It’s well known that Fedora ships free software only, except for some firmware in order to boot. But unlike Debian that has a non-free repository, Fedora offers no options to those who want to install closed source software. This is because of legal issues; as Fedora relies on Red Hat Enterprise they have to follow the same rules and Red Hat, as a USA based company, has to avoid everything related to copyright.
This is why Fedora never shipped codecs except those that are open source. People who want to listen to their usual music files have to install some third party software or repository to get them working.
Every audio and video format needs two sets of codecs: for decoding and for encoding.
Patents don’t cover the file format itself, but the codecs you need to process it. This means that every file format has two patents, one for decoders and another for encoders.
Encoding means you’re editing a file and saving it in a specific format. Examples of this are the use of Audacity and KDEnlive.
Decoding means you’re listening or watching a file without modifying it. Examples of this are the use of Totem and Clementine.
The good news are that the patents for encoding and decoding MP3 and AC3 had expired, and Cisco made an agreement with RH related to H264, so now it is legally possible for Fedora to offer these codecs from repositories.
This means that those who install Fedora 25 will be able to listen to their music out of the box and can install the codecs needed for editing music from repositories. Those who installed Fedora 24 can install the codecs from repositories as well, if they didn’t install them via third party. And those who will install Fedora 26 will get all the codecs for free out of the box!
Happy listening, Fedorians and thanks for reading!