Remember way back when Unisys started enforcing their LZW patent, and everyone said that if you used GIFs on your site you'd have to pay a fee? And how that was wrong, it was only people who had software that MADE or SHOWED GIFs who had to pay a fee? Well, NOT ANY MORE!
Har har har! Poor dumb Unisys! Why don't you go make some COMPUTERS instead of
continuing to milk this ridiculous patent, huh? HAR! It's not even an ORIGINAL
patent -- the LZW compression algorithm is pretty much a minor tweak on public-
(Those of you who haven't been online porn lords for the last 10 years may not
know about this, BUT the Unisys company owns the patent on the LZW compression
technique, which is used in GIF files to make them all small. A while ago they
decided they would start charging software makers who had software that reads
or writes GIFs -- like Photoshop or your browser. There was a big uproar, and
lots of misinformation, like you'd have to pay Unisys for every DOGFUKR2.GIF
file you had on your hard drive or else the Feds would come lock you up in
Pelican Bay. It was a lot of hooey, but it was such a big deal that lots of people swore off GIFs
forever. The rest of us learned to live with it.)
So, after squeezing all the blood out of the software patent rock they could,
now the folks at Unisys apparently think that they can finagle some BIG DUM Web
sites into paying for LZW patent licenses. The fine print on the doc that the
link at the bottom of this page goes to says that it saves you the hassle of
being liable for using software from people who haven't paid their patent fee.
I'm no lawyer, but how could you possibly be liable for that, anyway? And
everybody's already paid their patent fee for the GIF encoding, so WHO HAVEN'T
Like, let's say there was a browser that didn't pay the fee. And then people
used that browser to go look at your Web site. And they look at a GIF file.
COULD YOU BE LIABLE AND HAVE TO GO TO PRISON AND GET BUGGERED? Of course not.
But the Unisys licensing deal seems to imply that you could. Ha ha ha!
The idea that anyone would pay FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS just to have some
crummy "one-pixel-clear.gif" files on their Web site is ridiculous. Screw
that. I guess a lot of the big sites like C|Net are probably gonna pony up for
this shakedown just so they don't have to deal with the hassle. The rest of us
will flip Unisys the BIRD.
The whole thing is so patently stupid (haha) that I think there must be some
ulterior motive behind the idea. At first, I thought it might be another
publicity stunt, since Unisys has been out of the game so long that no one
could even remember that they are a computer company the LAST time GIFs came up.
But then I thought of another idea: a lot of folks are taking this opportunity
to strip all the GIF files off their Web sites and replace them with JPEGs or
PNG files, a new lossless format
that doesn't depend on Unisys's compression algorithm. (I don't plan to do
this, by the way -- I don't want to give them the pleasure).
Eventually, with this pressure, EVERYONE is going to ditch GIF in favor of PNG.
Web folks will stop asking image software vendors to support GIFs, and the
software guys won't want to pay the license fees so they'll just stop
supporting GIF. Then even people who WANT GIF won't be able to get it. GIFs
And I think that's EXACTLY what Unisys wants! I'm serious! I think the poor
slob lawyers who have been trying to enforce this marginal and retarded patent
for the last 15 years are just SICK of it. They want OUT, even if it means
going completely ABSURDIST and LITIGATING themselves out of a job. Good for
them! GIF is stupid! Kill all GIFs, and let God sort them out!