August 24, 2002

Sigma Designs apologizes for copied MPEG-4 code, but doesn't credit XVID yet

-By Grant Gross -

Sigma Designs Inc., accused by the XVID project of pilfering its video codec and violating the code's Free Software license, has issued a statement, saying the copied code was unintentional.
Much of the statement, released late Friday evening, amplifies a Thursday press release, in which Sigma said it was releasing its MPEG-4 codec under the GNU General Public License. Ken Lowe, Sigma's vice president of business development, says in the statement that the copied code was the work of one programmer, working without the knowledge of the company's management. Lowe also says Sigma never intended to profit from the MPEG-4 code.

Lowe had first promised NewsForge an interview, then apparently released the statement instead. The statement doesn't address concerns from the XVID team that Sigma's now available source code continues to violate XVID's copyright by not acknowledging the team's work. The downloads of Sigma's REALmagic video codec now include a standard GPL copyright notice instead of Sigma's copyright, but there doesn't yet appear to be acknowledgment of XVID's work.

Following is the entire Sigma Designs statement:

Interested Parties concerning Sigma's MPEG-4 CODEC

Thank you for contacting Sigma Designs and requesting information that
relates to our MPEG-4 CODEC and the availability of its source code. We
would like to take this opportunity to address the relevant issues that have
been raised.

To begin with, Sigma developed an MPEG-4 CODEC to assist in the
proliferation of MPEG-4 content and to ensure that users can create content
libraries compatible with the ISO MPEG-4 video specifications and its
implementation in silicon. Fulfilling this goal was carried out in two
steps. The first was the introduction of an MPEG-4 CODEC, provided free of
charge, so that worldwide users could begin encoding new content. The
second was the release of source code, so that the development community
could continue with technical improvements. Sigma never intended in making,
nor realized, any profits from this code base.

Several weeks after the CODEC was first released, Sigma was contacted by the
XVID development team regarding the use of certain portions of their code.
Upon examination, it was determined that one of our programmers, unbeknownst
to management and contrary to Sigma's policy, had utilized some routines
posted by XVID as open source. During the past four weeks, Sigma had
communicated with XVID to resolve the situation. As a result, Sigma has
decided to make the current version of the MPEG-4 CODEC available under the
GPL license.

Sigma is a supporter of the Linux operating system, appreciates the work
being done by the open source community, and continues to issue certain
other code under open source arrangements. Though we believe that we have
acted as expediently as possible, Sigma Designs sincerely apologizes to the
open source community for this inadvertent use of GPL code and for the
several weeks it took to resolve the situation.


Ken Lowe
Vice President of Business Development

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