posted by Thom Holwerda on Fri 21st May 2010 06:49 UTC
IconLet the spreading of FUD begin! Known patent troll Larry Horn, CEO of MPEG-LA, is clearly feeling the heat - a heat that might set fire to his company's license to print money. After a decade of empty threats towards Theora, the company is apparently putting its it's-impossible-to-create-a-video-codec-that-doesn't-infringe-on-our-stuff attitude into practice once again, by assembling a patent pool to go after VP8. Google, in the meantime, is not impressed.

All Things Digital approached Larry Horn to ask him whether or not the MPEG-LA is creating a patent pool license for WebM and VP8. It turns out the MPEG-LA is indeed doing just that, which shouldn't come as a surprise because they have stated for years now that they believe it's impossible to create a video codec that does not infringe upon their patents.

"Yes," Horn answered, "In view of the marketplace uncertainties regarding patent licensing needs for such technologies, there have been expressions of interest from the market urging us to facilitate formation of licenses that would address the market's need for a convenient one-stop marketplace alternative to negotiating separate licenses with individual patent holders in accessing essential patent rights for VP8 as well as other codecs, and we are looking into the prospects of doing so."

In the meantime, Goodle doesn't appear to be particularly worried about the MPEG-LA and its FUD tactics. The company states it has done its due diligence during the On2 acquisition and the open sourcing of the VP8 codec. "We have done a pretty through analysis of VP8 and On2 Technologies prior to the acquisition and since then, and we are very confident with the technology and that's why we're open sourcing," Google product manager Mike Jazayeri told The Register.

Een kat in het nauw maakt rare sprongen. The MPEG-LA has been very busy the past decade or so to infect every level of the video toolchain, down from the very hardware level all the way up to your browser, and along the way, they continuously threatened competing codecs, such as Theora, without ever actually acting upon those threats. The classic fear, uncertainly, and doubt tactic.

And now, they're facing a huge enemy in VP8 and WebM, which is backed by a pretty major group of companies, like Google, NVIDIA, AMD, ARM, Qualcomm, and numerous others. If MPEG-LA licensors want to go after VP8 and WebM, they'll be shooting themselves in the foot since they'll most likely still have a lot of business to do with the companies backing WebM/VP8.

The industry support for WebM and VP8 is already quite extensive, and I don't think the companies that make up the MPEG-LA are willing to anger all those big boys. This is probably nothing more than a Microsoftian attempt to get companies to pay for a VP8/WebM license from the MPEG-LA that Google already stated quite clearly they don't need.

These are just the usual FUD tactics from the MPEG-LA, something they've been doing for over a decade; they just replaced "Theora" with "VP8" and continued where they left off. Let's not forget that the MPEG-LA's CEO, Larry Horn, is a known patent troll, and therefore one of the people holding back innovation in the technology industry for his own good. He and the MPEG-LA are no better than SCO.

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