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How Open-source are Soundfonts?

Category: Coffee break
  • 2 2
    Message from Bill Peterson on
    Anyone on here "in the know" enough to talk about what the current and possible future status of the SoundFont spec is? I know the trademark is owned by E-mu Systems, which made the specification public back in the 90s, but how free is it really? What possibility is there that E-mu or some other company that gets hold of the rights/trademark can decide no one can create/publish new soundfonts, or develop code that uses them?
  • Message from Bill Peterson on
    Looks like I could find a lot of answers to my questions just by reading the links in the post directly below this one
  • 14 1
    Message from mirabilos on 1
    They can prevent the (further!) dissemination of the spec under copyright law (sfspec24.pdf is licenced for internal reproduction only, so e.g. I can’t just give you my copy), and they can prevent people from calling them like that under trademark law.

    They cannot, however, prevent anyone from producing soundfonts or soundfont-related machinery, as this is required for interoperability. (Though without the availability of the spec this would become harder; the source code of OSS soundfont utilities like Polyphone and FluidSynth would become the de-facto standard, and if that deviates from the spec anywhere but the spec is hidden, it’ll eventually become the new de-facto spec, and commercial soundfont producers wouldn’t like that (because it’d mean their official-spec-compliant soundfonts won’t work identically in OSS applications) so they’d probably have pressure to not hide the spec.)

    The spec is not distributable, but software and soundfonts implementing it are.

    I’m also pretty sure that people may summarise the spec in their own words and distribute that, for interoperability, at least in the EU, but specific details may be tricky and they’d best consult their lawyers if they intend to do that.


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