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The Looming Video Codec Fight 235

itwbennett writes "With both Apple and Microsoft promoting HTML5 standards, you'd think that there would be joy in software freedom land. But instead there's another fight brewing. 'While it is true that HTML5 video is a step in the right direction, we also have to take into consideration the underlying codecs used to deliver the video content,' says blogger Brian Proffitt. The problem, says Proffitt, is that Microsoft and Apple's browsers will be supporting only the proprietary H.264 video codec by default. But Google supports only the WebM (VP8) and Ogg Theora codecs. 'So, basically, if Ogg Theora content starts making a dent in Apple and Microsoft's bottom line, or that of the MPEG LA's, then expect to see a lawsuit or two headed Google's way after 2015,' concludes Proffitt."
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The Looming Video Codec Fight

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 23, 2011 @06:39PM (#37497242)

    Seriously, who gives a shit? Patents are for lawyers. FFMPEG will play just about anything.

  • Re:Bring it on (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Friday September 23, 2011 @06:56PM (#37497386)

    Personally, I say bring it. If indeed WebM and/or Ogg Theora are in violation then they need to fix the violation or get out of the video business. The whole premise that this is wrong is based on the notion that patents on software is wrong which is idiotic IMHO.

    You'll need to explain that in more detail. Most people that I know who are in the software industry (myself included) take a diametrically-opposed view of software patents.

    Furthermore, even if (and it's a big 'if') software patents have any real benefit to anyone but anti-competitive corporate sociopaths such as Apple Computer, the way the law and the United States Patent Office are handling them is an abomination. Inventions are an expression of an idea: patenting the expression is one thing ... patenting the mere idea is another, and that is very wrong.

  • by Graftweed ( 742763 ) on Friday September 23, 2011 @07:18PM (#37497628)

    The patentability of software is basically flawed and has no place in any knowledge driven economy, but unfortunately this is the reality we're saddled with for the time being.

    Nevertheless, I'm getting pretty tired of companies using software patents as a tactical weapon against competition. If I could introduce a single new law, is that any given company's patent claims would have not be valid unless they were exercised at the earliest possible opportunity. No waiting for years until your competition starts threatening your bottom line before you unleash your army of lawyers. Either they would deplete their resources against every single target out there that may or may not be a threat later on, or they would forfeit any claims they might have.

    Sure, there would be loopholes, and I can think of a few right now, but it would still be fun to watch.

  • by EdZ ( 755139 ) on Friday September 23, 2011 @07:19PM (#37497650)

    a standard that requires licensing fees

    Only in the US. In places where software patents are a load of hogwash (e.g. europe) h.264 and VP8 are equally open.

  • by Gaygirlie ( 1657131 ) <gaygirlie@[ ] ['hot' in gap]> on Friday September 23, 2011 @07:24PM (#37497704) Homepage

    I don't know what it will take to get people straight on this. H.264 is open and is a standard, but patented.

    In practice it's the same thing as you still cannot implement H.264 encoding or decoding without a license.

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Friday September 23, 2011 @08:45PM (#37498482) Homepage Journal
    To lawfully use x264 and FFmpeg without a license from MPEG-LA, I'd have to 1. move out of the United States and other countries where software patents are enforced, and 2. move all my customers out of the United States and other countries where software patents are enforced.
  • by visualight ( 468005 ) on Friday September 23, 2011 @10:51PM (#37499082) Homepage

    If you want to 'take the moral high ground' to the extreme, then you just have to recognize that there are going to be plenty of times when you don't get your way because no one else cares about your irrational response to what you perceive as a problem in the natural order of things.

    This will not be one of those times. Also, you're wrong about everything else, particularly your attempts to redefine open and paint anyone who disagrees with you as a cult member. You're delusional if you think you're litany changes the fact that software patents are the opposite of open.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Saturday September 24, 2011 @12:49AM (#37499586) Homepage Journal

    The Patent Pool isn't to kill WebM, it is to protect those who choose to use WebM from litigation.

    Spit that cool aid out fast! They cannot possibly protect from litigation, only accept payments to not litigate themselves. Anyone who chooses not to toss their patent into the pool can still crawl out from the woodwork at any time (for mpeg, vp8, or anything else).

    MPEG-LA's pool has one purpose and one purpose only. It is a desperate search for anything they can use to screw people who choose to avoid their fees on mpeg and h.264.

    There are two codecs out there (theora and vp8) that are freely licensed and that pisses them off. Keep in mind that when MPEG-LA claims all codecs are covered by patents, it's a combination of propaganda and wishful thinking on their part. They have so far failed to produce one that covers theora or VP8 (and they have certainly been looking). Their stated mission is to find a way to poison the well so they can sell bottled water.

A quarrel is quickly settled when deserted by one party; there is no battle unless there be two. -- Seneca