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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RE[2]: So...
by Luis on Sat 1st May 2010 23:21 UTC in reply to "RE: So..."
Luis
Member since:
2006-04-28

The solution is to completely dissolve, or invalidate, MPEG-LA as an organization, and its patents. There's no way going around it.


And I think that MPEG-LA knows that if they start an open war, it will end in the invalidation of all these patents (simply because they can't have the monopoly on codec design as they pretend to have).

I'm sure that they won't start a war, and I'm sure that if they start it they'll lose. And I think they know it.

So what can they do? Spread FUD. Scare everyone but without ever actually starting a war. Just threatening with it again and again.

And what can WE do? Use Free codecs and believe that they are really Free. If we start to get scared that they might not be Free after all, they win. If they think that those codecs are not Free, let them take that to court. We'll see what happens.

But yes, for the cameras it's a problem. For now use MJPEG and for the future, hope for Theora ones.

Reply Parent Score: 8

RE[3]: So...
by Zbigniew on Sat 1st May 2010 23:32 in reply to "RE[2]: So..."
Zbigniew Member since:
2008-08-28

I'm sure that they won't start a war [..] So what can they do? Spread FUD. Scare everyone but without ever actually starting a war. Just threatening with it again and again.

I think, the problem isn't that they will "declare war on the rest of the world" - but rather, that anyone can be blamed for using codec. That anyone - "in case of need" - can be sued.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[3]: So...
by bhtooefr on Sat 1st May 2010 23:48 in reply to "RE[2]: So..."
bhtooefr Member since:
2009-02-19

The other thing is, it's in Google's interest to see all these patents get destroyed, at least right now.

And Google owns VP3, which predates H.264, and which Apple is possibly assembling a patent pool to combat.

Time for a pre-emptive strike against H.264. Google, sue the hell out of the MPEG LA for infringing on On2's patents.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[4]: So...
by shotsman on Sun 2nd May 2010 06:34 in reply to "RE[3]: So..."
shotsman Member since:
2005-07-22

All that will happen is that the various patent owners who have stuff in H.264 will sue Google. Google will countersue. Look at the antics around Touch Screens on Mobile Phones.

Then we will be into 7+ years of lawsuits, appeals, trials, appeals, trials and yet more appeals. And that is just in the USA. Look at the SCO case...

The ONLY winners will be the hordes of Lawyers employed by both sides.

The ONLY way for this to be resolved is for SCOTUS to rule on Bilski and outlaw software patents.
Then we will have a much more level playing field.
IANAL etc but all I can say to them all is
-
A plague on all of you.

Reply Parent Score: 2

It is not so simple
by jrincayc on Sun 2nd May 2010 14:20 in reply to "RE[3]: So..."
jrincayc Member since:
2007-07-24

VP3 came after some of MPEG-LA's H.264 patents. Take a look at the complete list. Basically, there are H.264 patents that predate VP3. So it is possible that MPEG-LA does have patents that read on VP3.

It is possible that there are H.264 patents that VP3 would count as prior art for and are invalid. It is also possible that the H.264 patents that were filed after VP3 are on new techniques, and cannot be invalidated that way.

http://lists.whatwg.org/htdig.cgi/whatwg-whatwg.org/2009-July/02073...

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[4]: So...
by wovel on Tue 4th May 2010 01:13 in reply to "RE[3]: So..."
wovel Member since:
2010-05-04

That might be a steep hill to climb since On2 is a licensee of MPEG-LA...So is google, but that is less relevant to your idea.

Microsoft, Apple, and Samsung (maybe even Sony) all would be better of if the patents were disolved (They pay more than they make from the pool). I am not sure who is actually making the lions share of the profits from the pool, but it would take a significant portion of the rest of the group to put pressure on them.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[3]: So...
by -APT- on Sun 2nd May 2010 01:10 in reply to "RE[2]: So..."
-APT- Member since:
2007-03-20

So what can they do? Spread FUD. Scare everyone but without ever actually starting a war. Just threatening with it again and again.

And what can WE do? Use Free codecs and believe that they are really Free. If we start to get scared that they might not be Free after all, they win. If they think that those codecs are not Free, let them take that to court. We'll see what happens.


What can we do?

Spread FUD regarding h.264. So far h.264 has had such an easy ride from people who merely look at it from the technical point of view. Yes, it's probably a better codec than the alternatives - but if it's close to impossible to use a product which uses h.264 for business use without another license then it becomes a useless format.

Remind businesses that any h.264 camera they've got is potentially illegal usage. Remind people who export h.264 video that they can't use it in any slightly commercial way.

It's amazing how some people are getting slightly scared of the potential Ogg Theora minefield when h.264 is a confirmed legal minefield.

Edited 2010-05-02 01:11 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 5