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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MPEG-LA is in the movie business
by nt_jerkface on Sun 2nd May 2010 03:25 UTC
nt_jerkface
Member since:
2009-08-26


Apparently, MPEG-LA makes it difficult for camera manufacturers, or video editor software houses, to obtain a cheap-enough license that allows their users to use their codec any way they want!


Their main source of revenue is from movie companies, not cameras or software. Allowing an unlimited license with a camera would destroy their revenue from movie companies.

What they want is a cut from every Blu-ray sold, not a tiny cut from your camera. They're in the movie business and if you don't want to do business with them then use a different codec. It's not some conspiracy to get you hooked. Camera companies like Canon and Sony include H.264 since it can be used for non-commercial use, which is what those cameras are mostly used for. However if you want to sell a commercial product that uses H.264 then you need to pay a cut to the organization that created it.


Apple and Microsoft supporting the behemoth called MPEG-LA makes me sick to my stomach.


And again another OSNews writer doesn't mention Google who originally pushed H.264 with Apple against Mozilla and Opera. But now that MS recently sided with Google and Apple all of a sudden it is MS and Apple vs The People.

Reply Score: 4

bhtooefr Member since:
2009-02-19

However, Google has supported Theora as well. And, Google claims to be open sourcing VP8. YouTube was H.264 before all of this, so Google does have to invest a significant amount of money in moving YouTube to another codec, and they'd lose a large amount of mobile devices until that other codec has sufficiently penetrated.

Google is in a "wait and see what they do" state. They may choose to stick with H.264, in which case they deserve flak. They may also choose to use Theora (and, if there's a lawsuit against Theora, they now own the patents behind Theora, and H.264 likely infringes on those.) Or, they might just open VP8, and we can bypass all of this. (My guess is, Google's legal department is combing through VP8, to try to avoid patent troubles with it.)

Reply Parent Score: 1

nt_jerkface Member since:
2009-08-26

However, Google has supported Theora as well.

Supported by including it in the browser but not in YouTube and not at the W3C, which effectively amounts to putting far more weight behind H.264 than MS.


And, Google claims to be open sourcing VP8.

They're likely hoping that VP8 gives them pricing leverage with MPEG-LA in the future. It's a long play against H.264 and a fruit basket for the open source crowd.


YouTube was H.264 before all of this, so Google does have to invest a significant amount of money in moving YouTube to another codec, and they'd lose a large amount of mobile devices until that other codec has sufficiently penetrated.

What you're saying is that it's not in their business interest to use a different codec. But they get to be free from criticism since they are open sourcing a codec that they don't plan on using. Oh and just ignore the fact that they have over 20 billion in cash on hand and could switch to any codec with pocket change.


Google is in a "wait and see what they do" state.

No they are in a "let's push H.264 while acting like we are for open codecs" state.


They may choose to stick with H.264, in which case they deserve flak.

Oh that's when they would deserve flak? What they want is for H.264 to get widely adopted in browsers and devices so they can just claim that they are forced to support it. This is why they are moving slowly on VP8 and didn't bring it up when they were pushing H.264 with Apple.

If they actually cared about patent-free codecs they wouldn't have pushed so hard for H.264. They didn't tell the W3C to wait for VP8, they told the W3C to adopt H.264. It was Google that helped Apple stop Theora from getting adopted by the W3C.

Google is the absolute master at maintaining their "good guy image" while in cases like this one being more aggressive than MS at getting what they want. Everyone knew that MS would only adopt Theora if was specified by the W3C which did not happen thanks to Google. But now it is somehow an evil alliance by MS and Apple to push H.264. Meanwhile Google laughs all the way to the bank as open source advocates direct their rage at MS and Apple.

At least I am not the only one that notices how Google is throwing their massive influence behind H.264:. Here's an interesting comment from Mozilla's CTO from last July:
"and I'm saddened that Google is choosing to use its considerable leverage -- especially in the Web video space, where they could be a king-maker if ever there was one -- to create a future in which one needs an H.264 patent license to view much of the video content on the Web."

http://www.betanews.com/article/Stalemate-for-Web-standards-continu...

Reply Parent Score: 3