"Recent GIF scare underscores the importance of open
"And what a great time it is to be writing about PNG, the
portable network graphics format, after the most recent scare
involving Unisys and the GIF file format. Unisys, which holds
patents on the LZW compression algorithms used in the widely
popular GIF image format, had Web site owners, users and developers
fearing for their pocketbooks. That scare translates into an
increase in the speed at which the Net is migrating from GIF to
other image file formats, like PNG."
"The scare involved a rumor which spread like wildfire on the
Net. Slashdot posts and newsgroups were full of the buzz, and the
buzz was that Unisys was going to start coming after Web sites that
were displaying GIF images without an expensive ($5,000) Unisys
"Of course, this latest scare turned out to be mostly smoke and
false alarm. Unisys made it clear to those that asked for the facts
(like Roblimo at Slashdot) that most Web site developers had
absolutely nothing to fear. If the GIFs on their site had been
created with software licensed to use the LZW algorithm to create
the image, they were in the clear. Unisys was only going after
those sites which had GIFs created with unlicensed software.
Unlicensed software is usually free -- which means that open source
stuff like the GIMP will be potentially affected."
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