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The MPEG-LA's Lock On Culture

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the read-only-culture dept.

Patents 457

jrepin writes in to recommend a piece by Eugenia from OSNews, which explores the depths of the MPEG-LA's lock on video. One part of the problem is that almost all video cameras, including ones that cost more than $12,000, declare in their manuals that they are for "personal use and non-commercial" purposes only. "We've all heard how the h.264 is rolled over on patents and royalties. Even with these facts, I kept supporting the best-performing 'delivery' codec in the market, which is h.264. 'Let the best win,' I kept thinking. But it wasn't until very recently when I was made aware that the problem is way deeper. No, my friends. It's not just a matter of just 'picking Theora' to export a video to Youtube and be clear of any litigation. MPEG-LA's trick runs way deeper!""

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This post is 0wn3d by Disney! (0, Troll)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#32062976)

MICKEY MOUSE fucks your mother!!!!! MICKEY MOUSE is your anus-GOD! MICJEY MOUSE the father the son and the holy FUCK!@

Re:This post is 0wn3d by Disney! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063530)

And hurry up and buy now before our products go back into the Disney Vault because we like artificial scarcity!

Kill the lawyers. (5, Insightful)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#32062988)

Or just change the law. No more copyrights-patents.

Re:Kill the lawyers. (3, Insightful)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 4 years ago | (#32062994)

5-10 year patents on physical gizmos might be okay. But the patent application process needs to not be willy nilly approval.

Re:Kumbaya the lawyers. (5, Insightful)

Bob_Who (926234) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063250)

Or just change the law. No more copyrights-patents.

...and no more war! and no more hunger! and no more cable and cell phone bills, and TOTO too!

Who reads the manual? (4, Insightful)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063004)

"declare in their manuals that they are for "personal use and non-commercial" purposes only."
You don't always do everything that the manual tells you to, do you? I'm pretty sure that thousands of people a day use these cameras for commercial purposes without any problem (I know we use them at work). And I'm also pretty sure the MPEG-LA doesn't want to see the issue end up in court, because they'd probably lose.

Re:Who reads the manual? (2, Funny)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063022)

"declare in their manuals that they are for "personal use and non-commercial" purposes only." You don't always do everything that the manual tells you to, do you? I'm pretty sure that thousands of people a day use these cameras for commercial purposes without any problem (I know we use them at work). And I'm also pretty sure the MPEG-LA doesn't want to see the issue end up in court, because they'd probably lose.

Fine solution. Ignore the patents-copyrights. Go Pirate Party!

Re:Who reads the manual? (4, Informative)

ribuck (943217) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063124)

Fine solution. Ignore the patents-copyrights. Go Pirate Party!

Even the Pirate Party advocates changing the law [quezi.com] , not breaking it (it's already broken).

Re:Who reads the manual? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063140)

That's only because they're trying to legitimize themselves, do you think that they actually practice what they preach in that regard? They're called the "Pirate Party" for a reason, they're a bunch of basement-dwellers whose media consumption consists almost entirely of searching ISOHunt.

Re:Who reads the manual? (2, Funny)

lattyware (934246) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063180)

Rediculous.
I imagine most use The Pirate Bay.

Re:Who reads the manual? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063248)

Maybe you can pirate a dictionary and learn to spell "ridiculous"?

Re:Who reads the manual? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063310)

It's an ironic-spelling, you moran.

Re:Who reads the manual? (1)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063406)

'maroon', surely?

Re:Who reads the manual? (2, Funny)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063456)

It's probably best to leave the Morans [wikipedia.org] out of this.

Re:Who reads the manual? (4, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063024)

That is all fine until you produce a video that actually makes you money, and they sue you for royalties because you used their codecs to do so. This would be above and beyond the price you paid for the products. And there isn't anything you can do about it, because it is "clearly stated in the license agreement".

Or worse yet, if they disagreed with your video for political reasons, they could go after you for that, claiming it is because you failed to license it.

Re:Who reads the manual? (3)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063032)

And you seriously think this would hold up in court?

Re:Who reads the manual? (5, Informative)

Xiaran (836924) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063056)

This does hold up in court. I have been involved with online video companies and have dealt with the MPEG-LA... the standard MPEG-LA attitude is once you start making enough money to make it worth their while(say > 100k... that was the figure I was quoted) the MPEG-LA will negotiate payments from you. And they do it to everyone. What you find outlandish is in fact their business model.

Re:Who reads the manual? (2, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063076)

I'd still like to see some examples of this that aren't in east texas, or even better, outside the land of lawsuits (AKA the USA).

Re:Who reads the manual? (5, Insightful)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063162)

Outside the US there are no software patents, therefore h.264 can't have any patent over it, therefore MPEG-LA can't threaten anybody for anything.

The issue with h.264 has always been the US, and while I'd personally be happy to lock them out of the entire internet just for being a bunch of morons with an ass-backward legal system, companies would never stop trading with them so it'll never happen, and the more we interact with them the more we get screwed by their goddamned idiotic laws (in most of the world copyright lasts for 50 years, for instance, but try finding a book online before its US life+90 copyright expiration date).

Re:Who reads the manual? (2, Informative)

Xiaran (836924) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063210)

I know of no example of these casesx actually going to court. I might point out I am also in the EU not the US and lawyers here pretty much advised us that the onyl real option was to negotiate a payment of royalties. To take it to court is a large risk... imagine you have a product that has heavily invested in video... a court could suspend or site or shut down sales while things are decided. For a startup it is simply not worth the risk.

Re:Who reads the manual? (2)

VojakSvejk (315965) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063360)

Well, I do have to point out that if you know of no example of these cases going to court, then it's not quite right to say you know they hold up there.

Re:Who reads the manual? (2, Informative)

Xiaran (836924) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063414)

I agree with you. I am referring to lawsuit against small startups such as the ones I have had expereince with. There are numerous examples of actions between the large players such as this [betanews.com] . Such cases tend to reinforce the idea the MPEG-LA will win.

Re:Who reads the manual? (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063600)

I'd still like to see some examples of this that aren't in east texas, or even better, outside the land of lawsuits (AKA the USA).

The US may have more lawsuits than most places, but when involving lots of money issues become issues everywhere.

Re:Who reads the manual? (5, Insightful)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063118)

And in a very screwy way, that's actually how the whole patent game is "supposed" to work, i.e., find some reasonable amount to charge for a license, then do it.

As with proprietary software and copyright, perfect enforcement of the law would be just as disastrous as not enforcing at all, so they only care if you're a big-enough fish, and if you're small and are going to get away with infringing, they'd rather you use their product (codecs covered by their patents) and increase the network effect than use somebody else's product (codecs not covered by their patents).

Re:Who reads the manual? (5, Insightful)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063376)

And in a very screwy way, that's actually how the whole patent game is "supposed" to work, i.e., find some reasonable amount to charge for a license, then do it.

Yeah, but the difference is how it used to be that the manufacturer paid for a license, sold you the product (cost of license built-in), and you used it for whatever you wanted.

Nowadays, they want to control not just how the product is made and sold, but how it is USED. That's just plain too much power.

Re:Who reads the manual? (2, Interesting)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063546)

That's kind of vague. If you read the CNET article you can see that the MPEG-LA licensing guy says "the only person who needs to pay is the seller of the video". Nothing is said about the "user" of the video, whoever that is, presumably the viewer. The reason the cameras say non-commercial use only is because if you were using it commercially, you'd probably be selling the video and at that point you need a license.

Now the real question is, how should h264 be licensed? I don't know. Off-hand, charging a fairly low rate (2c per disc or lower) for commercial usage and not charging for non-commercial actually seems quite reasonable to me. I read that you need to also pay licensing fees if you want to implement it, which seems like double-dipping to me, but I'm not an expert so I won't judge. Suffice it to say that h264 is a very sophisticated technology that is the product of many contributions by many people and companies over a long period of time. We can debate whether software should be patentable all day, but video codecs are a pretty clear example of a piece of software that are very expensive to develop and probably do need some kind of patent protection.

Re:Who reads the manual? (5, Insightful)

mfnickster (182520) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063638)

We can debate whether software should be patentable all day, but video codecs are a pretty clear example of a piece of software that are very expensive to develop and probably do need some kind of patent protection.

There's nothing wrong with reasonable patents on inventions, but the point is to allow the maker to profit from producing the invention itself - and they can license other manufacturers to make similar inventions based on the patented design.

The reason this is different is because they're treating it like selling a video recorded with their invention is the same as duplicating the invention itself. They're putting limitations on the product of the codec as though you were taking away part of their business by selling an equivalent codec. I'm sorry, but I can't see that as a legitimate use of patents.

Re:Who reads the manual? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063184)

I can almost imagine that indies with a "risk"(sic) of making it too big, at least as far future MPEG-LA whims go, should precautionarily hide what equipment they use.

Only problem is, basically every camera that is a great deal for indy filmmaker also uses H264. And I can also almost imagine MPEG-LA analysing videos for camera "signatures"...

Re:Who reads the manual? (1)

mr_walrus (410770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063516)

and you seriously think most can afford the court costs to 'win' ?

Re:Who reads the manual? (4, Insightful)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063078)

I would like to see how they are going to enforce that. There is overlaying stuff here, You bought a camera, that camera is yours, you own it. Using to film your new episode of 2 girls 1 cup and sell it online is your right, and yours alone. That's like buying a car, and the manufacturer tells you, that you are not allowed to use to car to race, because the steering software is not licensed for racing. If anyone is liable it's the manufacturer of the camera, he has not right to enforce how you are going to use your hardware even if it was in the EULA, and if you do break the EULA as it is, it there ass's who is going to be prosecuted. "The Usual IANAL statement".

Re:Who reads the manual? (3, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063144)

I agree it remains to be seen as to what degree this will or will not be enforceable. This is a sort of reverse tivoization though if it works. Sure we sold you the hardware and you have the right to do anything you want with it; never mind we control the software and the hardware is worse than useless with out it. I think if we are going to preserve the concepts of first sale, property ownership in general, and a host of other things we commonly understand copyright and patent protection for at the very least certain classes of software are going to have to go..

Re:Who reads the manual? (3, Interesting)

ZosX (517789) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063084)

What license agreement? The one in the manual? You don't have to agree to that. You aren't forced to sign anything. A lot of newer cameras don't even come with the manual in the box for fucks sake. How is that even enforceable from a legal perspective? This has less clout than a clickable EULA, and people expect it to hold up in court. Yeah. Good luck with that one. That being said, I read TFA, and I agree that we have certainly entered a legal quagmire, but how much of this stuff will hold up in court is truly questionable. If anything the theora codec developers have far more to worry about than the average consumer/company posting videos.

Re:Who reads the manual? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063148)

What license agreement? The one in the manual? You don't have to agree to that.

That's right. No contract is being formed when you can't read the licence before you buy the item.

Re:Who reads the manual? (5, Informative)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063252)

That doesn't matter. You *need* a license to legally use h.264 commercially in the US. The fact you haven't agreed to one doesn't negate the need for one. By purchasing the camera they grant you a license to use it non-commercially. If you want a license to use it commercially you need to go and get one.

Re:Who reads the manual? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063574)

Good thing im not in the US then :)

Re:Who reads the manual? (4, Interesting)

jmv (93421) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063476)

The problem is that regardless of whether you agreed to anything, you never got a "commercial" license in the first place, so you can get sued. The manual just *informs* you of the fact that what you bought is a non-commercial license. That's very different from EULAs that take rights away from you. In this case, they just inform you that you never got the rights in the first place.

Re:Who reads the manual? (3, Interesting)

dhasenan (758719) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063114)

You film it in an MPEG format and convert it to Ogg Theora before distributing it. Might work.

Re:Who reads the manual? (2, Interesting)

keeboo (724305) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063322)

It does not satisfy the license requirements: it's about usage (you'll still record in MPEG before converting), not merely distribution.

Re:Who reads the manual? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063548)

That's why you convert it and destroy original data as soon as it's produced :)

Re:Who reads the manual? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063132)

Just the same with game engines, Unreal and others are free until you start profiting and then they want 10% or more of your profits.

Re:Who reads the manual? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063292)

However unlike this game engines are upfront about their charges and don't hide the fact you'll be charged for commercial use in the back of a book in tiny print that you cant read before purchasing.

Re:Who reads the manual? (4, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063042)

It's a bait and switch, they won't do anything right now because they want to get h.264 as widespread as possible.
Once people are well and truly locked in, thats when they will screw everyone... Expect them to come after all these thousands of people demanding huge royalty payments. They'd also probably win because their actions although morally questionable are still within the law.

Re:Who reads the manual? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063186)

This sounds exactly like the Mono strategy.

Re:Who reads the manual? (2, Interesting)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063052)

And I'm also pretty sure the MPEG-LA doesn't want to see the issue end up in court, because they'd probably lose.

Unless you're a lawyer, I don't think you're qualified to make that kind of comment. Actually, I believe even if you *are* a lawyer you aren't qualified to make that kind of comment, the laws that could potentially come into effect are many and fairly complex so I don't think it's as clear-cut as you make it out to be, at least not for the infringing side.

Re:Who reads the manual? (0)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063394)

Unless you're a lawyer, I don't think you're qualified to make that kind of comment

Let me amend his comment, then.

If the issue ends up in court, the MPEG-LA should lose.

Re:Who reads the manual? (1)

ThePangolino (1756190) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063648)

He's not a lawyer. He's a judge.

Re:Who reads the manual? (4, Interesting)

Thinboy00 (1190815) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063362)

And I'm also pretty sure the MPEG-LA doesn't want to see the issue end up in court, because they'd probably lose.

IANAL. Good point [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Who reads the manual? (4, Funny)

grumling (94709) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063444)

Before I started using my camera, I crossed that section out and initialed indicating that I don't agree to that term. I sent the document back to their legal department, and I'm still waiting for them to agree to the changes.

In the mean time, since I haven't heard from them, I'm going to proceed with using the camera.

Re:Who reads the manual? (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063564)

"declare in their manuals that they are for "personal use and non-commercial" purposes only." You don't always do everything that the manual tells you to, do you? I'm pretty sure that thousands of people a day use these cameras for commercial purposes without any problem (I know we use them at work). And I'm also pretty sure the MPEG-LA doesn't want to see the issue end up in court, because they'd probably lose.

That could work forever, if they never decide to enforce their rights. If they decide it's not making any money and sell it to some patent troll law group it will become quite a nightmare however. Suddenly we all find out there's some hidden marks in all our works that have been published all over the world and we are in court for it.

I doubt it would hold up in court (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063012)

Somehow I find it very unlikely that them suing someone for not paying this extra "license" for professional equipment usage would work out in their favor. I suppose it might work in certain US jurisdiction known for siding with the patent trolls but in the rest of the developed world any such lawsuit is bound to be thrown out.

Re:I doubt it would hold up in court (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063342)

Well if, as you suggest, it will hold up in e.g. Texas, then the MPAA-LA will only sue in Texas. "Diversity" suits are allowed in federal district courts.

Do as the military does (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063028)

Use the codecs, adopt the standards, and don't pay a red cent to anyone.

Re:Do as the military does (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063072)

What, threaten with a full-blown war if any of your soldiers is ever subjected to international justice? That is hardly feasible for a video camera owner.

GIF shenanigans (5, Informative)

wigaloo (897600) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063036)

It was exactly these kinds of shenanigans that led to the development of PNG as a replacement for GIF [cloanto.com] in Web browsers. Hopefully the same thing happens here (broad acceptance of a new standard), whether the replacement is Theora or something better.

Re:GIF shenanigans (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063092)

The problem is that theora potentially infringes on patents that are tied to mpeg. So theora is a clean, patent free solution.

Re:GIF shenanigans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063194)

Sounds like raw uncompressed video is the way to go then.

Re:GIF shenanigans (1)

shogun (657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063578)

The problem is that theora potentially infringes on patents that are tied to mpeg. So theora is a clean, patent free solution.

Can I be the first to say "huh?". I think the logic is back to front there...

Re:GIF shenanigans (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063636)

Oh whoops. That's not what i meant to say at all. this is what happens when I type slashdot replies before coffee. I meant to say that theora is NOT a clean patent free solution. See what the difference a single word makes. My bad.

Re:GIF shenanigans (3, Insightful)

jonwil (467024) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063240)

Anyone that comes up with a video codec that is as good as H.264 WILL get sued by MPEG-LA if they start using said codec in places where the use would require a payment to MPEG-LA if H.264 was used instead.

It doesn't matter whether the codec actually infringes on any MPEG-LA patents, anything that threatens their revenue stream will be sued by people who likely have more resources than whoever developed the codec. (and because the US patent system is so broken, even if you can prove you didnt violate a single MPEG-LA patent, the MPEG-LA will still be able to convince a judge in texas to force you to hand over big sums of cash)

Re:GIF shenanigans (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063334)

I honestly can't WAIT for them to start suing the BBC for their codecs

Re:GIF shenanigans (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063572)

MPEG-LA better not mess with the BBC. They've got the Doctor on their side!

Re:GIF shenanigans (1)

wigaloo (897600) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063430)

Anyone that comes up with a video codec that is as good as H.264 WILL get sued by MPEG-LA if they start using said codec in places where the use would require a payment to MPEG-LA if H.264 was used instead.

I often hear these claims repeated, but I wonder what evidence there is? Has MPEG-LA sued anyone where their patents don't apply? Is it impossible to create a video codec without infringing on MPEG-LA's patents? What are the problematic patent numbers? I ask these questions because I honestly don't know.

Re:GIF shenanigans (3, Informative)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063496)

There's 1135 patents worldwide that are essential to H.264, 1114 of which are active, 162 of which are active and in the US.

Here's the list: http://www.mpegla.com/main/programs/avc/Documents/avc-att1.pdf [mpegla.com]

The trick is probably to use a 20 (or maybe 25, to avoid old submarine patents) year old technology to get around it.

Camera for non-commercial use only? (2, Interesting)

dhasenan (758719) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063044)

How does that work? If a camera says it's for non-commercial use only, do I need to sign a contract that says I won't use it for commercial films? What if I sell my camera to someone else? Does the contract require me to sign over that contract to the buyer? If I fail to do so, what can they do about the buyer using the camera for commercial purposes?

Re:Camera for non-commercial use only? (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063062)

Well, unless you sign a contract promising to use the camera only for non-professional work I doubt it would even hold up in court. It's sort of like selling you a car that has a note in the glovebox that reads "you are not allowed to use this car to transport women between the ages 20 and 28", it would never hold up in court, no matter what the fear mongers claim. They just try to squeeze as much as possible in there, while they'd probably love to be able to use it to their advantage it's most likely a CYA thing to avoid being sued by some professional who feels he lost a contract because of failings in the codec.

Re:Camera for non-commercial use only? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063128)

That note in the manual won't hold up in court, but the licensing demands will. What this means is that the MPEG-LA will get your money and then you can try and get your money back from the manufacturer of the camera for not mentioning this unexpected limitation prior to the purchase (i.e. selling you a device which is not fit for the naturally intended purpose.) You'll probably get the price of the camera back, but not your "damages".

Re:Camera for non-commercial use only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063150)

What jurisdiction would this be in? might work in some but there are plenty of places where judges would just throw the case out immediately because it would be the manufacturers responsibility to make sure everything included in the camera i properly licensed (unless stated otherwise prior to the purchase).

Re:Camera for non-commercial use only? (1)

Quarters (18322) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063192)

It's sort of like selling you a car that has a note in the glovebox that reads "you are not allowed to use this car to transport women between the ages 20 and 28"

The average Slashdot reader would have no problems whatsoever with such an automobile.

Re:Camera for non-commercial use only? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063064)

It means that you only get the license to use the patented technology for non-commercial use (trivially so, because patents don't cover personal use). Commercial users are responsible for making sure that they have all the necessary licenses.

Re:Camera for non-commercial use only? (3, Interesting)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063104)

IANAL, but I believe you can use the actual, physical device to record any kind of movie but then if you distribute it commercially you become liable for patent infringement, as the camera maker only paid for a non-commercial h.264 license rather than the 'full' one.

If that's the case, then in theory it'd be possible to record the movie, transcode it to a Free format such as Theora or a closed one you *do* own a commercial license for, redistribute *that* file instead, and be legally in the clear. But as I said, IANAL, this is not legal advice and all that crap.

Re:Camera for non-commercial use only? (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063510)

However, arguably, the production company wouldn't be able to charge for the filming. So, in theory, for a movie that costs $1 million to produce, if the film crew charges $20,000 to film the movie, they'll not get that - they would have to be filming the video for their own personal, non-commercial use. They COULD decode to raw, uncompressed video as an intermediate format, and then charge $20,000 for the service of transcoding the raw video to Theora, however, and give the transcoded video to the production company. Or, transcode to Theora, and then sell the transcoded footage for $20,000, but that's shaky.

LLCs, that's the ticket. (1)

dr2chase (653338) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063568)

Form a company (Limited Liability Corporation) to run the camera, which sells the footage for a nominal fee. LLC is on the hook for not getting a pro license, but sadly, they have no assets.

At least, that's how it's done in property development. A multi-lot developer in our town, has an LLC for each address in the package.

I don't recommend actually taking this advice, this is merely how the Big Boys do it, it still takes lawyers.

Re:Camera for non-commercial use only? (3, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063358)

You legally need explicit permission from the patent holders to use the CODEC for any purpose. The manufacturer made an agreement that unilaterally grants you non commercial rights but the rights are limited.

If you use it commercially the manufacturer doesn't give a damn, but the patent holders can sue you.

just give up already (-1, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063122)

no one is going to pick your stupid theora codec, there's no reason to no matter how many slashdot stories you post or how hard you cry about the injustice of mpeg.

VP8 is the only contender, and the only chance that's got is if google pushs it in very smart ways for the next 5 years.

Re:just give up already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063208)

Wikipedia did, but you knew that already. It isn't about Theora specifically. It's about closed media formats versus open media formats. It doesn't matter how often you troll or how hard you cry about people who understand the issue. Open formats are the only formats worthwhile pursuing for the web.

Re:just give up already (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063498)

h.264 is open, in the sense that the word has been used for decades. What it is not is free.

Re:just give up already (3, Informative)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063272)

no one is going to pick your stupid theora code

http://www.neowin.net/news/google-investing-in-theora-for-mobile-devices [neowin.net]
http://mozillalinks.org/wp/2008/07/native-ogg-vorbis-and-theora-support-added-for-firefox-31/ [mozillalinks.org]
http://www.gossamer-threads.com/lists/wiki/wikitech/167167 [gossamer-threads.com]

Please provide sources to backup your statements. Thanks.

Wow, my uncool new camera is suddenly more cool... (3, Interesting)

luckytroll (68214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063130)

I recently scoffed at the 720p MJPEG codec used by my shiny new Pentax Optio camera.

Who knew that its ancient and inefficient CODEC is its saving grace when it comes to the topic of TFA.

But seriously, this is a case of Moores law making old stuff (mjpeg) work even for modern resolutions. I lacks the elegance of modern compression, but as long as the camera has fast/huge storage and fast raw processing power, we can use it and probably be happy with it too. The place where the fancy compression is always going to be key is distribution where the bandwidth is limited, be it spinning off a disk or streaming off the net.

Re:Wow, my uncool new camera is suddenly more cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063594)

> I lacks the elegance of modern compression

MJPEG is elegant. It's just not efficient.

Well.... (1)

cervo (626632) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063182)

It's almost like the open source community needs to get some type of entity going to accept patents. Then if an open source developer is sued, this entity uses its patent arsenal to go after the attacker. Also the open source devs need to start patenting everything. The patent game seems to be that everyone patents everything and no one can make anything without stepping on someone's patents. So by having enough patents you can't be sued, at best you can grant a patent license....

It sucks that you have to do that, but it seems like without your own patents you don't have a chance. If you start a company and one of the big guys doesn't like you cutting into their business, they can just sue you for patent infringement and as you have nothing either you'll have to pay or go out of business. But if there was an open source patent entity, either they wouldn't dare, or they would try to negotiate some type of license. And of course all licenses will be void if a company sues any open source developer.

At the end of the day the only shield for the open source community is really to amass enough patents from all the open source projects that no one even cares. It seems like the MPEG-LA group has enough patents that even alternate schemes will use some of them (probably due to over broad patents). But there must be some stuff that they left out. Then just make an open source implementation and patent that. And suddenly the MPEG-LA group is now sueable......

Re:Well.... (3, Informative)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063326)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Invention_Network [wikipedia.org]

Doesn't necessarily cover all open source but it's basically what you're talking about in the first part of your post.

Re:Well.... (2, Interesting)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063526)

The other thing is, in this specific case, H.264 probably infringes on some of On2's patents for VP3.

Google now owns On2, and therefore owns the VP3 patents.

Theora is based on VP3, with an unlimited royalty-free license to the VP3 patents.

Google is financially supporting TheorARM, which is meant to be a high-performance Theora decoder for ARM CPUs.

Google doesn't have very many patents, and they have a lot of money, to buy lawyers.

Google is probably the best company to push the button, and start Global Thermonuclear Patent War - they've got the least to lose (they can't lose many patents, not having many,) and they've got some of the most to gain.

All it takes is suing MPEG LA, and not going for just royalties like a patent troll would, but going for the destruction of MPEG LA. Then everyone starts suing everyone, and we get Mutually Assured Patent Destruction. Which is good for everyone.

The best defence from old laws and bad EULAS (2, Informative)

Bob_Who (926234) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063196)

http://www.eff.org/ [eff.org] is IMHO a great place to begin dealing with old laws and new media and technology. They are like the ACLU for geeks, and aim to limit corporate or bureaucratic grip on internet and new media technologies. If the FCC or other government agency can't figure it out, then at least these very smart legal minds will watchdog these issues of the fine print: licensing, patents, privacy, fair use, etc.

12000$ is not an expensive camera (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063202)

In professional video terms this would be considered no more than prosumer

choose DVCPRO HD if you've got it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063234)

compared the Panasonic HPX-500 and the HPX-300.

500 is DVCPRO HD and has no such documentation in its manual.

300 is DVCPRO HD and AVC and contains the restriction on page 4.

the details on http://en.swpat.org (4, Informative)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063242)

Video is, IMO, the area where software patents are doing the most harm, and the problem won't be solved by the anti-troll projects, and it won't be solved by raising examination standards. H.264 is covered by 900 patents. The only way to make it patent free is to abolish software patents.

swpat.org is a publicly editable wiki, help welcome.

Incomprehensible (1)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063278)

Any chance you could take a stab at reading what you've written and see if it makes a lick of sense?

Perhaps in some corner of Lesser Crapville the slang "rolled over" and the other random combination of letters have some discernible meaning, but how about writing for the rest of humankind?

What about other patent holders? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063296)

This article, as well as other discussions involving h264, make it sound as if MPEG-LA are the only ones having patents covering h264. Or that every company having such patents are part of the patent pool that MPEG-LA administers. This seems like quite an assumption. I haven't seen any thing that would support or even suggest that this is the case.

Re:What about other patent holders? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063522)

MPEG-LA does not own the patents. They are simply a [L]icensing [A]uthority for a pool of MPEG related patents that are owned by other companies.

non infringing codecs (3, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063300)

MPEG-LA has insinuated in the past that they own so many patents around mpeg2 and h.264, that is simply not possible to build a video codec that it doesn't infringe on their patents.

This is blatant rubbish. A full MPEG 1 implementation can be implemented since all patents relating to that have expired. A number of the MPEG2 patents have expired so it may be possible to extend this using those. So that gives at the very least some basic space conversion and final compression algorithms that can be used. Even a few of the MPEG 2 patents have expired. We're not looking at a particularly modern CODEC yet, but this should at least give us better quality than an MJPEG stream.

Re:non infringing codecs (1)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063434)

And if it was true, they should really start suing the BBC for their Dirac codec...

Re:non infringing codecs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063512)

They have no obligation to sue for patent infringement. Patent holders are entitled to pick and choose their victims.

Is this a problem outside the US? (3, Interesting)

WarwickRyan (780794) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063370)

Thankfully we don't have software patents in Europe, but does that mean we won't suffer from this?

Realistically.... (4, Insightful)

DavidR1991 (1047748) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063404)

...transcode from one format to another. The article claims you are "already liable" if you do this - but here's the rub, unless you announce the camera you made the film with + what it was originally encoded with, who the hell is going to find out?

Re:Realistically.... (2, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063448)

Besides that, I fail to see how you would be on the hook for royalties covering more than one recording - the one you made originally, before you transcoded into an unencumbered format. TFA's author seems to take it as a given that you would still owe for every sold copy of the transcoded recording just because the original recording was in an encumbered format.

Re:Realistically.... (2, Interesting)

cpghost (719344) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063506)

And what if the cameras watermark their serial numbers in the videos (something like the yellow dots by color laser printers), and those watermarks survived the transcoding process?

Re:Realistically.... (1)

Mathness (145187) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063580)

Ceiling cat and Santa Claus will always know. You don't want cat poop and coal in your socks, right? :P

Re:Realistically.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063626)

...transcode from one format to another. The article claims you are "already liable" if you do this - but here's the rub, unless you announce the camera you made the film with + what it was originally encoded with, who the hell is going to find out?

Watermarking is hard amirite?

civil disobedience (2, Insightful)

zogger (617870) | more than 4 years ago | (#32063500)

Some times to get laws and attitudes changed, mass civil disobedience comes into play. Some laws get on the books that are just so freaking lame, stupid and unfair that they invite mass disobedience. An example would be alcohol prohibition, where so many people disobeyed the law willingly that eventually it was changed. Another example would be racial discrimination. Mass marches and protests and willingly breaking the law obviously and in public, inviting arrest or worse, eventually worked to a large degree.

This is a situation where something like a mass "commercial photoshoot" might work. Thousands of camera owners all get together in a planned protest, video each other, exchange copies of the videos with each other for one dollar, with a big "neener, neener, do your worse" pronouncement. Lather, rinse, repeat. Keep doing it until these software patents are eliminated as just being too stupid and unfair and harmful. They certainly are not advancing the useful arts and sciences, so they fail on that critical aspect of the law.

I mean, this is complete bullshit. Analogy, in ye olden days with mechanical typewriters, if you used brand X, that had some patents on it, you could be an amateur or commercial author according to some writing guide "license to type", but if you used brands Y or Z, that had some other patents, with another variant on the "license to type", you had to pay a fee to the typewriter manufacturers cartel with the Y or Z patents if you wanted to sell your work? Or your publisher had to pay or..what??? Boooolll sheeet.

Playing advocate of the devil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32063602)

You are not enforced to use any codec at all. Nothing stops you from storing the video in RAW format. If you insist on having a method to achieve more storage time, you can choose to use a codec. But this remains a choice. No-one is forcing you. The fact that such camera's are not or hardly commercial available [for consumer prices] is a matter of the market, the majority chooses to accept license limitations at the advantage of more minutes of video storage.

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