JRA Requests First Commercial DjVuLibre License
a report by PlanetDjVu, May 17, 2003
Don't know how much longer we can wait. The introduction of JPEG2000/Part 6 (.JPM files), which is a true open standard, stands in clear contrast to DjVuLibre, which seems fatally flawed when the primary owners (LizardTech and AT&T) continue to refuse to discuss licensing with us, and with the volunteers who actually work to maintain DjVuLibre...
OK. Now we understand in hindsight that the exclusive priority of interim CEO Scott Land was to sell off LizardTech on behalf of the investor group. We will wait for Celartem to take ownership, for a new CEO to be appointed, and then we can start fresh...
It's been over a month now, and we are giving up on this request. LizardTech will not give the courtesy of any reply at all, and no feedback from AT&T. We conclude that LizardTech is not interested in even speaking about DjVuLibre. It is a great disappointment...
No acknowledgement of application request received yet from LizardTech
A phone call from Yann to LizardTech about this reportedly not answered
Since LizardTech is the major IP holder of the library, this isn't looking good...
A question - is LizardTech still actively operating as a business?
Another question - if LizardTech elects not to communicate with the other IP holders of DjVuLibre, does this leave DjVuLibre hopelessly handicapped?
Still waiting for request acknowledgement from LizardTech...
LizardTech: no acknowledgement of request yet.
AT&T: request acknowledged and review promised.
Yann LeCun: request acknowledged and an initial favorable response received.
Leon Bottou: request acknowledged and a free offer made for his part of the IP.
We will keep you updated, as the availability of this licensing is important to us all.
James Rile Associates (JRA) today became the first commercial software developer to request a commercial license to the open-source DjVuLibre library. Such a commercial license will permit JRA to support the DjVu format in the PDFPublish product (previously called JRAPublish) and in other products from JRA.
Unlike many other software libraries that are in open-source and covered by the GNU open-source licensing terms, the owners of the DjVuLibre have not yet offered a commercial licensing option. If the JRA request is approved, this will make the commercial licensing of the DjVuLibre library available to other software developers as well, widening the user base for DjVu because more DjVu-supporting applications will be made available on the market.
The PDFPublish application itself offers OCR (Optical Character Recognition) in 176 languages, as opposed to the one language (English) that is currently available. PDFPublish also offers other unique processing features for DjVu to users, such as the ability to "sepia-tone" bitonal documents without increasing the file size, the ability to automatically generate hyperlinks in DjVu files, and the ability to embed metadata in DjVu files.
A commercial license to DjVuLibre will not include the ability to segment color images, as this is a encoding feature for DjVu that is owned by LizardTech, and it used by LizardTech in their DjVu products, but is not part of the DjVuLibre library. The DjVuLibre license will, however, permit licensed applications, such as PDFPublish, to produce Bitonal and Photo DjVu files, and most likely at a lower cost than is available now in the DjVu encoding products from LizardTech. This will help to keep the DjVu format competitive with the PDF format. Adobe is releasing Acrobat 6 at the end of this month, featuring new compression methods (JBIG2 and JPEG2000) that are comparable and competitive with the Bitonal and Photo encoding for DjVu, so the competition is heating up.
The DjVuLibre open-source library was established a few years ago, when LizardTech contributed a substantial part (but not all) of the DjVu code base to the open-source library. Since that time, many improvements to the DjVuLibre library have been made by AT&T and the original format authors of DjVu, Leon Bottou and Yann LeCun. These are collectively the owners of the DjVuLibre library who will now review the JRA commercial licensing request.
Examples of other open-source libraries that are also commercially licensed today by their owners include QT, a GUI-development toolset, and GhostScript, a library for converting PostScript files to PDF format.
In addition to PDFPublish, JRA has two other DjVu-enabled applications in need of the commercial DjVuLibre license - JRAConvert and JRMD Library. The first is a wizard application for extacting text and images from DjVu. The second is a COM component for reading and writing metadata for DjVu on a web server. We have other applications in the design stage, notably one that will manage the creation of multiple index files for a single DjVu volume.
We think that commercial licensing for DjVuLibre will benefit everyone. It will make additional DjVu applications and features available to the public, and will create revenue for the DjVuLibre owners, notably for Leon and Yann, who have in the past two years, continued to develop the code as well to support the SourceForge and DjVuZone websites as volunteers. It will generate revenue for JRA, and will assist JRA in continuing to develop this PlanetDjVu website, which has so far been a voluntary, non-revenue-producing contribution of JRA to the public. Finally, it will help to keep DjVu competitive with PDF, something that is certainly needed these days!
Check back here in a month or so, as we will update you on the initiative to establish commercial licensing for the DjVuLibre library. The initial feedback offered by Leon and Yann to our application for a commercial DjVuLibre license is very positive.We may soon have DjVu applications that are compiled with the DjVuLibre library ready to offer to you! Stay tuned...