Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 30th Apr 2010 21:40 UTC, submitted by Helge
Legal Well, this certainly explains a whole lot. Both Apple and Microsoft have stated that the legality of Theora is highly debatable, and as it turns out, they knew more than we do - most likely courtesy of their close involvement with the MPEG-LA. Responding to an email from Free Software Foundation Europe activist Hugo Roy, Steve Jobs has stated that a patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora. Update: Monty Montgomery of Xiph (Ogg and Theora's parent organisation) has responded on Slashdot: "If Jobs's email is genuine, this is a powerful public gaffe ('All video codecs are covered by patents'). He'd be confirming MPEG's assertion in plain language anyone can understand. It would only strengthen the pushback against software patents and add to Apple's increasing PR mess. Macbooks and iPads may be pretty sweet, but creative individuals don't really like to give their business to jackbooted thugs."
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RE[2]: H264 is the future
by lemur2 on Wed 5th May 2010 02:27 UTC in reply to "RE: H264 is the future"
lemur2
Member since:
2007-02-17

You have something of a point: any patent that covers Theora probably also covers any technology that encodes compressed video. If MPEG-LA holds such a patent, a patent that covers Theora, then they probably hold a patent that covers all functional video codecs (and, notably, would therefore cover any hypothetical competitor they would ever have). It would put them in a position to guarantee that their products where the only legal video codecs anywhere, period, ever (as any competing codec would infringe their patens). Such a patent would have to be something like a patent on "the presentation of moving pictures", or "compression algorithms optimized for sequences of images", or something else inescapably fundamental to the concept of a video codec. But, as Lemur has frequently said (much as it pains me to paraphrase him), if such a patent existed, for all the effort that Apple (and probably MPEG-LA) have put into finding it, it would've been brought to bear by now. It would be an incredibly powerful weapon, one they would not have waited until now to use -- and one that they would not be vague about. The moment they came into possession of such a patent, there would be a press release that read, "we now control the video distribution industry", and my God would that control be exploited.


There is another aspect to this that has occurred to me. I present a series of facts in a hopefully logical sequence:

(1) On2 applied for, and were granted, patents to their VP3 (and subsequent) codecs.
(2) MPEG LA is a consortium that has tried VERY hard to gather a complete patent pool which covers H.264/AVC, so that no other party is able to attack MPEG LA licensees. This is their whole sales pitch for H.264.
(3) On2 is NOT a licensor of MPEG LA
(4) Therefore, MPEG LA did not need On2's patents in order to assure that user's of H.264 would not be sued by anybody else.
(5) Therefore, On2's patents cover methods which are not used by H.264
(6) Therefore, as long as Theora and/or VP8 stick to methods patented by On2, it is highly unlikely that anyone (especially MPEG LA members) will be able to find another patent which reads on the technology of Theora or VP8.

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