August 22, 2002

Sigma Designs violates GNU GPL

Michael Militzer writes: The XVID development team,
author of the popular XVID MPEG-4 video codec, claims that Sigma
Designs' REALmagic MPEG-4 Video Codec is an illegal copy of the XVID
software and publicly requests the company to stop violating their
software license and copyrights.
XVID is a leading open source MPEG-4 video research project: software
distributed by XVID is covered by a Free Software license, the GNU
General Public License (GNU GPL). The XVID team announced that Sigma
Designs' REALmagic MPEG-4 Video Codec includes wide portions of
XVIDcodec software. By not offering a corresponding source code
distribution and by claiming sole authorship on the product, Sigma
Designs' Inc. is violating the GNU General Public License and the
copyrights of the XVID authors.

XVID learned about the license violation in early July, soon after the
initial release of the REALmagic software (version 1.0). Sigma Designs'
were immediately contacted, and replied confirming the violation and
promising to replace all violating code.

Version 1.1 of the REALmagic software was released on the 9th of August.
After examining the new version, XVID developers concluded that the
violating code was not replaced, but disguised by programming and
compiling tricks. Sigma Designs' were again contacted and asked to
remove the REALmagic download link from their website. Thus far, they
have not shown any sign of cooperation.

In a statement to the XVID development team, project founder Michael
Militzer showed his disappointment regarding Sigma Designs' behaviour:
"We have been quite reasonable and have given Sigma Designs' ample
opportunity to resolve this issue. Apparently none of our demands have
been taken seriously. Nearly two months after the initial release of the
REALmagic MPEG-4 Video Codec, Sigma Designs' is still knowingly
infringing the GNU General Public License."

Militzer believes this infringement might be of high general interest:
"This is an unfortunate event, not only for us but for the whole Free
Software movement. Therefore we hope to receive wide support from the
Free Software community in our efforts to convince Sigma Designs' to
respect the terms of the GPL."

Evidence supporting the claim has been published on the XVID website.

About XVID (
XVID is a leading open source MPEG-4 video research project, founded by
the German student Michael Militzer in August 2001 to continue the
efforts of DivXNetworks' former OpenDivX project. Today, the XVID
project consists of users and developers from all over the world. XVID
publishes all its software under the GNU General Public License (GNU

About Sigma Designs Inc. (
Sigma Designs' headquarters are located in Milpitas, California. The
company specializes in MPEG based video hardware for encoding and
decoding. Recently Sigma Designs' introduced the Xcard, the first
consumer hardware MPEG-4 decoder in the form of a personal computer
add-on card.

About GNU GPL (
The GNU General Public License is the most frequently used software
license for Free Software development and is supported by the Free
Software Foundation (FSF). Software distributed under the GNU GPL grants
everyone modification and redistribution rights, on the condition that
derived or redistributed software carries the same license.


For contacting the XVID team please use the e-mail addresses or

Please address your request to one of the following persons:

Daniel Smith (USA)
Michael Militzer (Germany and international)
Christoph Lampert (Germany and international)
Edouard Gomez (France)

Click Here!