Why No GIF?

New Year's Day 1999 brought the programming world a present from Unisys: the enforcement of the Lempel-Ziv-Welch (LZW) software patent. The CompuServe Graphical Interchange Format (GIF) can use the LZW compression method. Developers of software in the United States must pay a royalty to Unisys for each copy of the aforementioned software shipped.

It seems that the good ol' USA and Japan are some of the few countries which permits the absurd concept of a patent on software. I, as well as others, like the idea of using free, open-source software. I also don't like the idea of seeing ISPs being forced to engage in what appears to be extortion. Therefore, I do not wish to support compressed GIF any longer. However, the GIFs generated from the TeX4ht product are uncompressed, and are most likely not not infringing on any patent.

The Portable Network Graphics format is far superior anyway. However, it is not fully supported with most available browsers. Even some later versions of Opera, for example, will not support it at all.

See these articles for more information.

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This page generated from a master file on Saturday, 30 October 2004 by Curtis R. Anderson.