Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 24th May 2010 10:45 UTC
Legal Nero AG, a company with one of the most fitting names ever (can you imagine a company called Hitler or Stalin 2000 years from now?), has filed an anti-trust lawsuit against the MPEG-LA. The German technology company claims the licensing body has abused its monopoly power, and that is has not honoured agreements made with the US Department of Justice. There's some juicy stuff in here.
Order by: Score:
Wow
by korpenkraxar on Mon 24th May 2010 11:14 UTC
korpenkraxar
Member since:
2005-09-10

I skimmed through the pdf... Wow! This is a pretty meaty document, full of details and well written. This is going to be interesting. Maybe I should pick up a Nero licence for my Linux box :-)

Reply Score: 8

RE: Wow
by TheWzzrd on Mon 24th May 2010 11:28 UTC in reply to "Wow"
TheWzzrd Member since:
2008-05-08

Picking up a license for Linux might be a good idea. Picking up any license at all for them might be a good idea, as a matter of fact.

I doubt they have deep enough pockets to go against Apple et al., so they'll need (y)our cash. It's worth it though. I'd love to see the guys and gals from MPEG-LA go flat on their faces.

Thom, can you guys please implement OpenID for this site?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Wow
by MacMan on Mon 24th May 2010 17:17 UTC in reply to "RE: Wow"
MacMan Member since:
2006-11-19

I doubt they have deep enough pockets to go against Apple et al.,


Hold on!

Apple != MPEG-LA!!!

also

Microsoft != MPEG-LA

Both of them PAY MPEG-LA royalties because they are afraid of getting sued! It would be in Apple's and Microsoft's best interests if there were no MPEG-LA extorting money from them. Apple chose to support H.264 for basically two reasons, 1: they pay MPEG-LA royalties, so they won't get sued, if they used some other codec, they could potentially get sued by MPEG-LA, basically. And 2: they have a really good decoder for H.264, it would take a lot of time and money to implement decoders as good for other codecs.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Wow
by Moochman on Mon 24th May 2010 18:24 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Wow"
Moochman Member since:
2005-07-06

Apple and MS are both patent holders in the H.264 patent pool. That means they get a cut of the royalties.

Reply Score: 5

RE[4]: Wow
by kaiwai on Tue 25th May 2010 12:43 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Wow"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

Apple and MS are both patent holders in the H.264 patent pool. That means they get a cut of the royalties.


Which probably means that pay almost nothing for h264 when one weighs up royalties versus payments.

Reply Score: 3

RE[5]: Wow
by ichi on Tue 25th May 2010 18:09 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Wow"
ichi Member since:
2007-03-06

They both seem to have a thing for non level playing fields.

At least MS, while not implementing native support for WebM on IE, is not blocking it either.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Wow
by kaiwai on Wed 26th May 2010 00:03 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Wow"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

They both seem to have a thing for non level playing fields.

At least MS, while not implementing native support for WebM on IE, is not blocking it either.


Apple hasn't blocked it either; hardly Apple's fault if people aren't producing a VP8 plugin for QuickTime.

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Wow
by PresentIt on Sat 29th May 2010 11:09 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Wow"
PresentIt Member since:
2010-02-10

Apple has been spreading FUD against VP8, claiming that they are gathering patents to destroy it.

I think that's QUITE different from Microsoft's response!

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Wow
by RFC3251 on Mon 24th May 2010 21:53 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Wow"
RFC3251 Member since:
2010-05-24


Apple != MPEG-LA!!! also Microsoft != MPEG-LA

Both of them PAY MPEG-LA royalties because they are afraid of getting sued!


No, both Microsoft and Apple are members of the MPEG LA gang (along with Sony, Dolby, and a few others). They collect royalties from other companies using H.264 (and try to sue competing formats). That is why Apple and Microsoft refused to implement Theora decoding in their browsers (Safari and MSIE). They already pay MPEG LA to be allowed to use H.264, so there wasn't even any risk of being sued. They refused to support the open format because they get royalties from the proprietary one, and neither of them knows how to compete on a level playing field.

Google, Adobe, Mozilla, and Opera, on the other hand, are not members of MPEG LA (and only the first two pay the H.264 "protection money").

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Wow
by marcus0263 on Mon 24th May 2010 20:20 UTC in reply to "RE: Wow"
marcus0263 Member since:
2007-06-02

I've been buying a Nerolinux license since their first release. Originally motivated by wanting to support company's investing in Linux ports I continually buy it because they've done a great job with the software. While the open source Brasero and K3b work ok Nerolinux is very good. It's not bloated with crap like their Windows port and it's only $20.

I very highly recommend people supporting them not only for the principle but it also being an excellent product.

Reply Score: 4

it's time !
by boulabiar on Mon 24th May 2010 11:33 UTC
boulabiar
Member since:
2009-04-18

it's time for things to change, with 100% market share we are already in a big prison made by Mpeg-LA.

Thanks Thom for reporting the news ;)

Reply Score: 1

I want a future where:
by kragil on Mon 24th May 2010 11:34 UTC
kragil
Member since:
2006-01-04

- the internet an open platform, where _everybody_ can make great things happen
- all the software needed can be freely obtained
- where hardware can be useful just by supporting this open platform

With the introduction of VP8 that at least has a chance of happening, which is awesome. My guess though is that the MPEG-LA will fight that future with all they've got.


PS. Red Hat Legal cleared VP8 for Fedora.

Reply Score: 12

v RE: I want a future where:
by fanboi_fanboi on Tue 25th May 2010 14:19 UTC in reply to "I want a future where:"
holy guacamole
by DhulKarnain on Mon 24th May 2010 11:37 UTC
DhulKarnain
Member since:
2009-11-03

"MPEG-LA sought a promise from the US Department of Justice that it would not initiate any antitrust investigations against the licensing body"

I admit I'm not exactly up to date with the US legal system being European and all, but does anybody else finds this completely apsurd or is it just me?

Since when can private entities seek any kind of reassurance from the federal government that they're safe from investigation/prosecution? And if they do obtain it, how much time does it have to pass for the justice system to be able to look into their business once again?

I would very much like to hear an American explain this.

Reply Score: 11

RE: holy guacamole
by saidge@yahoo.com on Mon 24th May 2010 12:08 UTC in reply to "holy guacamole"
saidge@yahoo.com Member since:
2007-11-06

I'm no legal expert, but as I see it companies can ask for whatever they want, however ridiculous. RIAA/MPAA anyone?

With that said, just because a company asks for it doesn't mean they ever had a hope in hell of actually being granted their request.

In the case of the MPEG-LA seeking antitrust immunity from the DOJ, it seems that all the DOJ did (after laughing that a company could be so arrogant) was outline what the company could do to avoid violating US antitrust laws.

Kinda like a kid asking not to get punished for doing something bad, and the parent responding that bad children get punished, and then teaching the child how to be good.

Reply Score: 7

Now that's what I call exciting !
by Neolander on Mon 24th May 2010 12:00 UTC
Neolander
Member since:
2010-03-08

*grabs some popcorn, and gives buckets to other people for free*

The more gigantic and absurd the patent war becomes, the quicker a much-needed revision of the patent system to make it fit the needs of the software world is going to happen.

Moreover, these guys have got some excellent argumentation skills that would almost compensate their generally horrible desktop software (at least it was last time I checked). This is what I call great news !

Edited 2010-05-24 12:01 UTC

Reply Score: 4

bhtooefr Member since:
2009-02-19

There used to be a time when Nero was stable, fast, and very capable.

Shame it sucks lately, but at least the company is fighting the good fight in the patent war...

Reply Score: 2

WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

There used to be a time when Nero was stable, fast, and very capable.
Shame it sucks lately, but at least the company is fighting the good fight in the patent war...


Ya know, I used to be a loyal user of Nero, but then they starded selling their CD/DVD burning app as part of a huge bundle with a bunch of shit that I didn't want or need, and that was the only way you could get it (aside from OEM versions). At around the same time, free burning tools like CDBurnerXP and Infrarecorder showed up on the scene.

So when Vista came out and the version of Nero I had wasn't compatible, figured I'd try out some of the free tools and I'd purchase the new version of Nero only if I needed to. Well, that was about 3 years ago and I have never looked back. Between the programs I mentioned above plus ImgBurn, I haven't had a need for Nero yet.

I see now that they're selling the Burning Rom application separately, but is there really any need for it anymore? Meaning, does it do anything else that the free apps don't?

Reply Score: 4

cerbie Member since:
2006-01-02

Well, it probably works 100% of the time in Windows 7 64, which CDBurnerXP and Infrarecorder don't...but ImgBurn does that, so...

...and then, of course, there's K3b, for the *n*x universe.

Reply Score: 2

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

First try to skip license payments then accuse them monopoly. Sounds like company that isn't doing so well.


Or, you read Nero's account and learn WHY they stopped paying. How 'bout that?

Ofc you have choice to either believe someone who is completely biased, Thom, or real press who don't pull such a childish "patent troll" crap on every possible point.


So, stating something that is 100% true (namely, that Larry Horn is a patent troll), is not "real press"?

Weird idea of "real press" you have.

Edited 2010-05-24 12:44 UTC

Reply Score: 8

sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

First try to skip license payments then accuse them monopoly. Sounds like company that isn't doing so well.

Obviously you lack the ability to do basic research like, you know, reading the actual complaint Nero filed. If you had bothered to do that instead of just believing whatever tripe your buddies in the MPEG-LA choose to feed to you then you might have noticed that MPEG-LA

1) Changed the definition of what constituted a sale, contradicting previous agreements with Nero.
2) Demanded royalties retroactively for years-worth of sales.

A suit of this nature might be reasonable and normal for Nero if only 1) had occurred, but given 2) it is absolutely essential.

How would you feel if your land lord came to you and said "I'm raising the rent on your apartment by 80% and I'm doing it retroactively since you moved in, so you own me 80% more per month since you've been here. With interest. Here's a bill, now pay up!"? Most people could not afford that, as Nero likely cannot afford it.

Edited 2010-05-24 17:37 UTC

Reply Score: 11

Hopefully MPEG-LA will be dismantled
by RichterKuato on Mon 24th May 2010 13:11 UTC
RichterKuato
Member since:
2010-05-14

I'm tired of all their crap about having patents on every conceivable method for making codecs.

Hey, Maybe Google, Opera, and Mozilla can pitch in or something. Like they did with that browser ballot thing in Europe.

Reply Score: 2

PresentIt Member since:
2010-02-10

Apart from the ballot screen being Microsoft's own idea...

Google, Opera and Mozilla all oppose software patents, and have explicitly stated that they will only ever use patents defensively.

Reply Score: 1

RichterKuato Member since:
2010-05-14

What I trying to say was that they would team up with Nero in the Antitrust case against MPEG-LA like they did with Opera's case against Internet Explorer.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by fgrasset
by fgrasset on Mon 24th May 2010 14:49 UTC
fgrasset
Member since:
2005-12-02

Wow, I love the h264 codec, it’s really the best audio/video codec out there.

However MPEG-LA was - and still is - an horrible organization that have unclear and obviously unfair policy...
The simple fact that they can’t precise their licensing policy after 2015 made them evil for business and end-users...

However the MPEG-4 norms including h264 are internationals standards and the MPEG-LA is only responsible for collecting money from the licensing... where patents apply...

Thus I see 2 things:
- First: Web sites hosted in country where software patents don’t apply shouldn’t have to care about MPEG-LA and h264 licensing (please correct me if I’m wrong)
- Second: the action by Nero may lead to make MPEG-LA clarify it’s licensing policy in the long term. And hopefully, non business use of the h264 codec will remain free as it is now.

It’s only make sense that international standards must follow some rule regarding the licensing as it create some king of monopoly.

And having to switch to the inferior VP8 codec is shameful... and not always possible...

Reply Score: 0

RE: Comment by fgrasset
by darknexus on Mon 24th May 2010 16:36 UTC in reply to "Comment by fgrasset"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Wow, I love the h264 codec, it’s really the best audio/video codec out there.


Actually, just to clear things up, H.264 only handles video. It has nothing to do with audio, you can pair any audio codec you wish with H.264 provided the container you choose supports that.

First: Web sites hosted in country where software patents don’t apply shouldn’t have to care about MPEG-LA and h264 licensing (please correct me if I’m wrong)


True, the content providers in a lot of countries don't have to care. However, according to MPEG-LA, they can go after *anyone* in the chain, from distributor all the way down to the viewer. So in theory, even if they can't go after the web site in a non-patent country, they could go after a viewer in the US who visits that page for example, as their patents apply there. Now, would they actually do such a thing? That is the question. They've vaguely hinted they would, but even if they did I doubt most courts would even hear such a case. Just because MPEG-LA threatens doesn't make their threats legal, however it could cost more money to fight them off than the average person typically has.

Reply Score: 4

v RE[2]: Comment by fgrasset
by fgrasset on Mon 24th May 2010 20:33 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by fgrasset"
Stick to reporting on technology...
by chandler on Mon 24th May 2010 15:09 UTC
chandler
Member since:
2006-08-29

a Porsche, though? Seriously? So apart from being patent trolls, these guys also lack any form of taste

My advice, Thom? Stick to reporting on technology, not on cars. :-)

Disclaimer: I take it back if it was a Cayenne.

Reply Score: 9

Radio Member since:
2009-06-20

It was most certainly a Cayenne.

*Buuurn theeeem!*

Reply Score: 1

good times
by poundsmack on Mon 24th May 2010 16:31 UTC
poundsmack
Member since:
2005-07-13

Nero, while your software has become large and bloated, your heart is in the right place. Go get em.

Reply Score: 4

Clever!
by MacMan on Mon 24th May 2010 17:08 UTC
MacMan
Member since:
2006-11-19

Clever indeed.

I think this just might have a chance of working. Consider that MPEG-LA holds a stranglehold on virtually any form of video, in that their patent portfolio is so broad and vague that there really is no way of compressing video that does not violate one of their patents --- this is by definition a monopoly of the worst kind. MPEG-LA wanted a monopoly on video, and they got one, problem is monopolies are illegal.

Surprising that no one ever thought of this before.

I sincerely wish Nero AG all the luck with this.

Reply Score: 2

You aren't to brite or you are a foreigner.
by Intellihence on Mon 24th May 2010 20:45 UTC in reply to "Clever!"
Intellihence Member since:
2010-03-28

In the USA, having a monopoly is not illegal.

Reply Score: 1

umccullough Member since:
2006-01-26

In the USA, having a monopoly is not illegal.


However, once you've been labeled as such, there are antitrust law stipulations you must consider to assure you do not use your market position to unfairly restrict competition.

I think most would argue that MPEG-LA is effectively (and probably unfairly) preventing competition here by claiming that they "own" patents on every conceivable codec that would be produced. Furthermore, they appear to have been making license deals with major players in the market to "lock-in" their patented format with FUD and threats of legal action so that there can be no other options available.

Reply Score: 5

Not a company, but...
by wannabe geek on Mon 24th May 2010 18:08 UTC
wannabe geek
Member since:
2006-09-27

can you imagine a company called Hitler or Stalin 2000 years from now?


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalin_(Scheme_implementation)

Reply Score: 4

RE: Not a company, but...
by Kalessin on Mon 24th May 2010 21:38 UTC in reply to "Not a company, but..."
Kalessin Member since:
2007-01-18

Apparently, "Stalin brutally optimizes" was the idea. However, I would have thought that the name would have a large enough stigma attached to it that no one would dare use it...

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Not a company, but...
by manjabes on Tue 25th May 2010 05:46 UTC in reply to "RE: Not a company, but..."
manjabes Member since:
2005-08-27

Offtopic rant:
Why the stigma? For Western Europe and the United States, Stalin was "good old uncle Joe", who helped us win the war against them goddamn nazis, until, sadly he became the adversary afterwards. Moreso, if you were a communist in that part of the world. Therefore, the name carries only a historical value, just the same as, say, Nero.
Not for us pesky Eastern Europeans for whom the name has a bit...more delicate sense, to say the least.
Now, if somebody in France or US would name their pet project "Hitler", that'd raise some eyebrows...

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Not a company, but...
by Neolander on Tue 25th May 2010 07:47 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Not a company, but..."
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Not for us pesky Eastern Europeans for whom the name has a bit...more delicate sense, to say the least.
Now, if somebody in France or US would name their pet project "Hitler", that'd raise some eyebrows...

Errr... I'm sure that this as already been done. Be it only for the sake of making a Godwin point

(After all, NVidia copyrighted Fermi's name without anyone raising an eyebrow, so everything is possible in the world of naming)

Edited 2010-05-25 07:50 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Not a company, but...
by Kalessin on Tue 25th May 2010 16:55 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Not a company, but..."
Kalessin Member since:
2007-01-18

He might have been thought of fairly well during WWII, but after he essentially became the enemy post-WWII and it became clear to the general public just how nasty he was (I'm not sure how well it was known to the other Allied government officials), he was definitely not thought of positively in the US. I've heard it said many times that Stalin was responsible for more deaths than Hitler. And I think that most historical accounts that you'd run into these days talking about allying with Russia in WWII will say that the US didn't expect to be on good terms with Russia post-WWII and that they allied with them pretty much out of necessity.

I don't think that Stalin is viewed anywhere near as negatively as Hitler at this point, but he's definitely viewed as a tyrant and quite negatively in the US - enough so that I wouldn't expect anyone to use the name for anything.

Nero, on the other hand, is so far back in history, that your average American is lucky to even realize that he was an Emperor of Rome or associate him with it burning. The more educated will likely know, but he's pretty much purely historical at this point. Stalin, on the other hand, is too recent and was too nasty for him to be viewed purely historical yet - though I imagine that it will happen to him far sooner than Hitler.

Reply Score: 2

*** HAIL NERO! ***
by obsidian on Mon 24th May 2010 22:21 UTC
obsidian
Member since:
2007-05-12

Hopefully MPEG-LA will end up as a big smoking crater.

*** HAIL NERO! ***

Reply Score: 2

Previous Art
by toyotabedzrock on Tue 25th May 2010 03:39 UTC
toyotabedzrock
Member since:
2010-05-25

If you read http://x264dev.multimedia.cx/?p=377 I noticed some of the algorithms he mentions as being copies from x264, where discovered by people who died over 30 years ago!

How is it that MPEG-LA has patented a dead persons work for use in video encoding? How can anyone patent a math formula period?

It seems almost as if the only way to patent h264 would be to never reveal the source.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Previous Art
by cerbie on Tue 25th May 2010 08:51 UTC in reply to "Previous Art"
cerbie Member since:
2006-01-02

Shades of SCO...

Reply Score: 2

stupid patent laws
by wanker90210 on Thu 27th May 2010 11:07 UTC
wanker90210
Member since:
2007-10-26

USA as an economic superpower is going downhill fast. The day when the legal shit costs more than the revenue from being present in the US companies (and countries?) will pull out.

MPEG-LA isn't about some poor inventor making discoveries in his basement. These are just trolls. There should be no software patents.

I can see the US govt arguing this is a way to keep money coming in when factories go abroad, but it kills entrepreneurship which is much worse. Domestic Chinese companies can focus on doing products instead of legal battles.

Reply Score: 1