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: What about the Dirac codec?
by JLF65 on Sun 2nd May 2010 03:29 UTC in reply to "What about the Dirac codec?"
Member since:

I don't understand why there hasn't been more momentum or enthusiasm from the open source community for the open source Dirac codec developed by the BBC. Here's the description on the BBC's R&D website:

"Dirac is a general-purpose video compression family suitable for everything from internet streaming to HDTV and electronic cinema"

There are both hardware and software implementations. What's more the BBC, with it's own legal department, would not release an open source codec without being sure it did not infringe any existing patents.

I think it's pretty reasonable to assume that an organisation with decades of expertise in broadcasting would produce nothing less than a professional, high-quality codec. Perhaps the recent flurry of publicity around H.264 will generate more interest in Dirac. I certainly hope so.

Sorry, but take a quick look at the Dirac technology page:

There are literally HUNDREDS of patents on using wavelets in just that manner. There's not a chance in heck that Dirac doesn't infringe less than a hundred patents. I'm not saying those patents would survive a challenge, but the US courts consider them valid until they are invalidated in a suit.

Reply Parent Score: 2

liber Member since:

the parent probably meant european patents.

Reply Parent Score: 1

walnut tree Member since:

Well, here's a cut and paste from the Dirac FAQ

Do the BBC have patents in Dirac?

No. We did have patent applications in train which included some of the techniques involved in Dirac, but we let those parts that related to Dirac lapse. If we had allowed them to continue, users of the Dirac code would still have been covered in perpetuity by the licence: by letting them lapse, the BBC has no IPR interest in any implementation of Dirac by anyone, based on the Dirac software or not.

Do you infringe any patents?

The short answer is that we don't know for certain, but we're pretty sure we don't.

We haven't employed armies of lawyers to trawl through the tens of thousands of video compression techniques. That's not the way to invent a successful algorithm. Instead we've tried to use techniques of long standing in novel ways.

What will you do if you infringe patents?

Code round them, first and foremost. There are many alternative techniques to each of the technologies used within Dirac.

Dirac is relatively modular (which is one reason why it's a conventional hybrid codec rather than, say, 3D wavelets) so removing or adding tools was relatively easy, even though this may mean issuing a new version of the specification.

Reply Parent Score: 2