Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 26th Aug 2010 13:22 UTC
Multimedia, AV We haven't talked about this one for a while, but now there's news from the MPEg-LA camp. The MPEG-LA, known patent troll and chief supplier of FUD for well over ten years, is apparently feeling the pressure from Google's WebM project, and has done a complete 180. While promising earlier this year not to charge royalties for internet video that is free to end users until the end of 2015, they've now extended this promise to eternity. This may sound like a big deal, but it changes nothing - H264 is still a legal minefield even lawyers and the MPEG-LA itself have trouble understanding.
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horray
by spikeb on Thu 26th Aug 2010 14:05 UTC
spikeb
Member since:
2006-01-18

its not free but at least it doesn't cost money! </sarcasm>

Reply Score: 2

RE: horray
by mtzmtulivu on Thu 26th Aug 2010 14:41 UTC in reply to "horray"
mtzmtulivu Member since:
2006-11-14

There are two definitions of free and i think its important people identifying what "free" they are using when making arguments for or against h.264 and any other competing media technologies.

definition 1: Free as does not have any patents and no royalties required for implementing the specification and no restrictions are imposed on how the implementor can distribute the implementation..

definition 2: Free as the technology is available in a non discriminatory way and anybody who care to implement the technology can do so after they pay for royalties if required and agree to licensing terms if present

both h,264 and vp8 are free by the second definition but only vp8 is free with the first.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: horray
by RichterKuato on Thu 26th Aug 2010 15:28 UTC in reply to "RE: horray"
RichterKuato Member since:
2010-05-14

I like the main definitions of free:

Libre - With few or no restrictions.
Gratis - For zero price.

I don't think H.264 is free by either definition at least not yet anyway. Unless you're a viewer or (for now) hosts of free internet video.

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: horray
by Delgarde on Thu 26th Aug 2010 22:34 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: horray"
Delgarde Member since:
2008-08-19

I like the main definitions of free:

Libre - With few or no restrictions.
Gratis - For zero price.


Yes, the latinate words make the distinction a lot clearer... the English word 'free' is just too ambiguous.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: horray
by Fettarme H-Milch on Tue 31st Aug 2010 16:03 UTC in reply to "RE: horray"
Fettarme H-Milch Member since:
2010-02-16

definition 1: Free as does not have any patents and no royalties required for implementing the specification and no restrictions are imposed on how the implementor can distribute the implementation..
(...) only vp8 is free with the first.

According to the guy who developed the VP8 decoder for ffmpeg, VP8 and h264 are very similar. He even called VP8 a derivateve of h264 Baseline.

Why should patents apply to h264 but not VP8?

Reply Score: 2

v So
by Mr.Manatane on Thu 26th Aug 2010 14:06 UTC
RE: So
by jptros on Thu 26th Aug 2010 14:25 UTC in reply to "So"
jptros Member since:
2005-08-26

Yeah, I doubt WebM and Google's defense attorneys had anything to do with MPEG-LA's change in attitude.

Edited 2010-08-26 14:25 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: So
by kaiwai on Thu 26th Aug 2010 14:35 UTC in reply to "RE: So"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

Yeah, I doubt WebM and Google's defense attorneys had anything to do with MPEG-LA's change in attitude.


Agreed; MPEG-LA is merely a holding company - two of the biggest holders are Apple and Microsoft plus a few others. I'm sure that the holders came the conclusion that it is best to allay fears regarding patent fee's than having a festering sore that results in fragmentation of half a dozen different formats which pushes end users back to square one - who benefits from fragmentation? Adobe pushing Flash as the 'swiss army knife' that will solve all of the online media's problems.

Edited 2010-08-26 14:35 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: So
by westlake on Thu 26th Aug 2010 16:24 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: So"
westlake Member since:
2010-01-07

MPEG-LA is merely a holding company - two of the biggest holders are Apple and Microsoft plus a few others.

Those others are global giants in manufacturing.

Cisco. Ericsson. Fujitsu. JVC. Mitsubishi. Philips. NTT. Panasonic. Samsung. Siemans. Sony. Toshiba.

Microsoft is a bit player here - and Google microscopic when compared to the raw economic power of the 867 H.264 licensees.

H.264 is deeply entrenched outside the web.

In industrial, medical, security and military applications. Theatrical production. Home video. Broadcast, cable and satellite distribution.

The enterprise cap on H.264 licensing is $5 million a year.

If WebM fails to gain traction Google has nothing to lose but a few coins swept up off the washroom floors.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: So
by tyrione on Thu 26th Aug 2010 21:11 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: So"
tyrione Member since:
2005-11-21

Apple is not one of the biggest holders. They have 1 patent.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: So
by mckill on Thu 26th Aug 2010 21:59 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: So"
mckill Member since:
2007-06-12

Apple is not one of the biggest holders. They have 1 patent.


he must of meant "apple is the biggest company that i hate that has anything to do with h264 and i will hate them because they clearly are trying to make billions of dollars off their insignificant patent count"

Reply Score: 2

RE: So
by Neolander on Thu 26th Aug 2010 15:26 UTC in reply to "So"
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

No, you ;)

First because the MPEG-LA still may proceed to act in an Unisys-like fashion if H.264 catches up on the web. As Thom points out a simple ad already is "commercial use of H.264". (This is probably why Google currently helps us to get rid of H.264 by the way).

Second because the H.264 format isn't as tightly coupled with the computer world as you may think. Last time a friend told me about getting H.264 video from a mid-end camcorder in AfterEffects and Premiere, it was still a nightmare. Flash video is partly VP6 content, not always H.264. Most videos found on the web use things like DivX, XviD in an MKV container, or WMV.

H.264 has won the war in a few areas, like camcorders, video discs, and Apple devices. But in the PC world, video encoding still is a mess with no dominant standard. In the mobile world, there is more or less a de facto standard, but if I remember well it's H.263 (probably because of how much it hogs a poor low-end cellphone CPU to decode H.264 video).

The MPEG-LA can fear about WebM, despite what you may think, because it's backed by Google. Google, who own Youtube, so... say... 85% of the videos seen on the web everyday. And Android, too. They have some serious firepower, more than enough to banish the MPEG-LA's profitable baby from the profitable PC world and a growing part of the mobile world if they want to. What they will do with this power, however, still remains to be seen...

Edited 2010-08-26 15:37 UTC

Reply Score: 6

H.263
by jrincayc on Fri 27th Aug 2010 03:54 UTC in reply to "RE: So"
jrincayc Member since:
2007-07-24

I would rather H.263 becomes entrenched rather than H.264, since it is getting old enough that any patents will start expiring in the next five or so years.

Reply Score: 1

RE: So
by sorpigal on Thu 26th Aug 2010 16:31 UTC in reply to "So"
sorpigal Member since:
2005-11-02

I'm one and I'm right here.

This changes nothing. All this does is permit the use of h264 for cases when the video is being delivered "free to end users"--which covers a fraction of potential uses. And, I must remind you, it only covers web video besides.

None of the arguments against h264 *relied* on them eventually beginning to charge for all video used on the internet. It certainly was one of the more nightmarish scenarios, but even without that outcome the use of encumbered h264 is still unwise and unhealthy.

Reply Score: 4

RE: So
by aaronb on Thu 26th Aug 2010 17:44 UTC in reply to "So"
aaronb Member since:
2005-07-06

MPEG LA’s AVC License Will Not Charge Royalties for Internet Video That Is Free to End Users Through Life of License


The above was quoted from "http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20100825006629/en"

So what about BBC iPlayer videos?
Videos shipped with Video games?

If it is not internet videos, or a paid for service then we will still be hit by royalty fees.

What happens what with new licenses or renewal of licenses?

Reply Score: 1

I wouldn't...
by nabil2199 on Thu 26th Aug 2010 14:15 UTC
nabil2199
Member since:
2010-03-31

...trust the mpeg-la just yet.
What is preventing them from pulling a switcheroo?
What is the definition of internet video? as in: if I use a machine as a cache for videos which I then stream to a second one would it still be internet video?

Reply Score: 3

RE: I wouldn't...
by Fettarme H-Milch on Tue 31st Aug 2010 16:09 UTC in reply to "I wouldn't..."
Fettarme H-Milch Member since:
2010-02-16

...trust the mpeg-la just yet.
What is preventing them from pulling a switcheroo?

All license holders have to agree first.

What is the definition of internet video? as in: if I use a machine as a cache for videos which I then stream to a second one would it still be internet video?

All charges apply only for more than 100,000 per year. Every use case that affects fewer people has always been free of charge.

Reply Score: 2

will probably slow adoption
by google_ninja on Thu 26th Aug 2010 14:25 UTC
google_ninja
Member since:
2006-02-05

Apple still hasn't said anything about webm. so it is basically mobile devices + safari, chrome, and IE, or supporting FF, chrome, and IE. If you take the whole royalty thing off the table, h264 is going to make more sense, at least until apple decides where they are going to go with webm.

Reply Score: 2

RE: will probably slow adoption
by werpu on Fri 27th Aug 2010 06:47 UTC in reply to "will probably slow adoption"
werpu Member since:
2006-01-18

Apple still hasn't said anything about webm. so it is basically mobile devices + safari, chrome, and IE, or supporting FF, chrome, and IE. If you take the whole royalty thing off the table, h264 is going to make more sense, at least until apple decides where they are going to go with webm.



Given that Mozilla cannot legally integrate h264 and html5 allows coded alternatives it simply makes sense to run a dual encoding and host the file twice and be done with it and cover every platform.

Reply Score: 3

Thank you MPEG_LA
by fithisux on Thu 26th Aug 2010 18:14 UTC
fithisux
Member since:
2006-01-22

but I prefer WebM / VP8 / Vorbis / Theora and royalty free codecs.

Reply Score: 5

v RE: Thank you MPEG_LA
by tyrione on Fri 27th Aug 2010 00:53 UTC in reply to "Thank you MPEG_LA"
RE[2]: Thank you MPEG_LA
by Thom_Holwerda on Fri 27th Aug 2010 01:41 UTC in reply to "RE: Thank you MPEG_LA"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Nonsense. ARM and many of its major licensees are WebM backers.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Thank you MPEG_LA
by shmerl on Fri 27th Aug 2010 05:04 UTC in reply to "RE: Thank you MPEG_LA"
shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

It takes time to catch up. Hardware vendors prefer a certain balance of quality vs price. WebM can be a winner here, because there are no licensing fees involved.

Reply Score: 2

webm will win
by daddio on Thu 26th Aug 2010 19:09 UTC
daddio
Member since:
2007-07-14

Just as vorbis has slowly become the de facto standard for audio that is used within an application (e.g. not to the end user), webm will for video unless there is another compelling AND free alternative.
Safety to use commercially trumps all the (mostly specious anyway) arguments about video quality

End user products may be still a battlefield for a while because users are already sold on how much better h.264 is than vanilla mp4 or mpeg2.
And we dumb end users are hard to convince there is a legal problem until long after somebody has actually started suing people.

Reply Score: 4

Doesn't help distros ship h.264 support
by ciaran on Thu 26th Aug 2010 19:44 UTC
ciaran
Member since:
2006-11-27

More info about MPEG formats and patents:

http://en.swpat.org/wiki/MPEG_video_formats

It's also worth noting that this patent promise, with its "no commerce" limitation, won't permit Red Hat to ship H.264 support in their GNU/Linux distro :-(

Reply Score: 3

the end users aren't enough
by TechGeek on Thu 26th Aug 2010 19:48 UTC
TechGeek
Member since:
2006-01-14

Who cares about end users? No one charges the end users for use anyway. H.264 will still require a license for all OS makers, all sites using it, and basically anyone who wants to do anything even remotely interesting with it. If you can't see the need here for a truly free solution, you just aren't looking or you have your head in the sand.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by motang
by motang on Fri 27th Aug 2010 12:42 UTC
motang
Member since:
2008-03-27

Hmmm...WebM must have had something to do with this one!

Reply Score: 1

Free?
by sjvn on Fri 27th Aug 2010 15:52 UTC
sjvn
Member since:
2007-04-23

Only if the page you use it on has no commercial content. Got an ad on the page? Bang! You've got to pay the patent.

This is no gift, it's just a trick.

Steven

Reply Score: 3