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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Behind the open codec FUD attack
by lemur2 on Wed 5th May 2010 00:56 UTC
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Dana Blankenhorn of ZDNet has written a view on this topic:

The $5 million license fee for the H.264 codec required by MPEG LA acts as a barrier to entry, both a financial and moral one. A licensee that doesn’t follow Hollywood’s rules could have its license pulled, and thus its product.

The money is chump change for Microsoft, and the barrier a good thing. It’s a matter of principle for open source.

HTML5 is where that principle is being contested. The W3C policy is not to accept a royalty-bearing, proprietary technology into the Web standard. That’s why video has, until now, been a function separate from the browser.

The attack came now because Mozilla, makers of Firefox, only wants to support truly open codecs under HTML5. Google’s move to open source of VP8 is also said to be preparatory to making it the default codec in Chrome.

If open source becomes the default for HTML5 in Chrome and Firefox (and Opera too) Hollywood loses its technical control. Thus the dark claim by Jobs that a ” patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other ‘open source’ codecs now.”

(My bold, BTW. First bold: good reason why Google cannot tolerate being beholden to MPEG LA. Second bold: Further confirmation that H.264 cannot be the HTML5 codec).

This article seems spot on to me. This FUD spreading is probably aimed at the W3C, and not at the courts at all. However, I can't see how this FUD will change W3C's royalty-free policy at all, on behalf of the interests of only a very few software vendors, and at the expense of everyone else using video on the web.

Edited 2010-05-05 01:01 UTC

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