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xiphmont

Wait, dude, what?

Oh. Oh my. After a decade of the MPEG LA saying they were coming to destroy the FOSS codec movement, with none other than the late Steve Jobs himself chiming in, today the Licensing Authority announced what we already knew.

They got nothing. There will be no Theora patent pool. There will be no VP8 patent pool. There will be no VPnext patent pool.

We knew that of course, we always did. It's just that I never, in a million years, expected them to put it in writing and walk away. The wording suggests Google paid some money to grease this along, and the agreement wording is interesting [and instructive] but make no mistake: Google won. Full stop.

This is not an unconditional win for FOSS, of course, the LA narrowed the scope of the agreement as much as they could in return for agreeing to stop being a pissy, anti-competetive brat. But this is still huge. We can work with this.

For at least the immediate future, I shall have to think some uncharacteristically nice things about the MPEG LA.*

And now... Discuss!

*Apologies to Rep. Barney Frank


>Google has bought of 11 patentholders for licensing of VP8 to get their proprietary codec (codec is controlled by Google) out of a mess.

First off, if the codec is controlled by Google, how is it that we both contribute to its development and use it free of charge _and_ free of explicit license? We are also collaborating in the development of VPnext-- we're even doing the spec writing. You have an odd definition of proprietary.

Second, When MPEG LA first announced the VP8 pool formation, a rush of companies applied to be in the pool, partly because everyone wanted to see what everyone else had. That gave way to some amount of disappointment. And by 'some amount' I mean 'rather a lot really, more than the MPEG-LA would care to admit.'

Eventually, things whittled down to a few holdouts. Those '11 patent holders' do not assert they have patents that cover the spec. They said '_may_ cover'. The press release itself repeats this. Then these patent holders said 'and we're willing to make that vague threat go away for a little cash'. Google paid the cash. This is what lawyers do.

That's why it's a huge newsworthy deal when companies like NewEgg actually take the more expensive out and litigate a patent. It is always more expensive than settling, even if you'd win the case, and very few companies are willing or able to do it. Google was probably able, but not willing.

We deal with this in the IETF all the time. Someone files a draft and a slew of companies file IPR statements that claim they have patents that 'may' read on the draft. Unlike other SDOs though, the IETF requires them to actually list the patent numbers so we can analyze and refute. And despite unequivocal third-party analyses stating 'there is no possibility patent X applies', these companies still present their discredited IPR statements to 'customers' and mention that these customers may be sued if they don't license. This is not the exception; this is standard operating procedure in the industry. This style of licensing, for example, accounts for more than half of Qualcomm's total corporate income.

It's this last threat that Google paid a nominal sum to make go away. It's the best anyone can hope for in a broken system. If those 11 patent holders had a strong claim, it is exceedingly unlikely they would have agreed to a perpetual, transferable, royalty free license.


>Why don't they make a deal with Apple and Microsoft to pay of h.264 patentholders for h.264 use on the internet.

Apple and Microsoft and several hundred others holding several thousand total patents. Do you have _any_ idea how encumbered h264 is?

We've made it very clear to MPEG LA that if h.264 was made available on a RF basis, even the baseline (note: The baseline was supposed to be RF), we would be happy.

It's not the money, it's the license terms that state a license is not exhausted by use except in an end-product. For example, if Mozilla was to ship h264, it would be necessary to eliminate Moz's free software license completely-- no one who built it would be allowed to use it unless they too separately negotiated a license, and Mozilla would be required to track all copies of the downloaded software.

This is utterly and completely contrary to everything that made the internet possible and has allowed it to thrive.

Google has spent over a quarter of a billion dollars on WebM so far. that should give you some idea how important an RF video codec is, and how far h264 is from ever being usable as one.

Edited at 2013-03-08 01:57 pm (UTC)
(Frozen) (Parent) (Thread)

VP9 and Daala

(Anonymous)

2013-03-09 07:15 pm (UTC)

> how is it that we both contribute to its development
So Daala is just an experimental codec which is not supposed to become usable by non-codec developers and all "serious" development happens on VP9?
> and use it free of charge _and_ free of explicit license?
Do you use it internally for something?
> We are also collaborating in the development of VPnext-- we're even doing the spec writing.

What does this mean for IETF yet-to-be-formed working group?

Is formation of a group stuck is some bureaucratic process? (I'm asking that because video-codec list is quiet now.)

(Frozen) (Parent) (Thread)

I'm not sure what all it means to the potential working group though I expect a significant positive impact. Detente with the MPEG LA can only be a good thing.

Things were somewhat 'stuck' in both video-codec and rtcweb waiting on Google IIRC, and now it's more clear why Google had been slipping deadlines about making several promised IPR statements. I'll be honest-- you should ask Tim or Greg here, as I'd been completely eaten by finishing the Show & Tell video, and lost track of much of what was happening on the mailing list. I'm getting caught up with everything now.
(Frozen) (Parent) (Thread)

Re: Google paying

(Anonymous)

2013-03-10 08:19 pm (UTC)

I'm sorry, but the one paying is the one who lost. Google is the loser here. Secondly, h264 is used everywhere. VP8 is used sparingly at best. The h264 codec is far more of a standard than VP8 will ever be.

As for your comment about how h264 is contrary to everything that made the internet possible, it seems the internet has flourished in spite of h264 being everywhere. Seems to me you're whining because you're not getting your way. Screw Google. There is no more slimy company on the face of the planet. Their whole goal was to try to make VP8 dominant. Gee, I wonder why? This is a company that makes it's money of the buying and selling of people's personal data for the purpose of ads. No thanks!
(Frozen) (Parent) (Thread)

> I'm sorry, but the one paying is the one who lost. Google is the loser here.

Well, in sense you're right. Google was forced to pay protection money to a multinational monopolist a thousand times bigger than they are for the right to pretend to compete.

In that sense, Google certainly lost. We all lost.

> Seems to me you're whining because you're not getting your way. Screw Google.

U mad bro? AppleInsider might be more to your liking; the bubble is comfy there.


Edited at 2013-03-11 04:07 am (UTC)
(Frozen) (Parent) (Thread)

(Deleted comment)
I don't even know where to start responding to something like this. Every factual assertion is somewhere between 'mostly wrong' and 'consipracy theory'.

[edit: Actually, screw it. Post deleted. This is my soapbox, not reddit. If you want to rant at me, be coherent. Or at least learn how patent pools work.]

Edited at 2013-03-12 01:49 pm (UTC)
(Frozen) (Parent) (Thread)

Now i love you
(Frozen) (Parent) (Thread)

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