Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 25th Mar 2013 21:09 UTC
Legal Late last week, Nokia dropped what many consider to be a bomb on the WebM project: a list of patents that VP8 supposedly infringes in the form of an IETF IPR declaration. The list has made the rounds around the web, often reported as proof that VP8 infringes upon Nokia's patents. All this stuff rang a bell. Haven't we been here before? Yup, we have, with another open source codec called Opus. Qualcomm and Huawei made the same claims as Nokia did, but they turned out to be complete bogus. As it turns out, this is standard practice in the dirty business of the patent licensing industry.
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Big picture...
by Valhalla on Tue 26th Mar 2013 08:42 UTC
Valhalla
Member since:
2006-01-24

Looking at the big picture here, MPEGLA members wants to corner the market for video codecs so that they can continously collect royalties on all things video, be it on the web or on physical media.

As such, vp8 is a huge threat to them on the web as it is a quality video codec which is royalty free to use and implement.

Worse than the existance of VP8 is the proposition of it becoming a HTML5 video standard and thus mandatory to implement for HTML5 compliancy, same goes for RTC.

Obviously this would mean an even lesser incentive to licence their h264 codec through royalties for anything web video related, as you can suddenly be certain that by targeting the royalty free vp8 codec you will support all HTML5 compatible browsers.

When MPEGLA agreed to back off vp8 through their deal with Google it seemed almost to good to be true given what they stood to lose on vp8 becoming a web standard, as it turns out it likely was. It seems to me now that MPEGLA were well aware of the pending Nokia patent suit, and possibly others lined up behind it.

As it stands, Nokia (or any other patent sock puppet which comes after them) doesn't have to win in court, they just need to cast enough of a patent cloud over vp8 for it to not be accepted as a HTML5/RTC standard codec.

H.264 and H.265 can never become official mandatory standard codecs due to demanding royalties, but that doesn't matter since if the standard can't be vp8 which is a technically competitive codec, w3c will be forced to use a technically ancient codec like mpeg2.

And if mpeg2 is used as standard and thus mandatory to implement, it will still never be used in practice due to it's poor quality by todays standards.

This will lead to h.264 (and later h.265) being the 'standard' in practice and allow MPEGLA members to harvest royalties.

Sad thing is that even if Google wins this patent fight with Nokia, there will likely be another patent holder outside of MPEGLA suddenly emerging with a claim on vp8 technology which will then have to be dragged through courts.

In short, MPEGLA will fight tooth and nail to prevent any competition to their video codecs and by continously having vp8 being under patent infringement claims (they don't need to hold any water when it comes to actual court scrutiny) MPEGLA will be able to prevent vp8 becoming mandatory in HTML5 browsers and RTC.

As such I now doubt we will ever be able to enjoy the benefits of a royalty free quality codec being standarised across browsers. MPEGLA members stand to lose to much potential royalty revenue and will make sure there's always going to be some patent cloud lingering over vp8, atleast until h264/h265 is so cemented as the 'de facto' HTML5/RTC standard that it doesn't matter anymore.

Result is that everyone but the MPEGLA members lose out, as competition in this field has been non-existant until vp8 showed up and will go back to being non-existant without vp8.

It also poses a barrier of entry through the royalties which prevent many smaller players aswell as open source projects, a barrier which would not exist should we have had a royalty free standarised video codec.

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