Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 11th Jan 2011 22:21 UTC, submitted by Kroc
Google The WebM project - a VP8 video stream and a Vorbis audio stream wrapped in a Matroska container re-branded as a WebM container - launched by Google, openly supported by every major chip maker, is going to be the major codec for Google's Chrome web browser. Yes, Google is dropping H264 support from the Chrome web browser.
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Google's using its monopoly power
by MollyC on Tue 11th Jan 2011 23:15 UTC
MollyC
Member since:
2006-07-04

Google is using its monopoly position* in online video market to shove an inferior codec down the public's throat, and are screwing over members of the H.264 patent pool that would otherwise receive patent royalties.

* Here, by "monopoly position", I define it as the EC has defined it when targetting companies that it has a beef with, which is "having dominant position in a market such that one can manipulate market outcomes" (not an exact quote). Clearly, Google has such power in the market for online videos, as Thom himself admits, and indeed celebrates (because Google is using that power in a way that he likes). Those companies that will be denied patent royalties as a result of Google's actions are in a position to file suit in the EU. If WebM beat out H.264 based on its merits and the public choosing that codec as a result of those merits, then that would be one thing, but Goolge making that choice for everyone whether they like it or not, is another.

Note: I don't care about H.264 or any other particular codec. I'm just pointing out the abuse of monopoly power going on here.

Reply Score: 0

TechGeek Member since:
2006-01-14

You would be correct if Google was forcing Apple or Microsoft to use WebM. But they're not. Google is choosing the best codec for its own sites. Just like Microsoft putting IE in Windows, its their decision. Anyone else can use whatever codec they want on their sites and I am sure that the browsers will play it, although a plugin might be required.

EDIT: clarity

Edited 2011-01-11 23:26 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

MollyC Member since:
2006-07-04

"Just like Microsoft putting IE in Windows"? The EC deemed that illegal because of Microsoft's market position. So you're right, it is just like that, which is my point.

I note that you say, "Google is not making Apple and Microsoft use WebM", but I made no mention of Microsoft or Apple in the post to which you replied. I doubt Microsoft and Apple they care much if Google "made them use WebM". Those more likely to care are the smaller companies that are members of the H.264 patent pool, who rely on patent royalties for a significant portion of their revenue (Apple and Microsoft are members of that pool, but the revenue they receive from it is insignificant compared to their overall revenue). It's those smaller companies, rather than Apple and Microsoft, that Google is screwing over. Google is also screwing over users, as users will now be forced to watch videos via an inferior codec, not just on YouTube, but eventually everywhere (content creators will gradually stop using H.264 altogether, despite it being the superior codec; same goes for any codec that comes along that is superior to WebM; any such future codecs are DOA).

You say Google is just doing what's best for Google, but the problem is the Google has a monopoly* position in the market for internet videos, therefore they come over different level of scrutiny and different rules apply. At least that's what we've been told for years regarding other companies.

Reply Parent Score: 1

mutantsushi Member since:
2006-08-18

Google is using its monopoly position* in online video market to shove an inferior codec down the public's throat... Those companies that will be denied patent royalties as a result of Google's actions are in a position to file suit in the EU. If WebM beat out H.264 based on its merits and the public choosing that codec as a result of those merits, then that would be one thing, but Goolge making that choice for everyone whether they like it or not, is another.

Note: I don't care about H.264 or any other particular codec. I'm just pointing out the abuse of monopoly power going on here.

Uh... besides not dealing with the actual thread topic, what you´re suggesting is pretty absurd. You´re saying that because of Google´s YouTube ´market dominance´, they are forced to use MPEG-LA´s codec? Why? That´s just transferring Google´s market dominance to MPEG-LA (which could just as well itself be argued to have market dominance in codec licencing).
And then you´re further suggesting that ´market dominant´ entities can´t introduce new technologies/standards (whether they happen to be BSD open or not) until such new standards become widely popular? I really wonder how that will happen if these ´market dominant´ entities are as dominant as you suggest.

In any case, if it needs to be pointed out, the thread topic has nothing to do with Google´s market dominance of internet video. It´s about what codecs their WebKit-based browser ships with - hint: Chrome doesn´t have anything approaching market dominance, and I highly doubt that even YouTube´s usage statistics would show a higher (much less signifigantly higher) usage of Chrome vs. other browsers, which would be the minimum to start establishing a connection there (not to mention that Chrome uses essentially the same WebKit renderer that EVERYBODY ELSE is using now, so there is no leverage for Google here).

This is simply about the open ended question of HTML´s video tag and what codecs it will use. Google is pushing a new very open codec (as well as supporting Theora), in competition to the ´market dominant´ licencing-fee encumbered codec pushed by MPEG-LA.

And no, you don´t have to believe Google is ´good´.

Edited 2011-01-11 23:46 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 5

WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

Google is using its monopoly position* in online video market to shove an inferior codec down the public's throat, and are screwing over members of the H.264 patent pool that would otherwise receive patent royalties.

I don't agree with the "inferior codec" part of your comment. Atleast I haven't noticed any difference between properly encoded H.264 and WebM content. Sure, incompetent encoding in either codec will result in skewed results and will favor one codec or the other and that's how most of the "comparisons" I've seen on the net goes: H.264 supporters use all the best options for their encoder and just chooses defaults for WebM and claims their codec superior and vice versa.

As for the monopoly position.. Well, I simply don't know enough to say much about it, but it might not apply; Google is after all only changing their own products and not forcing anyone else to do anything other than what they've been doing so far already. I could well be wrong too, though.

Reply Parent Score: 3

JeffS Member since:
2005-07-12

"Those companies that will be denied patent royalties as a result of Google's actions are in a position to file suit in the EU."

That kinda makes it sound like these companies in the h264 patent pool have a god given right to force the world to pay them patent royalties.

Sorry, Google has no obligation whatsoever to support h264, nor do content providers, nor do users. h264, while it might arguably have greater technical merits at the moment, is a codec that has, in fact, been forced on users and content providers by Apple and Microsoft and MPEG-LA.

Now, if h264 is offered as a choice, and it competes on technical merits, then I would have no problem using it, and I would happily pay for it, if it's technical merits did indeed make it worth the price.

But an "open" web should always default to open codecs/standards, and not patent encumbered ones.

Let those companies in the MPEG-LA patent pool earn their patent royalties.

Reply Parent Score: 9

Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

"having dominant position in a market such that one can manipulate market outcomes"

With that definition there are an awful lot of monopolies in the world. Does it mean that dominant companies can never make any decisions since they would obviously influence the market no matter what their decision is?
I don't think this is a monopoly situation anyway since Google have no responsibility to include h264 or even continue supporting it.
It's their product, it's their choice.

Clearly, Google has such power in the market for online videos


We haven't actually seen that yet and some people here are doubting that they do.

Google making that choice for everyone whether they like it or not, is another.


Google isn't making that choice for everyone, just for users of their product. You know, just like how every company make decisions for their users every day. People are free to use a different browser if they want/need h.264 support.

Reply Parent Score: 3

segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

Hello Molly!

Google is using its monopoly position* in online video market to shove an inferior codec down the public's throat...

Nope. What they're doing is using a codec that they want to use in their own activities. They weren't confident in using a format controlled by an organisation that wanted to throw its patents around, and it could never rely on a flimsy royalty free promise that could be revoked in a few years once YouTube was over a barrel.

...and are screwing over members of the H.264 patent pool that would otherwise receive patent royalties.

Is that supposed to be some kind of joke? I'm afraid the h.264 layabouts are not entitled to anything. If people don't want to pay royalties for another format then they don't have to. It's called competition.

Note: I don't care about H.264 or any other particular codec. I'm just pointing out the abuse of monopoly power going on here.

I appreciate the irony here from a consistent Microsoft apologist. Alas, this is nowhere near being the same thing. The format is open, can be used by anyone, can be improved by anyone and doesn't have any other restrictions attached. The only reason h.264 was being advocated was to create a closed club. That's now not going to happen.

I'm loving the upset usual suspects on here.

Reply Parent Score: 5

_txf_ Member since:
2008-03-17

Wow. This is the most grossly myopic viewpoint I have heard in the past two months.

Even if the MPEG-LA weren't scum, Google has every right to not pay to license h.264. If it bothers you so much use another browser. You have the choice of IE or Safari; Firefox, Opera and now Chrome do not support h.264. The developers of the latter 3 browsers rightly decided that they didn't want to be held to ransom.

Either way what is the big deal? Google makes no money on WebM and since it is open all the other browsers .are free to pick it up at no charge and no liability. The license is BSD even so GPL haters have no excuses.

Also H.264 software patents are not valid in the EU .

Reply Parent Score: 5

Halo Member since:
2009-02-10

Aren't you jumping the gun more than a little? I mean, this is about web browsers, and Google definitely do not have a monopoly in web browsers.

Reply Parent Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Google is using its monopoly position* in online video market to shove an inferior codec down the public's throat, and are screwing over members of the H.264 patent pool that would otherwise receive patent royalties.


HTML5 is a W3C standard. W3C patent policy for the web states that technologies used within W3C standards must be royalty free.

Read about it here:
http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Patent-Policy
The W3C Patent Policy governs the handling of patents in the process of producing Web standards. The goal of this policy is to assure that Recommendations produced under this policy can be implemented on a Royalty-Free (RF) basis.


Therefore, members of the H.264 patent pool (or any other patent pool for that matter) will not receive patent royalties for any technologies included in a W3C standard. If there are parties expecting to receive royalties for their technology, then their technology simply cannot be used within a W3C web standard, such as HTML5.

Understand?

Reply Parent Score: 2

tomcat Member since:
2006-01-06

Agree, Molly. This will have antitrust implications.

Reply Parent Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Agree, Molly. This will have antitrust implications.


Please explain, given:

Google is not a monopoly in the browser market
Google is not a monopoly in the website publishing market
Google is not a monopoly in the OS market
Google is not a monopoly in the codec market
Google is not a monopoly in the software video player market
Google may be deemed to hold a monopoly position in the internet search market, but that market has absolutely nothing to do with web video codecs

Google is offering an irrevocable, perpetual, no-chrage, royalty free license for WebM (in any context) to everyone. Everyone.

WebM is compliant with the W3C patent policy requirements for technologies use within web standards. HTML5 is a W3C web standard.

Edited 2011-01-13 03:45 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 5