Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Cisco Releases Open Source "Binary Module" For H.264 In WebRTC

Unknown Lamer posted about 9 months ago | from the bait-and-switch dept.

Mozilla 95

SD-Arcadia writes "Mozilla Blog: 'Cisco has announced today that they are going to release a gratis, high quality, open source H.264 implementation — along with gratis binary modules compiled from that source and hosted by Cisco for download. This move enables any open source project to incorporate Cisco's H.264 module without paying MEPG LA license fees. Of course, this is not a not a complete solution. In a perfect world, codecs, like other basic Internet technologies such as TCP/IP, HTTP, and HTML, would be fully open and free for anyone to modify, recompile, and redistribute without license agreements or fees. Mozilla is fully committed to working towards that better future. To that end, we are developing Daala, a fully open next generation codec. Daala is still under development, but our goal is to leapfrog H.265 and VP9, building a codec that will be both higher-quality and free of encumbrances.'"

cancel ×

95 comments

Good luck with that... (4, Insightful)

Thinine (869482) | about 9 months ago | (#45281361)

A modern video codec that exceeds the performance of H.265 and VP9 without violating any of the patents held by contributors to either? And one that gains the support of hardware vendors to build it into systems? Good luck.

Re:Good luck with that... (2)

SimonTheSoundMan (1012395) | about 9 months ago | (#45281437)

Why not sell full h.264 converters in countries other than USA, Australia, New Zealand and the other handful of countries that have such software patents?

Bring the datacentres to the UK or other EU countries.

At the same time Mozilla set up bank accounts and trading addresses in Europe and release a browser with h.264 support. Companies get away with it for tax, so why not for patents?

Re:Good luck with that... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 9 months ago | (#45282991)

Why not sell full h.264 converters in countries other than USA, Australia, New Zealand and the other handful of countries that have such software patents?

I didn't think New Zealand had software patents.

Re:Good luck with that... (3, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 9 months ago | (#45281457)

I often wonder how you can guarantee something doesn't violate any patents. Since there's no requirement for how long a new product can exist before the patent holder "all-of-a-sudden" discovers that the new product is in violation of the an existing patent, and since there are so many patents out there, it would be quite hard for there to be a guarantee that something didn't violate a patent. "Submarine patents" as they are called happen all the time. You don't bring up a case as soon as some product makes it to market. You wait a few years, and after the product is a success, then you go and ask for a bunch of money. I would say that in many, if not the in the vast majority of patent infringement cases, that the people violating the existing patent unintentionally, and without knowledge of the patent existing at all, or even if they were aware of it, they read it, and interpreted it differently and figured they weren't infringing.

Re:Good luck with that... (3, Informative)

jmv (93421) | about 9 months ago | (#45281797)

Legally, there's a reasonable limit on how long you can wait (6 years under some theories). That being said, indeed can can never prove non-infringement, and it's equally valid for free codecs than it is for encumbered codecs. Paying the MPEG LA tax does not shield you from trolls, or even from companies that participated in the standard and aren't part of the patent pool (usually, not all declared IPR holders are represented in a pool).

Re:Good luck with that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45282267)

Legally, there's a reasonable limit on how long you can wait (6 years under some theories).

A six year limit? That doesn't sound reasonable at all.

A zero Planck time limit - now that's reasonable.

Re:Good luck with that... (1)

TheSync (5291) | about 9 months ago | (#45282641)

Legally, there's a reasonable limit on how long you can wait (6 years under some theories).

There have been codec legal fights much longer than 6 years after a patent was granted.

Laches (2)

tepples (727027) | about 9 months ago | (#45283493)

It's called "laches". If someone waits years between becoming aware of an infringement and bringing suit, the assumption in a court of equity is that he sat on his rights to let the damages pile up.

Good luck with that double edged sword. (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 9 months ago | (#45282927)

I often wonder how you can guarantee something doesn't violate any prior art. Since there's no requirement for how long an existing "invention" can wait before the patent applicant "all-of-a-sudden" independently discovers that an existing idea has never been pushed through to be patent process, and since there are so many ideas out there, it would be quite hard for there to be a guarantee that something didn't think of something first. "Undisclosed source code" as it's called happens all the time. You don't file a patent for every piddling thing you do while bringing a product to market. You just do your coding / engineering job; Wait a few years, and after the product is a success, then the stock market eats and destroys the company, and the prior art is lost. You can go and ask for a bunch of patents on shit that other folks already did and didn't think was novel enough to patent. I would say that in many, if not the in the vast majority of patent infringement cases, that the people "violating" the existing patent unintentionally just proves the patent was actually obvious to an individual skilled in the art or field of the "invention". Even without knowledge of the patent existing at all, you can arrive at the same solution given a problem space. How do you know that everything you do isn't infringing a patent? More importantly, how in the fuck can you expect to funnel the entire universe of prior art through the patent examiner's head during the evaluation time constraints?

Re:Good luck with that double edged sword. (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 9 months ago | (#45284403)

I think it's even more complicated than that. With seven billion people on the planet, it's completely possible that something is both non-obvious and that many people could arrive at the same method of solving a problem in a very short period of time. Non-obvious is a very loose term anyway. Many things that seem obvious to one person, are not at all obvious to another person. How exactly does one test for "obviousness"?

Re:Good luck with that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45290933)

Yeah, maybe “guarantee” is a bit strong of a word. How about, “we've reviewed each of the possibly-conflicting h.264 and earlier video patents, and are comfortable enough with our belief in non-infringement that we will cover all court costs and infringement costs of users—holding them harmless—against any of these.” Oops, that'd be a bit strong, eh?

Maybe, just, “we're not currently being sued” over patent infringements, a statement that unfortunately, VP8 can't make, either.

How about, “well, our business model isn't interested in locking in anybody to our technology; just trust us.” ?

Re:Good luck with that... (2)

Lennie (16154) | about 9 months ago | (#45281775)

You are forgetting Daala is developed at the IETF and Mozilla by some of the same people that made the patent free Opus audio codec.

Which really is 'best of breed':

http://www.opus-codec.org/comparison/ [opus-codec.org]

So have I have at least some fait.

Re:Good luck with that... (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 9 months ago | (#45282085)

So to prove this Opus codec is the best, you link to... the website opus-codec.org? I could employ that same methodology to prove that Surface is the best tablet ever, the NSA only does what it needs to keep us safe, and that cigarettes are beneficial in many ways.

Re:Good luck with that... (0)

narcc (412956) | about 9 months ago | (#45283071)

So to prove this Opus codec is the best, you link to... the website opus-codec.org?

"Prove"? He's clearly just directing readers to more information about the codec. (He mistakenly thought Slashdot users could read, research, and make their own judgments.) What better place to start than the official website?

Would you rather he linked to Wikipedia or some blog entry? Would that make you feel better? Probably not ...

"So to prove this Opus codec is the best, you link to... the website wikipedia.org? I could employ that same methodology to prove that Surface is the best tablet ever,"

Did I just blow your mind? You might not be able to handle this one:

"So to prove this Opus codec is the best, you link to... some website? I could employ that same methodology to prove that Surface is the best tablet ever,"

So what was the point of your post? To warn others that they shouldn't blindly accept everything they read on the internet? Are you going to dutifully repeat this warning every time someone offers a link?

I guess it's way easier than making useful contributions...

Re:Good luck with that... (1)

retchdog (1319261) | about 9 months ago | (#45283685)

There are several reputable third-party listening tests linked at the bottom of the page, below their own, admittedly unjustified, graphs.

Re:Good luck with that... (4, Informative)

jmv (93421) | about 9 months ago | (#45281861)

I recommend reading Monty's Daala demos 1 [xiph.org] , 2 [xiph.org] , 3 [xiph.org] and 4 [xiph.org] . We're not just building a similar codec, but making radical changes to many fundamental components of a video codec.

Daala development is just like "good math"... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45282039)

The Daala development is covering new grounds (yes, that's correct), and doing so in a public way. Just like the proof for the Fermat theorem was extremely useful because it created a LOT of new, *good* math (that has applications on stuff as seriously important as the entire field of cryptography) and not because it proved the Fermat theorem, Daala is already important even if the end result ends up not being the best codec under the sun. However, if you go by the result in Opus, it WILL be of extremely good quality.

Re:Good luck with that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45282101)

According to the MPEG group, it is impossible to create any sort of video compression that won't violate at least one of their patents. Per patent rules, that shouldn't happen, but the patent office is ran by idiots.

Doesn't mean we shouldn't try (1)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | about 9 months ago | (#45282163)

Thanks for the warm show of support at the end. You're right that it's a huge task and that we'll need all the luck we can get.

Re:Good luck with that... (1)

suutar (1860506) | about 9 months ago | (#45285551)

It's not that it doesn't involve patents, it's that Cisco is paying the patent license fee and not charging anyone else for it.

Re:Good luck with that... (1)

westlake (615356) | about 9 months ago | (#45286263)

A modern video codec that exceeds the performance of H.265...? And one that gains the support of hardware vendors to build it into systems? Good luck

There are about thirty licensors of H.264 and HEVC technologies.

Most of them global industrial giants like Mitsubishi, Philips, Samsung, Toshiba, LG. Their principal licensees are on the same scale and for all practical purposes control together they control 100% of a vertically integrated video hardware market.

The geek may have a codec in development. Panasonic and Samsung will have 4K UHD video gear in production.

Why not just build on VP9? (3, Insightful)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 9 months ago | (#45281363)

Isn't VP9 supposed to be unencumbered by patents anyways?

Re:Why not just build on VP9? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45281551)

Please read up on the history. Short version: "Mokia" blocked a standard not based on h264.

Re:Why not just build on VP9? (1)

Goaway (82658) | about 9 months ago | (#45281661)

Because it is most likely not quite as good as h.265, and it is not quite clear it is actually unencumbered, either.

Re:Why not just build on VP9? (-1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 9 months ago | (#45281977)

Isn't VP9 supposed to be unencumbered by patents anyways?

Yes, but not usable without a license. Do you seriously think Google would be behind a codec that can be used freely by Microsoft and Apple? That's the whole purpose of VP9: Create a codec that will cause trouble for their competitors.

Re:Why not just build on VP9? (3, Informative)

horza (87255) | about 9 months ago | (#45282429)

Why isn't this comment already rated -5 Troll? Pathetic even for a troll, 1 second Google search shows it is BSD licensed.

Phillip.

Re:Why not just build on VP9? (2)

RivenAleem (1590553) | about 9 months ago | (#45288815)

And you trust a Google search to be impartial in this!?

Re:Why not just build on VP9? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45282857)

>Why not just build on VP9?

H.264 is too widespread, it's hard to ignore it.
VP9, Daala and H.265 are "next generation" codecs. Hopefully we'll choose one that's not patent/license-encumbered.

Go Monty (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45281373)

Huge respect for Chris Montgomery. Instead of using his talents to make a huge pile of money he works so we can have open codecs! I also have watched his video destroying myths about digital audio [xiph.org] about ten times, it's great.

Re:Go Monty (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45282753)

I didn't know that myths can destroy video. :-)

oh no... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45281379)

... not another even "freer" codec... like VP8, Dirac, Theora and countless others before... why did not a single one catch on?

Re:oh no... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45281549)

Bribery, lobbying & politics

Re:oh no... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45281665)

Bogus patent claims. Fear not, it won't be ready in a the next few years, so it'll be just normal evolution.

Re:oh no... (1)

Goaway (82658) | about 9 months ago | (#45281677)

What are those countless others before? Theora was the first serious free codec I can think of.

YouTube uses WebM (1)

tepples (727027) | about 9 months ago | (#45283547)

I don't see what makes you think they haven't caught on. If you've visited YouTube with Firefox or Chrome, you likely have already received WebM files (VP8 and Vorbis in a Matroska container).

Misconceptions (4, Interesting)

Imagix (695350) | about 9 months ago | (#45281409)

Hmm.. that blog post reads of marketing-speak. It talks about "plan to open-source" and release as a binary module. If it's "open-source", what about the source code? And it talks about "plan to" open-source. Not that they are going to, or already have, but they "plan to" in some nebulous future timeframe, which by then, the plans may have changed. Another statement I find interesting is that the "(IETF) will decide next week" about which codec to use. I'm guessing that he's referring to the IETF 88 meeting happening in Vancouver next week. Too bad nothing actually gets decided at the meeting. Decisions go back to the working group mailing lists for decisions.

reeks, even (1)

rewindustry (3401253) | about 9 months ago | (#45281547)

agree with your perspective

Re:Misconceptions (4, Interesting)

Tapewolf (1639955) | about 9 months ago | (#45281641)

As I understand it from reading the article and the comments, Cisco will subsidize the patent licenses if you use the binary. If you prefer, you can use the source code, but then you will have to deal with the patent licensing yourself.

"Nathan – We will select licensing terms that allow for this code to be used in commercial products as well as open source projects. In order for Cisco to be responsible for the MPEG LA licensing royalties for the module, Cisco must provide the packaging and distribution of this code in a binary module format (think of it like a plug-in, but not using the same APIs as existing plugins), in addition to several other constraints. This gives the community the best of all worlds – a team can choose to use the source code, in which case the team is responsible for paying all applicable license fees, or the team can use the binary module distributed by Cisco, in which case Cisco will cover the MPEG LA licensing fees. Hope that answers the first part of your question – Nadee, Cisco PR "

Re:Misconceptions (1)

Goaway (82658) | about 9 months ago | (#45281699)

The binary module is by far the more interesting part. There are already entirely capable open-source h.264 decoders. Another one would not be interesting on its own. Getting a fully licensed binary is much more useful.

Re:Misconceptions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45290023)

Note that this encoder/decoder will be very liberally licensed (BSD), while libavcodec and x264 are LGPL and GPL (with commercial option).

Re:Misconceptions (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 9 months ago | (#45281709)

They're releasing both the source and the binary... I get the feeling the binary release and the way that Cisco hosts it and Firefox downloads it on-demand has something to do with how the licensing works, that you wouldn't be covered by Cisco's patent payments if you compiled the source yourself.

Re:Misconceptions (2)

jmv (93421) | about 9 months ago | (#45282065)

Right now, the site has neither binaries nor source, but I'm pretty sure both will be available at the same time. The only point of the binaries there is that since they are served by Cisco, then Cisco can handle the patent licensing. The license is non-transferable (this is not something Cisco controls), so you can't download once and put it into your product, each product has to downloading it on its own for the license to apply. Since it's open source, anyone can also just build it themselves, then then obviously they're also not covered by the license.

Re:Misconceptions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45283507)

The main issue is not the source code. Even if it is released as open source, you still cannot use it without paying the fees.

The advantage is that by providing the binary blob you don't have to pay fees anymore as Cisco has pays the max every year.

So yeah it is not ideal, but the best we can have at the moment.

Good luck, Daala (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about 9 months ago | (#45281443)

Looks interesting [xiph.org] and all, but it'll take a lot to convince me it's a serious competitor to H.264.

Re:Good luck, Daala (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45281695)

I aslo have same your opinion: it'll take a lot to convince me it's a serious competitor to on ap standa [onaprsc.com.vn]
on ap lioa [onaplioa.com.vn]

Re:Good luck, Daala (1)

Goaway (82658) | about 9 months ago | (#45283345)

It's not a competitor to h.264, it's aiming to be a competitor to h.265.

Re:Good luck, Daala (1)

Wootery (1087023) | about 9 months ago | (#45283449)

You're right. I misread

our goal is to leapfrog H.265 and VP9, building a codec that will be both higher-quality and free of encumbrances.

to mean it intends merely to be a generation ahead of the current-generation truly-open video codecs, which would be a much weaker claim.

My opinion towards it remains the same, though: truly-open codecs don't have a great track record, but I really hope they succeed.

Re:Good luck, Daala (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 9 months ago | (#45285997)

though: truly-open codecs don't have a great track record

Like opus which beats pretty uch everything else?

Re:Good luck, Daala (1)

Goaway (82658) | about 9 months ago | (#45315231)

They've been doing well for audio, both Vorbis and Opus are good codecs. But audio is a lot simpler. It's a very different story for video.

VP9 (1)

tepples (727027) | about 9 months ago | (#45283585)

VP9, developed by the On2 division of Google, is the competitor to H.265. Daala is the competitor to H.266, and from what I've seen, it'll be as big of an improvement over currently popular codecs as JPEG was over heavily-dithered GIF for photographic images.

What license fees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45281475)

We don't pay it here. Never heard of MPEG LA.

Open Source Binary Module (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45281481)

DOES NOT COMPUTE.

There is no mentioning of opensource in TFA, just "free as in beer".

(captcha: grammar. FU, ./ :-P)

Re:Open Source Binary Module (-1, Troll)

Guspaz (556486) | about 9 months ago | (#45281731)

From TFA: "Cisco is going to release, under the BSD license"

Of course, I personally don't consider the BSD license to be opensource, since it lacks copyleft provisions to actually make the source open.

Re:Open Source Binary Module (4, Informative)

undeadbill (2490070) | about 9 months ago | (#45282223)

FTA: "Cisco is going to release, under the BSD license, an H.264 stack, and build it into binary modules compiled for all popular or feasibly supportable platforms, which can be loaded into any application (including Firefox)."

From your comment: ..."since it lacks copyleft provisions to actually make the source open."

Looks like the source will be open, since they are releasing the stack under the BSD license. Looks like people will be able to do anything they want with it, including making baby mulchers, angel summoning portals, and *gasp* video player implementations. Oh, HORRORS, people might not submit their code back to Cisco after attributing their source to them (as simply doing so will allow people to find, oh, I don't know, the source that Cisco is offering for free under a BSD license?).

The only issue is with the fact that Cisco is having to provide a shield using the BSD license between MPEG LA and the rest of the world, while paying a hefty licensing fee for the privilege. However, using a BSD license means they cannot have any unreasonable hold over the source once it is out in the open. If anything, Cisco is a good guy in this (god, did I just say that?).

Re:Open Source Binary Module (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 9 months ago | (#45285559)

I'm not saying Cisco isn't being the good guy here. They are. For their own gain, sure, but the result is the same. That's quite separate from my dislike of the BSD license.

Re:Open Source Binary Module (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45282781)

BSD only guarantees the opensourceness of the code as released, not the future forks of the code other people create.

derp, how can I be truly free if I can't force my free will on others?

Re:Open Source Binary Module (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about 9 months ago | (#45285539)

So, by your definition then, public domain is open source?

Re:Open Source Binary Module (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45290373)

By OSI definition it is.
And, speaking for myself, it's the most open legal state that can be.

Re:Open Source Binary Module (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 9 months ago | (#45283141)

The source code is open source but patent encumbered, so you can download it alter, compile and distribute the code acording to the license. Copyright is not a problem here. The problem is the code is covered by about a billion patents owned by the mpeg la group so you cant distribute the binaries or sadly the code freely under a different set of laws not covered by most open source licences. Cisco owns a license for the patents covering this codex, so they are hosting the source code repository and the binaries so that you can use them. and if you live in a sane country without software patents you too could host and distribute them.

Propaganda FTW (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45281489)

"In a perfect world, codecs, like other basic Internet technologies such as TCP/IP, HTTP, and HTML, would be fully open and free for anyone to modify, recompile, and redistribute without license agreements or fees."

A perfect world for whom? Not for people who like high-quality, low-bitrate codecs. But then in this "perfect world" I guess it would be so trivial to develop the state of the art that even Mozilla could do it ... *cough*.

Meanwhile, what kind of dickhead thinks H.264 is a "basic internet technology"? You can send video all kinds of different ways, starting with MPEG1 and Motion JPEG. Nobody "needs" H.264 for free. It's not a human right to have high-quality low-bitrate video. It's a human desire, which in a perfect world means there's money on the table for people to develop it. This world of entitled idiots calling wants "needs" and not paying for anything is the 7th circle of a modern Dantean hell.

Re:Propaganda FTW (1)

John Allsup (987) | about 9 months ago | (#45288517)

Try transmitting an hour of Full HD video compressed with MPEG1.  Also, consider subtle variations on H264 for those programmers interested in experimenting.  How different does a codec need to be to H264 to not be patented, and is it possible to implement a low bitrate high quality codec without violating those patents?  If not, the patent effectively blocks development by a competitor, which is not good.  This ability for a patent to block development if there's only a small number of sensible ways to solve a problem is the problem of the patent system, especially where software is involved.

Open source w/o the source code? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45281513)

Maybe I'm missing something, but just allowing a binary to be freely redistributable - as Microsoft does with many Windows DLLs for example - does not constitute "open source".

Is Bruce Perens in the house?

Re:Open source w/o the source code? (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 9 months ago | (#45281685)

My guess is that they're distributing the binary and paying the fees associated with its distribution. The source code is coming: https://github.com/cisco/openh264 [github.com] but it's only useful to tick the "open source" checkbox. The important thing is that they're paying the fees and that the binary module is under a BSD license.

Re:Open source w/o the source code? (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 9 months ago | (#45287079)

There will be 2 ways to use this. You can either download the source code and use it in your code (in which case you have to pay the h.264 patent royalties yourself) OR you can have your program download the binary blob from Cisco directly in which case any download your end users make is covered by Cisco's license for the H.264 patents.

Cisco have also said they will accept (and host) binaries for OSs and architectures where ports are done by the community, meaning that if someone happens to want a binary for, say, a SPARC port or a port to OS/2, Cisco will host those binaries and give you the same patent coverage.

Monty's comments (4, Informative)

jmv (93421) | about 9 months ago | (#45281613)

Beyond the official announcements, I strongly recommend reading Monty's comments [livejournal.com] on the issue.

Smart Technology Review (-1, Offtopic)

Jake Archibald (3391035) | about 9 months ago | (#45281639)

Smart Technology Review is the connect all smartphone,laptop,computer,software,hardware and others thinks. [blogspot.com]

Re:Smart Technology Review (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45282071)

Why bother even spamming slashdot. Nobody reads it other than jaded IT folk who don't buy anything they click on.

Go develop Daala (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45281761)

..sit it next to WebM in the pile of technologies that no business will use online, because it doesn't solve the DRM issue.

W3C made the web a proprietary technology. We were better off using an (optional) plugin like flash/silverlight.

Open source still requires license fees (4, Informative)

dFaust (546790) | about 9 months ago | (#45281791)

As pointed out in the comments on the Cisco blog post by a Cisco PR rep, if you use the source code (as opposed to the binary) you are responsible for any resulting licensing fees. Cisco is only covering the fees for those who use the binary.

Re:Open source still requires license fees (1)

Florian Weimer (88405) | about 9 months ago | (#45282653)

That's actually missing a key piece of information. Patent licenses can be very narrow in scope, which allows an owner to charge different parties for different aspects how a device uses a patented technology.

Does anybody know why I wouldn't need a separate licensing deal with MPEG LA if I built a web application using WebRTC? Their typical licensing agreement (as used in Windows and Flash, for instance) does not extend to third-party applications that use the codecs through APIs.

Re:Open source still requires license fees (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45282673)

As pointed out in the comments on the Cisco blog post by a Cisco PR rep, if you use the source code (as opposed to the binary) you are responsible for any resulting licensing fees. Cisco is only covering the fees for those who use the binary.

[Citation Needed]

Re:Open source still requires license fees (1)

Goaway (82658) | about 9 months ago | (#45283385)

Why would you need a citation for that? That is how licensing works. Cisco can not realistically offer a license for code you build yourself, only for binaries they provide.

Why free? (-1, Troll)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 9 months ago | (#45281795)

Why should a codec be free? Or when you say "in a perfect world" do you really mean "I want it, therefore its wrong if I dont have it" ?

Re:Why free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45282199)

There are five occurrences of the letter 'y' in that post. I own the rights to the letter 'y'. You owe me $50000.

Re:Why free? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45282227)

For the same reason that long division should be free: it's an algorithm.

Re:Why free? (4, Insightful)

thue (121682) | about 9 months ago | (#45282231)

Because the H.264 video format is only worth money because of the network and incumbency effects, not because it is better. A video format is a natural monopoly [wikipedia.org] . VP8 is just as good as H.264, and free, but that is not enough to displace H.264 because H.264 has a monopoly via the network effect.

If we were talking about a program such as Photoshop, where the barriers to entry is most determined by your ability to make a better photo editor, it would not be the same thing. There is good reason that the other examples in the summary are "TCP/IP, HTTP, and HTML", all of which are not terribly hard to replace, but which have powerful positions because of the network and incumbency effects.

Re:Why free? (2)

Goaway (82658) | about 9 months ago | (#45283413)

VP8 is just as good as H.264,

This is not actually true.

Re:Why free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45283665)

Yeah, VP8 is better than H264 default.

Re:Why free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45290089)

Yeah, VP8 is better than H264 default.

Bullshit (from person who does video related stuff and actually tested this). Current VP8 encoder (there is only one, by Google) is *strongly* inferrior to x264. At the same time, the VP8 format is demonstrably inferior to H.264 (after all, it is actually a subset, with important stuff missing and additional kludges to avert baltant patent infringements).

So as a combination, VP8 can't realistically win over H.264. Maybe if you get hold of an extra buggy and bad H.264 encoder (which would probably satisfy your desire to be right), but if you are that desperate, you can just fake a test already.

Re:Why free? (1)

odie5533 (989896) | about 9 months ago | (#45284053)

I guess the solution actually is to create more standards. If everyone already uses three or four video formats, it won't be so difficult to topple one that isn't playing nice.

Re:Why free? (1)

guanxi (216397) | about 9 months ago | (#45282807)

Why should a codec be free? Or when you say "in a perfect world" do you really mean "I want it, therefore its wrong if I dont have it" ?

If you reduce barriers to using the technology, then more people can receive its benefits and create wonderful things from it, from which yet more people benefit. TCP/IP, HTTP, HTML, SMTP, etc. worked out well in that regard.

I'm not against patents, but certainly it's better for everyone but the patent-holder if the technology is free.

Re:Why free? (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 9 months ago | (#45283347)

Why should a codec be free? Or when you say "in a perfect world" do you really mean "I want it, therefore its wrong if I dont have it" ?

Why should someone who writes the software to implement a codec algorithm not be able to give their work away for free, just because someone claims to 'own' the algorithm because law pixies say they do?

This is very good news! (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 9 months ago | (#45283051)

I especially like how they're not charging for the NSA code either.

Title has the quotes on the wrong phrase (1)

crush (19364) | about 9 months ago | (#45283407)

It should be Cisco Releases "Open Source" Binary Module For H.264 In WebRTC :)

Hosted binaries... privacy implications? (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45283577)

Cisco mentions that they will be hosting the binaries, which leads me to think there must be some kind of traffic analysis going on. We currently see this trend with web fonts, which are loaded from servers run by Adobe and Google for example, allowing those companies to monitor web traffic for any site that implements them. Apparently, there is a lot of value to this type of meta data, as the NSA has demonstrated. If that is what's going on here, I hope that open source projects will reject this implementation due to the privacy implications for users.

Good on Cisco! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#45283929)

As for the "open source, unencumbered" codec? Good luck. I doubt it will be possible to have a decent codec that doesn't run afoul of multiple patents. (See WebM/VP8/VP9.)

Oh, goody, I can "consume" silent movies now... (3, Interesting)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | about 9 months ago | (#45284005)

If this license and "modules" covers encoding as well as decoding, AND The Motion Picture Experts Group Licensing Association doesn't decide to rescind their moratorium on charging license fees for the amazing innovative "actually sending the video over the internet" parts of the patent pool, at least this will allow some basic participation in online using the lower-quality "baseline" profile (only, as far as I know) without paying a poll tax to use their Intellectual Precious.

However, I would also assume this doesn't include AAC or MP3 patents either, so unless "consumers" start using Opus (preferable - Opus is awesome) for their audio codec [and it's packageable with h.264 video in some legally-usable manner], you'll still be limited to providing "silent movies".

If the MPEG License Ass. was serious about killing VP[0-9]+, they'd explicitly waive license fees for any implementation of the h.264 encoding and decoding algorithms that are implemented in "software" intended to be executed on a general-purpose CPU (i.e. no dedicated "hardware decoding/encoding") and which is released under an OSI-approved license (if they really wanted to troll, they could mandate that it be a share-alike license like the GPL, just to make a subset of people throw a tantrum). This wouldn't cost them anything (people with money who are "selling" software and/or making dedicated hardware for encoding and decoding h.264 would still be paying them anyway), but there'd still be a legally-free path for everyone else to participate using h.264 (i.e. Mozilla et al could implement software encoders and decoders to distribute). This would eliminate the need for any of the current-generation "alternative"/free codecs entirely, leaving them only daala to have to compete with later, and completely undermining what little momentum Google has bothered to get going on the VP* codecs.

Given how much sense this would seem to make, though, I wouldn't expect the MPEG License Ass. to even consider it.

Re:Oh, goody, I can "consume" silent movies now... (1)

chefmonkey (140671) | about 9 months ago | (#45286067)

You understand what "WebRTC" is, right?

Re:Oh, goody, I can "consume" silent movies now... (1)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | about 9 months ago | (#45288061)

"You understand what "WebRTC" is, right?"

Yes...but you've got a point. I hadn't immediately recognized that this was really just for "Internet Video-Telephone" use rather than "Internet Television" (i.e. Youtube). There are a lot of people that seem to also be commenting on the assumption that this has something to do with watching TV on youtube (e.g. the <video> tag)...which it hypothetically could, though it seems obvious that's not what Cisco cares about.

The point about not having proprietary-sound-codec licenses still stands, though. The same arguments that suggest we "need" h.264 can be made for e.g. LE-AAC. On the other hand, since I personally am more interested in legally-free audio codec support than in video support online, if this move ends up with all major browsers implementing video WebRTC connections as h.264/opus sessions (and audio-only sessions as opus, of course), the support for opus in all browsers would be a net win, in my opinion. One would assume if the browser supports opus in WebRTC as per the specification, it would also support it in <audio> tags.

Not sure how big of an "if" that is, though.

Re:Oh, goody, I can "consume" silent movies now... (2)

chefmonkey (140671) | about 9 months ago | (#45288343)

Well, keep in mind that an MTI video codec is mostly intended to serve the purpose of preventing complete failures to negotiate. Also, the MTI that 's being proposed in the IETF is H.264 baseline, which is a far sight worse than VP8 by pretty much every metric imaginable. If H.264 baseline is selected as MTI, then I would imagine that the existing implementations will continue to offer VP8 in preference to H.264 baseline, and fall back to H.264 baseline only as an emergency backup "codec of last resort".

As far as Opus is concerned, both Firefox and Chrome currently use Opus as their preferred audio codec for WebRTC, and have since day one. Opus was a relatively uncontroversial choice as the MTI codec, so I suspect any other interested parties will be happy to do the same.

In terms of Opus support for the audio element... well, try it out for yourself. Put this in an arbitrary HTML file, load it up in Firefox, and see what you get: <audio src="http://radioserver1.delfa.net:80/256.opus" controls/>

Opus (1)

Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) | about 9 months ago | (#45296953)

"In terms of Opus support for the audio element... well, try it out for yourself.[...]load it up in Firefox[...]"

Firefox has supported .opus files in <audio> for more than a year now and it works quite well. (I'm a raving Opus fanboy since over a year ago - I started running what would become Firefox 15 during its "Aurora" stage just because I knew it had .opus support. I've had .opus up on my "HTML5 <audio> Test Page [dogphilosophy.net] for quite some time. (I still need to add an .alac sample on there - if it turns out that iGadgets will play that, then there's at least ONE legally-free codec they can handle...). I still need to do something productive with opuscast.com one of these days, too.

However, Google has been horrifically lazy about .opus support. Yes, they use it in WebRTC, and for remote audio for their platform-limited[1] "chromoting" VNC-replacement system. Yet, they still, as far as I can tell, refuse to enable .opus playback in <audio> by default, apparently because they only care about it in .webm files and don't want it enabled until they've finalized the specs for vp9/opus .webm2 files. (For the record, if you manually enable it, it HAS worked since at least Chrom(e|ium) 26 or so, but only if you dig up the setting for "enable opus in <video>[sic]" and manually switch it on, or include "--enable-opus-playback" (I think) when starting the browser from a command-line. Even the new Android ("KitKat®") still appears to lack native opus support as far as I can see from the release notes. Very annoying. Anyway, that's where my comment about "if" up there comes from. If Google can enable WebRTC then stall indefinitely before maybe enabling .opus playback in regular web audio, others who implement WebRTC may do the same.

I could easily imagine Apple doing this intentionally, just to be jerks. Microsoft might be more reasonable, but given how far behind they tend to be on the web, their digression with the special "CU-RTC-Web" alternative to WebRTC may stall THEIR implementation of the standard and inclusion of .opus support for years out of shear nonfeasance. (The Curtsyweb digression apparently has nothing whatsoever to do with the Opus codec and apparently Microsoft's Skype division is all on board with it, so at least that much is hopeful).

[1] It's only partially-functional on Linux - no "desktop"-level remote support, as I understand it, but I think you can remote just the chrome browser view itself.

Free binaries + free Backdoors! (3, Interesting)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 9 months ago | (#45284123)

Get 'em while they're hot!

Re:Free binaries + free Backdoors! (1)

caspy7 (117545) | about 9 months ago | (#45296963)

Eich often does a good job of intelligently addressing questions in the comments. I strongly encourage looking through them to learn more.
In reply to one question about the binaries he replied:

...because the BSD-licensed source code is available at http://www.openh264.org/ [openh264.org] , you and others can verify the compiled bits come from that source, no malware or spyware added. We will organize community auditing of this sanity check, and the binary modules will be cryptographically signed so Firefox can verify their integrity.

And another,

great question, and it applies to Firefox, Chrome, and other browsers. But in the case of Firefox for Linux at least, and for Cisco’s OpenH264 binary modules, we can audit: get matching revision of the open source, compile with the same (bootstrapped from open source) clang or gcc toolchain, and compare bits.

It appears we can have a good amount of confidence that what's in the code is what's in the binary.

The absurdity of the US patent situation. (1)

John Allsup (987) | about 9 months ago | (#45288489)

Consider http://thewikiman.allsup.co/MegaMetaPatent, and how what is described there could represent any patent.  Then consider ways of scrambling the language and perhaps making things just specific enough to get a patent granted, then rinse-lather-repeat until you've mined out your desired area of the market.

Modify TCP all you want (1)

Alarash (746254) | about 9 months ago | (#45289393)

Anybody can create their own implementation of TCP, as far as I know? You simply need to follow some standard to ensure that your stack will work with other stacks, but that's about it as far as I know!
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...