View Full Version : gifs illegal?

01-03-2003, 09:45 PM
A friend of mine told me today at lunch that it is now supposedly illegal to use a .gif file on a site. I think I remember something about it several months back, but he claims this is now a law, and you cannot use them on a corporate site.

Anyone able to confirm that?

01-03-2003, 10:20 PM
This link gives some background information:


AFAIK, Unisys hasn't done anything lately with regards to their patent claim. If they had, I'm sure it would be all over the tech news sites.

01-03-2003, 10:21 PM
I'm not sure about it being a law (you may find it listed at http://www.dumblaws.com :D). I did read that the .gif format was created by a company (CumpuServe?) who copyrighted it. But with probably over 3/4 of the web now using gifs including large company sites, I dont see any chance of you getting in trouble or getting sued ;) .

(posted at the same time as BrainJar)

01-03-2003, 10:46 PM
Thanks, guys. I did a quick check over some sites, including that of my old company, and noticed that they use jpgs.


01-03-2003, 10:54 PM
Gifs are about the most supported transparent image type available. PNGs are a great alternative, but theyre not as widely supported.

01-03-2003, 11:33 PM
I think it was just for software that incorporated gifs. :D

01-03-2003, 11:51 PM
Only the software employing the LZW algorithm for writing GIF files is "at risk". The Unisys patent includes claims which specifically cover the decompression of LZW-compressed material, so it may also affect simple GIF readers. Several patent attorneys consulted on this matter have concluded that decompression-only programs do not infringe upon the Unisys patent. Unisys however does not appear to share this opinion.

from http://www.cloanto.com/users/mcb/19950127giflzw.html

on a side note: Rasmus himself (all hail) has favoured .gif compressed file reading within the compiled version of GD2.0.1 that comes packaged with PHP4.3
Also of note is: the LZW algorythm is used for a great many more filesize reductions than just gif.

01-04-2003, 01:39 AM
as per Oki's post , its not nor never has been illegal to use gif's but whatever application is decompressing or compressing Gifs has to have a liscence from unisys to do so (so thats Fireworks,IE,any image manipulator), Unisys have moved the liscensing goalposts around on this one a fair bit which has been the main cause of frustration for developers.

So only if you actually use the algorithm yourself are you supposed to worry... anyway the patent expires this year so we can put that one to bed :)

01-04-2003, 02:16 AM
I am using fireworks to do it, actually. One of the things I noticed about the site I took over is that the images are all .png's. I am going to convert them all over to .gifs, probably. I had considered using jpgs, but we'll see.

01-04-2003, 02:32 AM
Originally posted by BigDaddy
I am using fireworks to do it, actually. One of the things I noticed about the site I took over is that the images are all .png's. I am going to convert them all over to .gifs, probably. I had considered using jpgs, but we'll see.

Why? PNG's are better than GIF's typically. Unless you're doing translucency, there isn't any real compatibility problems with it either.

01-04-2003, 05:04 AM
I guess I was always taught to use either gifs or jpgs. I didn't know pngs were as universally accepted. come to think of it, though, I haven't had any problems viewing it in either IE or Nutscrap.

01-04-2003, 01:17 PM
pngs are pretty much a 32bit jpeg with the alpha channel directed to control transparency (or other colour properties). As such they are compressible (more so than gif) and have a base 16,777,216 indices colour palette as opposed to gifs 256.

== better than gifs

01-06-2003, 06:30 PM
This is kind of like, it's illegal to copy programming on TV. But, it's ok for manufacturer's to sell video/dvd recorders that allow us to do so. Now, ask yourself, how many times have you seen in the paper or in general, police raiding someone's house and arresting them because they taped the latest episode of Friends?