Linked by Eugenia Loli on Sat 1st May 2010 22:17 UTC
Legal We've all heard how the h.264 is rolled over on patents and royalties. Even with these facts, I kept supporting the best-performing "delivery" codec in the market, which is h.264. "Let the best win", I kept thinking. But it wasn't until very recently when I was made aware that the problem is way deeper. No, my friends. It's not just a matter of just "picking Theora" to export a video to Youtube and be clear of any litigation. MPEG-LA's trick runs way deeper! The [street-smart] people at MPEG-LA have made sure that from the moment we use a camera or camcorder to shoot an mpeg2 (e.g. HDV cams) or h.264 video (e.g. digicams, HD dSLRs, AVCHD cams), we owe them royalties, even if the final video distributed was not encoded using their codecs! Let me show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

UPDATE: Engadget just wrote a reply to this article. The article says that you don't need an extra license to shoot commercial video with h.264 cameras, but I wonder why the license says otherwise, and Engadget's "quotes" of user/filmmaker indemnification by MPEG-LA are anonymous...

UPDATE 2: Engadget's editor replied to me. So according to him, the quotes are not anonymous, but organization-wide on purpose. If that's the case, I guess this concludes that. And I can take them on their word from now on.

UPDATE 3: And regarding royalties (as opposed to just licensing), one more reply by Engadget's editor.

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Thank you, I'm in the same boat...
by indiworks on Mon 3rd May 2010 20:44 UTC
indiworks
Member since:
2010-05-03

Thank you Eugenia for that article.

A couple of weeks ago I got a Samsung WB1000 that does 1280x720 H.264 encoded video @ 30 fps. I was going to test an open-source work flow for video post production using Blender. And I was thinking of investing in a Canon 5D Mark II. I can only imagine how cheated you must feel!

I might - in theory - be a bit more lucky here, since I live in Europe (no software patents) and I also (so far) can't find that licensing restriction in my camera's manual. It could be because I live in Europe and/or because Samsung is one (of many) H.264 patent holders.

But: until software patents are abolished and/or the MPEG LA has been dissolved, I consider the footage I filmed in my own (life) time - with the camera that I paid for with my own money - as *not* commercially usable because of the H.264 patent fiasco that Apple, (now also) MS and the MPEG LA have brought us to. I'm *not so stupid* and will *risk* my (in the not so far future to be launched) *video business* with patent encumbered footage. (I remix stuff and mix video with 3D using Blender.)

I can think of so many scenarios why all of this is really bad. Just one: think of an (indie) film maker in ten years time doing a YouTube/online video etc. documentary and s/he needs lots of original footage. The film maker might be able to track down all people, get their original footage (the one uploaded), s/he may be able to clear all the rights with the subjects, but... what if 90% of that footage is *H.264 tainted*...?!

H.264 will be an indie film maker's nightmare - in the long run. First one is always free, once hooked you pay. And if you can't pay then there is one competitor less for big media. And maybe *that's* the whole point (too).

How can anyone claim to own the very concept to any moving pictures compression algorithm and this at the same time be legal? That's like saying you own the concept of a piece of paper and everyone who writes stuff has to pay. What a business model!

What I also would like to know: is not the way the human eyes/perception works the same as the basic idea of the MPEG codec: only the changes from the previous moment/frame get "updated". Does not every human with working eyesight have this concept built-in, is this not prior art...?

Valentin

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