The Standard: The Latest GIF Tiff

“On April 14, AccuWeather.com announced that it would in the
next month cease distributing weather maps and other weather
graphics to its clients using the GIF file format, opting to send
out its images with the open-source PNG standard instead.

“The change will be transparent to nearly all visitors to the
site because most Web browsers, including Microsoft (MSFT) ‘s
Internet Explorer versions 4 and 5, as well as Netscape version 4,
support PNG. However, open-source advocates are calling the
AccuWeather switch-over a victory in the ongoing campaign against
GIFs – which contain a file-encoding system patented in America,
Japan, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Britain by Unisys (UIS)
.com – and against software patents in general….”

“According to Mark Starr, Unisys’ patent counsel, the terms of
LZW licenses have varied as the Web has developed. One type of
agreement seeks a fraction of 1 percent royalty on sales of LZW/GIF
products, while another charges a flat $5,000 fee. (GIFs produced
by commercial software, such as Adobe Photoshop or The Gimp, are
already covered by the software vendor’s license. However, software
that dynamically creates GIFs to generate maps or charts on the fly
generally needs to be licensed.)”


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