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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OSNews
by Thom_Holwerda on Sat 1st May 2010 23:23 UTC
Thom_Holwerda
Member since:
2005-06-29

This is going to pose a major problem for OSNews, too. We're working on OSNews v5, which makes heavy use of HTML5. One of the features we'll most likely have is the option for editors to upload videos, and embed them in articles using the video tag (source as both Theora and H264), with Flash as a fallback. I'm sure it'll work something like Kroc's Video For Everybody.

Only the thing is - we cannot. We cannot upload and spread videos in H264. OSNews LLC is a commercial entity, and we have both ads as well as subscribers. I cannot mak a video of a reviewed product and upload it on OSNews. I'd make OSNews liable.

This means that we really have to think about this. It might even mean we'll have to stick to an open source codec, forcing IE and Safari users to play the video using Flash-- oh wait, we can't do that ether, can we? Flash would still deliver the H264 version...

We're fcuked, aren't we?

Reply Score: 1

RE: OSNews
by Kroc on Sat 1st May 2010 23:42 in reply to "OSNews"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

There’s a Silverlight OGG player. Safari will play OGG if you have Xiph QT component installed. Oh and there’s a cortado Java OGG player.

There’s ways. Just not very pretty ones. *shrug*

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: OSNews
by DigitalAxis on Sun 2nd May 2010 10:32 in reply to "RE: OSNews"
DigitalAxis Member since:
2005-08-28

Yeah, but if Monty from Xiph is correct in his analysis of Steve Jobs' email, MPEG-LA is claiming that ALL video codecs infringe on their patents, Ogg/Theora included.

The issue then becomes what to do about a consortium you cannot legally compete with (as Monty says), but that's a case for the courts provided you can make them understand and care. Ultimately, I suspect that'd be Patentmageddon, which MPEG-LA hopefully wouldn't survive, and thus they would never actually instigate.

Edited 2010-05-02 10:33 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: OSNews
by lemur2 on Sun 2nd May 2010 10:38 in reply to "RE: OSNews"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

There’s a Silverlight OGG player. Safari will play OGG if you have Xiph QT component installed. Oh and there’s a cortado Java OGG player.

There’s ways. Just not very pretty ones. *shrug*


Google Chrome Frame is perhaps also worth a mention in this context.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: OSNews
by korpenkraxar on Sat 1st May 2010 23:49 in reply to "OSNews"
korpenkraxar Member since:
2005-09-10

Yup. The future of OSNews is to train groups of performers, send them to many corners of the world and help spreading the news word by mouth by reenacting them for soup and somewhere to sleep.

That is, unless IBM already has a patent for that of course.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: OSNews
by bhtooefr on Sat 1st May 2010 23:52 in reply to "OSNews"
bhtooefr Member since:
2009-02-19

Wait a year, use MPEG1. Far better than MJPEG, and in a year, the original reference implementation will have passed the time in which any patents applying to it could have expired. And use the good ol' Netscape 2.0 <embed>+HTML4 <object> combo.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: OSNews
by pgeorgi on Sun 2nd May 2010 06:22 in reply to "RE: OSNews"
pgeorgi Member since:
2010-02-18

Wait a year, use MPEG1. Far better than MJPEG, and in a year, the original reference implementation will have passed the time in which any patents applying to it could have expired.

Did you factor in the year that patent applicant have after initial publication to register?
Also, were patents pending at that time, and kept in the loop for as long as possible (back then, submarine patents still worked)?

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: OSNews
by jrincayc on Sun 2nd May 2010 14:43 in reply to "RE: OSNews"
jrincayc Member since:
2007-07-24

I think that you actually need to wait until Dec 2012 in the US, since patents can be filed up to a year after initial publication, and the earliest publication that had practically all of MPEG-1 was the committee draft on December 6, 1991.

Note that patents could be delayed and so sometimes the patent lifetime could exceed 20 years in the US, but this does not seem to be the case for the patents I have found publicly listed for MPEG-2 (which should cover MPEG-1 video) and MP3.

If you don't care about MPEG-1 layer 3 audio (MP3), the rest of MPEG-1 may already be patent free or maybe after US 5214678 expires on May 31, 2010.

I have created a summary of this at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MPEG-1#Patents
and a fuller article at:
http://scratchpad.wikia.com/wiki/MPEG_patent_status

MPEG is also discussing the possibility of a royalty free codec. See:
http://www.robglidden.com/2010/04/mpeg-resolution-on-royalty-free-s...
and
http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc29/open/29view/29n11151c.htm

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: OSNews
by Alex Forster on Sun 2nd May 2010 04:24 in reply to "OSNews"
Alex Forster Member since:
2005-08-12

How's V5 coming? I ran a search to see if Google had spidered some kind of secret beta development site but couldn't find anything, heh.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: OSNews
by dmantione on Sun 2nd May 2010 08:13 in reply to "OSNews"
dmantione Member since:
2005-07-06

OSNews LLC is a commercial entity, and we have both ads as well as subscribers. I cannot mak a video of a reviewed product and upload it on OSNews. I'd make OSNews liable.


Maybe you need an OSNews B.V.? Switching country probably eliminates most of the patents that could be of worry.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE: OSNews
by Neko on Sun 2nd May 2010 11:26 in reply to "OSNews"
Neko Member since:
2010-05-02

Ogg Theora can be viewed with:

Firefox 3.5
Opera 10.5
Google Chrome/Chromium
Safari 4.0 with XiphQT plugin
Internet Explorer with VLC plugin
Internet Explorer with Java applet

The vast majority of your users are likely to have one of the above. I can't imagine you will have any major problems using Theora instead of H.264. You'll need some javascript to detect what plugin to use with IE, and the rest can use HTML5.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: OSNews
by Trenien on Sun 2nd May 2010 21:34 in reply to "OSNews"
Trenien Member since:
2007-10-11

Were are the OSnews server based?

If it's in Europe, let me remind you that software patents are not valid here (so far).

Edited 2010-05-02 21:35 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: OSNews
by ephracis on Sun 2nd May 2010 22:54 in reply to "OSNews"
ephracis Member since:
2007-09-23

I might be wrong here but isn't OSnews LCC based in UK and the UK doesn't have software patents, right? So if you would go with HTML5 and H.264 you would not put OSnews in any risk.

Though, you might put U.S. visitors at risk since they would break their law by watching the videos.

Damn, I am lucky I live in a country where we don't have software patents... yet.

I bet a lot of the big corps will keep making empty patents threats until we have software patents in most of EU. If they start too soon they might scare us into never getting into the mess U.S. is in right now.

Now, who said software patents were a good idea? I don't see the benefit of no one being able to program a video decoder/encoder. That's stupid! Stop treating software as something real. That's what hardware is for. Intellectual Property, my ass. More like Imaginary Property.

Oh, and by the way: congratz, Eugina. Great find, and great journalism!

Edited 2010-05-02 22:55 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: OSNews
by henderson101 on Sun 2nd May 2010 23:02 in reply to "RE: OSNews"
henderson101 Member since:
2006-05-30

I might be wrong here but isn't OSnews LCC based in UK and the UK doesn't have software patents, right?


LLC is US. In the UK we have LTD (Private Limited Company) and PLC (Public Limited Company) that are commonly used.

Reply Parent Score: 1