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WebM Licensing Problems Resolved

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the that-didn't-take-long dept.

Google 89

breser writes "The WebM licensing problems have been resolved. The copyright license is straight BSD now, and the patent license is separate and has no impact on the copyright license. Quoting Chris DiBona: 'As it was originally written, if a patent action was brought against Google, the patent license terminated. This provision itself is not unusual in an OSS license, and similar provisions exist in the 2nd Apache License and in version 3 of the GPL. The twist was that ours terminated "any" rights and not just rights to the patents, which made our license GPLv3 and GPLv2 incompatible. Also, in doing this, we effectively created a potentially new open source copyright license, something we are loath to do. Using patent language borrowed from both the Apache and GPLv3 patent clauses, in this new iteration of the patent clause we've decoupled patents from copyright, thus preserving the pure BSD nature of the copyright license. This means we are no longer creating a new open source copyright license, and the patent grant can exist on its own.'"

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89 comments

So its still GPL incompatible because its BSD ... (-1, Flamebait)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463620)

The fact that the BSD license requires you to include attribution kind of makes it incompatible with GPL since that is an 'additional restriction' which GPL forbids.

Try again.

Re:So its still GPL incompatible because its BSD . (5, Informative)

EricJ2190 (1016652) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463680)

I am no expert on licenses, but according to GNU, the 3-clause BSD license used by WebM is GPL-compatible. http://www.gnu.org/licenses/license-list.html#GPLCompatibleLicenses [gnu.org]

Re:So its still GPL incompatible because its BSD . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32463736)

Don't go getting facts involved here in his attempt to license troll...

Re:So its still GPL incompatible because its BSD . (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464050)

And the patent license?

Re:So its still GPL incompatible because its BSD . (1)

mzs (595629) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464588)

It's gone. The license IS 3 clause BSD. You are permitted to use and copy per the BSD license terms. There is now an additional patent grant from Google. They let you use their patents related to WebM as long as you follow the terms in the patent grant (and those were very carefully crafted to be compatible with GPL3 and Apache conditions). Moreover the patent grant does not take away the rights premitted say in GPL2, so there is no trouble there ot with LGPL2 either.

Re:So its still GPL incompatible because its BSD . (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465328)

Well, it looks incompatible to me, but as you pointed out, its on their page of compatible licenses so it'd be really hard to go after anyone for doing so.

I stand corrected.

Re:So its still GPL incompatible because its BSD . (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32465970)

It is incompatible; the BSD license includes a license reproduction demand, and this is in violation of the no additional restrictions of the GPL. GPL-fans tend to say that this is OK because the GPL requires a copyright and disclaimer; however, the requirement of a *specific* copyright notice is actually a significant extra requirement. Think about including 1000 different pieces of open source software (e.g, because you're using an operating system) and having to include text from each of these, and distributing where you can't include an electronic version. It's the difference between 10 pages (GPL) and 1000 pages (one each of the different licenses.)

I've had the problem when basing off BSD operating systems. It is actually substantial.

Re:So its still GPL incompatible because its BSD . (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463698)

You're thinking about the 3-clause BSD license. Which is not used in this case.

Also 3-clause BSD is compatible with GPL3.

Re:So its still GPL incompatible because its BSD . (1)

EricJ2190 (1016652) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463746)

It looks like a 3-clause BSD license to me... http://www.webmproject.org/license/software/ [webmproject.org]

Re:So its still GPL incompatible because its BSD . (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463808)

That's not an exact BSD license...

Advertising clause looks like:

"All advertising materials mentioning features or use of this software
      must display the following acknowledgement:
      This product includes software developed by the ."

Re:So its still GPL incompatible because its BSD . (1)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465760)

You mean the clause mentioned here [berkeley.edu] ? The one that hasn't been a part of the BSD license since 1999? That advertising clause?

Except for the name of the organization, the WebM license is word-for-word identical to the license currently used by the primary copyright owners of the product known as "BSD". If that's not "an exact BSD license", then I don't know what is.

Re:So its still GPL incompatible because its BSD . (1)

dward90 (1813520) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463702)

You're misrepresenting the "restrictions".

BSD is actually less restrictive. While it requires attribution, it doesn't require that derivative work be released under BSD, while GPL requires that derivative work maintain the GPL license.

This allows entities to make non-free software based on WebM, which GPL would not allow. I'm not sure why you're stating it as obvious fact that BSD isn't "good enough", though.

Re:So its still GPL incompatible because its BSD . (1)

onefriedrice (1171917) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464282)

BSD is actually less restrictive. While it requires attribution, it doesn't require that derivative work be released under BSD, while GPL requires that derivative work maintain the GPL license.

I don't believe this is true of the GPL. If you modify GPL code or make a derivative work thereof, you are the copyright holder of your changes. AFAIK, your modifications just need to be licensed under some GPL-compatible license, at least as far as the distribution restrictions of the GPL apply. So your modifications don't necessarily have to be licensed under the exact terms and conditions of the GPL, just a compatible license.

Of course, the common thing to do to keep things simple is to release your changes with the same license as the original work, but that's not a requirement. Anyway, I believe you're correct about the BSD license being less restrictive than the GPL, but keep in mind that GPL proponents have a different and equally valid viewpoint on what constitutes as a restriction.

Re:So its still GPL incompatible because its BSD . (1)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 4 years ago | (#32466988)

Actually, no, at least not for GPL v2

Clause 2b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third parties under the terms of this License.

Emphasis mine.

I haven't read GPLv3 in detail though.

Re:So its still GPL incompatible because its BSD . (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32463718)

Your information is out of date. They're using the new and simplified BSD license, which is GPL compatible.

Re:So its still GPL incompatible because its BSD . (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463760)

GPL requires you to include the copyright notices, thus give attribution. Check section: 4. Conveying Verbatim Copies. Same if you modify the code, you need to provide your copyright info. The GPL isn't a license that says "do what you want, but provide source", particularly v3. And the BSD license (modern) is fully compatible with the GPL, according to the FSF, who would be considered the authority here.

Re:So its still GPL incompatible because its BSD . (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463826)

The fact that the BSD license requires you to include attribution kind of makes it incompatible with GPL since that is an 'additional restriction' which GPL forbids. Try again.

Uh, I'm pretty sure the GPL requires that you don't remove the copyright notice from things too. You're probably a decade out-of-date, and thinking of the pre-1999 BSD license, which included a clause requiring attribution in any advertising material for the software as well. Practically nobody uses the old BSD licence for new software now, preferring the New BSD License or the FreeBSD License.

Re:So its still GPL incompatible because its BSD . (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464368)

The fact that the BSD license requires you to include attribution kind of makes it incompatible with GPL since that is an 'additional restriction' which GPL forbids.

From the GPL:
4. Conveying Verbatim Copies.

You may convey verbatim copies of the Program's source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright notice; keep intact all notices stating that this License and any non-permissive terms added in accord with section 7 apply to the code; keep intact all notices of the absence of any warranty; and give all recipients a copy of this License along with the Program.

Try again.

Indeed

Well... (3, Funny)

cytoman (792326) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463630)

I'm glad that that issue has now been settled. When do we start seeing extensive adoption of WebM and ditching of the H.264 and others?

Re:Well... (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463728)

YouTube and the like may start to offer WebM next to H264, but I don't see any ditching of H264 any time soon. All sorts of devices (such as phones) are equiped with H264 decoder chips now, making it possible to watch video without draining the battery too much. As I'm not aware of any devices with WebM decoder chips, the web will stick with H264 at least until this situation changes.

Re:Well... (4, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463982)

This is done with programmable DSPs these days, which means making them do WebM is not going to be a huge hurdle.

Re:Well... (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464524)

Technicallly it's not a huge hurdle, it's getting companies to do it that's the hard part. Why give consumers a firmware upgrade that adds features when you can make them buy a newer product to get the ability? (See Android on mobiles, etc...)

Re:Well... (3, Insightful)

JohnBailey (1092697) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464726)

Technicallly it's not a huge hurdle, it's getting companies to do it that's the hard part. Why give consumers a firmware upgrade that adds features when you can make them buy a newer product to get the ability? (See Android on mobiles, etc...)

Because then you don't need to give MPEG-LA any of your money in license fees?

Re:Well... (1, Insightful)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 4 years ago | (#32466308)

Because then you don't need to give MPEG-LA any of your money in license fees?

LMAO.

Do you honestly think companies are going to start removing h264 support from products and replacing it with WebM support because of a piddly licensing fee? The cost of the licensing fee is simply passed on to consumers and is justified with the bullet point on the product features list of "Plays back h264". Given the choice between a product and another one of similar specs that includes native playback of it I'll gladly pay a few extra dollars.

This idea that hardware companies and consumers only support a format because a non-free alternative doesn't exist is just Open Source Fanatic delusion. It's the content that drives these decisions, and that includes content already in existence. H264 already has a lot of momentum as there's already a bunch of content out there in the format. Yeah, maybe Google will switch to WebM for YouTube, and that start the ball rolling on a lot of (lousy) content in WebM... eventually. And this will drive hardware makers to add WebM to their DSPs. But it will be an also-ran format at best.

Even if Google converted all their existing site to WebM (which they aren't going to do, especially so soon after converting stuff to h264 for iPhone compatibility), there's buckets full of content other places in h264.

H264 (and it's licensing fees) is here to stay.

Re:Well... (3, Interesting)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 4 years ago | (#32467372)

H264 (and it's licensing fees) is here to stay.

And it'll be WebM (and it's licensing fees) once the MPEG LA pulls a test case in court against a major WebM user. Half their patents are so vague that Winzip probably violates them - all they need is a court to agree that one of their hundreds of patents covers WebM, and the whole thing blows up.

And you can guarantee that the idiocy that is the Courts of the District of Eastern Texas will agree that WebM is covered.

Re:Well... (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465580)

This is done with programmable DSPs these days

I feel that term conveys the wrong meaning to most readers.

Modern DSPs are just like CPUs. They load up code, and they execute it. It's not like microcontrollers where the chips have firmware and need to be reprogrammed. You can bundle GPU code in the same exe, and you can also bundle DSP code. The OS just has to know what to do with it - where to send it.

Re:Well... (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#32467126)

Nope, many do it with an ASIC, DSP as more flexible but require more power so for mobile applications it's often a fixed function unit.

Re:Well... (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463730)

Not for a long time. Aside from all the video that have to be converted, browsers that support it need to see a widespread adoption before websites have a reason to use it.

Re:Well... (2, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464338)

It shouldn't take long, Firefox, Chrome and Opera have nightly builds with support for it and IE can support it through Chrome Frame.

Re:Well... (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464568)

Apple however doesn't seem to get on board. Not supporting both Flash and WebM leaves pretty much only H264 as a way to get video on an iPod/iPhone/iPad. I wonder how this will work out. Websites are basically forced to support more than one way of delivering video at this point if they want their content to work on all major platforms, which is all the more reason to just put your videos on YouTube and let them sort it out. I'm not sure that is the right direction for video on the web.

Re:Well... (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465456)

Video on the web is a destination unto itself. It's removal would not affect your experience 90% of the time. Therefore lack of Apple support would seem to be a rather ridiculous consideration after the way they have handled Flash and the world continues to spin...

Re:Well... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#32467762)

IE 9 will also support it if you have the CODEC installed. I imagine that Google will put something on YouTube for IE9 users saying 'for best experience, download this shiny new thing now! See how shiny it is!'

Re:Well... (1)

mzs (595629) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464622)

You should see VLC and the like binaries that support WebM distributed today or tomorrow.

Re:Well... (1)

caseih (160668) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465080)

Youtube is already serving some videos with WebM and HTML5, as well as h.264.

Re:Well... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#32466184)

When do we start seeing extensive adoption of WebM and ditching of the H.264 and others?

When devices with Android 2.3 and ChromeOS hit the shelves, I'd imagine.

Still no patent-related indemnification (4, Interesting)

FlorianMueller (801981) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463678)

There's no doubt that Google has made an effort to make its licensing terms more consistent and compatible with existing FOSS licenses. Maybe some of this could have been resolved beforehand if Google had talked to such organizations as the OSI and FSF.

But one important problem remains even with the new licensing terms: there's no indemnification or holding harmless in the event of patent-related problems. I asked at the end of this blog post [blogspot.com] whether it would be fair for Google to reap most of the rewards if WebM becomes a success while the commercial adopters of WebM would bear the risk in case things go wrong on the patent front. By not even providing some basic indemnification, Google calls into question that it's really sure there aren't going to be any problems.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32463758)

Maybe some of this could have been resolved beforehand if Google had talked to such organizations as the OSI and FSF

Oh yeah, sure. Talk to the GNU/everything folks about business friendly licencing. Un ha...

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464384)

Actually, the GPL is very business friendly - it ensures they can release their code as OSS, and their competitors can't use it unless they do the same.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (0, Troll)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463796)

Man, you just live to pimp that blog of yours whenever this topic comes up, don't you?

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

FlorianMueller (801981) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463822)

The key point is made in the comment here, but those are complex issues and references to more detailed external material is useful to those who want to read more. I've also clicked on a number of links here over the years to find out more, though in most cases I don't. As far as I can see, I was the first to bring up the indemnification issue again and I think it's reasonable to do so in this context because it's another thing that was criticized and could have been fixed with the revised license terms.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (3, Informative)

arose (644256) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463934)

What is your response to the assertion that multimedia isn't the patent minefield that everyone wants to (make us) believe [xiph.org] ?

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (4, Interesting)

FlorianMueller (801981) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464094)

What is your response to the assertion that multimedia isn't the patent minefield that everyone wants to (make us) believe [xiph.org] ?

There are now different positions on WebM. In my blog post I actually mention all of them, including (in an update) Carlo Daffara's analysis, which is rather optimistic about WebM not infringing MPEG LA's patents. I never said that it does, but I admit that MPEG LA's statement that it may put together a WebM patent pool is nothing that I would advise anyone to discount as a possible scenario.

What I do say is that Google will have the biggest benefit if this works out, hence I believe it would be reasonable for Google to provide not just vague assurances but a detailed analysis of the patent situation and some form of indemnification. One key difference between H.264 and WebM is that H.264 is already used in countless commercial products, so if anyone could assert any rights against it, it normally should have happened, while VP8 has so far had much less market penetration but if it became (like some propose) part of HTML 5, then this could change overnight and result in patent enforcement.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (3, Interesting)

arose (644256) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464476)

There are now different positions on WebM. In my blog post I actually mention all of them, including (in an update) Carlo Daffara's analysis, which is rather optimistic about WebM not infringing MPEG LA's patents.

It's not so much different, as in line with what has been voiced in regards to avoidance of software patents by Tridge and the Xiph developers. It's in line with Adobe distributing VP6 in Flash without any apparent problems. Who besides MPEG LA (bias obvious), Apple (heavily invested in H.264 infrastructure, favorable licensing terms as a pool member) and x264 devs (heavily invested in H.264, not concerned about patent details) has actually voiced the former positions?

I never said that it does, but I admit that MPEG LA's statement that it may put together a WebM patent pool is nothing that I would advise anyone to discount as a possible scenario.

Don't forget that Vorbis is part of the spec, Fraunhofer is about to strike any day now.

The MPEG LA wants to survive at all costs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32472060)

I think that one part of the analysis we can't leave out is the MPEG LA's commercial interests are not served by allowing a free standard. So, whether it be patent FUD or actual lawsuits, they will find a way to oppose it. It's not a matter of "do they have a patent that covers part of it" it's a matter of "how can they keep the license money flowing."

In short, I don't know if they'll sue or just try to FUD people into paying up anyhow, but there's no way in hell that the MPEG LA will just give up on collecting licensing money. They either sue or threaten people into paying them, or they go out of business. And "go out of business" isn't even an option as far as they're concerned.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (2, Insightful)

arose (644256) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463810)

What rewards? How is Google not a commercial adopter of WebM? How often do companies provide indemnification for complex software? How often do they charge nothing for it? How is this any different then paying MPEG LA for essentially the same guarantees, but with more hooks and complexities?

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (3, Informative)

FlorianMueller (801981) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463952)

What rewards?

If it takes off, they'll control it effectively. Theoretically, others could fork it, but they'll have the expertise and the brand and the strategic partnerships in place to be the driving force. They've explained recently that they also expect huge benefits in the future from Android (similar situation as with WebM).

How is Google not a commercial adopter of WebM?

A producer, like I explained above. A producer eating its own dog food, which is normal ;-)

How often do companies provide indemnification for complex software?

In commercial licensing agreements that's the standard thing. In this case we talk about an open-source-style license that is, however, meant to be the basis for commercial adoption.

How often do they charge nothing for it?

You're basically saying "don't look a gift horse in the mouth" but as I explained, there are business interests involved, so this is anything but an act of charity.

How is this any different then paying MPEG LA for essentially the same guarantees, but with more hooks and complexities?

I'm not sure I understand this question well enough to answer it. H.264 is in extremely widespread commercial use, so there are strong indications that a license from MPEG LA is, in all likelihood, sufficient protection. With WebM there's some uncertainty, including that MPEG LA said it's considering putting together a patent pool for WebM...

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (5, Informative)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464006)

None of the MPEG-LA licensing stuff offers indemnification.

MPEG-LA is just using that WebM patent pool for FUD.

Correct (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32466498)

If you read their page they specifically deny any indemnification. They note you won't be sued by and of the MPEG-LA members, of course, but if there are other patents, well you are on your own. So supposing Google held a patent over something H.264 uses and decided to sue you, well you'd be SOL and have to defend it yourself.

You only tend to find indemnification clauses in the case of very large companies, and then when the more or less developed the technology themselves are fare fairly confident that they hold all the cards.

So no, there's no indemnification of WebM. However what you do have is Google's statement that they carefully checked VP8 before and after buying On2 and they think it is clear. Google is the one company that has the resources to conduct a search like that efficiently, and they have good reason not to release this unless they are confident, as they will for sure be someone that would get sued as they have lots of money.

Also, their patent revocation license means that people might have trouble suing over WebM. So say Sony decides to sue. However it turns out their laptops have an ATi graphics chip in them that accelerates WebM (ATi has said they are going to do that). Well Sony has now lost the right to those patents and is open to countersuit. Nothing they can easily do about it, either, as nVidia is also in with WebM.

Google seems pretty confident they are in the clear, I think it is reasonable for everyone else to feel confident.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464042)

How does Google "control" it? The spec is done. The spec is entirely open and free. What's Google going to actually do to exercise this supposed "control"?

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

FlorianMueller (801981) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464248)

Open-sourcing something is irrevocable only with respect to the particular version that is open-sourced, but there isn't an obligation to do the same for future versions if you're the copyright owner. Apart from that licensing aspect, the one who does most or all of the development work on a project is in strategic control. And don't forget that the WebM trademark belongs to them.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 4 years ago | (#32466202)

None of that sounds like a problem in any practical way at all. You're going to have to be more specific.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464358)

If it takes off, they'll control it effectively.

Control what exactly? The spec? If they change it they shoot themselves in the foot. The brand? They stand to lose more by market confusion then they could ever make in licensing fees.

Theoretically, others could fork it, but they'll have the expertise and the brand and the strategic partnerships in place to be the driving force.

Again, aggressively reving the standard is counterproductive, unlike On2 they don't do this to sell licenses for closed environments.

They've explained recently that they also expect huge benefits in the future from Android (similar situation as with WebM).

That's a crates and apples comparison. Android is a platform, WebM is a building block in that platform. Android ties into Google's web applications and drives eyeballs. WebM ensures that YouTube doesn't get fucked over sideways in 2016, strengthens platform-independent, rich web app development and raises goodwill. I don't see many ways Google benefits from WebM on it's own, and many benefits from the improved web platform it contributes to.

In commercial licensing agreements that's the standard thing.

So who does it? MPEG LA sure as hell doesn't. Who provides protection in the codec field? More importantly, how can you know that Google doesn't extend indemnification towards their commercial WebM partners?

You're basically saying "don't look a gift horse in the mouth"

Show me one free software license that gives any warranty. Right, why would it be different with a royalty-free patent license.

there are business interests involved, so this is anything but an act of charity.

I doubt the hardware companies, for example, are in this for charity either, are you suggesting they are not aware of patent risks and aren't looking out for their business interests?

I'm not sure I understand this question well enough to answer it.

Why do you expect Google to provide indemnification for free, when MPEG LA doesn't even sell it?

H.264 is in extremely widespread commercial use, so there are strong indications that a license from MPEG LA is, in all likelihood, sufficient protection.

Yet they are not willing to stick their neck out for paying customers. Does the widespread commercial use of other On2's codecs in the VP series not provide 'strong indications' that they know how to stay on this side of the infringement line?

With WebM there's some uncertainty

Like FUD?

including that MPEG LA said it's considering putting together a patent pool for WebM...

Ah, at least 'including' FUD. Fraunhofer and Vorbis went nowhere, MPEG LA never actually did anything against Theora. But of course those were different, this time they actually mean it.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465780)

A producer, like I explained above. A producer eating its own dog food, which is normal ;-)

I produce shit but I certainly don't eat it. (I have a toilet slave for that).

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (0, Troll)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463876)

Must you post that FUD in every single Theora- and WebM-related topic *ever*? what you're asking for is something that, quite honestly, would be so fucking dangerous to Google that no company, I repeat, NO company in the industry would even dare *suggest* something of the sort.

And that's without comparing them to MPEG-LA, whose licensing terms are so fucking shallow that they don't even protect you from *them* if you happen to use a patent of theirs not included in the tiny list your MPEG4 license pays for, or you do use one of those but in a manner they don't approve of.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

FlorianMueller (801981) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464130)

If it's as dangerous to Google as you say, why would it then be OK for WebM adopters to be exposed to that risk?

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464402)

Because they already are with h.264?

No one gives indemnification for this sort of thing. This is a risk anyone who ever hosts video takes.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (2, Insightful)

Draek (916851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464404)

Because they're already exposed to risks of the sort by every other piece of software they've ever used. If you don't want that then you should be campaigning to abolish software patents, not be spreading FUD against Google.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

Elektroschock (659467) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463908)

Why don't you celebrate victory [youtube.com] , it seems like you won before the battle started! Google fully cooperates to save the net. Now WebM needs to become the dominant video format. They still have to convince the movie pirates to use the format.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463914)

Google calls into question that it's really sure there aren't going to be any problems.

Can anybody ever be sure there aren't going to be any patent problems with anything? IANAL, but it's my understanding that there is no way to know that someone may have applied for a patent on something until after the patent is granted (which can take years). So, you invent something independently, purely through your own hard work, and proceed with using it, not knowing that someone else may have already applied for a patent on it because that fact is invisible to everyone outside of the USPTO. Then, one day, the patent is granted and your business get skewered with it.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

FlorianMueller (801981) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464164)

There's no such thing as 100% certainty, simply because there are too many patents out there and patent offices grant lots of patents that can be invalidated later based on prior art (if someone makes the effort) but they're granted in the first place. However, a large company like Google is in a hugely better position than smaller players to analyze the situation and to deal with it if and when it arises.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

Bill Dimm (463823) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464374)

simply because there are too many patents out there and patent offices grant lots of patents that can be invalidated later based on prior art

No, it's much worse than that. Read my post again.

a large company like Google is in a hugely better position than smaller players to analyze the situation

Google is in a better position to analyze patents that haven't been granted/published yet? Does Google have spies inside the USPTO?

Think about what you are asking for when you demand indemnification. You are asking them to be on the hook for a risk that they cannot accurately assess no matter how much due diligence they perform, because applications for patents not yet granted are not visible to them.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465964)

> Google is in a better position to analyze patents that haven't been
> granted/published yet? Does Google have spies inside the USPTO?

Patent applications are published 18 months after filing. There are no more submarine patents.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32463970)

Very few if any products from any company or organization come with indemnification.

Your blog claims OMS came with indemnification but does not give a reference to validate this claim. Please cite references saying OMS came with any kind of indemnification.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

FlorianMueller (801981) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464224)

The claim was made on Twitter by Simon Phipps, former chief open source officer at Sun. I took his word for it because I didn't see anyone contradict on Twitter.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

mzs (595629) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465100)

Oooooooo that's shaaaaakey.

In any case the indemnification offered by Sun was always the weakest sort, here's a post from the CEO regarding the NetApp/ZFS debacle:

http://blogs.sun.com/jonathan/entry/harvesting_from_a_troll [sun.com]

Basically (from thew point of view of Sun) it was always: you use this Sun stuff, we have a bunch of patents on our IP. If we get sued we take away the those guys rights to use our patents, we may sue them. If you get sued for using our IP by those guys, let us know. If you have any patents of your own, use them against that guy, then we'll take away their rights to use our patents, also we may sue them. There was nothing there like Sun would pay money to you or to cover court costs, or provide council, etc.

In any case there is no more Sun, in small part due to that NetApp suit, and what has Oracle said about indemnification?

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (4, Informative)

mzs (595629) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465512)

Actually I think I found text showing there was NO indemnification wrt OMS:

http://carlodaffara.conecta.it/?p=420 [conecta.it]

"While we are encouraged by our findings so far, the investigation continues and Sun and OMC cannot make any representations regarding encumbrances or the validity or invalidity of any patent claims or other intellectual property rights claims a third party may assert in connection with any OMC project or work product."

Incidentally the author makes a very good point in this quote:

"Another important aspect is the prior patent search: it is clear (and will be evident a few lines down) that On2 made a patent search to avoid specific implementation details; the point is that noone will be able to see this pre-screening,to avoid additional damages. In fact, one of the most brain damaged things of the current software patent situation is the fact that if a company performs a patent search and finds a potential infringing patent it may incur in additional damages for willful infringement (called “treble damages”). So, the actual approach is to perform the same analysis, try to work around any potential infringing patent, and for those “close enough” cases that cannot be avoided try to steer away as much as possible. So, calling Google out for releasing the study on possible patent infringement is something that has no sense at all: they will never release it to the public."

It seems I need to wait for someone to sue someone or I just consider this FUD at this point.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

flymolo (28723) | more than 4 years ago | (#32463974)

Your blog discounts the likely possibility that this is lies for the purpose of FUD, or that even if true the FUD is more valuable than actually asserting the patents.

I think the patent allegations are made to slow adoption. But I think indemnification may be still be necessary, because even proving non-infringement is expensive.

I hope if the patent pools manifest, Google sues for a declaration of non-infringement.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

FlorianMueller (801981) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464206)

I don't discount the possibility that it could be strategically motivated FUD. However, my concern is the risk that this could represent to the FOSS community (especially the commercial vendors adopting FOSS). The risk is there until there's proof that it is just "FUD". Nevertheless, glad to see we agree on indemnification and if Google obtained a declaration of non-infringement, that would certainly be great (if it happened).

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

arose (644256) | more than 4 years ago | (#32465272)

The risk is there until there's proof that it is just "FUD".

If it could be disproved it wouldn't make for good FUD, now would it? In fact, what exactly is there to disproof? That they are "considering forming a pool"? They probably are, but that doesn't mean that they can, which they haven't claimed to be able to. They don't say they have patents to form a pool with, which at least would be something that could remotely need proof of the opposite.

But even then they have to actually provide some evidence before "proof of the opposite" becomes possible.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

macara (1813628) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464004)

Considering your only other choice is with MPEGLA which despite their shady terms has support already, I think this is the least of our problems at the time being.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464336)

I asked at the end of this blog post whether it would be fair for Google to reap most of the rewards if WebM becomes a success while the commercial adopters of WebM would bear the risk in case things go wrong on the patent front.

YouTube, a short film hosting service operated by Google, is already transcoding its works to WebM alongside H.264. This means Google itself is a commercial adopter of WebM.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (2, Informative)

mzs (595629) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464730)

I know you know this, cause I know who Florian Mueller is, but I want to make it clear to the slashdot crowd that Google is granting a royalty free grant to use the patents that they own or will own related to VP8. You only lose this grant if you sue Google in patent court essentially. This is GPL3/Apache style patent clauses.

http://www.webmproject.org/license/additional/ [webmproject.org]

Now real patent indemnification is very rare, especially the kind where Google would protect you from 3rd party patents. I just wanted to make that clear to the other slashdotters that may not know lots of details. You are right using VP8, you may be putting yourself at risk from other patent holders and I would personally feel much better if Google released information about its investigation into why it feels other patents, say from the MPEG-LA AVC patent pool, are not infringed. I did not want people to get the impression, simply because they're not experts, that Google might sue someone using VP8 under the terms of the Google patent grant.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32467544)

MPEG-LA do *not* offer indemnification of any sort. Its even in the dam licence you have to sign after paying a lot of cash for fees and laywers. MPEG-LA codecs have not been without patent claims from third parties.

At least with webM the initial outlay is zero. And when folks troll about covered by patents, no patent numbers are ever mentioned. Why, because about the only patents that probably do "cover" it will last all of 5min in court by failing even the most lax patentability requirements.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32467684)

there's no indemnification or holding harmless in the event of patent-related problems.

Because Google is not stupid. (and employs lawyers to help them avoid doing stupid things) Gee, let's make ourselves liable for payouts in case 3rd parties file lawsuits against each other! Brilliant idea.

whether it would be fair for Google to reap most of the rewards

well yes, seeing that they are the ones who invested some hundreds of millions of dollars on it, there is some case for them expecting to be the primary beneficiary of the return on that investment.

commercial adopters of WebM would bear the risk in case things go wrong on the patent front.

so your argument is that it's better to knowingly take the bad option over the perhaps-bad option? I guess that's reasonable considering humans' fear of the unknown is deeper than their fear of death. (which explains the popular success of McDonald's and GWBush over all rational logic among other things)

but that's no way to live your life, it's something along the lines of "rape is easier if you just shut up and let it happen."

Google calls into question that it's really sure there aren't going to be any problems.

give me a break. All it says is that Google isn't willing to put themselves in the firing line when there is no real reward for them to do so.

Re:Still no patent-related indemnification (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#32467980)

Yes, it is perfectly fair, they bought the damn company and are giving away the code and patent licenses.

If you are nervous about it, don't use it. Agitate for other people not to use it. But don't be surprised when they ignore you.

If they did offer indemnity, I expect you would just switch to complaining that it was insufficient, what with the huge risk involved.

I don't understand (1)

ceeam (39911) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464054)

> if a patent action was brought against Google, the patent license terminated

This will happen like the next day after WebM becomes semi-relevant.

And the patent issue is the only one of importance, otherwise x264 is the same Open Source too. With much better quality.

mod 0p (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464076)

large - keep your *BSD has steadily knows for sure what invited back again. an3 shouting that followed. Obviously th3y're gone Mac [theos.com] on his

Good Job (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464100)

Umm.. Good Job.

Background Info - What is WebM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32464414)

From the web site:

WebM is an open, royalty-free, media file format designed for the web.

WebM defines the file container structure, video and audio formats. WebM files consist of video streams compressed with the VP8 video codec and audio streams compressed with the Vorbis audio codec. The WebM file structure is based on the Matroska container.

great, just what we need. people using this pile (0, Troll)

fusiongyro (55524) | more than 4 years ago | (#32464840)

I'm really annoyed at Google for this bullshit, and the new license is only going to increase adoption of a technology that should have been stillborn.

Re:great, just what we need. people using this pil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32470698)

U MAD?

using webm files and getting sued (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32465370)

(please ignore that I am anon, I lost my password from 1997.

Can I now use webm without getting sued by other people?)

Re:using webm files and getting sued (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 4 years ago | (#32467474)

No. You can use it without getting sued by Google. It remains to be seen whether anyone else has any claim to bits of the spec.

Re:using webm files and getting sued (1)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32467578)

Perhaps a better question is:

A) How can I write *any* software without violating a patent?

B) What OS software is not violating a patent?

The answer to both questions is warped up in many billable patent attorney hours. After you have paid these huge fees (about 50k per patent checked IIRC), it can still be wrong, and its not the attorney's fault and not his/her problem. Hell if someone else wants to know if the patent covers the same thing, that same patent attorney will charge another 50k for that same analysis.

In my option, lawyers and attorneys are not professionals. Thats the problem. An engineer gets in trouble when he/she is wrong, and if you are wrong too often you don't get to call yourself an engineer. While lawyers don't get anything at all. They can be incompetent and wrong every time, and yet its your money and your companies cease and desist order.

How many versions will there be in a year? (1)

tk77 (1774336) | more than 4 years ago | (#32466578)

So in the next year and a half will we expect to see WebM 1.0, 1.5, 1.6, 2.0, 2.0.1, 2.1 and 2.2?

I can see it now, not being able to watch video on all sites because they use "2.1" and the hardware decoder in your Android phone only supports 1.6 even though it was just released yesterday.

Seriously, is Google the company that we want attempting to control a video standard? Sure they have a lot of smart developers over there, and so far I'm not convinced they can hold back and not change things too often. Is WebM as is really considered release ready by Google? After the decoder is put in a bunch of hardware will they all of a sudden come out with "Don't use that version any more, use this new one, its better. Oh, and you have to re-encode all your video."

Just my thoughts.

Re:How many versions will there be in a year? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32466848)

VP8 is a standard... the software is an implementation of that standard, it doesn't change said standard. How many MPEG-2 decoders are there? Far more than there are in WebM/VP8, and even then, far more diverse hardware support. Still, all those DVD players continue to work with standard disks.

Oops, didn't notice that distinction (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 4 years ago | (#32466954)

The twist was that ours terminated "any" rights and not just rights to the patents, which made our license GPLv3 and GPLv2 incompatible.

Oops, I at first thought it was GPLv3 compatible because I didn't notice that distinction when I first read it.

Re:Oops, didn't notice that distinction (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 4 years ago | (#32467554)

Still, this would have been trivial to fix and I'd have just done that and screw the GPLv2. I mean, this stuff is unlikely to go into something like the Linux kernel.

Borrowing language (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 4 years ago | (#32467196)

Using patent language borrowed from both the Apache and GPLv3 patent clauses...

I'm not sure about the Apache license, but the FSF holds the copyright to the GPL itself. Is Google infringing?

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