any 3d interactive program which is detailed enough to be considered photorealistic and rotating the observer (looking in any direction). This has been around for years, if not decades, in computer science and GIS and astronomy and God knows what else. What is a planetarium ?

    Do I really have to explain any of this to any of you who passed high school history and science?

    If legal methods cannot be employed successfully, and soon, to control and eliminate this theft of knowledge by falsely claiming intellectual property rights over what belongs to God, then war is declared. These people and the corporatins they are using to hide behind are attacking our civilization and the whole basis of intellectual freedom and human dignity. If there is anything worth fighting for, this is it.

    First, I suggest a well-organized legal fight in the courts supported by civil disobedience on a massive scale, to have the whole concept of software and algorithmic patents outlawed. Mirror all such sites if you can, and defy all software patents you can.

    Stallman would be a good person to spearhead such a legal effort, in the US, with a team of carefully picked lawyers behind him. He should beg, plead and scream for donationations from all persons who want to contribute to a fund needed to accomplish this, or establish a permanent charity for such legal action. RMS is non-violent. Give him a chance to try that route.

    Companies and individuals attempting to intimidate others with these false claims should be made to pay heavily, to the point where they are put out of business and/or lose all persnal assets or face jail terms.

    If that fails, anything goes. Nerds, you cannot afford to wait another 2 or 3 years. If this kind of thing continues unopposed, this earth will be a living hell beyond the imagination of science fiction writers to properly describe it. These people want to own and control everything, from our DNA to our very thoughts. This is actually happening - hard to believe.

    You have your work cut out for you. In the name of God, realize what is happening and do your duty.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I had a friend who worked for the predecessor of IPIX (hence posting as an AC, not as a real person). The original purpose of the system was to be used in hazardous areas (radioactive areas was the main thrust; the company was a spin off from Oak Ridge National Labs (research into how to build nukes) A later idea was to use it for surveilence in cubicle settings (since you'd need only one camera, no moving parts) to make sure everyone was working hard.

    Even then, I wasn't really sure what was so unique about the IPIX patent(s). I remember in their hardware system, they used a Rockwell chip that was designed to correct the distortion in satelite images. So, it seems that there is a fair amount of prior art around their patents. I thought that most of the patent covered mainly the real-time aspects of the hardware. (It could take live video input and de-skew it.)

    [and this is my first /. posting.]
  • Frankly, I'm suprised that *anyone* would bow to that idiotic threatening letter. Unless possibly Helmut did, in fact, snatch an image from IPIX's web site, the entire thing is bogus.

    If I were Helmut, I would take the following very simple approach to the response...

    Since IPIX feels that their threatening email is also a copyrighted document, and I don't see how I can be forced to acknowledge a legal agreement I have no desire to be a part of, I would simply return the email to them, with a note saying "Thanks but I don't agree with the terms of use for this document", and simply refuse to acknowledge the threatening email any further.
    No email, no threat.

    One of my housemates (who is less of a Bastard than I) is practically hopping up and down about how posting the litigious email to Helmut's web site could easily fall under the Fair Use clauses, provided Helmut did something as simple as annotating the document, which makes his document a derivative work.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 30, 1999 @07:46AM (#1874206)
    This isn't the first time a large company has tried to suppress innovation by using legal tactics on impovreshed free software developers who can't afford to mount a legal defense. As the author apparently didn't violate any patents and used only publically available information, perhaps he could countersue for wrongful prosecution (Well it works in the US) if this eventually goes to court. I think we definitely need some centralized and trustworthy group to start a legal defense fund. Perhaps the FSF?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 30, 1999 @04:52PM (#1874207)
    http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/sol/notices/p riorart.htm

    "SUMMARY: The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking comments to obtain views of the public on issues associated with the identification of prior art during the examination of a patent application. Interested members of the public are invited to testify at the hearing and to present written comments on any of the topics
    outlined in the supplementary information section of this notice."

    Talk about timing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 30, 1999 @06:35AM (#1874208)
    I can't beleive this... AFAK 360 aren't very rare... Especially since there is a Quicktime format made especially for them: Quicktime VR. So they can't be complaining about the format or the concept of 360 panorama. And they can't be complaining about a toold that help you "stiches" different pictures into a panorama because the Apple Quicktime VR Authoring studio as been doing that for a while and other other tools too... So the question is, what is their problem really...
    Is it because they are giving it for free that they are complaining... In that case they just have to add more value to their product to make it competitive. And besides, just like someone was saying earlier... How would microsoft woul;d look with IE in a setting like that...
    So I think this stinks and their request is totally stupid... or maybe they should be more precise on what is their problem exactly...
    Caus eight now, they look like idiots to me...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 30, 1999 @12:02PM (#1874209)
    I was the lead engineer on Live Picture's panoramic product, PhotoVista, and I know what IPIX's claim is. IPIX claims a patent on the ability to correct fisheye images specifically. I believe their background is in security cameras.

    QuickTime VR and most other panoramic technologies stitch together a bunch of flat pictures into a 360 degree pano. These panos have "holes" where the top and bottom are - you can't look straight up or down.

    IPIX uses fisheye lenses so that they can get a complete pano with two photos, plus you can look up and down.

    Now, Live Picture's PhotoVista used to do that as well, but IPIX threatened us with some ridiculous claim of a billion $ damages. Our research into the history of fisheye images made us confident that their patent had no basis - most don't thanks to the morons in the patent office. Unfortunately, we couldn't afford to defend ourselves - it might have meant a temporary injunction against selling our product. Also, fisheye panos usually have lower quality because the distorion, while easy to correct in theory, is not that easy in real life (no lens is perfect).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 30, 1999 @01:44PM (#1874210)
    According to this history of the case [albury.net.au] IPIX even insists that its own threats are copyright, and "any dissemination, distribution, retention, archiving, or copying of the communication is strictly prohibited" But there's a copy of the original email [mit.edu] on this excellent (and scary) patent watch [mit.edu] site at MIT.

    The most interesting thing is IPIX's belief that it "owns the copyright in the format it utilises", and that therefore it has a share of the copyright of the data-file of any image in that format, which it can use to restrict how that data-file is used.

    From Dersch's (IMHO) staggeringly mild and reasonable summary [fh-furtwangen.de] of the story so far, it appears that they are still trying to push this claim, which is like Microsoft claiming copyright and distribution rights over every document in Word format.

    In this case we might be lucky because IPIX didn't invent the format.

    But think of (say) the MPAA claiming such a veto on any file using their new music format. In fact, under the new laws against script-kiddies even describing such formats might become actionable, as abetting the theft of copyright content.

    This is a nasty can of worms and it's important for all of us that Dersch sees off IPIX with no compromises.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 30, 1999 @03:01PM (#1874211)
    We need a format like LivePicture's streaming format. USe of this format enables zooming into panoramas, and much faster load times since the client doesn't need to download the entire panorama image at once.

    Like MIP-maps in 3d games, depending on your distance from an object, a server supplies a suitably scaled version.

    This is not just applicable to panaoramas, bnut any type of 2D (and perhaps 3D) image data.

    This works on a 'tile-based' system, where the image is broken down into a set of tiles, say 100 x 100 pixels each.

    A set of 'zoom levels' are also created, also broken into 100 x 100 tiles, you might have a 2500 x 2500 pixel version, a 1000 x 1000 version, a 500 x 500 version and a 250 x 250 version. Depending on how 'far away' the viewer is from the image, the server sends the appropriate tiles.

    i.e. if your original image is 5000 x 5000 pixels, and your viewing window is 320 x 200 pixels, the server figures out which 'tiles' it needs to send to the client to fill the viewport, and does so. If you move the viewport, a new set of tiles are sent. This means the client app never needs to download the full 5000 x 5000 image.

    If the user wants to see the full image through his 320 x 200 viewport, he can zoom out, but the server then simply suppplies all the tiles from the 250 x 250 zoom level, so that 320 x 200 pixels are the maximum that ever need to get sent over the network. Client side caching of tiles would of course speed up this process.

    This information (zoom levels etc.) are all encapsulated within a single file, with options for static serving (all 'zoom levels' present in the file, leading to a larger file on the server end) or dynamic serving, where the server calculates the appropriate zoom and tile settings depending on the image and the client viewport size.

    I suggest we need a GNU Image Server capable of using Wavelet, JPEG and any other file format described by some kind of plugin architecture.

    This would mean Linux could become the premier platform for the presentation of scanned documents, photographic images etc. If there was a standard, free API and tools for this kind of thing, all sorts of neat, bandwidth-friendly apps could be created.

    I'm not much of a coder, but i think i understand what sort of stuff we need here. Its possible an existing open standard for this sort of thing exists (i remember seeing an article about something by Xerox similar to this)


  • by Yarn ( 75 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @06:09AM (#1874212) Homepage
    Does this mean that the pictures taken by the mars ranger, which were panoramic, were illegal? Obviously not.

    The arguement appears to be about the usage of a file format, which I consider to be less important than the technique, but still brain dead.
  • Looks to me like the information is still there. Maybe I'm just hallucinating.
  • http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:www.fh-furtwa ngen.de/%7edersch/html/Sp here.html&docid=39227501 [google.com]

    You'll probably have to correct the URL as I can't get the "&" to show up as anything other than "& ", which screws up the link.

    Software patents are such BS.


    "One World, One Web, One Program" - Microsoft Promotional Ad

  • Why doesn't it exist yet? Money. And control: the FSF will do it, but only for programs whose copyright is assigned to the FSF.

    (Then again, the "control" problem might well be a legal issue, if it's significantly more difficult or more expensive for an organization to defend a product it has no legal control over.)
  • There may well be no legal basis. But if you don't have the money to fight an action, you lose... so for greedy companies it's an obvious way to put us out of business.
  • No, we don't.

    The OSS movement is about a *better way* to do things. Using the same tactics as the opposition isn't a better way, it's a rehashing of the same old crap and will ultimately have the same results.

    (NB: this is also the problem I have with the GPL's "fight fire with fire" methodology --- it means that in some circumstances I have to treat GPL'ed software as *proprietary* from a legal standpoint...)

  • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @06:04AM (#1874218) Homepage
    Going for an IPO, hmm?

    Well, we could either drag this whole thing through an extended court procedure to blow off their somewhat simple-minded insistance that they alone have World Domination of the 360-degree photo market, or:

    We could create a whole lot of bad press for them, watch investors treat them like lepers, see their IPO fail miserably and their company crash, the execs lose their jobs and their children forced to sell pencils on the street to stave off starvation.

    Personally, I prefer the second course of action. Talk about a shot heard 'round the world. We could do it, too -- the same way that FUD doesn't work against the OSS community, we can raise a stink about idiotic corporations like this one.


  • It's certainly no problem for a public interest law firm to take on a case for an individual. That's how the ACLU and other organizations work. A foundation that provides funding or other assistance to people who wish to defend their free software work should be fine.
  • Posted by d106ene5:

    Its funny that open source advocates pick on Microsoft for "embracing and extending" as opposed to innovating...it looks like thats what most open source developers do. I don't blame these companies for defending their turf - whats the point of going into business just to fee ideas to the waiting hordes of open source programmers?
  • by gavinhall ( 33 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @10:49PM (#1874221)
    Posted by 747SP:

    I went to the IPIX web site this morning, and I took a look at the companies that they cite as being 'happy customers' and who generally user 'their' technique to sell product.

    I noticed one of the companies was an aircraft manufacturer.

    My flying school has one of the aircraft made by that manufacturer.

    So I rang my flying school. I said "Because you use brand-x aircraft, and brand-x financially supports IPIX, I'm not going to fly with you any more". Whammo, thats a $600.00 per month hit in their pockets.

    Then I rang the brand-x Aircraft company and said "Because you use a product from IPEX corporation, and my flying school uses your aircraft, I've cancelled my lessons with my flying school, and I'm taking my business elsewhere".

    Now you can bet your arse the Cheif Pilot at my flying school rang brand-x aircraft company and
    said "what the fsck is it with this IPEX mob?"

    I'll be checking the list again tomorrow, and calling the other manufacturers of goods and services that I use and are on IPEX's list...

    There's more than one way to skin a cat...

    (By the way, this is in no way supposed to be a judgement on the Eagle Aircraft company or the excellent Eagle 150 aeroplane. It's just my way of digging at IPEX from the other end of the food chain...)

  • by gavinhall ( 33 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @01:12PM (#1874222)
    Posted by erik the unready:

    The comment from a LivePicture person is pretty interesting and suggests that IPIX is aggressively trying to use their (imho) overly broad 8mm lens software patents to prevent competitors from offering spherical solutions.

    While 90% of the time regular cylindrical panoramas are ideal for capturing the essence of a place, there are a number of situations where a spherical panorama would show additional things of interest. For instance, a cave, under a forest canopy, an underwater scene, or bizarre points of view inside a Bryce constructed world.

    Many of us who shoot a lot of photo VRs would like to have the flexibility to shoot either spherical or cylindrical. But there is no way I'm going to pay $25 a panorama to publish VRs on the Web. No way I'm going to support an organization that threatens individuals like Helmut. No way I'm going to enter into an agreement not to compete with the various partners of the spherical tool-maker. Imagine if Kodak charged you a licensing fee of $20 for every roll of film you shot using Kodak's patented film? It reeks of a monopolistic world-view. That business model could only work if there were no competitors offering spherical panos without per-pano fees. Besides Helmut's excellent tools, there is now another competitor in this niche--Smoothmove is a spherical solution that allows you to shoot using 14mm or other non-fisheye lenses, and without per-pano fees.

    Disclaimer: I have no connection with Smoothmove, other than wanting to see some competition in the spherical pano world (well actually I'd like to see ethical people/organizations succeed, but that's dreaming).
  • by Paul Crowley ( 837 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @06:59AM (#1874223) Homepage Journal
    Per, of course, has exactly the right idea.

    The great strength of it is that you probably don't ever need to spend the money, you just have to have it. You need to be able to say "we can fight back, so it's probably not worth your while fighting us, we will both lose a lot of money but our side will win". It's ideal for a fund.

    This has been proposed many times, but as yet nothing has happened. Someone the community trusts needs to stand up and say "I'll do it", the rest of us need only make donations.
  • It's an interesting idea, but do we really want open source to be thought of as a lynch mob?


    That way, maybe some of these corporate idiots will think twice before harassing people.

    Get your fresh, hot kernels right here [kernel.org]!

  • Using the same tactics as the opposition isn't a better way, it's a rehashing of the same old crap and will ultimately have the same results.

    No. Using the same tactics would be if we had sleazy lawyers (but I repeat myself...) send them threatening lawyers.

    Using the sunshine of publicity is a different tactic: one that they are no doubt unfamiliar with. It's about time these companies have to consider the publicity angle before they send out their lawyers.

    (NB: this is also the problem I have with the GPL's "fight fire with fire" methodology

    Ugh. What does this rubbish have to do with the matter at hand? I like the BSD license less and less as I read more anti-GPL screeds. And I'm not even a hard-core GPL guy...

    Get your fresh, hot kernels right here [kernel.org]!

  • by seth ( 984 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @09:03AM (#1874226)
    According to this [fh-furtwangen.de] page, IPIX and this guy are working out a way to continue the distribution of this free software. They aren't outright suing him.

    It seems that IPIX believes it owns the ability to limit usage of its file format, to stop people from making use of its viewer without paying royalities (which is a mistake in their marketing model). However, the tone of the page doesn't make it sounds like they are in the inquisition mode of suing all people, everywhere.
  • It would be nice to have a (moderated)
    forum that people could discuss how to actually
    make such a format. (a little like ask /.)

    Something that would be longer lived than the
  • The organisation (or what ever there is of it these days) that was about this type of thing, is the League for Programming Freedom.

    see http://lpf.ai.mit.edu [mit.edu]

    This is also a good (in name at least) place to look as to where to start setting up such a legal fund. What WOULD be a good idea (if the funds could be generated for it) is to sort out the legal situation in as many countries as possible, and let everybody know where they stand w.r.t the law of their land (I'm a UK citizen).
  • That is a very thin argment. Every living thing (and conceptual thing that is made up of living things) wants to survive and prosper, some to the benefit of society, and some against. Throughout history, societies have attacked some things that would prosper at the cost of the society (because societies also want to survive and prosper).

    The question is, since a corperation can only seek money (nothing else can collectivly reward a company), and that may involve tactics that are harmful to society in general, what can be done to prevent that harm. Some feel that the free market alone will regulate the situation. At the other extreme, the idea is that a system where money is the only potentail reward is intrinsically incapable of co-existing with society.

    The truth is probably somewhere in between, but current laws strike me as woefully inadequate to the task.

  • The problem is, they're trying to license a process of conversion from a format they don't own to another format they don't own, using software they don't own. (Apparently, the format IPIX uses isn't their invention.)

    All that because otherwise, nobody will license the software they do own on a per-use basis. The real world just won't support their pricing scheme and they're crying about it.

    Essentially, what they appear to be doing is like Microsoft suing someone fro writing a PS to HTML converter. They don't own PS or HTML, or any of the code in the converter, but they DO own an HTML editor....Even M$ wouldn't try a stunt like that.

  • Hmmm... a software pascifist...

    There is nothing wrong with exposing bullies such as IPIX, nor about having build-in self-defence mechanisms in a license like GPL.
  • Yeah, right. How many of us have *not* threatened to sue Microsoft for using our free software file formats? Obviously, we should expect to get such letters back ourselves.

    Please get real. Nobody with a clue are picking on Microsoft for using existing file formats, protocols or API's, it is quite the opposite, MS get flammed for inventing proprietary protocols and proprietary extensions to existing protocols.

    Finally, if some companies in some areas can't compete with free software developers, then they should fold or change their business model. Free software may not be the best business model in all areas, but in those areas where it is, it should be allowed to win in a fair fight.

    That's how a free market works, when it works.
  • by Per Abrahamsen ( 1397 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @06:42AM (#1874233) Homepage
    Maybe it is time to create a fund for defending free software projects from silly lawsuits. I'd contribute to such a fund. Most free software developers doesn't have the money or inclination to defend themselves against a lawsuit, even if it is obviously groundless. So just the existence of the fund would be a big improvement.

    Somewhere to send the threats, and get an answer back "this is obviously groundless, we'll take care of the defence".

    PS: I don't know enough about the actual case, to say whether this would be something appropriate for the free software legal defence fund.
  • I don't know any details, but when I was at LinuxWorld Expo/Conf a few months ago, there was some discussion about patent law and how stupid it is, and RMS mentioned that he has people willing to put up lots of money if someone wants to get an organization to reform patent law off the ground. Not quite the same thing as proposed here, but a start.


  • Yes, I believe this gets to the heart of the problem. Those with $ in effect have bought the legal process. We need a legal doctrine that says that lawyers who bring lawsuits or harass others with no legal basis should be disbarred and the corporations severely punished.

    Of course it won't happen, because some of that money goes to "campaign contributions."

    Political corruption devastates freedom.
  • damage you image on the net, I can't think of any better way to do it. Sue a free developen and parish the rest of you (companys) life.

  • They are suing Apple Computer. I'm not sure about the others, but I'm sure if they're aware of them they will.
  • by dsfox ( 2694 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @08:37AM (#1874238) Homepage
    If a news story just pointed out that the software they are basing their IPO on can be created by a single programmer in their spare time it might cool off investor interest. That way we don't look like a lynch mob either.
  • Photomosaic(TM) is a trademark of Runaway Technology. The Photomosaics software and Mr. Silvers' and the Photomosaic "look and feel" are protected by the patent, copyright, and other intellectual property laws of the United States and other major countries. We protect these rights vigilantly. All rights other than those specifically granted above are reserved by Runaway Technology, Inc.

    here's the info i found on the site. can anyone tell me an alternative business model to the 'you copy I'll litigate' approach. how else is someone able to develop an idea and commercialise it?

    what's the time-limitation of patents? (have'd to do a lot of research to see exactly whats covered, and i dont have the time)....

    also there's the issue of this company using the tools to commercialise artwork....but the last work goes to an email i remember, with john carmack talking about persons/companies copyrighting their code/software technology and vigerously protecting it, as (words to the effect of ) being 'techno-wusses for not willing to be technologically competitive'.

    this matters not as cut and dry as one might think.
  • red herring - I'm gonna sue your ass! How industry leaders are putting startups through legal hell -- and dampening innovation.

    check this url http://www.herring.com/mag/issue66 /news-sue.html [herring.com] out.

    talks about the problems with law suits wrt to small firms and big companies and how the small firms loose :(
  • On 99-05-30 11:33 EDT Accipiter (shadSowfireP@hotAmail.cMom) posted:
    ... This pretty much reveals what companies are after. To hell with innovation, and the desire to create better products, and SCREW the consumer....We have to make our MONEY!
    Actually, only a small percentage of companies are like that.

    Calling such people Sharks, Wolves, or even Hyenas or Jackals is insulting the animals.

    The new management of IPX seems to be that predatory type that has no real value to society. A bunch of litigious lawyers and "Venture Capitalists" who are out to accumulate (not make) money by any means they can. They are no better (indeed, no different) than the local extortionists that have always plagued us, demanding money (or earlier, goods) under threat of some sort of harassment while making no contribution to society themselves.

    So, while such companies must be attacked vigorously and squashed with all ethical means available, don't make the mistake of putting all companies (or even all large companies) in this category.
    == Buz :)

  • "IPIX" looks a heck of a lot like "IRIX" when you've only gotten 2 hours of sleep in the past 3 days. I need penguin mints. Guuuuh...
  • *** Signal 11 has been summoned. ***

    If you're thinking I'm from mediaone - you're mistaken. They're my ISP, not my employer.

    If there's a further explanation you find yourself in want of - e-mail me [mailto].

  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @07:06AM (#1874245)
    It's an interesting idea, but do we really want open source to be thought of as a lynch mob?

    Here's what we can (should?) do:

    We have the undivided attention of *technical* journals/'zines. Let's use the slashdot effect to write to them, encouraging them to publish an article on this. If there's a free alternative, why spend money on their IPO?
    Mirror it! World governments can't seem to stop encryption simply because the "genie is out of the bottle", to quote an NSA official. Let's mirror it, and then publicize it. It's the worst thing we could do to them - make their competition's product easily accessible. It worked against microsoft, the NSA, and a plethora of other evils in the land. I don't see why we can't do it again. :)
    But resist the urge to become personally involved. We should unilaterally take the same approach to any business that tries this: Initial publication, mirror the affected site, contact the presses, ruin their day. It's now a time-tested formula. Use it!

  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @07:21AM (#1874246)
    IPIX North American Sales
    sales@ipix.com [mailto]

    IPIX Stockhouse Manager, Jeff Puckett
    stock@ipix.com [mailto]

    Suprisingly.. blank [ipix.com]

    Maybe you'd like to talk to their investors?

    Motorola [motorola.com]
    Mediaone [mediaone.com]
    Advance Internet
    American Express [americanexpress.com]
    Financial Advisors [americanexpress.com]
    General Electric
    JP Morgan [jpmorgan.com]

  • Basically, what IPX is saying is that you cannot develop a 3D Panorama system and give it away, because IPX did it first, and is making money off of it. This pretty much reveals what companies are after. To hell with innovation, and the desire to create better products, and SCREW the consumer....We have to make our MONEY! What's that? Someone's making a superior product, and giving it away for FREE? We can't allow that......

    More corporate bullshit. Gotta get the cash. Nothing else matters.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • 885 issued patents are assigned to Microsoft corporation. At least 600 more are pending. The latest (5,907,837 , issued 6 days ago) would appear to let them sue most web news sites, including Slashdot:

    "Information retrieval system in an on-line network including separate content and layout of published titles"

  • Since it is unlikely that the German guy used their code, or even their image file format, it must be the idea of a 360 degree image that they think they own.

    But surely, I can't be the only one who remembers visiting Disneyland and soaring around China in a 360 degree movie theatre?

    Then, of course, I've got a swivel chair that creates the same effect; maybe they should sue Herman Miller as well?

    And heck, who came up with the idea for dividing a circle into 360 equal portions? Gotta sue them (or their heirs) too!

    For that matter, the whole universe seems to be infringing on IPIX's 360 degree panoramic view concept. Can't really sue the big bang. Maybe Steven Hawking? (Or God, for those that think he exists?)

    Where do I send my $$$ for the FSFDF?

  • Um, amusing that IPIX feels the need to attack the open source plugins when LivePicture is already a commercial competitor to them in the panoramic imaging market. Having been forced to deal with IPIX panos for some sites I've built recently, I'm surprised that they haven't attacked people who create viewers, since theirs is fairly inferior to others I've seen. IPIX really fish-eyes compared to other viewers.
  • by dreish ( 10483 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @06:20PM (#1874251)
    Repeat business is any company's lifeblood. I suggest we drain this lifeblood. If 30,000 people follow the steps below, IPIX will have no choice but to discontinue their legal harassment.

    Step 1: Locate IPIX content. Find a large amount of IPIX content on the WWW or anywhere else you can find it, and select one piece at random. By "at random" I mean RANDOMLY, not arbitarily. Generate a random number with the computer, throw a dart, etc. If your random number is "1", go with the first hit - don't say, "That's not random" and generate a second number.

    Step 2: Locate the person responsible for distributing the IPIX content you have selected. Be persistent. Unless that person has gone into the Witness Protection Program, it should be possible to locate him or her. It may be easy, or it may be hard, but it should be possible. If you fail, try harder. Hire a private detective if you must, and if you can afford to.

    Step 3: Once you have found the IPIX content publisher, call and politely explain what IPIX is doing, and why you believe it is a bad thing. Don't harass. If the person asks you not to call them again, your job is done.

    Step 4: Return to step one as necessary, but be careful not to contact the same person twice.

    This is very important: don't do anything illegal. Finding a person, calling that person, and talking politely - none of these actions are illegal. Don't take it any further. There will be no need to.

    Finally, keep up with the news. If IPIX capitulates to your satisfaction, stop. Vengeance is unbecoming. If they take action which is insufficient, let IPIX know what more they must do.

  • and it is this page we need to mirror since it explains how to convert from IPIX's image format

    This is clearly the best strategy, since it will demonstrate clearly that sending threatening legal letters over matters such as this, with thin legal pretext, is a *bad idea*. The mirrors should lead to the development of a converter to some other format, preferrable a better on. And needless to say, an unencumbered format. My only slight reservation is it would also lead to wider recognition of whatever their stupid format is.

  • Engage "The Effect"!!
  • Heh Heh... Now that I would love to see! Maybe it would get some interest from politicians in IP if we could show how stupid the situation has become...
    Any lawyers out there want to try?
  • How about someone make a program that creates 359.999 degree panorama images. That outta piss off IPIX, haha.
  • by r ( 13067 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @06:56AM (#1874256)
    wait a minute... what is their legal basis for persecution? at least in u.s. (and ipix seems to be an american company) you can't just go after people because they're implementing your algorithms. that is, if your invention is not patented, it's up for grabs. afaik, if they have just a u.s. patent, they still can't force a german developer to honor it. only if they have a patent in germany as well, they could force dersch to pay royalties. does anyone know what basis they have for making those threats?
  • For some examples of some *beautiful* panoramic art, check out:


  • Do they have a port to Linux? Is he using there code? What exactally have they patented? They may not have a 'real' case, they are just going after someone as an example. This needs more investigating.
  • by pnkfelix ( 14173 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @03:55PM (#1874259)
    This is a redundant comment, but necessary because while this information is available elsewhere in this thread, its much deeper in the tree of comments/replys and this information should be located closer to the root of the tree.

    Remember the LPF
    by John Allsup

    The organisation (or what ever there is of it these days) that was about this type of thing, is the League for Programming Freedom.

    see http://lpf.ai.mit.edu/ [mit.edu]

    This is also a good (in name at least) place to look as to where to start setting up such a legal fund. What WOULD be a good idea (if the funds could be generated for it) is to sort out the legal situation in as many countries as possible, and let everybody know where they stand w.r.t the law of their land (I'm a UK citizen).
    -------- John Allsup email: jda570@bham.ac.uk

  • check out www.wearcam.org [wearcam.org] for related image-processing technology . High-bandwith version [wearcam.org](not as comprehensive).

    In a nutshell, Steve Mann takes images (well an image stream) from his wearable camera and stitches them together to create a seamless single image. He calls this system "painting with looks". The software is VideoOrbits [wearcam.org] and is downloadable as a tar.gz (rpm coming).

    I think some pretty cool worlds could be created by combining painting with looks with Dr. Dersch's panorama software.
  • This would have sounded real good if it didn't sound more like one of those religous pamphets i get it in the mail.
  • This is right up my alley.

    I am curreently authoring some software that will make "Montages" (see The Linux Image Montage Project [thelinuxmart.com]), as the software I am using now has a clause in the licensing agreement that states, "this software can be in no way used for commercial purposes" (I am paraphrasing here). It would also appear that the person who invented the technique [photomosaic.com], has a patent not on the algorithm, but the look-and-feel of a Montage.

    What really get's me is that photographers have been making 360 panaramas & photo montages, albeit analog ones, for years. I am suprised that just because the picture is represented by bits instead of film-grain that it makes any difference.

    -AP (Jordan Husney)
  • by breser ( 16790 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @09:45AM (#1874263) Homepage
    Actually you don't know what you're talking about here. Microsoft isn't a large user of the patent system. Considering their size they have realtively few patents.

    While it is true that Microsoft has taken an interest in filing some rather onerous patents as of late. I would note that we've yet to see an litigation from these patents. Past history has show us that Microsoft's use of patents have been defensive, not offensive.

    In fact several times Microsoft has been the violator of a patent and actually ended up loosing.

    Stop making Microsoft the enemy in fronts where they aren't. IPIX are the people that are using patents for offensive warafare, not Microsoft.
  • by breser ( 16790 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @09:57AM (#1874264) Homepage
    A lot of people have been making a big deal out of IPIX's patent. While I'll agree their patent is probably baseless and that there is a large degree of prior art. This is not what the claim against Helmut Dersch is about.

    IPIX is claiming that he violated their copyrights with regards to one of the example photos that he had on his website.

    Helmet argues that he took the photo and in fact was even in the photo. However, this is not a total response to IPIX's claim as I understand it.

    IPIX claims that their file format is a computer program and as such is entitled to special protection under the copyright laws. While, the information is not clear, I would imagine the supposedly offending photo was in an IPIX format, since the page that they forced him to take down was in relation to how to convert from their format.

    So why is IPIX doing this? They are going after Helmet not because they have a problem with his software. While they probably don't necessarily like the fact that his software is available, what they find particularly offensive is his description of how to move from their file format.

    They're doing this because their licensing structure is setup such that you must pay *PER VIEW* of their file format. So if you can easily convert away from their file format then you can easily avoid their licensing scheme.

    So they aren't trying to protect their patent. They're trying to protect their licensing scheme.
  • I've been BBSing (what's that?) for more than 10 years now, and I've probably had more conversations on-line than in-person. I'd have to say that it is extremely unlikely those two posts were written by the same person. And besides, if an intelligent person wanted to sway other intelligent peoples' viewpoints by pretending to be two different people that agree, then (a) the messages would come to a similar conclusion and (b) neither would have significant spelling or grammar errors. And if a less intelligent person tried the same thing, the messages would have looked like they were typed by the same person, which they don't.
  • People can sue if they're being damaged, or will probably be damaged by a copyright/patent/law. They do not have to own the copyright itself to sue. Legalese could probably mangle words enough to show that destroying an unrelated Free Software product would damage your free software product.

  • "Information retrieval system in an on-line network including separate content and layout of published titles"

    Is it just me, or could this apply to just about EVERYTHING on the net? Usenet, most web pages, SGML, heck, even e-mail, to some extent.

    Depends how you define "layout". If simply picking a font becomes a layout, then there's practically nothing that uses text and doesn't apply!
  • I agree wholeheartly...
    And the government(s) of the world should be convinced that this (free software) is a good thing for the society. They can do some things to help such a fund. I.e. it could get a status where donation could be tax-free, judges could rule that condemned defendants have to pay their fee or part of it in such a fund etc... .
    An car manufacturer in europe was condemned to pay 100.000.000 EURO (I think) for unfair treatment of customers. Imagine microsoft "donating" 10 percent of a similar fee for this fund - that _would_ rule.
    I think _this_ is one of the most important investments for the future of open source, otherwise we'll see the suits coming.
    Open Source developers are very unarmed targets for corporations nowadays.
  • /.'ers interested in panoramic images ought to visit the 1999 Cougar QTVR site [davophoto.com] (requires QuickTime). The second image on the page is a "double-spin" image: on the first turn the back seat of the Cougar is folded down, and on the second turn it is up. Pretty cool IMHO.
  • Not only does disneyland have 360's, I've noticed that reality is rather 360-degrees too :-)

    They want to sue me for looking around me?
  • I just spoke to RMS and it is currently the case that the FSF has funds available to go to court to enforce the GPL, should that be necessary for an FSF-copyrighted program.

    I'll speak with him more about extending this to include non-FSF-copyrighted programs in some way too. If you're interested in helping out, I'd appreciate any input.
  • by Jonas Öberg ( 19456 ) <jonas@gnu.org> on Sunday May 30, 1999 @07:33AM (#1874273) Homepage
    After having read the information on the subject, I think that IPIX is surely losing here. If they go to court, they'd have to convince the judge that their images are computer programs, which seems a very unlikely event to me. However, even if they don't have any legal grounds for this they can still cause trouble, as we're seing now. Helmut is talking with IPIX out of court in hopes of settling this affair without going to court. If Helmut was confident enough in the laws, he'd probably have asked them to take a hike and have them try to defend their case in court.

    What I'm getting at here, and this might or might not apply in this particular case, is that even if companies don't have any legal grounds for something, they can cause a lot of trouble because most of us don't have the funds or the strength to fight them in court, so it is easier to fall back and do as they ask than to stand up against them.

    People have suggested having an organisation that could defend free software projects in court. However, if I've got this right (IANAL so please tell me if I'm wrong, it would make me very happy), with the current laws, only the copyright holder can acctually defend his program and it's unclear to me if some other organisations could even drive a lawsuit against the company without owning the copyright. As I understand it, thats one of the reasons why the FSF has wanted the copyright for some of its programs (like the libc, gcc, binutils, fileutils and others). If someone were to violate the GPL on these programs, it would be easy for the FSF (and for the court who doesn't have to account for a hundred different copyright holders) to prosecute the offender.

    So this doesn't seem to be a situation where you can simply say, as a developer, "here; go talk to the FSF instead and don't bother me." Instead you would have to draw the lawsuit yourself and the only thing that another organisation could contribute with would probably be funds to do this. However, I don't think most people would care. Even if they did get funds for it, it would still be much too easy to fall back and live by the rules dictated by a company.

  • What really get's me is that photographers have been making 360 panaramas & photo montages, albeit analog ones, for years. I am suprised that just because the picture is represented by bits instead of film-grain that it makes any difference.

    It probably doesn't, but the only to find out is to provoke them into sueing you. Patents are cheap, but court wins aren't.


  • That would be cool - to have such a defence fund. Especially when it's run by a bunch of uncompromising RMS style free software fanatics; they'd attack each and every of this companies patents. Bye bye IPO.

    Does anybody know why this doesn't exist yet? I would have thought that someone like the FSF would have at least thoughy of the idea by now.

    Perhaps there has never been a need, but it's now getting clear that a need is forming. Personally I wouldn't be surprised if something like this is allready under consideration by some group like the FSF, I only hope it happens soon. If it works for the EFF I see no reason why the free software people can't pull of something similar.

  • by Sux2BU ( 20893 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @07:20AM (#1874277)
    It sounds like Helmut was working on a standard unrelated to IPIX. I believe its for panoramic images using VRML. That's what makes this whole ordeal so sickening - IPIX thinks they have the patent on the panoramic process.
  • I'm worried. What is this poster's motivation?
    Their first post starts off by telling /.ers not take IPIX's actions personally. Fair enough. The post then ends by asking us not to get involved personally, which is altogether a different, disingenuous and dangerous thing to write.
    Their next post appears to provide a useful resource to the community, listing IPIX contact details and shareholders.
    One of these shareholders is given as the Media One Group (mediaone.com). http://www.ipix.com/about/about.html [ipix.com] corroborates this. A quick lookup on http://nsiregistry.com gives us a primary domain server for mediaone.com of ns1.mediaone.net. So mediaone.com and mediaone.net are the same entity.
    The two posts I have referred to purport to come from signal11@mediaone.net

    I don't know what's going on here, but I don't think I much like it.

    signal11@mediaone.net has been notified of this reply, so I hope (s)he will soon come and explain themselves. For their sakes, I just hope it's all a big coincidence/cock-up.

  • by The Big D ( 26921 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @08:11AM (#1874281)
    It seems to me that what we need is not so much a big bag of money, as a big bag of free lawyers.

    There must be some lawyer geeks out there who would be willing to represent persecuted open source developers in cases like these?

    Part of the problem with having a trust fund for law suits would be controling its use. Someone would have to decide who was to get backing and who not. With a list of lawyers willing to represent cases for free, it would be up to them if they worked on a particular suit or not.

    As a good meeting point, how about if Slashdot were to have a sign up page for lawyers? What do you think, Rob?
  • I'd donate too :) But we need someone with status to hold on to the cash, and administrate the money.


  • Exactly. People interested enough to contribute their skills. After all, that's what free software hackers do. Perhaps as free software increasingly becomes more a part of people's lives, we will see the emergence of a free software advocate with the power and visibility of, say, Ralph Nader.

    But there's no reason why we can't pursure our interests along many different avenues. The power of focal points such as slashdot are already felt, but could be magnified even more. I think slashdot should use its large mindshare as an organizing force for this. Imagine if you could have a little box on the side (like the freshmeat box) with a list of pending conflicts. If a particular conflict gets you hot, hit the donate button and charge $10 (or more) for defense fund. If it were that easy, I wouldn't think twice about sending small sums flying to the aid of people like this. Since there are a lot of slashdot readers, the small sums could add up quite fast. We just have to make it convenient for people to donate.

    I've never been particularly politically involved, but it is clear that the net could make grass roots efforts incredibly swift and powerful.

  • If they are in negotigations with the individual, then it's entirely possible that this whole hotheaded discussion will work against the cause.
  • by IIH ( 33751 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @10:08AM (#1874289)
    This does seem to be solely based on the usage of a file format, and whether another author is allowed to use that file format to import into another program. (which of course is the *last* thing you want to happen to your file format!)

    This seems groundless, as this sort of thing has been done for years, if you look through MS's site, it shows lots of white papers on how to migrate from lotus notes to exchange, for example, and excel can import various non MS formats.

    However, if this stands, it could set a nasty precedent, imagine if gnumeric or koffice were not allowed to have an excel import option? Or if Samba was not able to use the SMB protocol?

    The possible repercissions of "you're not allowed to build an import filter for our file format unless we allow it" do not bear thinking about.

  • It would be interesting to discover how far a seriously critical view of the benefits to society of the law of copyright ... would have a chance of being publicly stated in a society in which the channels of expression are so largely controlled by people who have a vested interest in the existing situation. -- Friedrich A. Hayek, "The Intellectuals and Socialism" quoted on The Libertarian Case Against Intellectual Property Rights [freenation.org]
  • by stryemer ( 34743 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @06:27AM (#1874291)
    I'm kinda unclear on what the deal is...

    It seems to me that there's a whole mess of papers submitted at SIGGRAPH 97 (see pages 243-258) and before on the subject of creating panoramic picture anyways. IPIX cannot be "revolutionary" if researchers from Princeton, Apple, and Microsoft Research have been working on this for ages. So obviously IPIX has no precedence on the "algorithms" to create panoramic images...

    As for image formats, screw 'em! There's always got to be a better format. Let them make the fatal mistake of a proprietary format, and then us free software mongers shall smite them with an OPEN standard. Thus forcing them to comply! Muhahahaha!

    Any takers?

    Stryemer ;-)

    My fortune cookie read:
    "You will recieve faster silicon love in your future."
    We are the music makers,
    and we are the dreamers of the dream.
  • by Chen ( 34811 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @06:29AM (#1874292) Homepage
    XAnim, great animation viewer that it is, doesn't handle QuickTime VR, just QuickTime video. The VR pics are a whole different file format/concept.
  • by rdale ( 36441 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @06:02AM (#1874293) Homepage
    We need to start getting together to help our fellow man (or woman). I encourage all of you to mirror his site to prevent any injustice of permenant removal. I have just finished downloading it. Should the time come, I will post it.
  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @10:25AM (#1874294) Journal
    Agreed. And don't forget that there are good lawyers who will do good works pro bono when the cause arises!

    Another, perhaps more useful, way for the OSS community to attack idiots, is to begin pooling ideas and forming a pool of patents and other intellectual property to affirmatively assert as counterclaims in defense of mind-loss lawsuits.

    In the "real world," the threat of a lawsuit is often met with a portfolio of IP in return. "Sure, sue me if you like, and you'll be embroiled in litigation as a defendant until HFO." Cross-licensing makes the lawyers go away, and that is the end of many marginal cases.

    To the extent that OSS community *is* being creative, it would do well to begin securing protection for its inventions, if not to assert against third parties, at least to use as fodder for cross-licensing in defense of others. (The existence of a solid portfolio of technology can also effectively rebut the FUDdy allegation that OSS is primarily derivative work.)

    Another idea, though this is far more controversial: A provision that nobody seemed to like in Apple's latest OSS license was the "sue me for IP if you like, but you lose your license to any Apple OSS" provision. Wouldn't it be nice for future corporations who sue Open Source providers to place at risk forever their right to use Linux? Perhaps a "sue-and-autolose" policy is overreaching and impractical, but how about a "sue the OSS if you think you can win, but if you lose, you lose all OSS rights forever" view?
  • Actually by IPIX's defintion, they must be prepared to sue Apple Computer, Macromedia, Strata, NewTek, etc as well. Although the QTVR authoring studio (a generally excllent program), Apple offers QTVR Make Panorama, which can convert panoramic picts from 3d programs (e.g. Bryce) into a QTVR movie.

    Apple QuickTime Authoring Tools [apple.com]
  • Wow, hold it on the socialism a little will ya. Before we start the march toward a marxist state, consider what you are giving up.

    Of course companies care only for money, as entities, that is what companies do, and attacking them for it is about as stupid as attacking a fruitfly for wanting to fuck.

    The issue is not that companies want to make money, everyone knows that, but that this is another example of what software patents are allowing companies to do to the little guy.

    Commersialism is thankfully rather self regualting in this respect: screwed up laws are discovered and exploited by the companies fast, so they also can be fixed fast. Now we just need the government that enforces the laws to do something...

    ... or we could just get rid of the whole thing...
  • by code4444 ( 47997 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @07:35AM (#1874300)
    That would be cool - to have such a defence fund. Especially when it's run by a bunch of uncompromising RMS style free software fanatics; they'd attack each and every of this companies patents. Bye bye IPO.

    Seriously, companies like IPIX prefer to go after the little fish, victims that simply don't have the money and time to defend themselves properly in court. Sometimes it's just to strengthen their case for when they have to go up against bigger fish.

    A defence fund has more advantages than just pooling money. It means you can get a house attorney speciallized in this type of case. You can also setup a PR machine that can quickly get the word out that IPIX is a bunch of shitheads, that their licencing agreement is very restrictive, and that their are free alternatives to their software.
  • The question is how best should we get word to IPIX's potential investors about this problem. Our message should be: You don't want to invest in them since
    1) we are boycotting them; and
    2) there are more flexible free alternatives like VRML.

    Our problem is that the free alternatives (while more flexable) are of slightly lower image quality and we don't want to risk creating any new investors for them via drawing attention to them.

    I suggest that someone who knows more about IPO's then I do post soemthing about how to find there future investors without finding any investors who have not heard of them. Note: JP Morgan is handling there IPO.

    I suppose we could keep an eye on the chat stuff in forbes.com and fortune.com (at least one of them has one), but I did not want to draw attention to them ammong investors unless people were discussing them already.

    Just my thoughs..
  • by Weezul ( 52464 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @07:34AM (#1874303)
    Check out http://www.iqtvra.org/noipix.html and become 100% IPIX free. I guess not having any 3D content on my web page makes my 100% IPIX free. Seriously, IPIX must be stopped as this represents a threat to free software in general, i.e. it would be very bad for us if it became common place to sue on weaker patents as individual free software developers done have the resources to fight these in court. The most effective way to fight this is by purging IPIX's technology from the web, i.e. if you know anyone who distributes content in IPIX format please incurage them to switch formats and maybe point them to the following pages:

    http://www.virtualproperties.com/noipix/noipix.h tml
    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=99/05/30/1446 237
  • by Weezul ( 52464 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @07:51AM (#1874304)
    http://www.fh-fu rtwangen.de/%7Edersch/sphere_format/Spherical.html [fh-furtwangen.de] is the real page which IPIX forced himn to remove and it is this and it is this page we need to mirror since it explains how to convert from IPIX's image format. If we want to boycot them then we sould make it uber simple to convert from IPIX images to other formats. Can someone please post a link to the original content of this page? thanks..
  • by Jay Maynard ( 54798 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @07:03AM (#1874316) Homepage
    The page [fh-furtwangen.de] about making images for IPIX's viewer was taken down, and replaced with a discussion of the status of the dispute.

    Personally, while I understand IPIX has a fiduciary duty to its shareholders (yes, it has some, even though it's not publicly offered yet) to protect the value of its intellectual property, this one's gone just a little too far.
  • Try getting hold of Xanim


    Does QT Movies and more....
  • by Kalak451 ( 54994 ) on Sunday May 30, 1999 @06:18AM (#1874318)
    So IPIX doesn't think that people should be giving away software for free that is in competition with their own because its unfair?? What is the difference between him giving it away and him selling it for half their price? Is this just a plow to bog people down with leagal trouble that they can't afford to fight so that they have no choice but to give up? Or is there some leagal basis for this? If this is a legitment argument, how long before MicroSoft goes after Linux distributors for exactly the same thing?
  • Well, here is what they have just accomplished with their decision to sue:
    1. I will never buy their products
    2. I will neverwork for them
    3. I will tell everyone I know not to buy their products
    4. I will tell everyone I know not to work for them.

    I want every executive who is out there for the big buck at any cost to know that we, the guys who actually make it work, will not tolerate persecution of those who are kind enough to donate their time and talent for free to all of us. If you cannot make a better product than freeware with all of your resources, then accept it, and go into a different branch of business, or out of business, if that is what you have to do. But let us have an honest race!

    Being honest is more important than making a buck. One day you will have to stand before God and answer for your actions, and you cannot pay a lawyer to defend your dirty acts before God!

BLISS is ignorance.