Found this <https://www.protocol.com/vlc-history-open-source> linked
from a report on the new version of VLC, describing the history of the
project back to its beginnings. Once upon a time there was “VideoLAN
Server” and “VideoLAN Client”, but today everything has been rolled
into a single “VLC” program.
Of course it’s been in the sights of Intellectual Property lawyers for
a long time:
VLC's success also put it on the radar of patent lawyers, who
started to send the VideoLAN team a growing number of legal
threats, looking to extract licensing fees. Over the years, the VLC
team received hundreds such legal threats over alleged patent
violations. Virtually all of them were without merit, according to
Kempf. Many were based on U.S. software patents that weren't easily
enforceable in Europe. Others were citing technology that VLC was
using even before companies tried to patent it. "No one is checking
whether these patents are valid," Kempf said. "It's a complete
mafia; it's protection money."
The open-source x264 codec implementation was also an offshoot of VLC.
And Jean-Baptiste Kempf says he could have done those software-bundling
deals where unwary users get all kinds of things installed on their PCs
in addition to the package they thought they were installing, and
thereby earned tens of millions of dollars, but he didn’t want to.
The project gets money from donations, but also from companies
employing developers to build custom implementations for their set-top