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H.264 vs. Theora — Fightin' Words About Patentability

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the ascii-art-will-save-us dept.

Media 421

An anonymous reader writes "Thom Holwerda from OS News has penned a rebuttal to claims from Daring Fireball's John Gruber that Theora is a greater patent risk than H.264. Holwerda writes, 'And so the H264/Theora debate concerning HTML5 video continues. The most recent entry into the discussion comes from John Gruber, who argues that Theora is more in danger of patent litigation than H264. He's wrong, and here's why.'"

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First Post (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#31643842)

And the lawsuit goes to...h.264!

Who is Thom Holwerda? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31644128)

Just so everyone knows, Thom Holwerda [osnews.com] is one of the Big Boys over at OSNews [osnews.com] . Some people think that OSNews is a shitty site, but I think it's one of the best news resources around. They know their subject, and they know it well. When Thom Holwerda speaks, I LISTEN.

Re:Who is Thom Holwerda? (0, Troll)

neuroklinik (452842) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644266)

Thom... stop the astroturfing. Sheesh.

Oh.. and OSNews is a shitty site. So pbhbhtptpbhh.

Re:Who is Thom Holwerda? (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644308)

When Thom Holwerda speaks, I LISTEN.

I had no idea you, um, he was related to E. F. Hutton [wikipedia.org] . Thanks for the update.

Re:First Post (5, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644208)

Why on Earth does HTML5 need to even specify the codec? I mean the tag doesn't specify an image format, why should not just have a src= attribute and any video supported by the system will play in it. That way it'd be the same as the change from GIF to PNG all those years ago, where those who want to use GIF could, and those who needed / wanted the free option (which was also superior) could use it without killing support for the other.

I don't see why this is an either / or issue.

Re:First Post (2, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644250)

so your suggestion is that all devices need all codec to be practical? Which is the current situation. Right now you just make H.264 videos to reach the widest possible audience, but it's still not 100% of HTML5 enabled browsers. If there was one good codec that a website creator can count on being supported, it makes things like HTML5 very useful. Without it you might as well use Flash because that is more widely supported than H.264 these days.

Patent risks (4, Insightful)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31643860)

If you want to get rid off patent risks abolish software patenting [stopsoftwarepatents.eu] of technical standards, embrace open standards.

Re:Patent risks (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 4 years ago | (#31643976)

The website sure makes a whole lot more sense than the arguments against software patents I saw on Slashdot last week (main argument -- ideas can't be patented LOL). But it still doesn't seem to be able to explain why absolutely all software patents should be abolished.

Re:Patent risks (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644036)

Why should they be allowed? Not allowing patents is the default position. There are a lot of ideas that can't be patented. I've written a book; I can't patent it, even though there are original ideas within.

Before arguing that patents shouldn't cover software, there should first be some reasonable argument to extend them there in the first place.

Re:Patent risks (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644106)

First, inventions are what can be patented. If you invent an algorithm, why should you not be allowed to patent it?

Second, we don't need any argument to extend patents to algorithms. They already are. If you want to abolish software patents, however, you should make a good case for that move.

Re:Patent risks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31644160)

Algorithms are math, and math is not patentable. There are various reasons for this, and many of them are good ones.

and so software shouldn't be patentable.

Re:Patent risks (2, Informative)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644182)

First, inventions are what can be patented. If you invent an algorithm, why should you not be allowed to patent it?

It stretches the definition of 'invention' to claim that algorithms are inventions.

Second, we don't need any argument to extend patents to algorithms. They already are. If you want to abolish software patents, however, you should make a good case for that move.

They aren't patentable in most of the world, nor were they even here for the period of most explosive growth of software. Software patents are a bit of an anomaly, and their presence still needs justification.

Re:Patent risks (2, Informative)

funkatron (912521) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644292)

Well for a start software already gets copyright, there's no need for double protection. Secondly, the whole patent idea seems a little flawed. If you come up with an idea that solves a problem, that's great. If someone else faces the same problem, works on it and comes up with a similar solution, that's a patent violation. In effect you can sue people for accidents of history. If my second point gets corrected by someone who knows what they're talking about then refer to point 1.

Re:Patent risks (5, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644134)

You keep on bring this up. The answer is, and always will be, because software is math [wikipedia.org] . Under US patent law math is not supposed to be patentable.

You might not agree with this, but that is in fact why most of us argue that software should not be patentable. I suspect you confuse comprehension with agreement.

Re:Patent risks (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644236)

I suspect that the actual reason most people here are against software patents has no resemblance whatsoever for the arguments against software patents you're presenting. I think the reasoning given in the website is far more reasonable and, frankly, honest.

Software patents miss their legitimate purpose. Patents on software favour litigation in detriment of innovation, defeating their democratic justification. They force software producers to spend on bureaucracy, lawsuits, and circumventing dubious granted claims on software what would otherwise be spent on Research and Development. Owners of patents on software, who sometimes doesn't produce software themselves, obtain a means to exert unfair control over the market.

That's a much better argument than simply stating "software is math" over and over again.

Re:Patent risks (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644286)

That's a much better argument than simply stating "software is math" over and over again.

Unless software is math, in which case no better argument is needed.

Re:Patent risks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31644362)

Unfortunately you're dealing with someone who is quite clearly not a computer scientist or mathematician. It's not terribly surprising that appeals to cold hard logic and fact are falling on deaf ears.

This person is more like a humanities major, they want their arguments neatly tied up in appeals to emotion and catchy phrases.

Re:Patent risks (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644340)

Well then congratulations. You have discovered why people don't like software patents and have completed your quest for knowledge. Happy yet?

Also, it should be noted that stopsoftwarepatents.eu is of course an EU website. You'll note that more American centric commentary often brings up the non-patent-ability of math.

Citation: Donald Knuth

To a computer scientist, this makes no sense, because every algorithm is as mathematical as anything could be. An algorithm is an abstract concept unrelated to physical laws of the universe.

http://progfree.org/Patents/knuth-to-pto.txt [progfree.org]

For more examples of this argument being made, see EndSoftPatents.org [endsoftpatents.org] .

Re:Patent risks (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644402)

More links for you, because I'm feeling generous (and bored):

Tones of links at groklaw, more than a few that take the "software is math" angle [groklaw.net]
A very blunt, and to the point page from End Soft Patents. [swpat.org]

I did not just make this argument up off the top of my head. I promise you I'm not that creative. It is a very common argument, and generally considered to be very strong, since it's a pretty damned simple logical statement: A = B, B != C, thus A != C. You could find elementary school students to explain it to you I'm sure.

Re:Patent risks (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644194)

I think you have the question back to front. The default state is no enforcement of any intellectual property. Governments introduced things like copyright and patents because they believed there to be a positive benefit from doing so. Patents were encouraged during the industrial revolution because everyone was spending a lot of time obfuscating their ideas and ending up inventing the same thing. By agreeing to enforce a temporary monopoly in exchange for disclosure, the government encouraged inventors to share ideas, which sped up development.

It is clear that patents have both positive and negative effects. By enforcing a monopoly, they make it harder to build new things using existing ideas. By requiring disclosure, they make building on the ideas of others easier. The question that needs to be asked is which of these two effects is dominant in the case of software.

It is easy to point to examples of harm to the industry caused by software patents. The Eolas patent alone cost Microsoft half a billion dollars and looks likely to cause the rest of the industry even more. It is much harder to point to examples of patents that have benefitted the industry.

Things like H.264 are examples of things that are certainly nontrivial to invent, but the question is would they have been invented without patents? A lot of the work in that area is conducted in universities with public money, so that part would have been. What about commercially? Given the huge amount of money that can be made with a decent CODEC by the film industry, it seems pretty obvious that the research and development would have been funded even without patents. I'd cite DIRAC as evidence of this: The BBC requires an efficient CODEC to deploy, so they funded the creation of one (which is patent free and open source). If H.264 had not been developed for licensing, it would almost certainly have been developed by funding from film and TV companies, or even by the likes of Sony for use on BluRay disks: being able to store a reasonable amount of HD video on a single disk makes it much easier for Sony to license BD to third parties.

Re:Patent risks (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644382)

Given the huge amount of money that can be made with a decent CODEC by the film industry, it seems pretty obvious that the research and development would have been funded even without patents.

If there is sufficient motivation to create open source patent free licenses then they'll happen regardless if there are patented competitors.

This is a case where the FOSS community wants all of the benefits of patented software which is in this case technically superior without having to pay for it.

Re:Patent risks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31644304)

because the only way for trolls like you to have the needed scarcity is for the rest of us to live under your totalitarian regime.. thoughts can NOT EVER be treated as physical property. if you want to make some money from your ideas, go make something with a natural scarcity and sell it. quit demanding that the rest of us worship the emperor's new clothing.

Re:Patent risks (3, Funny)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644374)

So just because it's on a computer and not manufactured it shouldn't be patented. Poppy-cock.

The virtual world should get the same protection as meatspace. If you invent a new non-obvious widget you should be able to patent it regardless if a CNC machine or injection molder was required to manufacture it.

First Post? (2)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 4 years ago | (#31643864)

I'm starting to think that all the Hoopla over Patents, Copyright, and Trademarks is misplaced. Maybe we should all just work within the system?

Re:First Post? (-1, Flamebait)

The Mighty Buzzard (878441) | more than 4 years ago | (#31643910)

Pretty good bit of flamebait there. Almost read like a genuine opinion.

Re:First Post? (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#31643924)

What is that even supposed to mean? We are working within the system. Working outside the system is what you do when you just go and download everything you want instead of trying to obtain a legal copy. That approach works fine for most people, but not for the corporations who are producing the software (including the open source stuff) we use - they can't get away with it as easily.

Re:First Post? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31643958)

At the same time, "the system" is not globally uniform. The corporate cocksucking laws in the USA mean that H.264 is patent covered. But that is not so or not enforceably so in large areas of the world. I can play H.264 files license-free and fully legally, but I'm not in the USA. Now, the USA/corporations, with ACTA and TRIPS before it, does try to foist its ever more absurd anti-free-market patent monopoly grants on the rest of us, but we're less and less inclined to respect them given the USA's dwindling power and credibility...

Re:First Post? (1)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644060)

The system that the US government ignored until it suited them?

Re:First Post? (0)

Auckerman (223266) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644356)

Save for the title being "first post" you really don't deserve a flamebait rating. Post like this is why flamebait is moved to +5 to my account.

That being said, you're wrong. GPL software is inherently incompatible with software patents. If you're a big company with a big patent portfolio, you can pretty much make any software you want. Someone sues you, you counter sue, because odds are they are breaking at least one of your patents. In general, companies try to avoid suing each other and instead opt to just cross license each others patents, by formal agreement or by understood silence.

GPL software developers have no such luxury. They aren't known for patenting things and if they do, they then promptly license the patent in a such a way that GPL compatible licenses can use the patent. Which means, BSD licenses can use the patents too. Which means, it can be incorporated into proprietary software without releasing the code. Which, of course, defeats the whole purpose of a patent.

If firefox includes H 264 decoding in their own software libraries, they are no exposed to a lawsuit. If they opt to use OS native plugins for H 264, they end up creating a logistical nightmare in development, since you can't guarantee that all installs will have the software needed to the embedded movies. Which means the user is going to blame them when it doesn't work.

The real solution is to work with the standards committees to make the video tag in HTML have real meaning. What movie containers and formats are officially supported by HTML 5? How will the patents work, etc etc. This whole Theora thing is the wrong tactic. They will stand alone and fail. They should call up Apple and Google and ask them to work with them on solving this problem permanently. If they can get the MPEG patent holders to all license their software in such a way that its compatible with the GPL, then the problem is solved.

Theora vs. H.264 (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31643876)

I think it was decided that in the end the patent liability for both was near equal. So given that H.264 is the superior tech it makes sense to pick that over Theora.

Re:Theora vs. H.264 (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31643914)

No one sane and/or credible decided that. H.264 has a required licensing fee. Theora does not. Until someone puts their patents where their mouths are that's the end of it.
It's all very well standing around hinting what a huge penis you have, but sooner or later you're going to have to pull down your pants.

Re:Theora vs. H.264 (2, Funny)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644006)

It's all very well standing around hinting what a huge penis you have, but sooner or later you're going to have to pull down your pants.

We are talking about internet video here, what did you expect it would be used for?

Re:Theora vs. H.264 (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644130)

It's all very well standing around hinting what a huge penis you have, but sooner or later you're going to have to pull down your pants.

Can you please use that in a car analogy?

Re:Theora vs. H.264 (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31643932)

how the they both be equal when MPEG-LA has already announced that they will seek all users, (end users, software distributors, and hardware people ) will each required to buy a license to view H.264 The current free period ends in 2016.

That sounds like a patent threat all buy itself.

that is how I took their announcement that they were extending their free licensing.

Re:Theora vs. H.264 (2, Insightful)

carlhaagen (1021273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31643980)

MPEG-LA never said they would go after END USERS. They CAN'T go after end users - there is no practical possibility in this. Really, wake up to reality. License fees connected to MPEG-4 technology, all of its levels, are always entirely free for END USERS who are just consuming video or audio built on said tech. Nothing else has ever been said, nothing else will ever be possible. Don't confuse end user's consuming commercial material of MPEG-4 format as being subject to licenses - the ones SELLING said material are the ones subject to the license.

Re:Theora vs. H.264 (0)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644074)

Yes they can. If you encode a movie and redistribute said movie you have to pay a fee for it. that includes every home user. you have a digital camera you upload that content onto the net you have redistributed their codec and are required to pay a licensing fee.

ALL redistribution of ANY H.264 encoded video on through ANY method requires one to Pay FEES. You host HTML5 video encoded H.264 video on your own website. you had better be ready to fork over money to MPEG-la when they start sending out bills. the MPEG group is getting ready to sue everyone who hasn't bought their licensing.

Re:Theora vs. H.264 (1)

Endymion (12816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644098)

You host HTML5 video encoded H.264 video on your own website.

That makes you a Content Provider in the eyes of MPEG-la and most of the "intellectual property" industry, not an End User, who is a passive consumer by definition.

Re:Theora vs. H.264 (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644142)

Defining every user of Facebook and MySpace as a non-End User will result in some issues. With Web 2.0, everyone is a producer and consumer at the same time.

Re:Theora vs. H.264 (1)

Endymion (12816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644358)

They won't define every user of Facebook as a non-End User, as the average person is not hosting video content. The average person is getting Facebook (or youtube, or whomever) to host it for them, by contract.

With web 2.0, even fewer people actually pay for their own hosting, and instead use these Walled Garden services to do it for them.

Re:Theora vs. H.264 (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644398)

Yes they can. If you encode a movie and redistribute said movie you have to pay a fee for it. that includes every home user. you have a digital camera you upload that content onto the net you have redistributed their codec and are required to pay a licensing fee.

Fuck that shit. If I encode a movie with a (licensed) encoder, said movie is not "the codec". It is the result of applying the codec to a video stream. It's no more patented by them than a piece of wood drilled through by a patented drill bit is patented by the drill bit owner. They can claim otherwise all they want, but their claim won't survive the first time they try to enforce it against a big player... and trying to enforce it against small fry won't pay the bills.

Re:Theora vs. H.264 (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644156)

how the they both be equal when MPEG-LA has already announced that they will seek all users, (end users, software distributors, and hardware people ) will each required to buy a license to view H.264

2016? 2016? By then there will be at least one - if not more - different video format that we'll be arguing about. Things are moving fast on the intertubes (except for the W3C) so I'm not worried about 2016. Technology will surpass itself given enough motive or profitability.

Re:Theora vs. H.264 (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644216)

MP3 was invented in 1991. I imagine it will be the default standard for at least another decade. Such things tend to be in flux for short periods, then become entrenched for long periods, and I think we're in the period of settling for video. Actually, I think it probably already has.

they never said any such thing (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644394)

They said it will be free to end users and net streamers until 2016. They have not said what happens in 2016. Specifically, they did not say they will seek all users to buy a license in 2016.

The last time the free (end-user) license period ended was in 2010 and they extended it then. They could do the same again. Or maybe not. No one can be sure.

Before someone posts only the xiph link (5, Interesting)

discord5 (798235) | more than 4 years ago | (#31643936)

So before someone starts the whole "which codec is better" flamewar again: someone at xiph thinks theora is better [xiph.org] , ars thinks h264 is better [arstechnica.com] , and this guy has a do it yourself kit in the form of a shell script [s2000.ws] .

Have fun arguing, as the past few articles have been quite fruitful in that area. Sadly few have realized (despite it being the main focus of most of those articles, but hey, who reads those) that quality will not be the merit to win this battle.

Re:Before someone posts only the xiph link (2, Funny)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#31643960)

I personally like the mbmp format I just patented. It's similar to mjpeg except using bitmaps instead of jpegs to improve video quality.

Re:Before someone posts only the xiph link (1)

LiENUS (207736) | more than 4 years ago | (#31643994)

It's a shame you use mbmp, I just patented mpng which has a much better compression ratio but still better quality. But the license is only free to people who aren't licensed to use mbmp

Re:Before someone posts only the xiph link (1)

lyml (1200795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644070)

The guy at xiph is retarded, sure in the "random" frame he is showing it's hard to tell a difference but watch the two actual videos side by side at the same time. The superiority of h264 is obvious.

In particular when there is white text overlay on the film, the compression artifacts of theora becomes very visible.

Look at (for example) 21s and 26s into the movie and then try to say with a straight face that theora is better.

Re:Before someone posts only the xiph link (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644220)

That Xiph.org thing keeps being posted. I personally detest it because it compares H.264 and H.263 in the same page, so people who skim the article look at the smaller images and say 'look how much better Theora is!' And they're right, Theora is better than H.263. It's not especially clear which is better in the cherry-picked frame but, as you say, it is obvious which is better when you watch the videos. It's even more noticeable when you grab the lossless DIRAC version of the source movie how much both of them lose.

White text overlay. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31644252)

You mean like this?
Theora [xiph.org]
H.264 [xiph.org]

Let me guess, you're viewing the videos with VLC?

Re:White text overlay. (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644328)

Let me guess, you're viewing the videos with VLC?

I'm guessing there's some reason that you bring this up? I went through that comparison during the last H264 vs Theora story, and came to the same conclusion that the guy you're replying to did: the H264 version is way better. Right down to the compression artifacts around the text. (I also pointed out some time marks where artifacts were visible in other cases too, and I didn't really notice anything that bad during the H264 video.)

However, I did my comparison with VLC. Is there something about VLC that makes it an unfair vehicle for comparison? What would you suggest as software for Windows for viewing Theora at ideal quality?

Re:Before someone posts only the xiph link (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644248)

There really isn't any argument dude, as pretty much anybody with eyes can tell that Theora is about equal to H.263 but H.264 kicks its ass. That is why the FSF put out that open letter [fsf.org] to Google to free VP8 which does kick ass compared to H.264, at least IMHO. Of course I personally think they are wasting their time, as Google keeps the best stuff for themselves (like their in house file system) and I don't see them giving up the ON2 tech.

Of course the elephant in the room is hardware acceleration. Every box I build, even the cheapest duals, comes with H.26x, WMV 7-9, and MPG 2 as well as Xvid/DivX accelerated out of the box and believe me it does make a BIG difference to user experience. Video is smoother, the machine is more responsive, and even with the lowest Radeon onboards it is just better for the user. And that doesn't count all the mobile devices coming out from PMPs to cell phones with built in H.264 and ZERO support for Theora. Does Theora even have hardware acceleration yet on any platform at all?

As someone who deal with end users all day I can say that patents don't mean squat to Joe Public, all he cares about is does it work, is it easy, and is it convenient, and just as MP3 won against FLAC and Vorbis so too do I predict that H.264 will win this battle, if the battle isn't already won which I personally believe it is. Sorry FOSS guys, but you really should have jumped on hardware acceleration and been in talks with manufacturers.

these don't seem like strong arguments (4, Insightful)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 4 years ago | (#31643942)

In the first part, he takes Gruber's working (submarine patents) too literally. Gruber didn't mean literally patents that are applied for earlier but not granted yet. Gruber misspoke himself. Instead, he means companies who have patents that are already granted and they later will decide applies to new situation and then sue. If Theora becomes successful, it will meet with plenty of these, just as any other software success does now.

In the second part, oddly, given that he rails against strawmen, the argument creates a strawman.

The quoted response veers rapidly from addressing facts (whether Theora is within patent guidelines) to making a prediction 'I predict that MPEG LA may counter that they know groups have been pressured into licensing patents in order to use Theora.' Then it shoots down the prediction and thus claims to counter the argument. But that prediction is just a prediction, it isn't the issue at hand. And countering prediction you made up yourself doesn't necessary counter the actual argument which is that H.264 has a patent defense pool and Theora doesn't.

Who cares? (0, Troll)

Jorl17 (1716772) | more than 4 years ago | (#31643950)

I do, and so should you.

Thom is a jackass. (3, Insightful)

carlhaagen (1021273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31643966)

There. I said it. Why? Because he counters Gruber's arguments with identical retorts, completely failing to see beyond his own nose, failing to realize and admit that all he is doing is just pulling his end of the rope in this tug of war, instead of coming up with anything worthwhile to consider in the choice of h.264 v theora.

It's been said, but it's important (5, Insightful)

Endymion (12816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31643970)

I love Free Software. I really do. I normally piss-off people with my fairly hard-line GNU/RMS attitude towards software. In most cases, I will drop features so I can run the Free version of something, and all of my code is GPL3.

But in this case, the so-called Free solution is the wrong choice to make. H.264 has won, and it won years ago. Now, an argument can be made that making a stand is important. But in this case, there is a pragmatic and strategic reason not to: taking a moral stand with Theora will damage other things, namely HTML5 and potentially Firefox itself.

PNG won out in the end over GIF, mostly, because it had better features. But what enabled that win was that they could both be used at the same time. If early Mozilla branches simply removed GIF support, the browser would have been dead in the water. Nobody would use it, because the images people already have were in GIF format. Only because both formats were supported could Mozilla be even considered by most people.

Today, people have data in H.264 format. A lot of data. A long list of hardware devices are made that support it directly. This data is not going to vanish, and people will want to play it. Firefox can choose to support that, or they can choose to become less relevant over time. Chrome is getting surprisingly strong uptake, and IE (ack) is getting much less offensive as time goes on. (aside: this competition is pretty awesome - browsers were starting to stagnate for a few years, and the rush for new features has been revived)

Playing people's data and being compatible with most modern and future hardware is the pragmatic reason to support H.264; the strategic reason is that the moral stand is not about video codecs! It's about removing Flash and related proprietary solutions. Playing the SAME video stream (a .mp4 in H.264 format) in flash or the <video> tag is neutral as far as codecs go, but it opens up the idea of a Free player.

The battle over codes needs to be left for another day.

As for how to actually implement it, Mozilla et al needs to take a cue from how distros handle MP3 and other patented codecs - foreign "non-free" repositories. The details on how you do that are highly flexible. Mozilla seems to like over-engineering things, so I'm sure they can come up with a Clever Codec Plugin Scheme to automate this, as long as the actual codec is 1) a separate project, and 2) developed outside the org.

Please - I love firefox, and this video issue is the one issue that could break them in the long-run. People like their YouTube.

Re:It's been said, but it's important (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644012)

this is it's a massive fail when people try to mix their morals with their software. what software i use isn't a moral issue, it's a technical one.

i'm sure the hardcore OSS crowd won't listen as usually, and will happily continue to hang onto their 2% market share, year of the linux desktop this year and all that....

Re:It's been said, but it's important (1)

Endymion (12816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644040)

The thing is, I am one of those moralistic "hardcore OSS crowd" people. And what Mozilla and the Theora-or-nothing crowd are missing is that even staying with Evil H.264, the video-tag/HTML5 is still a huge moral win over Evil Proprietary Flash.

A moral win? (5, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644126)

And what Mozilla and the Theora-or-nothing crowd are missing is that even staying with Evil H.264, the video-tag/HTML5 is still a huge moral win over Evil Proprietary Flash.

I'm sorry, but I just plain don't see it that way. It is simply substituting one proprietary format with another. In fact, using the "technically better is better, period" argument of the poster above you, because Flash includes more features than simple video, we should be striving against having a video tag and just continue using Flash.

The GIF argument just isn't applicable. When everyone standardized on GIF, there really wasn't a viable alternative that worked nearly as well. There is a viable alternative to H.264. Also, keep in mind that when GIF became a de facto standard, the legal environment surrounding patents was much different. It was a time when there was question over whether a compression algorithm could even be patented, and the chance that anyone would actually sue over it was virtually nil. Now, the sue 'em all strategy is actually a lucrative business model.

Come to think of it, didn't we go through many of these same arguments around 10 years after GIF became the de facto standard? Wasn't the questionability of the patent-encumbering of it a primary driver behind the development of the free PNG format? Didn't it take around like two friggin' decades for PNG to be as widely supported because we didn't really know better in making GIF the de facto format?

Don't you agree it's pretty damned stupid to repeat that exact mistake yet again under the whole "fool me once, fool me twice" tenet?

Re:A moral win? (5, Insightful)

Endymion (12816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644218)

You act like H.264 and Theora are both new, and therefore one equal footing, and so there is a choice.

There isn't. MPEG video is already entrenched. It won so long ago, that hardware manufacturers are now assuming H.264 in most every device. Your "choice" is that we should somehow make the entire hardware and software industry magically switch away from the last few years of work they did, all the current and upcoming products they are releasing, etc.

Yes, I wish this wasn't the case, and I wish that a patent-free format was used instead. But wishing for things that fly in the face of reality is the attitude of religious nuts, not engineers.

My argument is that any patents in any of these formats, and all technical features, are 100% irrelevant. Normal people don't care. What they do care about is if they go to the local electronics Big-Box retailer and buy a camera, that they can post the video on the net. And that video will be in H.264 format. They care about watching youtube/etc. Which is H.26{3,4} format.

If a moral stand is desired, which it should be, it should be done by:
    1) Promoting the proper solution, patent-free, as an alternative
    2) Dodging the problem so you don't drive people away from your cause. ("make the codec separate from the browser")
    3) Use H.264 anyway, and accept the patent lawsuits as a proper form of Civil Disobedience, and get patent law changed.

The path Mozilla is taking is to going to cause normal users to say one thing and only one thing:
    "Hmm. I browse to $cool_new_video_site and it doesn't work. It does work in IE and Chrome. Firefox must be broken, so I'll use IE instead."

How is driving people away a win? The scope here is greater than a video codec.

Re:A moral win? (1)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644370)

Don't you agree it's pretty damned stupid to repeat that exact mistake yet again under the whole "fool me once, fool me twice" tenet?

Endymion's argument (which I agree with) is that it's too late. H.264 is already an established de facto standard, completely aside from whatever format people use for HTML5 video. The "mistake" (as you call it) has already been made, support for H.264 is already baked into a zillion software packages and hardware devices. At this point you guys seem like you're pissing into the wind.

It also seems like you haven't thought through what it means to be a "de facto standard" - the point of the term is such standards arise from a collective process, there is no single entity that can stop them. Bitching about H.264 being a de facto standard accomplishes nothing. The only course of action at this point is the PNG route - the hard work of establishing Theora or something else as an alternate "de facto standard".

Re:It's been said, but it's important (1)

Qubit (100461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644154)

even staying with Evil H.264, the video-tag/HTML5 is still a huge moral win over Evil Proprietary Flash.

I agree that using the video tag would be preferable to using Flash, at least for just an online movie player (ala YouTube), but I largely believe in taking a multi-pronged approach here.

First, there's a huge quantity of Flash content out there and people developing using Flash. Free Software enthusiasts can't even play that stuff unless they have some kind of tool, and that's why stuff like Gnash [gnashdev.org] and Lightspark [sourceforge.net] must be important parts of our overall roadmap.

For web video we need to start pushing the video tag in conjunction with free formats. Ogg Theora is one possibility, trying to get Google to open the vp8 codec for YouTube [fsf.org] is another. I think that there's still a hope (small, but possible) to get widespread support for Ogg Theora alongside widespread support for H.264.

And of course there's the software patent front: We need to chug forward and get the courts (or legislature, if necessary) to get rid of software patents once and for all. Getting rid of software patents would make codec support possible for thing such as H.264, mp3, Sorenson Spark, and vp6, and would remove the threat of shakedowns from companies like Microsoft for things like the FAT patents.

We need to push forward on all of these fronts if we want to make real progress towards our twin goals of free and open formats on the web and the ability for FOSS browsers to implement all relevant technologies without fear of patent litigation.

Re:It's been said, but it's important (1)

Endymion (12816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644238)

The multi-pronged approach is a very good idea, and you achieve that by separating the issues.

Promote HTML5 as an alternative to propriety Flash video.
Promote Gnash (others?) as an alternative to flash itself for games, maybe?
Promote Theora as an alternative to H.264.
Promote general software patent reform, etc, by just using all of the above and accepting the consequences as Civil Disobedience.

By binding them together, a failure in one area also means a failure in the others.

Re:It's been said, but it's important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31644338)

Everyone seems to forget that HTML5 is more than just video. Much more. With things like Canvas and other HTML5 technologies, almost anything that can be done with Flash can be done with HTML5. Not saying everyone should just immediately drop Flash (since there's a lot of stuff out there already using it), but just to the people who say "Flash is more than just video" ... well, HTML5 is more than just video too.

Re:It's been said, but it's important (1)

Endymion (12816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644376)

Which is why I stake the stance that Mozilla shouldn't sacrifice all of those other cool new features in an effort to make a moral stand about video. Ignoring the codec issue by punting it outside the browser is a pragmatic solution, that is still a huge win because they get to entrench all the cool new features like Canvas, new DOM manipulation, SVG (?), etc.

That said, SVG+Canvas+Javascript/etc isn't feature-complete yet, when compared to Flash. It's missing some notable things. But that probably doesn't matter, as those features can be added later as HTML5 gets more popular.

Its the codecs that make flash non-free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31644186)

Adobe has graciously released every single part of flash under a royalty free perpetual license complete with open documentation, and source code for many of the core components (like the virtual machine).

Adobe doesn't make a dime directly off flash, they make money selling authoring tools. Their ability to do so is not diminished at all by freeing flash further.

The codecs are what are keeping flash itself proprietary, because they are the only part that adobe doesn't have the authority to free. ... and the codec patent holders don't share adobe's second-market interest, so they have nothing to gain by freeing the codecs.

Re:It's been said, but it's important (1)

rattaroaz (1491445) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644242)

Apples and oranges. Technical is what you are physically capable of doing. Moral is what you can physically do, but what others will not allow you to do so. That is why Free software is more of a moral issue than a technical one. Theora could be technically better, but because they have to work around patents, it isn't.

When h.264 isn't h.264. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31644124)

"Today, people have data in H.264 format. A lot of data. "

And a lot of it totally useless. You see-- full h.264 is so gobsmackingly processor intensive that even a high end multi-core desktop with hardware assist can have a decently hard time of keeping up with it. More importantly some of the features in h.264 are incredibly hostile to fast hardware implementation: For example, the arithmetic coder is purely serial and can't be made to operate in parallel, so the only way to make it fast is to run it at a high clock speed and high clock speed means high power.

Because of this many "h.264" devices, like the iphone, only support an exceptionally watered down profile called baseline. Most of the technical features h264 has over theora are gone in baseline, b-frames and multiple references, the arithmetic coder, adaptive quantization, 8x8 transform, etc.

So when you have a "h.264" file you really have no clue when it will play... and if its a "well encoded" file it probably will not play in many places.

Re:When h.264 isn't h.264. (3, Insightful)

Endymion (12816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644282)

Yes, I am well familiar with the mess that makes up the technical features of "H.264", or more precisely, "MPEG 4, Part 10 AVC", the Part 2 variants ("XVID").

None of these technical features matter, as most people won't have any idea what you mean. What does matter is that people are currently buying cameras that capture video in Baseline profile, that magically works on a surprisingly number of devices. What matters is that many current devices, and most future devices support High Profile in hardware.

At no point does Theora enter into it. No devices make it, and no* devices play it (in hardware).

[*] Almost none. Exception are minimal and not significant enough to matter.

Re:When h.264 isn't h.264. (1)

camcorder (759720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644342)

Please mod AC up. A very good summary of what's broken with H.264. With Theora you have only single profile, which is very efficient, and way better than H.264 baseline technically. Just because patent lobby enforces a codec, it does not make their trap magically superior to others. There're facts, proof of concept videos comparing both H.264 and Theora. How come people are so blind, and parroting FUD of how H.264 is so cool and Theora lost the race. There's no race, and there's a usable, well implemented codec. I'm pretty sure if IE, Chrome and Opera support Theora on them, in less than five years amount of time, Theora content on the Internet will outnumber any other video codecs exist online.

Re:When h.264 isn't h.264. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31644368)

full h.264 is so gobsmackingly processor intensive that even a high end multi-core desktop with hardware assist can have a decently hard time of keeping up with it

Not true... recent AMD and nvidia cards do full decoding of h264. In fact, my friend's 1.6 GHz Atom system, with the nvidia ion chipset, has no trouble playing 1080p h264, with only about 9% CPU usage. With my own GTX260 card, I can play 1080p with 0-1% CPU usage. I have a large collection of videos from widely varying sources, and I've yet to come across any yet that don't play just fine using a player that supports my 260's hardware acceleration.

So while h264 certainly IS very CPU-intensive, you're just dead wrong when it comes to hardware-assist.

Re:It's been said, but it's important (1)

diamondsw (685967) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644136)

How I wish the debate could end with this lengthy and insightful comment. Firefox's stand amounts to sound and fury.

Re:It's been said, but it's important (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644178)

Today, people have data in H.264 format. A lot of data.

Today, there is even more data wrapped up by Flash. I suppose we should just be pragmatic about it all and keep using that. Right?

Re:It's been said, but it's important (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644204)

But in this case, the so-called Free solution is the wrong choice to make.

Will the aliens (or Apple personnel) who have kidnapped please return him unharmed.

Re:It's been said, but it's important (1)

mqduck (232646) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644214)

Mozilla support for a GStreamer backend [mozilla.org] is being written. Doesn't that solve the issue of H.264 support?

Re:It's been said, but it's important (1)

Endymion (12816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644306)

No, because that is only for (last I saw) the Fennec mobile-branch. It's explicitly removed from the normal Firefox branch because of the moral issues.

Which to me, amounts to Mozilla saying that they support flash and people should keep using it, as that's what people will do.

Re:It's been said, but it's important (2, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644258)

I see a lot of statements in your post, but not a lot of argument or information.

Why is this about H.264 OR Theora? Why isn't it about H.264 AND Theora? Like PNG vs Gif, why do we have to pick one or the other?

You seem to think H.264 having "won" is a forgone conclusion. Your only arguments seems to be hardware support, and the "lots of data" point. How is that a sustainable situation? Hardware support is nice and all, but every other format the hardware support has become largely irrelevant as processors have gotten faster.

No, the big issue here is the stupid software patents. Arguing about which one is less likely to anger the patent trolls misses the point. When patent trolls are holding everyone hostage don't start arguing about which hostage is least likely to be taken out and shot first.

Re:It's been said, but it's important (1)

Endymion (12816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644344)

It is a forgone conclusion that H.264 "won", because hardware manufacturers have come to that conclusion and are building all the new hardware with H.264 support. They are not developing Theora players. Those manufacturers are so certain of that bet, that they are committing a very large sum of money to R&D in the form of all these new mobile devices that play H.264.

As I recommended up-thread, the side-by-side method is far better, much like PNG vs GIF. That doesn't change the fact that not supporting H.264 is to take yourself out of the running, as H.264 already has enough inertia to have "won".

Re:It's been said, but it's important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31644274)

Today, people have data in H.264 format. A lot of data. A long list of hardware devices are made that support it directly. This data is not going to vanish, and people will want to play it. Firefox can choose to support that, or they can choose to become less relevant over time.

The often made assumption is that H.264 is ubiquitous. But it really isn't. H.264 usage, particularly on the web, is highly concentrated. If YouTube said tomorrow that they were going to move to VP8 for all new videos, 70% of all new web video would be in VP8. The change would happen over night. When you've got such large amounts of content managed by so few players (YouTube, Vimeo, etc) it's very easy to force large change very quickly. Certainly Google's press release after the acquisition of On2 seems to indicate that is exactly their plan:

http://investor.google.com/releases/20100219.html [google.com]

It's worth reading Mozilla's Robert O'Callahan's response to John Gruber:

http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/roc/archives/2010/03/amor_robustum.html [mozillazine.org]

Really the only pragmatic choice is not to compromise on open web standards. Every time it's happened historically, it's been a problem that wasn't worth having in the first place.

Re:It's been said, but it's important (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644390)

This is what so many have failed to see: for Theora to gain any traction it has to be BETTER than H.264. Right now it's not. H.264 is technically superior and the licensing terms aren't outrageous. It's been a couple years, but the cap was about $3M per year. The mozilla foundation had revenues last year of $70M. I'm not sure where they spend all their money, but this may be case where they're going to put up or shut up.

People only care that their browser if free (in as beer) and works with all the popular sites. The moment that FireFox no longer works for Youtube, the average users will rapidly replace it with Chrome.

Nope. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31643978)

So this person thinks just because it, like any other technology, has the capacity to be sued by patent trolls makes it worse?

Look, it's plain and simple: web technologies should be open and free. H.264 is not, despite all claims of "people can use it" and "well, it's better". That means nothing. Ogg Theora is open and free, H.264 is not. End of discussion, period.

Anyone that disagrees either does not understand the importance of using open and free technologies to power the Internet (imagine what would happen if HTML was patent-encumbered as H.264 is!) or a simple troll that has a motivation for him and/or his company to control the web.

This is a simple, solved issue, but the problem is that the misinformed and the greedy people are dragging it out. End this, make a stand, Ogg Vorbis or you don't get to play. Period.

AC because mods on /. are largely the people I describe, and I don't want these people to drag my karma down just because they don't like the truth.

Re:Nope. (1)

Endymion (12816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644020)

And what will you do, when Firefox use starts dropping because IE and Chrome and Safari can all play CoolNewVideoSite's stuff in high-quality full-screen, on many devices because the hardware-support is there? Normal people don't ask about codecs and Free Software issues. They want youtube, hulu, etc to work. They want the videos they captured off their cheap H.264-only camera to play without extra effort, like it will in other browsers.

People won't see that problem and say "oh, my videos are in a bad format, let's convert" - they will say "oh, Firefox is broken, so I'll use Chrome/IE/Safari/etc"

Re:Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31644114)

You're right, we should all make an effort to use free and open formats whenever possible so that won't happen.

Re:Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31644032)

argh, Ogg Theora, I meant in the last bit. I use so many audio files in Ogg Vorbis format that when I type Ogg it's hard to type out Theora over Vorbis.

Re:Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31644046)

Ahh -- the typical "open zealot" response -- let's talk about how things "should be" so that we can avoid discussions about how things are.

Re:Nope. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31644170)

Ogg Theora is open and free, H.264 is not. End of discussion, period.

Ogg Theora is complete market failure that nobody actually uses for anything. End of discussion, period.

One thing you GNU hippies are too stupid to understand is that you cannot use standards to dictate your extremely unpopular software on end users. Until there is some sort of natural userbase for Theora, the format is going nowhere -- the internet will simply route around your brain damage.

Re:Nope. (1)

ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644260)

... End this, make a stand, Ogg Vorbis or you don't get to play. Period.

The problem is, I'm afraid you'll get your wish. The Mozilla Foundation is going whole-hog on Ogg (Theora, not Vorbis, whatever) and will die for its principles.

And it will die. Because Theora has already lost, at least for the foreseeable future. YouTube and Vimeo are already going with h.264. Other browsers are going with h.264. Firefox will be all alone on its moral high ground, and users (who care little for philosophy or religion in software) will desert it. Firefox simply does not have enough influence to carry the entire web along with it in this fight.

The Mozilla Foundation needs to find a way to live with a world of h.264 video. Maybe a separate library that's a an "optional" install, whatever, but come up with a plan. Otherwise, Firefox will become an irrelevant project, and the FOSS community will lose its most visible and influential citizen.

If Mozilla.org sacrifices Firefox on the altar of video codecs, it would do far more damage to the idea of a free and open Internet than the proliferation of h.264 will

Re:Nope. (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644278)

Anyone that disagrees either does not understand the importance of using open and free technologies to power the Internet (imagine what would happen if HTML was patent-encumbered as H.264 is!) or a simple troll that has a motivation for him and/or his company to control the web.

So if I disagree I'm either stupid or greedy? I'm all for open software, but until the zealots make their software as good as their arguments are aggressive it's not going to come close to commercial software. Not everyone is willing to go without just so open software can seem equal.

There is a lot of very good open source software, and a lot of mediocre and incomplete open source software, too. If 'open and free' was enough then open source software would be king and commercial software would be trying to catch up, but that's just not the case.

The issue may be solved for you, but for most of the rest of the world things aren't as black & white.

Re:Nope. (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644312)

You do realize how silly your argument sounds?

"H.264 is not, despite all claims of "people can use it" and "well, it's better". That means nothing. Ogg Theora is open and free, H.264 is not."

I don't recall an H.264 fee when I bought my computer. Neither will end users. The simple truth is that H.264 IS better in quality than Ogg, which is closer in compression ratios to MPEG-2. It takes less bitrate with H.264 to get the same result. That is a huge boon to streaming media sites, AND important to end users. Just because something is free doesn't mean it's better "end of discussion". If the value gained is worth the price, your argument becomes meaningless. I can't speak for others, but H.264 is definitely worth the 'hidden price' given what it allows me to do on my mobile devices and the limited storage available on them. If the cost to me is a few dollars tacked on to the device or OS I purchased, then it's an excellent value.

addendum (4, Insightful)

Endymion (12816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31643988)

None of what I just said should be taken as a reason to not use Theora in addition to H.264. Push the Free solution, of course, but in parallel like what happened with PNG.

At what point.. (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644000)

Is *everything* caught up in a patent fight and we cant do anything at all?

Re:At what point.. (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644050)

We're already past the point where it doesn't matter. Like all other spooky voodoo, lawyering is safe to ignore. Patent lawyering doubly so.

Re:At what point.. (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644120)

Small correction "Like all other spooky voodoo, ip lawyering is safe to ignore."

Dirac (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31644082)

What ever happened to Dirac?

Firefox could actually be blind-sided by this (3, Interesting)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644102)

One of my fears here [codemonkeyramblings.com] is that Firefox will be hit as hard by IE 9 as Netscape was with IE 4. Mozilla seems largely oblivious to how ambitious IE 9 is. A hardware-accelerated, multi-process, significantly more standards-compliant browser that supports H.264 out of the box would be just the thing for Microsoft to potentially stop Mozilla dead in its tracks on Firefox adoption.

Re:Firefox could actually be blind-sided by this (2, Insightful)

Matt Perry (793115) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644150)

Except for that "only runs on a single OS" problem.

Re:Firefox could actually be blind-sided by this (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31644202)

Considering the vast majority of OS X surfers use Safari and nobody cares at all about Linux except 20+ year old virgins, that's not really a big problem.

Re:Firefox could actually be blind-sided by this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31644172)

It wasn't really IE4 being fantastic that allowed it to curb stomp netscape (though feature wise it was certainly better), it was that Netscape sucked so hard that even the most ardent supporter felt embaressed to recommend it, it was an embaressing pile of poo at release of 4. firefox while in a potentially dangerous position where it could still rapidly sink into obscurity is at least not a buggy piece of shit that forces users to abandon it like netscape was.

Re:Firefox could actually be blind-sided by this (1)

Endymion (12816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644332)

"Pride comes before a fall"

It is the height of hubris to think mozilla has the power to order around IE, Chrome, Safari, etc, with only ~47% [w3schools.com] (or is it only 25% and already falling [lifehacker.com] ?)

Regardless of the actual fact of the matter (1)

NemosomeN (670035) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644408)

That was a fairly piss-poor rebuttal, especially the opening paragraph, where he sidesteps the claims of outside patent holders. Submarine patents are still possible, they are just less effective. One could stall the application until infringing usage is found, then scurry it along to give grounds for suit. Personally, I don't care. From what I've seen/heard, Ogg Vorbis/Theora are wastes of CPU cycles. Can anyone name any formats that have had issues with patent encumbrances in the past? Oh wait, I can. MP3 and GIF (LZW not RLE). It's too bad that those were crushed by patent suits, they could have had some promise.

Mr. Horn, you're mucking FUD & I'm calling you (3, Insightful)

Qubit (100461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31644420)

According to the article here [streamingmedia.com] , MPEG LA CEO Larry Horn said this (emphasis mine):

In addition, no one in the market should be under the misimpression that other codecs such as Theora are patent-free. Virtually all codecs are based on patented technology, and many of the essential patents may be the same as those that are essential to AVC/H.264. Therefore, users should be aware that a license and payment of applicable royalties is likely required to use these technologies developed by others, too.

When asked directly about the MPEG patent holders:

Ozer: It sounds like you are saying that some of your patent holders own patents that are used in Ogg. Is that correct?

Horn: We believe that there are patent holders who do.

Okay, Horn: Who are the patent holders and what the patent numbers?

Ozer: It sounds like you’ll be coming out and basically saying that to use Ogg, you need to license it from MPEG LA. Is that correct?

Horn: That is not what we said. We said no one in the market should be under the misimpression that other codecs such as Theora are patent-free.

Ummmm... You're just spreading FUD and trying to be coy about it. But you just look like a smarmy used-car salesman. I call bullshit.

I have a good deal of respect for people like Monty who get this kind of shit thrown at them day-in and day-out from whatever weak-willed, money-over-morals, cardboard-cutout figurehead the MPEG-LA props up today to go and do their dirty work.

Mr. Horn, your arguments are hollow and your acts of fear-mongering are unbecoming of any man. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to call your actions reprehensible had you not graduated from Yale and then gone on to get a J.D. from Columbia. I mean, honestly, is the quantity of cash they're throwing at you so large that you can pile it on top of your morals like steel weights in a flower press, keeping your inner sense of honor pressed down so it doesn't jump up and kick your ass for being a manipulative and deceitful businessman?

Show us the patents or shut up.

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