Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 2nd Sep 2015 07:30 UTC, submitted by ddc_
Multimedia, AV

Microsoft, Google, Mozilla, Cisco, Intel, Netflix, and Amazon today launched a new consortium, the Alliance for Open Media. The group plans to develop next-generation media formats - including audio and still images, but with video as the top priority - and deliver them as royalty-free open source, suitable for both commercial and noncommercial content.

The problem is that the supposed next-generation codec, HVEC, is going to be a lot more expensive, whereas other initiatives, such as Google's VP9/VP10, would surely face patent trolling from the other major players. By coming together like this, all these players can have a say, without fear of them suing each other. That being said, smaller players will still want to sue, but at least the united front should make that a little harder.

And, unsurprisingly, one major player is not part of this new initiative. I guess they didn't like the open and royalty-free part.

Order by: Score:
Suits them right - but about time
by Lobotomik on Wed 2nd Sep 2015 08:07 UTC
Lobotomik
Member since:
2006-01-03

Google has been extremely open (and has spent much money) in their pursuit of free codecs, but they have been ignored, threatened and laughed at by various bodies, mostly without justification.

Intel and Microsoft have happily played the restricted IP codec game for a long time, but now they feel the heat on their fingers. I hope they are in time and pour money and effort to float this boat.

It is good that such powerful allies are finally coming to the party; hopefully MPEG-LA and Fraunhofer will get the kick in the nuts they deserve and, together with Apple's Attitude, vanish into the depths.

Reply Score: 7

avgalen Member since:
2010-09-23

This is great for consumers, but what is in it for these companies? Will the encoders be expensive so they can earn their money back?

Reply Score: 2

daedalus Member since:
2011-01-14

I guess the hope is that they can make money by providing the content the CODEC is used to decode, and/or monetise the advertising that the content will no doubt include.

Reply Score: 5

balaknair Member since:
2013-11-02

They get to save a lot of money in licenses and lawyers.
MSFT will be free to bundle video codecs in its OS and devices- right now it can't ship mp4 support in Windows DVD Maker, and you pay extra for DVD support in new Windows 10 installs, andd pays MPEG-LA and Fraunhoffer for licenses for WMP, XBox etc. Google with YouTube, and Netflix are obvious. Cisco manufactures Video conferencing equipment where it presumably pays for video codecs. Intel too pays for adding hardware decoding support on it's SoCs and GPUs.
All this costs licensing fees and billable hours for lawyers.

Then you have entities like Mozilla, FSF and the Linux Foundation who are committed to open and free(as in freedom, not beer) computing for everyone, and will not buy licenses for these closed formats on ethical grounds. It's in the interests of the big players that their services and hardware are inter-operable with their perceived competition,as it helps widen their potential customer base.

Software patent thickets are good only for IP lawyers/trolls.

Reply Score: 6

avgalen Member since:
2010-09-23

Interesting idea, but it doesn't make sense to me. They would still have to pay licenses for DVD-Playing software just like now (this new codec is useless to play already existing content) and they could still be including free codecs like they do now. Simply supporting VP9/VP10 would get them to the same place without costing them anything.

What you are describing only makes sense if this codec would be used for "everything" in the future, or if it is going to save them a lot in bandwidth.

My guess is that MPEGLA was going to overcharge a lot for H.265 and this codec is meant to replace that so they are not going to include H.265. This actually seems "too late", but I wish them good luck

Reply Score: 2

judgen Member since:
2006-07-12

x265 is ALLREADY out and offer significant benefits over all others in specs, and as it is backwards engineered using only specs it is legal in all metric countries (actually all those that do not allow EULA to be a binding contract, which is everyone but Jamacia, Burma, USA and an assortment of former Caribbean colonies that is of no or little importance)

Reply Score: 2

Lobotomik Member since:
2006-01-03

Well, if streaming operation may be guaranteed, and built-in software in cell phones and computers have a good, free format, stuff like DVD/Bluray-compatibility can be made into an optional, payed for extra, for those who still spin disks.

And then there are the closed-functionality boxes such as the media streamers from Netflix, Google or Amazon, or teleconference boxes like Cisco's, that would never need to support any other format.

Reply Score: 5

teco.sb Member since:
2014-05-08

Interesting idea, but it doesn't make sense to me. They would still have to pay licenses for DVD-Playing software just like now (this new codec is useless to play already existing content) and they could still be including free codecs like they do now. Simply supporting VP9/VP10 would get them to the same place without costing them anything.

I think you're lacking some imagination. There are any number of reasons why just willy-nilly picking VP9/VP10, or any other currently-available royalty-free codec, is not a good idea.

HEVC is a huge uncertainty, right now. Do you pay the MPEG-LA, HEVCAdvance or both? If memory serves me right, HEVCAdvance doesn't have an upper limit on royalty payments, either. If you're a heavy user (companies like Amazon, Netflix, etc) economy of scale is not on your side going forward.

Your argument about DVD/BD playback also falls flat on its face when you realize most of the companies on that list do not currently ship any DVD/BD playback capabilities.

The news is certainly interesting. I guess only time will tell if it is a viable alternative. In the meantime, I'll keep watching how it progresses.

Reply Score: 2

Quikee Member since:
2010-07-06

HEVC is a huge uncertainty, right now. Do you pay the MPEG-LA, HEVCAdvance or both?

This is not the question - if you want to use HEVC legally all over the world then you have to pay for all HEVC patents. Which means you have to pay at least to those two pools. The uncertainty is that not everyone has joined those two pools and there is a rumor a third pool may emerge..

Reply Score: 3

jrincayc Member since:
2007-07-24

DVD are getting fairly close to being patent free. http://www.robglidden.com/2011/12/half-of-mpeg-2-patents-expire-in-... shows the last MPEG-2 patents expire in early 2018, so we only have to wait 2 and half years. BluRay has a ways to go still. I am not sure if there is a patent list for Dolby AC-3, but since it was from 1995, it should be patent free reasonably soon as well.

Reply Score: 3

Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10

Google has been extremely open (and has spent much money) in their pursuit of free codecs, but they have been ignored, threatened and laughed at by various bodies, mostly without justification.

And they left Mozilla in the cold when Mozilla and Google could force the internet to go to vp8/9.

Google is so weird.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by shmerl
by shmerl on Wed 2nd Sep 2015 16:12 UTC
shmerl
Member since:
2010-06-08

Really positive development. Out of those Daala has the best strategy for patents avoidance, since they use a novel (in video codecs) approach of lapped transforms, while VPx and Thor are more "conventional".

It's still surprising to see this coming from MS. They even decided to support free codecs in their browser:

* http://dev.modern.ie/platform/status/vp9videocodec/
* http://dev.modern.ie/platform/status/opusaudiocodec/
* http://dev.modern.ie/platform/status/vorbisaudiocodec/

Apple still remain on the trolling side however.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Comment by shmerl
by ddc_ on Wed 2nd Sep 2015 18:11 UTC in reply to "Comment by shmerl"
ddc_ Member since:
2006-12-05

I was also surprised, but it was not unpredictable: Microsoft previously invested in wholy Microsoft-owned VC-1, which failed mostly because Microsoft-only technology was already not a viable solution for most users. Still, it revealed Microsoft's interest in royalty-free codec. Now Microsoft is even further from ability to single-handedly force some media format upon the rest of technology world, so the only viable strategy for them was to join such group.

Anyway, provided that the whole idea was to create a codec that would be a generation ahead HEVC, and that currently there is no named competitor from royalty-collecting entities, this potential new codec may end up killing off potential non-free competition, or at least fostering codec development.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Comment by shmerl
by shmerl on Wed 2nd Sep 2015 18:17 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by shmerl"
shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

See also comments from Monty Montgomery: http://xiphmont.livejournal.com/67752.html

Edited 2015-09-02 18:17 UTC

Reply Score: 4

Apple & Oracle
by allanregistos on Thu 3rd Sep 2015 05:32 UTC
allanregistos
Member since:
2011-02-10

And, unsurprisingly, one major player is not part of this new initiative. I guess they didn't like the open and royalty-free part.

No, there are two absent great players = Apple and Oracle.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Apple & Oracle
by ThomasFuhringer on Thu 3rd Sep 2015 06:46 UTC in reply to "Apple & Oracle"
ThomasFuhringer Member since:
2007-01-25

Hmm, how come nobody thinks of Oracle when it comes to 'free' and 'open'?

Reply Score: 6

RE[2]: Apple & Oracle
by avgalen on Thu 3rd Sep 2015 09:06 UTC in reply to "RE: Apple & Oracle"
avgalen Member since:
2010-09-23

I actually thought the missing one was MPEGLA. I am wondering who Thom meant

Reply Score: 2

RE: Apple & Oracle
by brion on Thu 3rd Sep 2015 18:40 UTC in reply to "Apple & Oracle"
brion Member since:
2010-11-04

What is Oracle's presence in the digital video space?

Reply Score: 2

Semi-related
by avgalen on Thu 3rd Sep 2015 09:46 UTC
avgalen
Member since:
2010-09-23

http://www.windowscentral.com/microsoft-edge-will-add-support-googl...

Seems like after building more codec support into Windows 8/8.1/10 they are continuing to make Windows a "runs everything" platform...as long as that everything is not a DVD or other non-free codec

Reply Score: 3

And the builders ?
by _QJ_ on Thu 3rd Sep 2015 10:05 UTC
_QJ_
Member since:
2009-03-12

They shall^H^H^H^H must include builders in the loop.

What about Sony, LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Philips and some "little" key players like GoPro, etc ?

They have to embed the codec in their devices.
From the biggest one to the smallest.

It is not ALWAYS a question of money or royalties.
It is often a question about perfs.

Without the e-industry adopting the new format, you will never reach the public. Then, you are spending resources for a lost cause.

Reply Score: 2

RE: And the builders ?
by brion on Thu 3rd Sep 2015 18:34 UTC in reply to "And the builders ?"
brion Member since:
2010-11-04

Device makers don't have anything to commit to until there's hardware support for the codecs... There's already a good start on that front:

Intel -> expect hardware encoder/decoder in future x86 chips, used in both common desktops/laptops and in some set-top boxes

Microsoft -> expect native support in Windows desktops, so when you have native recordings you can play them back

Google -> has been pushing ARM device makers to add VP8/VP9 support for years with some success, various UHDTVs and some set-top boxes have native VP9. Expect them to keep doing so with new open codecs

Netflix, Amazon -> expect them to also push for ARM device makers to add native support so they can stream UHD content to them


At some point device makers are going to look at the HEVC patent nightmare, then look at a widely supported industry standard with open patents, and run screaming from HEVC.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: And the builders ?
by brion on Thu 3rd Sep 2015 18:38 UTC in reply to "RE: And the builders ?"
brion Member since:
2010-11-04

More generally though, keep in mind that input formats and output formats aren't the same thing. Having native support in your *camera* for a format means relatively little when you're probably just going to upload it to Youtube or Facebook, who will transcode it to every relevant playback format.

(It makes a bigger difference if you're doing the transcoding yourself and either can't afford or refuse to accept patent license terms for a decoder.)

Reply Score: 2

But who?
by Boomshiki on Sun 6th Sep 2015 16:03 UTC
Boomshiki
Member since:
2008-06-11

Who is the major player being hinted at? Apple? Oracle? Sony?

Reply Score: 1

RE: But who?
by tidux on Mon 7th Sep 2015 11:59 UTC in reply to "But who?"
tidux Member since:
2011-08-13

Apple, obviously. Their intransigence on WebM and Ogg Theora are why Mozilla had to use an ugly legal hack to get H.264 support.

Edited 2015-09-07 11:59 UTC

Reply Score: 2