GIF Finally Free

October 1st, 2006 by Jerome Dahdah

Today marks the day that the last patent claims on the GIF format have finally expired. Some of you may remember the fiasco LZW patent-holder Unisys unleashed some years ago. LZW is the compression method CompuServe used to reduce file size when they first developed the GIF format, unaware that it was patented by Unisys. Unisys proceeded with a year-long legal battle, threatening developers left and right, and eventually trying to reap $5000 out of each website that used GIFs. Seriously. If any of you use GIMP, this is the reason there’s no GIF option. Either way, all this malarky ultimately led to the creation of the much more sophisticated open source PNG format.

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