Update : Yes it was a joke ;)
It seems that history repeats itself, as we all remember the sad demise of BMRT and Entropy due to the lawsuit against Larry Gritz by Pixar over patent infringment, or something to that effect. Well recently it has come to our attention that certain projects are being hit with the same lawsuits over graphics technology patents and now Aqsis and Pixe are now no more in the open source domain.
What this means is that the developers have to license the RiSpec from Pixar despite the fact that the code was written from scratch, the patent technology described in papers are so close to the Pixar source code that lawyers are afraid of investment loss. "Aqsis and Pixe, while being open source has this code that infringes on the technolgy Pixar invented, clearly the need to take effort to protect the name and reputation, as well as financial investments, is required" says a source that wishes not to be named for legal reasons.
This seems to be a common trend in the software industry where one technology company sues another over patent infringement, it seems that the open source world is not immune of this legal battle either. This comes as a devestating blow to the community since this means that development on these projects comes to a halt and will require the developers to license the patent, sell the software in order to recoup the license cost and make profit to pay for the subsequent years thereafter.
Already the developers of 3Delight, AIR and RenderDotC have adjusted the pricing to cover the fees with the same legal action, though it is far easier for them since they are commercial products already with established footprints in the industry. The open source community of Renderman users and artists were just starting to establish the valid reason for such tools and on the brink of the dawn the rug was pulled from under us and now we either use the old versions that will remain as is or pay for the next gen versions of our beloved rendering apps.
It is a sad time in our chapter as a whole and we wish the developers of Aqsis and Pixie well as they adjust to the dealings of commercial development. We are only waiting to see if our site gets hit with the same lawsuit over the name RenderMan itself, something also spoken of around the net here and there, so time will only tell if this site exists in the future at all.