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Google Graphics Patents United States Your Rights Online

MPEG LA Says 12 Parties Have Essential WebM Patents 136

Posted by Soulskill
from the dirty-dozen dept.
suraj.sun tips this report from the H Online: "The hopes that the VP8 codec at the heart of Google's open source WebM video standard would remain unchallenged in the patent arena are diminishing after the MPEG LA says 12 parties hold patents that its evaluators consider essential to the codec. ... No VP8 patent pool has been formed yet; the MPEG LA says it met with the patent holders in late June and is 'continuing to facilitate that discussion' but the decision to form a pool is up to the patent holders. ... Google responded to the MPEG LA's interview saying it is 'firmly committed to the project and establishing an open codec for HTML5 video' and noting the April launch of the WebM CCL, a community cross-licencing agreement for essential WebM related patents."
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MPEG LA Says 12 Parties Have Essential WebM Patents

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  • by Telvin_3d (855514) on Friday July 29, 2011 @07:25PM (#36929016)

    Who does this surprise? And I'm not talking about patent trolls or other attacks just looking to make a quick buck. I mean who is surprised that WebM steps all over patents associated with h.264 and other video standards? Anyone?

    The one and only argument I have ever seen in favor of WebM is that it doesn't have licensing restrictions. That's it. From a code point of view h.264 is at least as open source seeing as many of the best tools and compressors are (and always have been) open and in many cases free. WebM doesn't do things significantly different from a technical point of view or an implementation point of view. It is substantially the same technology.

    So if you have two projects that are effectively identical, but one has licensing restrictions on some streaming content and the other doesn't. Why would patents that cover one not cover the other?

    This was always a stupid, meaningless fight. Everyone big enough to ever care about future licensing issues is big enough that it is meaningless. Everyone else is too small to bother. And all the implementation and tools have been Open Source from the start.

    This stuff is like the JPG and GIF patents. Made zero real world impact and by the time everyone was finished arguing over them the patents had already expired. This is meaningless in-fighting.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday July 29, 2011 @07:40PM (#36929128)

    Google checked all this out. Before they bought On2, they got to see all their IP, all their sutff (under NDA of course) as is standard practice for buyouts. Also, after they bought them, they took some time to turn VP8 in to WebM. During that time you really think they didn't do a through checking of patents that might apply? Also consider that Google is the best of the best at searching and data mining. They probably found everything.

    My bet is they concluded that any or all of the following are true:

    1) WebM does not infringe on any of the legit video patents out there.

    2) That any patent WebM does infringe on is one that can be showed to be invalid via prior art.

    3) That anyone who has a valid patent, Google has a more damaging counter patent(s) and thus they'll have to back down.

    I cannot believe that Google ran in to this without doing good research. I also find it easy to believe that MPEG-LA is grasping at straws, particularly given how long it has taken and the lack of specifics.

  • by TheSync (5291) on Friday July 29, 2011 @08:00PM (#36929266) Journal

    Given that WebM was specifically designed to not infringe any patents, I for one would be very surprised if it "steps all over" a large number of patents.

    WebM was not developed within an ISO recognized standards development organization. It never had a hope of being patent-free: the process was not open, not due-process, and for that reason and others the folks who might have been willing to donate their IP to the effort were not properly motivated.

    There is one, and only one video codec that was developed in an open standards process specifically to be non-royalty, and that is JPEG 2000 Part 1 aka ISO/IEC 15444-1. During the development process of JPEG 2000 Part 1, an agreement was reached with over 20 large organizations holding many patents to allow use of their intellectual property in connection with JPEG 2000 without payment of license fees or royalties.

    That is a major reason why JPEG 2000 is the basis of Digital Cinema.

  • by hardtofindanick (1105361) on Friday July 29, 2011 @08:25PM (#36929402)

    WebM does not infringe on any of the legit video patents out there.

    A company with the caliber of On2 to hold patents that do not infringe on h264 and still claim to reach h264 quality is hard to believe.

    That any patent WebM does infringe on is one that can be showed to be invalid via prior art.

    Video compression is a mature area and you have to fight teeth and nails get your IP in the standard (I attended the VCEG/MPEG standardization meetings for h264, I witnessed the blood first hand). The IP holders are huge companies http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MPEG_LA [wikipedia.org], and they have very decent research labs.These guys are not fucking around, they do their patent research before fighting to push their IP in.

    That anyone who has a valid patent, Google has a more damaging counter patent(s) and thus they'll have to back down.

    That sounds like pure fantasy.

    I also find it easy to believe that MPEG-LA is grasping at straws, particularly given how long it has taken and the lack of specifics.

    MPEG-LA does not seem to know what to do with h264 either. They keep pushing the "end of free license" period. We are safe until 2016 for now I believe. That is about when h265 should be finalized.

  • by theweatherelectric (2007596) on Friday July 29, 2011 @09:35PM (#36929786)

    WebM was not developed within an ISO recognized standards development organization. It never had a hope of being patent-free: the process was not open, not due-process, and for that reason and others the folks who might have been willing to donate their IP to the effort were not properly motivated.

    Neither was Vorbis. Vorbis has been used in huge projects by huge companies for over a decade. Why has it remained royalty-free? Why doesn't VP8 similarly have "a hope" of remaining royalty-free? Until the MPEG LA or one of the companies that allegedly hold patents essential to VP8 have something substantive to show there is no proof that VP8 infringes any patents. All the MPEG LA is doing now is what they've always done since the launch of WebM: scaremongering.

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