"The inclusion of proprietary codecs in Mint was a small but
significant difference. Like many other versions of Linux, Ubuntu
does not include proprietary codecs and fonts by default because
they are subject to 'copyright or legal issues in some countries'.
Users have the option to download the restricted extras, but the
choice is theirs.
"Ubuntu takes this position for good reasons, exemplified by the
$1.53 billion judgement against Microsoft in 2007 for infringing a
patent on MP3 audio compression technologies; this was taken out by
Bell Laboratories and held by Alcatel-Lucent. Microsoft later
appealed the judgement and the case was settled in 2008, costing
Microsoft many millions, but the point was made.
"Although MP3 is an acknowledged standard, recognised by the
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 1993, the
format contains technologies that were subject to patents in
certain jurisdictions, and whatever the rights and wrongs of
patents on software techniques or mathematical formulae, litigation
is an expensive and wasteful undertaking for a Linux