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Google Announces WebM Community Cross Licensing

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the everybody-hold-hands dept.

Google 120

theweatherelectric writes "Google's WebM project has announced the formation of the WebM Community Cross-License Initiative. Members of the WebM-CCL agree to license patents they may hold that are essential to WebM technologies to other members under royalty-free terms. This initiative would seem to address some of Microsoft's concerns about WebM. Meanwhile, the MPEG LA appears to have remained silent after the submission period of its call for patents essential to WebM ended over a month ago."

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120 comments

ralph; chicken soup rations taste like jet fuel (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35940508)

rations. sheesh. we remember this taste from our time in the gulf. one who still has lungs swam up to change the tanks over, again. on to mebotuh, weather permitting.

anything that can make a rat fly is good stuff? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35941332)

every native citizen from down under southern hillary will be issued a droid powered drone? some are quite damp, but still have the steaming vdo working. the bat excrement has been upgraded, by our rulers, from its' use as a fertilizer of controversial value, to a consumable dietary product, plus it will now be used as a primary alternative fuel for citizen issue drones. thank you.

GOOG isnt so sure anymore (4, Interesting)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940582)

It appears that Google isnt so sure any more about how much of WebM it owns. While there have been no public statements about what patents VP8/WebM infringes on, there have almost certainly been cases of patent holders making specific claims in private. How many of those claims are valid remains to be seen, but it sure looks like at least a few of them are being considered by Google as too risky to fight, so here we are with a patent pool proposal that offers a win-win for all involved rather than patent fights.

Re:GOOG isnt so sure anymore (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35940668)

Yes, but it is important to remember that VP8/WebM would never have been developed if it weren't for the research by whoever it is that holds the patents. Thus the patent system once again proves vital to the creation of valuable innovations.

Re:GOOG isnt so sure anymore (3, Informative)

x*yy*x (2058140) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940748)

But the truth is, WP8/WebM is just too late. H.264 is already everywhere.. And it's not just about your video player on linux, but the actual real world usage. H.264 is on TV broadcasts, game consoles, computers, mobile phones, advanced video processing software and all that goes into actual production.. It's everywhere. WP8 on the other hand isn't, it's just on your computer. That is not good enough for the real world. And then theres the facts that H.264 is both faster and gives better quality (and that is the thing what matters to people, not licenses) and that H.265 is coming out in a few years and again contains significant improvements and new technology.

If you want to have an open video format, you have to look into the future. You cannot replace it now. Improve the open video format and it's algorithm and win the next round. But it wont be won just because it's "open" (H.264 is too), but because it's a better standard. By far WP8 is not.

Heard that one before (2)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940870)

"But the truth is, H.264 is just too late. MPEG2 is already everywhere..."

Re:Heard that one before (2)

x*yy*x (2058140) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940900)

And nobody replaced MPEG2 with inferior technology. It got replaced when better codecs and algorithms were adopted.

VHS (3, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941742)

VHS had worse picture quality than Betamax, but you could do much more with it.

MPEG-LA is now in the position of having to compete against a free alternative, that's probably good enough for most applications.

Two or three times now they've announced a ramp-up in royalty rates, to be beaten back by industry pressure. Their business model has always been to start out with low prices, then ramp them up later. What's their business model now?

If h.264 stays cheap forever, then Google has won. If People switch to WebM, then Google has won. Either way, their investment pays back; and people wonder how anybody can ever make money with free software.

Re:VHS (1)

TheEyes (1686556) | more than 2 years ago | (#35942924)

If h.264 stays cheap forever, then Google has won. If People switch to WebM, then Google has won. Either way, their investment pays back; and people wonder how anybody can ever make money with free software.

...even after Google, apparently, just did?

Re:VHS (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 2 years ago | (#35943144)

MPEG-LA is now in the position of having to compete against a free alternative, that's probably good enough for most applications.

A free alternative to replace the one everyone has already invested in. Because that worked so well for ogg vorbis (a much closed comparison than your strained Betamax analogy.)

Re:GOOG isnt so sure anymore (3, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941150)

H.264 is only around for as long as MPEG-LA doesn't charge you for viewing as well as decoding the video files.

Take a good look at what they can do. they can place a per viewer, per decoder, per encoder, per streamed, charge on every video you view online.

Right now they only charge for the streamers, and encoders. but every year they release a statement saying they can do the rest but aren't for the next couple of years.

Re:GOOG isnt so sure anymore (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35941172)

But the truth is, WP8/WebM is just too late. H.264 is already everywhere..

Ubiquitous technologies have been supplanted by upstarts since antiquity. Technically superior solutions have also been steamrolled by inferior tech too many times to count. You are a fool to discount WebM.

Re:GOOG isnt so sure anymore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35941242)

You seem to think all existing encoded video is going to go away in a few years. It won't. It'll still mostly be here 10 and 15 years from now, and today's codecs will be used in that time to deliver better-compressed video. Also your opinion of quality is subjective, or else people wouldn't be using DVD(MPEG-2)/VC-1(streaming)/JPEG/MP3/[insert shitty codecs]. The "battle" won't be over for another decade.

Re:GOOG isnt so sure anymore (2)

oakgrove (845019) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941290)

I personally don't care if WebM is inferior, superior, on par, or whatever. I like competition. Seems to be working for web browsers finally. Why not streaming codecs? What is it about competition that scares you?

Re:GOOG isnt so sure anymore (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941472)

Typical technophile mindset. The whole point of standards is that there *won't* be a next round, there's been dozens of superior technologies compared to JPEG, but nobody outside of a few nerds cared because JPEG is "good enough".

Both WebM and H.264 are "good enough" for video, they're both better than DivX which was becoming the de-facto standard until Flash came up. Problem is, regardless of your speech about devices irrelevant to the discussion, neither is pervasive enough that you'd avoid having a rehash of the days before Flash if you try to keep the standard codec-neutral. Or, more accurately, you'll just continue being stuck with Flash since it works, and works pretty much everywhere that matters for the web.

Re:GOOG isnt so sure anymore (2)

justsomebody (525308) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941052)

and your comment is also proof that brain is not essential part for some people to function.

most (99.999999%) of software patents are just observing the life and written in code, thus not invented. and when 99.99% of process is consisting bogus obvious claims where people claim they invented something... how can this be essential? i will go so far and admit the rest could be treated as valid inventions, but how to separate them from bogus claims when people granting patent have no clue about what they are granting patent for. if your method has too many false positives, you have to wonder if your method is actually doing its job or it just creates more work for you and others.

imagine this. even showing of sorted item list is patented, ffs. now wonder, just how did people organize records before computers? by your claim, the patent from 197x played vital role in correcting that mistake (or having sorted books in bookcase and sorted items on screen falls into completely different categories, if you plan on disputing with mechanism that sorts, you can always also imagine you could as well hire someone to sort records for you and thus employ same mechanism). or this example... http://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=12006 [arstechnica.com] (microsoft patenting virtual desktops in 2004, by your claims... if there would not be this research i would still be imagining i used them in 90s)

i'm all for patents in other areas. with my lack of understanding those they seem quite logical, but someone with understanding those areas might dispute my claims just i dispute yours.

Re:GOOG isnt so sure anymore (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#35943456)

You cite Microsoft as having patented "virtual desktops" but that is not actually what the patent application covers. The patent claim begins "A method for a user to preview multiple virtual desktops in a graphical user interface..."

an actual citation instead of a forum thread full of crap [uspto.gov] (only one guy in that forum thread seems to know anything about patents)

In short and quite specifically, your claim that Microsoft patented or tried to patent virtual desktops is bullshit. In general, you do not seem to have any real grasp about what patents can actually cover.

Also, there is no patent! Its a patent application, and in said application there is plenty of prior art being cited by Microsoft itself. If you had read the patent application, you would know that its for methods of improvement over the prior art.

Finally, that is a design patent not a utility patent. Do you know the difference?

Re:GOOG isnt so sure anymore (4, Informative)

moronoxyd (1000371) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940682)

Have you had a look at the list of companies that join this CCL?

Besides Google we have Xiph.org (who develop Ogg Vorbis, which is the audio codec used by WebM), Matroska (the WEbM container is based on their container format), Mozilla and Opera (who use WebM in their browsers), companies lei MIPS and TI who most probably are in the process of developing chips who will use WebM in hardware, and so on.

These are companies that use WebM in some way and who join the CCL to support each other and the format against patent trolls and attacks like that of MPEG-LA (read: Microsoft and Apple).

Re:GOOG isnt so sure anymore (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35941776)

Apple has only one patent in the MPEG-LA and it is the one for the container format. I doubt that Apple has any intention to sue anyone over WeBM. Ditto for Microsoft. It's more likely that they're just satisfied with what they have and don't want to risk being sued over a visually inferior format.

Re:GOOG isnt so sure anymore (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941934)

What about the trolls at MPEG-LA?
Their "Raison d'Ãtre" is to make $ by suing.

Can you actually see MS or Apple telling MPEG-LA to back-off?

Re:GOOG isnt so sure anymore (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 2 years ago | (#35942136)

If one of the MPEG-LA members wants to sue, what business is it of Microsoft or Apple? You can't say that either of those companies is attacking WebM because a third patent holder starts throwing their weight around.

Re:GOOG isnt so sure anymore (2)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 2 years ago | (#35944588)

Who says a member has to want to sue or not.

Re:GOOG isnt so sure anymore (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35942434)

Have you had a look at the list of companies that join this CCL?

Exactly. Every company in the CCL is a company that has one of the following:

  1. Patents on technologies used in WebM (i.e. VP8, Vorbis, Matroska)
  2. Prior art for technologies used in WebM (i.e. VP8, Vorbis, Matroska)
  3. Patents or prior art on hardware acceleration related to VP8

In other words, before the CCL, Apple and Microsoft-Nokia could spout FUD about Google not having all the necessary patents to make WebM safe, even though there wasn't a snowball's chance in heck they'd get sued by the likes of Xiph or Matroska. This eliminates a FUD bullet point and draws a clear distinction with regard to who's for or against WebM. It also creates a larger patent pool for a countersuit and gives Google a more solid foundation for getting WebM into the HTML5 spec.

MPEG-LA says the exact same thing (2)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 2 years ago | (#35942704)

MPEG-LA is a mutually beneficial organization too.

They're both patent pools.

TI isn't really developing new chips, they are developing new software for their chips (DSPs) which is actually better because it means WebM acceleration will be available more quickly and on a wider range of devices than if you had to wait for new chips.

Calling MS and Apple patent trolls is to misuse the term. Patent trolls are companies that don't develop anything, they just make claims against other people's products. MS and Apple both create significant products of their own, that's their primary source of income, not license fees.

Re:MPEG-LA says the exact same thing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35944284)

MPEG-LA is a mutually beneficial organization too.

They're both patent pools.

They're not even remotely comparable, and MPEG-LA is not all that mutually beneficial. The CCL Initiative uses royalty free licensing that can be sublicensed, which means you pay nothing even if you're using open source software. By contrast, you have to pay MPEG-LA, even if you have patents in the patent pool, so the only "mutual benefit" you get is the ability to subtract your own patent royalties from how much you pay. (Of course, if you don't sell any actual products or services, it's a really great deal because you receive patent royalties but you don't have to license anything.)

Calling MS and Apple patent trolls is to misuse the term. Patent trolls are companies that don't develop anything, they just make claims against other people's products. MS and Apple both create significant products of their own, that's their primary source of income, not license fees.

That's really a half truth. Microsoft and Apple have their own media interests that would be compromised by an open, universal media format. Just because they don't derive their income directly from patents in them MPEG-LA pool doesn't mean they don't have something to gain.

Re:GOOG isnt so sure anymore (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941090)

And ready the shotgun (and lots of ammo) for the first wave of patent troils.

Re:GOOG isnt so sure anymore (0)

Jezza (39441) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941678)

Why was this better than h.264 again?! Technically it isn't, it's worse. It was supposed to be all about patents...

Am I alone in thinking we're being lied to by Google?

Re:GOOG isnt so sure anymore (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#35942310)

No, but no matter how deluded or paranoid the chances are good that you're not alone in thinking it.

Google is an American company and in America you can never be completely free of some bogus patent that somebody has managed to get by the USPTO, and because they don't ever bother with verifying that something is actually eligible before granting it a patent it's nigh impossible to ever have something that's truly patent free.

Plus, it's better because of the royalty free bit. H.264 is not royalty free and never has been, they've only opened it up for free streaming, which means that they only get paid twice, once to encode it and once to decode it, which is what this was all about in the first place.

Wait there ARE patents with WebM? (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940596)

I know... you can't take a step in any direction without infringing on some software patent somewhere, so it can't be expected that there aren't patents that cover some aspect of video "on the internet." But this consortium that requires membership? Hrm... I guess it's part of how we all agree "not to sue each other" analogous to peace accords and treaties.

And MPEG-LA remained silent? Of course they did! If they spoke up, they wouldn't be able to file law suits later! It's what they exist for, after all. Why would anyone expect MPEG-LA to speak up and act against their very purpose for existence? No one has to be insightful or prophetic to predict that if/when WebM becomes the defacto standard, MPEG-LA will file suits.

Re:Wait there ARE patents with WebM? (-1)

x*yy*x (2058140) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940784)

Eh, what else is MPEG-LA then? It's just like this consortium - you don't sue me, I dont sue you, let's all just use this technology peacefully. And now Google created an consortium for a less advanced technology.. Yeah if I ran a business and my revenue dependent on video codecs, I'd be sure to join Google's one instead of the much better MPEG-LA........

Re:Wait there ARE patents with WebM? (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940918)

MPEG-LA is a troll organization that sues on behalf of "its members." They are more like the **AAs than a group who mutually agree not to sue one another.

Re:Wait there ARE patents with WebM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35940928)

WTF? So this consortium is, er, consortium and that's why it's not cool, because we have had another (and worse) consortium who chose to remain silent?

Welcome to new /..

Re:Wait there ARE patents with WebM? (1)

x*yy*x (2058140) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940948)

So MPEG-LA is the root of evil because year after year they remain silent? Wow.

Re:Wait there ARE patents with WebM? (3, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 2 years ago | (#35942002)

So MPEG-LA is the root of evil because year after year they remain silent?

Hardly silent. Most people don't like them because their business plan is to "get 'em hooked first, then start charging them" like a drug dealer does.

It's just that WebM prevents a credible enough threat to that business plan that it keeps getting revised to be less offensive. If WebM weren't around, they'd be charging individuals per minute of their home movies of the kids. Which would create a market incentive for something like a WebM.

The market works, except for government interference. In this case, patents could tilt this balance, which is what this article is about.

Re:Wait there ARE patents with WebM? (2)

JavaBear (9872) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940950)

WebM was probably spurred by the threat that MPEG-LA would only allow use of h.264 without heavy royalties, not just ont he streaming services, but also on the individuals producing the h.264 content. Only after WebM was announced did MPEG-LA retract that lime limit for free use in non-commercial uses. Even then, I guess YouTube partners and YouTube are still in hot water, as they are definitely commercial applications.

As it stands. h.264 is great for high quality, high bandwidth delivery, where WebM seems to be aimed specifically at streaming delivery and web sites..

Re:Wait there ARE patents with WebM? (3, Interesting)

Skuto (171945) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940978)

The important thing is the royalty free part.

See, there are 2 kinds of reasons to contribute to these codecs: 1) to collect license fees 2) to actually sell products that use them.

For the companies in (2), the license fees are a nuisance that potentially stops their products from getting more widespread acceptance. This is why some big guys, which are mostly (2), already joined Google. Even if they gain from the license fees, its much smaller than the actual product sales. They tend to be in the MPEG-LA only because that makes it cheaper to do (2), not because they want (1).

So, if you revenue "depended on video codecs", the critical question is if your revenue is coming only from the patents (also called "patent troll") or if you were actually making products.

Re:Wait there ARE patents with WebM? (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941396)

According to this [theregister.co.uk] , an antitrust investigation into MPEG-LA is already underway for their attack on WEBM.

Re:Wait there ARE patents with WebM? (1)

sl3xd (111641) | more than 2 years ago | (#35943582)

It's difficult to do anything with antitrust over patents. Patents are a government-granted monopoly, and the patent holder(s) are free to do whatever they want, abusive or not, with their patents for the duration the patent is valid. Patents are not granted on the condition that the patent owner play nice with others.

Moreover, it's hard to pin anything particularly abusive on the MPEG-LA, as the pool is licensed under reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. As patent licenses go, the MPEG-LA's terms are far more generous than most.

It's not like WebM is alone in being a target of the MPEG-LA. Microsoft initially offered the VC-1 codec under an open license, including a patent license for VC-1 technologies for anybody to use. Even with Microsoft's massive litigation abilities, VC-1 (and its sibling, Windows Media Video) ended up "closed" from a patent perspective, and is now licensed from the MPEG-LA.

We don't have to like the way the patent system works, and especially software patents. Pretending that software patents don't exist (in the US), or that a patent holder has to play 'nice' with Free Software is rejecting reality. We have to accept the reality that software patents do exist, they are enforceable under terms that are not friendly to Free Software. Then we have to work to get software patents abolished.

Simply ignoring the problem won't make it go away, and wishful thinking doesn’t get us anywhere.

IOS support (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35940618)

I wonder if apple will support this format on mobile devices.

It won't go anywhere unless they do, since apple is a huge player in this space.

Re:IOS support (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35940704)

You really wonder about that? You can't just look at what they do on iOS and know that they won't?

Re:IOS support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35940778)

If it is going to take off, it will with or without Apple. Their say never seems to have much of an impact on the success of a given standard, one way or another.

Re:IOS support (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35940864)

Unless someone supplants YouTube then Apple/etc will eventually be required to. Google can quite compellingly shift the consumer blame onto platform makers when it decides to drop H.264.

If Google is smart they'll merely stop the ability to upload nonconverted H.264 video, so that all existing videos continue to work on older, non-updateable devices.

Apple, Apple, fap, fap, fap, Apple (1, Funny)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940986)

Yep. Flash would not have gone anywhere without Apple. Google Maps would not have gone anywhere without Apple. Youtube would not have gone anywhere without Apple. MP3 would not have gone anywhere without Apple. Fuck, even technology companies like Google, Micosoft, Adobe, SAP, Oracle would not have gone anywhere without Apple. Fuck that, even web-oriented companies like Amazon, Netflix, Facebook would not have gone anywhere without Apple.

For any technology to survive, it has to get Apple's blessing. Because, you know, they own 100% of the PC market and all 100% of the mobile market.

Re:Apple, Apple, fap, fap, fap, Apple (1)

mlingojones (919531) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941256)

Obviously support on iOS devices isn't the only factor, but you can't deny that they're a major industry player, and carry a lot of weight.

Re:Apple, Apple, fap, fap, fap, Apple (1)

E IS mC(Square) (721736) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941374)

I was just replying to GP's "It won't go anywhere unless they (Apple) do".

Re:Apple, Apple, fap, fap, fap, Apple (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941282)

Flash would not have gone anywhere without Apple

Actually, this part is true. Flash would be far more prevalent without Apple's influence, because the "open" platforms seem bizarrely committed to preserving some other company's proprietary lock-in format.

Re:Apple, Apple, fap, fap, fap, Apple (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35941476)

Oh grow up. Google has allowed closed source apps in the market from the beginning. Anyone who pays the fee can do it - including Adobe. Allowing flash on Android has nothing to do with being an "open" or "closed" platform.

I have a Motorola Droid 1. I downloaded the flash plugin from the market and checked it out, then I uninstalled it. Flash really doesn't interest me.

At the same time, I'm not a child. I don't need anyone to look out for me and tell me which technologies I should or shouldn't use. If you like Apple, do them a favor and quit making iPhone users look like whiney children.

Re:Apple, Apple, fap, fap, fap, Apple (2)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#35942770)

Grow up?

I simply pointed out that the GP post was correct: Without Apple, Flash wasn't going anywhere. It would have remained entrenched as a de facto, closed, proprietary standard. Why? Because every other platform has insisted that they support it, despite the fact that Adobe seems incapable of writing a plugin that functions with any semblance of reliability.

"Allowing" flash on Android certainly has nothing to do with it being "open" or "closed." But when you tout "openness" as one of the defining characteristics of your platform, it's oddly incongruous in the next breath to tout your firm commitment to delivering closed, proprietary standards on top of your platform. Isn't this why we're also being asked to conclude that H.264 is bad, and WebM is good? H.264 is far more prevalent, but we're asked to move away from it because it's not free and open, and WebM (allegedly) is free and open?

When the Android platform manager, Andy Rubin, claims that his platform is the very definition of "open" [cnn.com] , he opens his platform up to a bit of criticism over the very odd choice of saying that openness is good, except where Flash is involved. Lest you've forgotten, Mr. Rubin had this to say about openness:

the definition of open: "mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make"

Re:Apple, Apple, fap, fap, fap, Apple (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35943978)

Do you still not understand this? Flash is not part of Android. It is not part of the Android browser. It is an app in the market. It is really that simple.

Do some phones ship with flash? Sure. Mine didn't, but some do. Mine also shipped with the Facebook app. The Facebook app isn't open.

Is anyone complaining? No. Do you know why? Because both Android and iPhone have Facebook apps, but only Android has flash, so immature iPhone users run around like headless chickens going on and on about this big "open" paradox within Android.

I will explain it one more time. Android is open source. It is open, it is free, you can downlod it with git and RMS would roll around in the source code without feeling dirty.

Android is the operating system, but it allows you to install apps. Those apps may be open or closed. Anyone is able to make apps for it. If an app is popular, it might come preinstalled on the phone. If an app is very popular, Google might even happily announce that it is available.

Adobe is not Google, and Flash is not a Google product. It is simply an Adobe app that Adobe has made available for use on Android phones.

I think I covered everything here, but I await your "Google SAYS Android is open, yet there is this whole FLASH issue that needs to be considered" retort.

Re:Apple, Apple, fap, fap, fap, Apple (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941716)

Almost like the 90's when every bit of tech we had somehow owed Microsoft thanks for it's existence.

I suppose after the Apple phase everyone will praise Google for 10 years or so.

Re:Apple, Apple, fap, fap, fap, Apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35942524)

At least MS argument had some validity due to _majority_ of market share they held during this time.

Apple/ios does not have lead in any market segment (except for tablets segment which is minuscule in itself within total consumer electronics computation devices). Just that apple fans want to believe in something and keeps on repeating tangential blabber.

Holders ? (2)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940638)

What about me, as a developer, or small business, or a member of the public ?

Re:Holders ? (3, Informative)

theweatherelectric (2007596) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940678)

From the FAQ [webm-ccl.org] :

Does the WebM Project require that I join the CCL to use WebM?

No. Xiph.org, Matroska and Google make the WebM technologies available under an open-source BSD license. The terms and conditions of that open-source license have not changed.

Re:Holders ? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35941022)

That doesn't say anything about patents though. Either there are no patents (or only patents licensed for free to anyone), in which case this CCL group is unnecessary, or there are patents, in which case you either have to join the group (presumably impossible for us regular schmoes) or face litigation. As an independent developer who'd like to maybe use WebM in one of my games, this tells me that WebM is unsafe and I should stick with Theora. Am I wrong?

Re:Holders ? (1)

zeroshade (1801584) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941284)

Yes, you're wrong. The point of this group is rather than every individual company stating separately "yes, the patents are licensed free to anyone" they join the group which is considered to own the patents which singularly states "Yes, the patents are licensed for free to anyone." That's why it says the terms and conditions have not changed. The Open-Source license it is speaking about is a royalty free, non-revokable license to use all patents required for the use of WebM.

Re:Holders ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35941590)

That's good to hear, but if this is the case they really should state it more clearly on their website. The impression I got was that they license any patents to other members of the group only, leaving non-members out in the cold.

Re:Holders ? (1)

Skuto (171945) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941378)

or face litigation

This can only happen when (1) There are patents (2) They're held by a company not bound to whatever patent pledge was given.

In other words, the situation is exactly the same as before.

Re:Holders ? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35941718)

From the FAQ [webm-ccl.org] :

Does the WebM Project require that I join the CCL to use WebM?

No. Xiph.org, Matroska and Google make the WebM technologies available under an open-source BSD license. The terms and conditions of that open-source license have not changed.

Sorry, but in case other members do have patents, the actual terms say that only end users and members are protected, not persons developing, distributing WebM or using WebM for non-personal use.

MPEG is trouble (4, Insightful)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940658)

MPEG LA is a panther waiting to spring.

When it happens, we won't be able to say that we weren't warned.

(Oh, but where's the trust!)

Re:MPEG is trouble (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940736)

So which one is troublesome? MPEG or MPEG LA?

You mention both, possibly assuming they're the same thing.

Re:MPEG is trouble (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940974)

I don't see the conflict, or any assumptions.

You can use MPEG in your software for a low annual fee. They promise (MPEG LA) that for the next few years that fee will be capped at $5,000,000.00. A drop in the bucket for any gigantic corporation. Firefox isn't paying. I sure can't afford it.

No, they wouldn't sue me if I used it, but they could.

MPEG does not belong in HTML5, as it is heavily encumbered.

Re:MPEG is trouble (3, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941078)

MPEG is an ISO working group (the Motion Picture Experts Group), which oversees the creation of standards for encoding digital video. MPEG LA is an industry consortium that collects royalties on MPEG standards, after they are official ISO standards. There are some common members, but MPEG LA is not in any way affiliated with MPEG.

Re:MPEG is trouble (1)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941356)

MPEG is an ISO working group (the Motion Picture Experts Group), which oversees the creation of standards for encoding digital video. MPEG LA is an industry consortium that collects royalties on MPEG standards, after they are official ISO standards. There are some common members, but MPEG LA is not in any way affiliated with MPEG.

I understand that, I still don't see the conflict, but maybe I'm missing something?
I never said that MPEG == MPEG LA, I just mentioned them both. There is a relationship there and using mpeg standards implies MPEG LA licensing. We know that one is the group that creates the standards, and the registered file extension, the other is the group that enforces the patents on said standards.
So, am I missing something? Or is this some kind of a petty distraction?

Re:MPEG is trouble (1)

segedunum (883035) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940904)

Eventually yes, I think the MPEG-LA will start getting increasingly desperate. However, if it's one thing we've learned from Android it's that no one wants to attack Google directly so it might get a little difficult.

Re:MPEG is trouble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35942412)

Nice FUD. Interesting how Webm doesn't need to spread FUD. Maybe we should just live in fear and not do anything, because you just can't pay enough people protection money.

Has MPEG-LA done any wrong yet? (1)

Bloodwine77 (913355) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940754)

From my understanding, the codec by MPEG-LA is superior to WebM, but that WebM is theoretically safer to use than MPEG-LA. Has MPEG-LA caused any troubles or are people just assuming that one day MPEG-LA may do something dastardly evil?

Re:Has MPEG-LA done any wrong yet? (1)

x*yy*x (2058140) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940826)

but that WebM is theoretically safer to use than MPEG-LA.

That's upside down. H.264 is safer to use, but you have to pay license fees if your software encodes to H.264. WebM is a hope-for-the-best.. Even Google doesn't guarantee there won't be trouble with patents.

Has MPEG-LA caused any troubles or are people just assuming that one day MPEG-LA may do something dastardly evil?

They're asking a small percentage of the money you make using H.264. Evil, I know.

Re:Has MPEG-LA done any wrong yet? (1)

Skuto (171945) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941028)

H.264 is safer to use

Citation needed.

you have to pay license fees if your software encodes to H.264

And you don't know how much to whom yet, but you are already guaranteed a small part will be to the MPEG-LA. There are no other guarantees.

How is this safer? It isn't.

Re:Has MPEG-LA done any wrong yet? (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 2 years ago | (#35943616)

H.264 is safer to use

Citation needed.

WP:NOR [wikipedia.org]

Re:Has MPEG-LA done any wrong yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35941122)

how is h264 safer? Completely the wrong way around IMHO - unless you're specifically targeting Safari (and who does that?) And what if you DON'T make any money using H264? For example , you run a website selling widgets, and have some tutorial videos on how to use the widgets....H264 is hardly responsible for bringing in the cash, but you still have to pay what could well be a LOT of money just becuase you've chosen to encode your videos in h264. VERY few people (as a percentage of the internet) make their money directly as a result of video production - why should they be asked to pay a single cent? Have MPEG-LA done any wrong yet? Absolutely - they're well known for it. Specifically against VP8 ? Apart from writing an open letter saying "anyone got patents that they think VP8 might be infringing on?" not yet , but they will.

Re:Has MPEG-LA done any wrong yet? (1)

x*yy*x (2058140) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941226)

Those tutorial videos are part of your product. Therefore you are using H.264 to make money.

Or are you saying that you aren't selling electricity so you don't need to pay for your company's electricity bill either?

Re:Has MPEG-LA done any wrong yet? (1)

horza (87255) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941708)

That's upside down. H.264 is safer to use, but you have to pay license fees if your software encodes to H.264. WebM is a hope-for-the-best.. Even Google doesn't guarantee there won't be trouble with patents.

Incorrect, as Skuto also points out. They both run exactly the same risk. MPEG-LA exhort a percentage from anybody that infringes the pool of patents put together to prevent people using h.264, but they do not indemnify a licensee from infringement if a 3rd party has a patent covering h.264 not in that patent pool.

At best you can say h.264 has had more time for the trolls to come out of the woodwork, 2003 as opposed to 2008 for vp8. I would feel just as safe regarding patents using WebM vs h.264. The real question is whether the license fee justifies the extra edge in performance.

Phillip.

Re:Has MPEG-LA done any wrong yet? (1)

Halo1 (136547) | more than 2 years ago | (#35942114)

Even Google doesn't guarantee there won't be trouble with patents.

As others have mentioned, neither does MPEG-LA. And after you've paid MPEG-LA for an H.264 patent license, you can pay AT&T [engadget.com] for an additional patent license. And after that, you can pay Philips/Sisvel [blogspot.com] for an additional patent license. And who knows who will be the next one to come knocking at your door...

Re:Has MPEG-LA done any wrong yet? (1)

Jason Earl (1894) | more than 2 years ago | (#35944134)

It is important to note that the MPEG-LA does *not* protect people paying their license fees from patent holders that may or may not exist outside of their patent pool. In that regard H.264 is in precisely the same boat as WebM. Both Google and MPEG-LA state that they believe that they own all of the required patents for implementing their respective standards. Neither indemnifies you against the chance that someone else owns a patent that applies.

The difference, of course, is that Google is happy to grant you a free irrevocable license for their patents. MPEG-LA requires you to pay for that privilege.

The folks at MPEG-LA would certainly like you to believe that their standard is safer, but the reality is that the only real difference is that the MPEG-LA is far more likely to stoop to extortion.

Re:Has MPEG-LA done any wrong yet? (1)

segedunum (883035) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940894)

Is it superior? By virtue of WebM and VP8 development being less well advanced you would hope that h.264 would be superior, but is that the case now? Hard to tell. There's certainly a lot of development happening with them so that's highly unlikely to continue to be the case if it is now.

I think we will see some action eventually if the MPEG-LA gets desperate and sees their 'license' fees seriously under threat. That might well happen sooner rather than later because with one fell swoop Google has critical mass with WebM with YouTube (Google just couldn't take the risk with moving goalposts and h.264) and there are already companies coming in with hardware acceleration and support for it - something that h.264 proponents like to tell us that it has and WebM and VP8 don't. The arguments for h.264 over WebM and VP8 are very quickly being knocked down.

It's tricky though, because judging from the whole Android nonsense no one wants to attack Google directly and if the MPEG-LA went after WebM and started demanding royalties from YouTube, as they inevitably will, Google will end up getting involved.

Re:Has MPEG-LA done any wrong yet? (1)

Skuto (171945) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940916)

Has MPEG-LA caused any troubles

They've been spewing FUD about creating a licensing pool for VP8. If Google was right wrt. VP8 rights, that pool could only contain invalid patents. So it would have been interesting to see if anything really showed up in there. So far nothing turned up in the MPEG-LA pool, but the threat that this could happen is FUD to stop VP8/WebM.

So now Google is spewing back some counter-FUD.

Re:Has MPEG-LA done any wrong yet? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941110)

From my understanding, the codec by MPEG-LA is

And that's where you start to go wrong. There are no CODECs from MPEG-LA. There are CODECs from MPEG. There are patent licenses from MPEG-LA. MPEG-LA does not create CODECs, nor does it define standards. It just offers licenses for patents that you must infringe to implement some existing standards.

Re:Has MPEG-LA done any wrong yet? (1)

Draek (916851) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941528)

No, they're just assuming they'll stick to their original "pay us for encoding, watching, hosting and/or supporting h.264 content" plan that was going to be in place until WebM posed a credible threat to their money-making scheme.

Some people think that's not evil, mostly out of a "I'm too small to sue for patent infringement" mindset, but those of us that like to stay within the bounds of the law believe differently.

Re:Has MPEG-LA done any wrong yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35941584)

Industry patent pools have never protected companies from NPEs wielding vaguely-defined (often submarine) patents. See JPEG, GIF, MP3, etc....

So, no....it's not any '

At some point, it's just bashing... (4, Insightful)

Kamiza Ikioi (893310) | more than 2 years ago | (#35940786)

I don't think any global company in the history of the world has done more for open source and open standards as Google. Comparing apples to apples, and throwing out quality, streamability, and all the technical standards, who do you REALLY trust with backing up an open codec?

Microsoft, Apple, or Google?

Who profits most from open protocols? Who profits most from DRM? The distinction is clear, and MS or Apple bashing Google is just laughable at this point. They are the ones who for years profited from DRM while Google profited from linking to open sites and content.

Re:At some point, it's just bashing... (1)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941120)

Apple do a fair bit too, which is kind of odd considering their rampant control-freakery.

Re:At some point, it's just bashing... (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941774)

The only contributions from Apple that Im aware of are for Webkit-- there may be others, but I have not heard of them.

Re:At some point, it's just bashing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35942582)

cups, llvm, darwin

Re:At some point, it's just bashing... (2)

soupd (1099379) | more than 2 years ago | (#35942820)

Apple's lengthy list of open source contributions are listed at http://www.apple.com/opensource/ [apple.com]

Re:At some point, it's just bashing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35944420)

Cups, gcc, llvm, clang, bonjour, and lots of things not used much outside of apple but still open source (macruby, launchd, etc).

Re:At some point, it's just bashing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35945138)

CUPS

Re:At some point, it's just bashing... (1)

mlingojones (919531) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941170)

Who profits most from open protocols? Who profits most from DRM? The distinction is clear, and MS or Apple bashing Google is just laughable at this point. They are the ones who for years profited from DRM while Google profited from linking to open sites and content.

So Google is open because they made... a search engine? Because "linking to sites" is required for that. Where's the distinction between "open" and "closed" sites, anyway?

Also, how do Microsoft and Apple profit from DRM? Microsoft doesn't sell anything they could attach DRM to, and iTunes has been DRM-free for a while.

It's simply not true to say that Apple doesn't value openness - their products may be closed, but they often open-source significant portions of them. Darwin, the core of Mac OS X, is open source, for example, as well as Webkit, Apple's browser layout engine used in most browsers today, including Google Chrome and Android. And Grand Central Dispatch. And FaceTime. I could go on.

Re:At some point, it's just bashing... (1)

dvdkhlng (1803364) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941410)

Darwin, the core of Mac OS X, is open source, for example, as well as Webkit, Apple's browser layout engine used in most browsers today, including Google Chrome and Android. And Grand Central Dispatch. And FaceTime. I could go on.

I won't say that this argument proves much about Apple's attitude towards openness. Webkit is based on KHTML [wikimedia.org] which is LGPL and authorship not residing with Apple, so they absolutely had to open it up to satisfy the license.

The Darwin kernel is based on other free software work [wikimedia.org] (mostly BSD?), BTW. No, the BSD license might not force Apple to open-source it, but it doesn't hurt so much, open-sourcing code that's freely available anyways.

Re:At some point, it's just bashing... (1)

mlingojones (919531) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941582)

I won't say that this argument proves much about Apple's attitude towards openness. Webkit is based on KHTML [wikimedia.org] which is LGPL and authorship not residing with Apple, so they absolutely had to open it up to satisfy the license.

Apple didn't have to choose KHTML as the basis for their layout engine, though. They could just have easily (well, maybe not just as easily) written their own engine from scratch, or found (or purchased) another engine to use. I'm sure Opera wouldn't have argued if Apple tried to put their browser in front of every Mac user.

The Darwin kernel is based on other free software work [wikimedia.org] (mostly BSD?), BTW. No, the BSD license might not force Apple to open-source it, but it doesn't hurt so much, open-sourcing code that's freely available anyways.

Honestly, I'm not sure at all how much of that code is Apple's own, or how free they are required to make it by the license, but it is under active development, so they at least deserve some credit for that.

If you want a more complete list of Apple open source projects, you can find it here [apple.com] . Some of those are Apple's own and some it looks like they're just distributing them, but still.

I'm not saying that this particular argument should sway you one way or the other on the H.264 vs. WebM debate, I just think that the "I would go with WebM because Google is open and Apple is not" argument is tired, inaccurate and unconvincing.

Re:At some point, it's just bashing... (1)

zeroshade (1801584) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941470)

Darwin, the core of Mac OS X, is open source, for example, as well as Webkit, Apple's browser layout engine used in most browsers today, including Google Chrome and Android. And Grand Central Dispatch. And FaceTime. I could go on.

Just a little niggle. Webkit, "Apple's browser layout engine" started as a fork of an existing open-source project. And they finally open-sourced it after the KHTML group continued to blast them over non-disclosure agreements and lack of access to their bug database which prevented the ability to adequately integrate the changes back into the KHTML code. Essentially, they open-sourced it out of necessity for the life of the project not out of a sense of community or anything. So sorry, I don't give Apple points for Webkit being open source.

In addition, FaceTime is by no means open-source. They have promised to release the protocol specification and standard for how to communicate using FaceTime, however you still need an Apple client-side certificate to use it, which means even if the protocol is open access to using it is still locked to Apple.

I'll give them points for open sourcing Darwin and Grand Central Dispatch, but to claim Apple is a larger proponent of Open Source and Open Standards than Google is just wrong. I absolutely am not claiming Google can do no wrong, such as the whole kerfluffle with HoneyComb. (Which I'm very pissed about). But come on.

Re:At some point, it's just bashing... (1)

mlingojones (919531) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941670)

I'm not saying Apple is a larger proponent of open source than Google, I'm just saying that this whole "Apple is closed, Google is open" fallacy needs to stop. Both companies only open their technologies when it doesn't impact their revenues, which happen to come from totally different places (Apple will probably never open up most of iOS, and call me when Google releases the source to AdWords).
Yes, in general Google has been more committed to open source than Apple. But that doesn't mean that Google is "open," or that Apple is "closed." It's not that black and white.

Re:At some point, it's just bashing... (2)

zeroshade (1801584) | more than 2 years ago | (#35942986)

No one has said it was black and white. However, it's not a fallacy that Google is much more open than Apple. Just look at their business models, Google doesn't open it's technologies only "when it doesn't impact [its] revenue". Google has many times opened it's technology as a point of maximizing its revenue. On that note, Apple doesn't open a technology when it doesn't impact revenue, Apple does it, like Google and any other company, because it helps the revenue by getting more developers involved. If the point of the technology is that the more people who use it, the better, then it's an effective strategy to energize developers and save money by having a community developed piece of software.

The point where people say "Apple is closed, Google is open" is the way they go about business. Apple locks down their hardware and charges a premium for it, you're not allowed by license to run OS X on non-Apple hardware. Comparing AdWords and iOS as "products" is just laughable. One is a consumer product that users interact with directly and own the hardware that it runs on. The other is a service that is provided for users that runs on hardware owned by the company providing the service. AdWords is a service for advertising with a documented API and yes, it could be more open. However, the major problem with iOS isn't that it's not open-source (though yes, that would be awesome) it's the lockdown that it does. Compare Android to iOS. Using Android a user can completely replace built-in functions with user-apps, get a new dialer a new program to manage texting, replace the default browser, the default sound manager, etc. iOS just doesn't provide the functionality for that, you use these apps alongside the existing ones. In Android a user can install any application they want, from anywhere, iOS locks you to Apple's store, of course.

How long until the Mac OS App Store does something similar where everything has to be signed by Apple in order to be installed, thus meaning that anyone who wants to release an Application for Mac has to pay for Apple to sign it? Or some other bullshit. Because of the track record of Apple = closed, Google = open (yes, it's simplistic and not a true representation of reality. This is just the perception) people wouldn't be too surprised if Apple did that because it makes sense given their current direction. If Google suddenly locked Android down to only the Android Market and stopped allowing external installations of applications, it would be a complete surprise.

So yes, looking at it in black and white terms is simplistic and not entirely accurate. However, you already admitted that Google has been much more committed to open source than Apple. Looking at the products, the direction of the company and their position on the community, saying that that "Apple is closed and Google is open" is much more accurate than you think.

Re:At some point, it's just bashing... (1)

vgerclover (1186893) | more than 2 years ago | (#35943676)

This reminded me of something [bonkersworld.net] .

Re:At some point, it's just bashing... (0)

Americano (920576) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941388)

Yes, Google profits from data mining your private data, they have no particular interest in giving you ways to lock it up and secure it. They don't profit from DRM at all.

Re:At some point, it's just bashing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35942118)

I don't think any global company in the history of the world has done more for open source and open standards as Google.

Sun Microsystems: RPC, NFS, NIS/YP, OpenOffice. Java, DTrace, ZFS in more recent years.

(Until Oracle bought them out of course.)

Why don't they just make up and make it a... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35941156)

... joint effort?
It would be better for all of us, better for them since they won't need to waste time and money on fighting each other, and they will still probably get some sort of profit from it.

But no doubt greed will still stand in the way. (yes, even with Google)

Gamification :P (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35941398)

Someone needs to make a game on about the patent system and how patents are used by companies these days. With all these patents pools and alliances, patents being used as legal weapons, patent trolls surely someone can make a good narrative and put in some game mechanics to make a fun experience out of all of us getting screwed :P

Makes no sense for patent holder (1)

sunfly (1248694) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941646)

As a patent holder I can join Google, and make sure I never receive money from creating that patent, or I can join MPEG, which I probably already am a member, and perhaps receive royalties from large customers in the future. Hmmm... tough choice. Even Goog is now basically admitting WebM is patent incumbered.

Re:Makes no sense for patent holder (1)

Skuto (171945) | more than 2 years ago | (#35941814)

Not everybody is a patent troll, you know. Some companies prefer the formats to be used so they can sell hardware or software rather than litigation protection rackets.

Sure it does (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 2 years ago | (#35942778)

If that was true, then no-one would be members of Open Invention Network [openinventionnetwork.com] or Open Patent Alliance [openpatentalliance.com] , but both have several large companies that have joined and/or contributed patents.

Furthermore, Microsoft is a member of MPEG-LA and their VC-1 format is part of the Blu-Ray standard, but they still loose out on the deal, as they have to pay more in MPEG-LA licenses for windows than they get from their patents. They gain nothing by having MPEG-LA start charging license fees for WebM.

The fact is that no-one can do anything on their own anymore - they need to license patents from others, even if they invented the device independently and have a ton of patents their own. People that actually want to do things with patents therefore do benefit from no-money exchanged cross-licensing.

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