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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H264 is the future
by kristoph on Fri 30th Apr 2010 22:05 UTC
kristoph
Member since:
2006-01-01

The MPEG-LA portfolio is so broad that it is terribly unlikely that there will be any pure codec - VP8 included - that will not fall under it's umbrella. Even if VP8 is close it will get tied up in litigation.

H264 is the future. At least the near future. IE, Chrome and Safari will support it. FF will have to fall in line, work around it (use OS services?), or fade into obscurity.

No doubt some Linux distributors will simply bite the bullet and pay the fees to make it available in the US. It's the smart business move.

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Reply Score: -4

RE: H264 is the future
by Kroc on Fri 30th Apr 2010 22:08 in reply to "H264 is the future"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

VP3 (Theora) of which VP8 is a descendant predates H.264.

If there are any patents surrounding Theora, Google now own them.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: H264 is the future
by kaiwai on Fri 30th Apr 2010 23:48 in reply to "RE: H264 is the future"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

VP3 (Theora) of which VP8 is a descendant predates H.264.

If there are any patents surrounding Theora, Google now own them.


On what basis do you assume that? you assume that none of those, inadvertently, on patents held by third parties? the patent world is such a minefield it wouldn't surprise me that if you wrote a 100,000 line application that it doesn't at least step on a couple of patents inadvertently. One only needs to look at the numerous patents Microsoft has tripped over when developing - patents whose language is so broad almost anything you could imagine would get covered by it. I don't blame, therefore, vendors being weary of Theora or any claimed-to-be-patent-free project when there is the risk there that they don't wish to take.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: H264 is the future
by l3v1 on Sat 1st May 2010 07:00 in reply to "H264 is the future"
l3v1 Member since:
2005-07-06

The MPEG-LA portfolio is so broad that it is terribly unlikely that there will be any pure codec

That is true. Yet, I've always found it fascinating that a company's monopoly when used for killing off competition has [not always, but still] been taken as being bad, but an organization comprised of the same companies creating patent-encumbered "standards" following the same behavior - i.e. for killing off the same competition - is let to roam free and do as they see fit.

Problem is, after they've been allowed to get this far, there's no way to stop them now.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE: H264 is the future
by boldingd on Mon 3rd May 2010 18:37 in reply to "H264 is the future"
boldingd Member since:
2009-02-19

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.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: H264 is the future
by lemur2 on Wed 5th May 2010 02:27 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.

Reply Parent Score: 2