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Jury Rules That H.264 is Not Patented

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the yay-for-tivos-i-mean-broadcom dept.

Patents 111

Dr Kool, PhD writes "According to Bloomberg, a jury ruled against Qualcomm in their patent lawsuit against Broadcom. Qualcomm had sought $8.3 million in damages for patent infringement stemming from Broadcom's H.264 encoder/decoder chips. From the article: 'The patents, covering a way to compress high-definition video, are unenforceable in part because Qualcomm withheld information from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, jurors in San Diego said today after deliberating less than six hours.' This ruling clears the way for H.264 to become a widely adopted open standard."

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111 comments

Ooohhhh (-1, Troll)

snoggeramus (945056) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782330)

I can feel a 'first post' coming. Pick me! Pick me!

Report from IRAQ: I am NOT a Google SHILL !! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17782350)

Report from IRAQ: I am NOT a Google SHILL !!

(Bam!)

Too late ? (1)

inflex (123318) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782338)

Aren't there already existing [open] developments that surpass H.264 already ?

Re:Too late ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17782368)

Aren't there already existing [open] developments that surpass H.264 already ?
By open do you mean:

a. In your opinion it doesn't infringe any patents
b. In the developers' it doesn't infringe any patents
c. In someone else's opinion it doesn't infringe any patents
d. Successfully defended in court
e. Something Else Entirely (considering all the fuss about the meaning of "free", "open" must be the most ambiguous word in computer oriented usage).

H.264 is successfully defended in court. That beats almost anything else for a lot of purposes.

NO! There are ones in development though... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17782424)

You have two major ones that can beat out H.264 in quality and file sizes... potentially.

They are Snow, which is a experimental codec being developed out of the FFMPEG project, and there is Dirac which is being developed by the BBC as a open standard for web-based HD content.

Both of these are based on 'wavelett' style technology which is something that is fairly unique about them. The downside though is that Snow, while being much simplier then Dirac, suffers from a lack of development and stability (not crash-iness, but change-iness). Dirac is not mature enough for use. Both of them still use WAY to much CPU to be usefull currently, but both offer possibilities of compression and quality that surpass even H.264.

Theora is completely open, having the benifit from patent donated to open source by a corporation for their codecs, but it suffers from high CPU utilization and a very serious lack of visual quality.

It's not like with Ogg vs MP3 or Flac vs whatever were those guys offer good compression, quality, and lower cpu usage as well as being open source. With Theora vs Mpeg4-related stuff (Xvid/Divx, h.264. AVC, etc) it is not realy in the same ballpack. It is more closely related to Mpeg1 in quality.

And when I mean 'quality' I mean the ability to provide high quality image at high compression, which is the whole point behind things like Theora and H.264.

Already Linux and Free software people have a good H.264 implimentation thanks to the FFmpeg people. Their mpeg4 Divx-stuff is already very high quality.. much better then anything from Xvid or Divx, they have the beginnings of very good H.264 support and have decoding and encoding speeds that rival the best propriatory codecs aviable. They need to fill out some of the H.264 features, but if this is true that H.264 is truly usable in Free software environment, then I expect that development will very quickly take off as the people become aware of this and Linux distros will want to jump on the opportunity to provide world-class HD support!

This should also pave the way for future adoption of Dirac and maybe Snow since then the use of ffmpeg libs should increase in both Linux and Windows-land. Once people get used to it and programs start shipping with ffmpeg libs then this will make it easier for these projects to gain acceptance as ffmpeg is multi-codec and will include these open source technologies as they come out.

Re:NO! There are ones in development though... (2, Interesting)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782588)

Both of these are based on 'wavelett' style technology

Actually 'wavelet' [wikipedia.org] is the correct spelling (sorry to be pedantic). But you are right that wavelet applications are an interesting topic.

In short, wavelets are like Fourier transforms, but they have a location, not just a frequency. Like with the FT, you can represent spatial data by wavelets, and the localization aspect turns out to be useful in practice, in particular for codecs (but it is also useful from a theoretical aspect, wavelets were - perhaps still are - somewhat in fashion among in statistical circles).

Re:NO! There are ones in development though... (2, Interesting)

Mawbid (3993) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782802)

I thought everyone ran away from wavelets because a couple of companies locked up the whole field with broad patents (without ever delivering the technology). Is that just an old myth?

Re:NO! There are ones in development though... (3, Interesting)

pyite (140350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783316)

If JPEG-2000 is any sort of indication, then this is part of the problem. JPEG-2000 incorporates some very cool exploitations of the fact that there are redundancies in the location information in wavelet subbands, and can offer better compression because of it. There are two issues. 1) Is the quality/space savings enough to warrant a change? 2) Patents. It's hard to say which is the primary reason for JPEG-2000 not being adopted, but I'll go with #1 being the primary reason and #2 being part of the problem, but not as relevant because of #1. Video is still pretty big and at least in the US, it doesn't seem like there wil be any universal "order of magnitude" jumps in bandwidth anytime soon. So maybe there will be more of an impetus to use wavelet methods for video.

Re:NO! There are ones in development though... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785128)

pyite,
Why do you say "..at least in the US?" I'm just starting to learn about these codecs, so I'd love an answer if you have time. Is it because the patents don't apply elsewhere or because of the differences between NTSC and PAL, or something else entirely?

My wife started to explain wavelets to me and I could only understand the first few sentences.

Re:NO! There are ones in development though... (1)

pyite (140350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785444)

I'm sorry if my sentence was confusing. The "in the US" part was meant to apply to the bandwidth situation. Since I'm in the US, I didn't want to speak incorrectly about the bandwidth capabilities of non-US areas, so I qualified my statement.

Wavelets aren't so complicated, they're actually rather cool. Ask her to teach you the Haar wavelet with basic lifting steps. A good set of notes on wavelets is here [rutgers.edu].

Re:NO! There are ones in development though... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17788500)

The point is that things like a Fourier transform or a wavelet transform are essentially mathematical objects, and the patent systems over the world do not allow patenting fundamental advances in sciences or mathematics. In the US the common law system has managed to work around that limitation, and they are happily patenting all kinds of things one would expect to stay in the realm of theoretical knowledge.

Re:NO! There are ones in development though... (4, Interesting)

tim90402 (1040444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17784490)

Wavelets work well for a single image, but I don't think anyone has figured out how to improve on the block based motion compensation techniques used to exploit temporarl redundancy in most video coding. And once you are doing block based motion prediction, then the residuals tend to have a block structure that is better compressed with a block based transform, rather than wavelets.

Re:NO! There are ones in development though... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785844)

Wavelets work well for a single image, but I don't think anyone has figured out how to improve on the block based motion compensation techniques used to exploit temporarl redundancy in most video coding.

Actually, there is one idea for a codec designed to do that, called Tarkin [wikipedia.org]:

Tarkin is based on 3-D wavelet compression. A block of video has three dimensions, two spatial and one temporal, and is encoded as a unit with a 3-D discrete wavelet transform. This is in stark contrast to the more traditional method used in Theora and most other video codecs of doing a 2-D discrete cosine transform on single frames of video and doing inter-frame differences and perhaps motion compensation in a separate step.

Unfortunately, it apparently isn't complete, nor is it being worked on right now.

Not really (3, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782378)

The only truly, intentionally open standard I know of is Theora, and I really haven't heard much about it.

For that matter, I haven't heard any measurements lately of AAC vs Vorbis, but it seems to me that unless Vorbis is actually better, the best way to encode a video would be h.264+aac, probably wrapped in ogm or mkv, but could also work as avi or mov.

Of course, I often just keep the original DVD stream around, which means -- what -- mpeg2+aac?

Re:Not really (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17782568)

DVD are usually something like Mpeg2 + Ac3 for surround sound support or Mpeg2 + raw PCM (uncompressed audio) for stereo. Also you may have some with mp3 compression.

No AAC, which is Apple's baby.

The reason you use something like H.264 is because it offers much higher compression with similar visual quality as mpeg2. So you can take a DVD movie and compress it down to a third of it's original size (or more) and still keep enough quality that the difference is unnoticable.

This is important for doing things like streaming, for instance, or for downloadable media.

Also for HD content the H.264 stuff is still going to be like 20 gigs or more. In mpeg2 form it would be massive and you'd have a hard time keeping up with the bitrates nessicary to play it even at LAN speeds. Also I am told that mpeg2 has several undesirable characteristics at very high resolution when it comes to quality and such.

With Free software considurations probably your best bet will be something like OGM with Ogg container format with Vorbis audio and H.264 video. Vorbis is able to provide up to 255 different audio channels so you can provide multiple audio streams in one go for different languages or for commentary tracks or something like that. Although I don't know of anything that realy uses many multiple streams in Ogg Vorbis, most everything is just stereo. There probably has to be some work there, but it shouldn't be hard to create a standard people can use. AAC may have some slight advantage over Ogg in sound quality, but it's nothing like either of those guy's advantage over Mp3. Not a big difference to warrent realy caring about AAC when Vorbis is around and already has widespread support.

AVI container format has some nasty limitations when it comes to having things like subtitle support. I don't know how well Ogg container deals with that.

I don't know how well Ogg compares to Quicktime either.

Also it's worth not overlooking the fact that Flac and Speex (VERY high compression for speech.. usefull for VoIP) can be mixed into Ogg streams also.

It may be usefull, for instance, for VoIP to do H.264 streams combined with Speex in OGG container to get the highest compression possible for doing video confrencing.

Also we already have a nice streaming media server that supports not only OggVorbis, but can do video Ogg support also:
http://www.icecast.org/ [icecast.org]

Icecast has had Theora support for a while now. I wouldn't expect it to be difficult to extend that to support OGM format. Icecast has a veriaty of existing clients and web interfaces as well as the ability to support bandwidth-saving stuff like multicast and unicast. This can be very usefull if you want to do things like... oh.. having multiple IPTV channels aviable to students on a college campus.

Re:Not really (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17782594)

FYI, AAC is Dolby, Fraunhofer (FhG), AT&T, Sony and Nokia's baby.

RealNetworks, Apple and Nero (among others) just took a license on this existing (MPEG4, ISO/IEC: 13818-7) standard and built their own encoder implementations.

Re:Not really (1)

baadger (764884) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782746)

Nero Recode also does H.264/MPEG-4 AVC encoding but Ahead license all their encoder tech from someone else anyway.

Re:Not really (2, Informative)

zotz (3951) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782666)

"Icecast has had Theora support for a while now."

It has been a while since I messed with it, but I think I had Theora streaming with peercast as well.

For those that don't know, peercast does peer to peer streaming.

http://www.peercast.org/ [peercast.org]

all the best,

drew

AAC vs AC3 (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782680)

I must've gotten those confused for years without noticing. Thanks for pointing that out.

Still, there you go. Mostly some very good advice, although I imagine that vorbis is really acceptable. I use flac for my music, but that's mostly because I don't like to lose more quality than I have to by transcoding, and you never know when I might buy something like an iPod and have to transcode -- flac->aac is better than, say, vorbis->aac. And also because my music collection is small enough that that works.

But for video, it's all on my laptop, desktop, or MythTV box, so I figure I'm good as long as I leave it in a format that ffmpeg can play, and avoid transcoding unless I'm really running into space issues.

And yes, I know why you'd use h.264 -- it seems better than the rest at pretty much every level, so the only reason I wouldn't encode to it is if I'm artificially forced into something else (DVD only supports mpeg2), or if Theora is actually better, which I doubt. Seems like h.264 might be a better target for Ogg.

Re:Not really (2, Informative)

Senjutsu (614542) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785562)

No AAC, which is Apple's baby.
AAC is the Moving Pictures Experts Group's baby. You might know some of their other kids: MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, MP3...? In the same way that mp3 is the audio layer (layer 3) of an MPEG1 file, AAC is the audio layer of an MPEG4 file. It was created by an industry group that Apple wasn't even involved in. They adopted its use simply because of what it is; a better mp3.

Re:Not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17788368)

Your post is so full of inaccuracies it makes my head hurt.

For instance, an average 2-hour HD movie compressed with H.264 will take on the order of 5 GB (there are already a lot of rips that fit on a single layer DVD!), maybe 10 GB if you want to be absolutely sure about the quality. In the MPEG-2 format they take around 20 GB. MPEG-2 doesn't have any inherently "undesirable" characteristics at high resolutions, it's simply not as good at compressing video as H.264 and consequently needs a higher bitrate to achieve the same visual quality.

In the case of Vorbis audio, you are *not* supposed to put different language tracks in different channels of the same Vorbis audio stream (no software supports such an abomination), but rather make a separate stream for each language and mark them with the functionality provided by the container format (they AFAIK all have appropriate language tags you can use and the player software automatically picks the best audio stream based on the available choices).

There's one clear disadvantage with Vorbis vs. AAC. Vorbis streams always have vital tables at the beginning of the stream - this does not bode well for situations where you may have to start decoding from the middle of a stream. The reason why Vorbis works in Internet radio channels is that the streaming software (Icecast2, etc.) keeps a copy of the said tables in memory at all times and sends them to all new clients, but obviously this won't be possible in many situations like television broadcasts, multicast streams etc.

If you want to use MPEG-derivative codecs only, then H.264 video with AAC audio in a .mp4 container is really the best way to go. Subtitles are also supported in a standard format [wikipedia.org]. If you want to avoid MPEG-derivative codecs, use Theora video with Vorbis audio in the ogg/ogm container. Don't try to combine free stuff with non-free stuff because it'll just end in tears and confusion.

Re:Not really (1)

Peter La Casse (3992) | more than 7 years ago | (#17789372)

Also for HD content the H.264 stuff is still going to be like 20 gigs or more. In mpeg2 form it would be massive and you'd have a hard time keeping up with the bitrates nessicary to play it even at LAN speeds. Also I am told that mpeg2 has several undesirable characteristics at very high resolution when it comes to quality and such.

One quibble: MPEG-2 HD content runs just fine on modern fast ethernet LANs. Better codecs do better, of course.

Re:Not really (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17782658)

the best way to encode a video would be h.264+aac, probably wrapped in ogm or mkv, but could also work as avi or mov

Dear God No. h.264 and AAC are MPEG-4. For the love of all that is good and holy please use MP4 as the container.

Re:Not really (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783834)

h.264 and AAC are MPEG-4. For the love of all that is good and holy please use MP4 as the container.

Unless the ruling covers H.264 but does not cover the MPEG-4 container. But isn't MOV close enough to the capabilities of the MPEG-4 container?

Re:Matroska and AVC/AAC (4, Informative)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#17784114)

It's perfectly fine to use Matroska, especially when you want to include SSA subtitles [wikipedia.org] (very common in anime releases) or SRT subtitles [wikipedia.org] (also common with anime due to being able to be muxed in an OGM container). Sure, GPAC (MP4Box et al.) can automatically convert SRT subtitles to Timed Text (ISO/IEC 14496-17) [wikipedia.org], but that's not always desired (SSA subtitles can be styled in many different ways; TT cannot).

Also, you can't mux [Ogg] Vorbis [vorbis.com] in an MP4 container (I believe you can do that in a MOV/QuickTime container, however; also, using the private data stream hack doesn't count), and Vorbis can match, better, or come close to (dependent on source material) the quality of AAC at the same bitrates. Also, if H.264 (ISO/IEC 14496-10 for those who care) is truly now a public domain standard, then it would be far more desirable to mux H.264 video with Vorbis audio as both are open, unencumbered standards. It would also be good to do this in Matroska as that is also an open, unencumbered standard (QuickTime's file format may or may not be patented, but I'd guess it is).

Now I'd definitely recommend using MP4 if everything you're muxing is part of the MPEG-4 (ISO/IEC 14496) standard (e.g. H.264 (or even DivX/Xvid), AAC, TT) as that would make most sense, but beware the limitations of the MP4 container format. The "subtle differences" between MP4 and QuickTime/MOV are the codecs supported.

Re:Matroska and AVC/AAC (1)

foxyshadis (1056614) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786078)

Why wouldn't you recommend MPEG-PS or MPEG-TS, given that the former is the only format supported by DVD and HD-DVD and the latter the only format supported by DVB and Bluray? At least use "for internet distribution".

Re:Matroska and AVC/AAC (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 7 years ago | (#17786656)

when you want to include SSA subtitles (very common in anime releases)

Come on, there's one thing everyone knows. No matter how horribly an anime kiddy is doing at school, no matter how dumb-as-dogshit they are at fundamentals of grammar and language, you can count on them being perfectly fluent in modern slang Japanese, especially when it comes to something KAWAIII!!!!

Re:Matroska and AVC/AAC (1)

willy_me (212994) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787298)

(QuickTime's file format may or may not be patented, but I'd guess it is).

I'm sure the file format is patented, but it's also an open format. They offer licenses to anyone who wants to use it. The license is a simple - "We're not liable for damages..." type of license. It's a whole 8 page PDF and is available here [apple.com]. I should also note that Apple has some open source projects that utilize this standard. Most notably, the quicktime streaming server. The FFmpeg project also supports the .mov file format without any legal action from Apple.

It the .mov file format is good enough technically, it might be worth supporting as a standard. It would allow for better cross platform support as Apple maintains a good implementation for Windows and MacOS. Proprietary applications would not have to worry about dealing with open source licensing as they could just deal with Apple. The open source community could then focus on their own stuff without worrying about Windows/MacOS. And when popularizing a file format, one does have to consider Windows/MacOS.

A truly open and free standard is always preferred. But without the support from 90% of the market, it's just not practical. This appears to be the only real problem with Matroska.

Re:Not really (4, Insightful)

RalphBNumbers (655475) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782944)

the best way to encode a video would be h.264+aac, probably wrapped in ogm or mkv, but could also work as avi or mov. .ogm? .mkv? .avi? .mov?
So basically you'll use anything *but* the actual standard MPEG-4 container that's designed to carry h264/aac streams? What's wrong with .mp4?

This is a somewhat separate rant and not really directed at the parent, but it seems like between pirates sticking with their habitual use of Xvid/DivX in avi, and OSS fanatics refusing to use anything non-OSS in favor of Theora in .ogg or .mkv, the world's geeks are actually doing more to set back standardization of digital video than big companies and their DRM. How's that for a turnaround from the audio world where geeks chose mp3 and industry followed!

MPEG-4 standards, specifically h264/aac streams in an .mp4 container, provide the best quality and functionality you can get today (.mkv is nice but it doesn't do anything .mp4 couldn't with the right tools, and neither Xvid/DivX or Theora can touch h264's quality/bitrate), and they are completely standardized and free to use for distributions of up to 100,000 codecs per year afaik.

If we'd all pick up the MPEG-4 stack the way we all standardized on .mp3s, then the digital video world would get a lot simpler.

Imagine a world where every camcorder, or DVD player, or computer, or PMP, or digital camera, or cell phone, or what not, could record and play back in the same interoperable high quality/bitrate video format with no special file conversions or re-encoding, just like all of those devices support .mp3 today...

Re:Not really (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783026)

Can I write a Free (or Open Source... whatever) and legal MPEG-4 decoder?

If it becomes popular to a point that it gets more than 100,000 downloads in a year, am I liable for paying royalties?

Re:Not really (3, Interesting)

RalphBNumbers (655475) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783158)

Well, IANAL, but looking at the summary of the AVC license here [mpegla.com], specifically the portion quoted below, it seems like royalties are only required to be paid by "end product manufacturers". You could certainly argue that source code is not the end product, and thus you could distribute it without limit. And if you want to distribute object code as well, the only limit would be that no single person who builds it should distribute more than 100,000 compiled copies unless they want to pay royalties.
I seem to recall that some existing OSS MPEG-4 related projects distribute source code only for that sort of reason.

Royalties to be paid by end product manufacturers for an encoder, a decoder or both ("unit") begin at US $0.20 per unit after the first 100,000 units each year. There are no royalties on the first 100,000 units each year. Above 5 million units per year, the royalty is US $0.10 per unit.

Re:Not really (4, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783414)

I seem to recall that some existing OSS MPEG-4 related projects distribute source code only for that sort of reason.

They distribute source code because the courts (in the USA at least) have ruled that source code is speech, as in "freedom of" and binaries are not. Thus they are a lot better protected from claims of patent infringment if they stay away from the binaries.

Re:Not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17784654)

They distribute source code because the courts (in the USA at least) have ruled that source code is speech, as in "freedom of" and binaries are not. Thus they are a lot better protected from claims of patent infringment if they stay away from the binaries.

I challenge you to site a court ruling which says that. From what I have seen, courts have ruled that both source and compiled code constitute expression protected by the first amendment. The courts then go on and claim that the code (source and binary) is 'functional' and thus the 'functionality' can be regulated. In the cases I have seen, the courts have totally ignored the argument that the expression and functionality are one and the same and can not be separated. So to regulate the functionality is to regulate the expression which is not content neutral.

Re:Not really (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785472)

Separating functionality is not necessary to determine that the expressive nature of source code overrides the importance of the functionality. However compiled code, in and of itself, has no expressiveness, it is purely functional. Thus, as I said, a lot better protected from claims. IP law is such bullshit that there are no absolutes, but from the following it is clear that source is better protected than binaries.

Particularly, a musical score cannot be read by the majority of the public but can be used as a means of communication among musicians. Likewise, computer source code, though unintelligible to many, is the preferred method of communication among computer programers.

Because computer source code is an expressive means for the exchange of information and ideas about computer programming, we hold that it is protected by the First Amendment.
-- Junger v Daley [bc.edu]

"If a threat to national security was insufficient to warrant a prior restraint in New York Times Co. v. United States, the threat to plaintiff's copyrights and trade secrets is woefully inadequate."
-- DVDCA v Brunner [cryptome.org]

h264 isn't ideal for portable media (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783128)

It's got a higher quality/bitrate, but it's much more processor intensive to decode, which translates directly to battery power. Case in point: playing video on an iPod (which only supports h264) will drain the battery in an hour or two, where as DivX video on a Creative player will give you 5-6 hours on a similar battery.

If you're optimizing for space, sure, h264 is great. However, most PMPs are hard drive based, and thus have lots of space to spare.

Re:h264 isn't ideal for portable media (1)

RalphBNumbers (655475) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783240)

Actually, you're wrong, the iPod supports plain old MPEG-4 simple profile (which is basically a subset of modern ASP divx), not just h264.
So, if you really want to compare DivX and h264 playback power consumption, you should do it on the same device with the same battery; since comparing apples to oranges means nothing.

I would actually be interested in seeing such a comparison, if anyone watching has a iPod /w video and a couple of days to kill watching the same videos encoded at the same resolution in two different formats until the battery dies.

Also, Apple lists the current generation 5.5 iPods as having 3.5 or 6.5 hours of video playback time on a full charge, for the 30GB and 80GB models respectively (although the previous generation was closer to your 2 hour figure iirc).

Re:Not really (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783156)

What about H.264 vs GSM and G.729, in terms of MIPS:Kbps and quality at various Kbps? GSM is $freePL, but not such great quality at 8-10Kbps, while G.279 is pretty high quality, but $patented (even when GPL).

Re:Not really (1)

LarsG (31008) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787416)

H.264 is a video codec and GSM and G.729 are audio codecs, so that's apples and oranges (or would that be eyes and ears?)

Re:Not really (1)

herodiade42 (974875) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783244)

One should note that, un like H.264, AAC is heavily patented. So, to stay on topic (unencumbered high-quality AV technologies) one may prefer use H.264 with Vorbis audio and Matroska container.

Re:Not really (1)

electrosoccertux (874415) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783266)

What's wrong with .mp4?
Off the top of my head I can think of a very good reason why we shouldn't call it MP4. Some non-tech saavy person asks a Best Buy sales rep (who doesn't know what it is) what it is [so he makes something up] and I bet you he'd say something like "oh it's kindof like MP3 but newer and better. It supports 1080p HD-Audio" [customer nods as if to let you think that they understand].

In this case having a name that doesn't make you think of a common audio compression standard would be helpful.

Re:Not really (1)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#17784150)

Rename a .m4a file to .mp4, and notice how it still works perfectly fine. .m4a is just an alias for .mp4 since .mp4 can contain audio, video, textual (subtitles), and other types of content, and any mix of said content types.

Re:Not really (2, Insightful)

Srin Tuar (147269) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783342)

There is no reason to avoid matroska containers and vorbis audio streams.
Why let the patent mongers lead us around by the nose?

Instead, once a free replacement is available for h.264, then we'll have a complete solution that the industry can follow. (or if the patents on it are ruled invalid)

You seem to think that the patent terms are "reasonable" which shows your shortsightedness on this issue.

Not just pirates (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783626)

It's not just the pirates. I have a DVD player that says it supports MPEG-4, but it doesn't actually do so. It merely supports MPEG-4 codecs in AVI files.

Similarly, those asshats at Sony couldn't be bothered to implement MPEG-4 containers, so they invented "AVCHD", which is MPEG-4 codecs in an MPEG-2 container.

Re:Not just pirates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17784212)

It's not just the pirates. I have a DVD player that says it supports MPEG-4, but it doesn't actually do so. It merely supports MPEG-4 codecs in AVI files.

Otherwise known as DivX;-) or Xvid. It also happens to be the most widly used form of MPEG-4 video. Most players just advertise Xvid support instead of beating about the bush like that, though.

Re:Not really (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17784208)

and they are completely standardized and free to use for distributions of up to 100,000 codecs per year afaik.
Er, that's kind of a problem, isn't it? I don't know whether the ffmpeg library currently gets more than 100,000 downloads a year, but the instant it does, it looks to me like they need to start paying royalties of 20 cents per download. That's not exactly a satisfactory basis for an OSS video infrastructure. The authors of the ffmpeg library may not be worried about getting sued, but, e.g., Debian is pretty careful about not including software that it's illegal for it to distribute. You can't blame them, because a linux distro includes thousands and thousands of different pieces of software, and if they're not careful they could end up getting sued from a hundred different directions at once.

Re:Not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17784258)

So basically you'll use anything *but* the actual standard MPEG-4 container that's designed to carry h264/aac streams? What's wrong with .mp4?

Maybe because it's old, outdated cludge which eats up more bits in a stream than alternatives and lacks many useful features?

The .mp4 container is a prime example of companies abusing the standards process to push their own proprietary technology on the world. .mp4 is a renamed version of Quicktime's .mov format, which was NOT developed to store MPEG4 content. The modern requirements of a multimedia streaming format had to be hacked in.

Not to say the open source community has always been better; .ogm is an even worse hack. But .mkv was designed the way .mp4 should have been: to use standard technologies for interoperability (e.g. binary XML), minimal footprint, extensible feature set, and an openly developed specification. Given .mp4's clear failings, when shouldn't .mkv/.mka become the de facto standard instead?

Re:Not really (1)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 7 years ago | (#17784722)

First off as an Encoder the encoding tools used to be TERRIBLE! Terrible! Like manually confguring hundreds of settings for each rip I did. (Chinese movies not available through mainstream distribution methods)...

Xvid used to require 2 passes at about 8-9 hours each (on my medium speced pc)... So two days to do an encode... Not cool.

Then they came out with a new version cutting it

It encodes a 100min 640x480 700MB file in 4 hours, they got there first, like MP3 did and it seems open, I don't understand why more products don't support it (If they have the processing power to handle decryption of course) and it has become the standard.

Back in the day the Warez scene was a mess, conflicting Divx, Divx:), DivX 3.1 (The old warez standard), .mov (Why would ANYONE use this POS) and of course the dreaded .rm.

No one wants to go back to that,

XVID can be decoded on a p3 or a p4 Celeron (or a used laptop)...

H.264 for all it's vaunted superiority (In what sense, Xvid looks good mp3 sounds good do we really need to make movies SMALLER than the size of a CD [Why? Unless we can get down to .5 of a CD then yea that would be nice but it's not likely] plus you'd be looking at re-encoding a huge backlog for no reason!) so yea XVID will be the standard until HD starts shipping and people really are trying to fit HD movies on CDs (Not DVD's which might be possible but technology will eventually reach the point where 1024x768 x 100min = 720 MB will be a reality.

Re:Not really (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785372)

So basically you'll use anything *but* the actual standard MPEG-4 container that's designed to carry h264/aac streams?
the MP4 container IS "mov" to begin with, so he did mention it.

MPEG-4 standards, specifically h264/aac streams in an .mp4 container, provide the best quality and functionality you can get today
And the most ridiculously high CPU requirements.

The vast majority of systems out there can't handle h.264 playback in high def (1920x1080), and older systems can't even handle D1 (720x480).

If you want people to actually be able to watch your video (in realtime), encode with a good MPEG-4 (part 2) codec.

What do you get with h.264? An order of magnitude higher CPU requirements, for (if you're very lucky) a 20% reduction in video bitrate.

20% is significant. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 7 years ago | (#17789818)

If you're talking about something tiny -- suppose YouTube switched over to mpeg4 -- then the CPU requirements become pretty irrelevant compared to other concerns. (YouTube via Flash uses 50% of my CPU, the same video via mplayer/ffmpeg uses 0.3%. I imagine if YouTube switched to h.264 in .mov format (thus insisting on QuickTime), you'd have two immediate results: Everyone and their dog would have QuickTime, and it would also use _less_ CPU (in the browser) and look _better_ than it does now.)

If you're talking about something huge -- say, 1080p -- first, generally systems hooked up to a display device that can handle it will also have the CPU to handle it. But also, 20% is significant. 20% is the difference between, say, 20 gigs and 16 gigs. It may be only 20%, but it's also 4 gigs.

Re:20% is significant. (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17789988)

I imagine if YouTube switched to h.264 in .mov format (thus insisting on QuickTime), you'd have two immediate results: Everyone and their dog would have QuickTime, and it would also use _less_ CPU (in the browser) and look _better_ than it does now.)
I can agree with that. Yes, there are some (many?) specific cases where h.264 is more than worth the drawbacks. But as a rule, I still recommend against it for general purpose use.

If you're talking about something huge -- say, 1080p -- first, generally systems hooked up to a display device that can handle it will also have the CPU to handle it.
There is barely anything out there that can handle highdef h.264. The end. Just because someone has a $400 1080i HDTV, doesn't mean the computer they have it hooked-up to is an overclocked quad core Opteron...

Second, EVERYONE has a highdef display. LCDs for maybe the past 5 years have been able to display around 1920x1080, and CRTs from long ago could as well. Never the less, those 5 year-old system sure can't decode h.264... They CAN decode MPEG-4 (part 2).

But also, 20% is significant. 20% is the difference between, say, 20 gigs and 16 gigs. It may be only 20%, but it's also 4 gigs.
20% is 20%. It's neither significant, nor insignificant. It is what it is.

And as I pointed out, 20% is pretty much in the BEST of circumstances. Don't expect to get that with most encodings. There are some cases where h.264 does worse than codecs like lavc and xvid... That's mainly because the latter are simply more mature.

Right now, h.264 just doesn't come out as a plus. Sticking to MPEG-4 is a better idea for at least a few years into the future.

Re:Not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17785574)

Complete and total lies. While the mp4 container is an order of magnitude better than the nearly obsolete avi container, the muxing tools for mkv, namely mkvmergeGUI, are far and away superior to the tools availible currently for mp4. While this really shouldn't reflect badly on mp4 itself, it certainly does not help. Also the mkv container lends itself very nicely to anamorphic encodes(720 x 480 encodes that get streched out to the proper size), DVD chapters, and whatnot. Quality and functionailty are the same, regardless of the container used. And no "geeks" are not responsible for all this division, it is scene encoding groups and also anime groups. When mp3 became standardized, there was nothing quite like it(as good) at the time, but now we have a choice. Also, mkv can contain(to the best of my knowledge) any codec under the sun, so all around it beats out mp4 as the superior format. Containers don't mean much to standardization, the codec(s), most importantly the video codec, do. x264 4ever...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_contain er_formats [wikipedia.org]

Re:Not really (1)

Apotsy (84148) | more than 7 years ago | (#17791028)

And no "geeks" are not responsible for all this division, it is scene encoding groups and also anime groups.

What, those people aren't geeks?

Re:Not really (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785654)

between pirates sticking with their habitual use of Xvid/DivX in avi

Or maybe because it's the de-facto standard and virtually every application and device out there supports it.
I got some mkv stuff a while ago and wanted to save a short clip from it.
Dear God. What.A.Pain.
Converting it to play on my Archos or other media player? Not a snowballs chance in hell. The one free program I saw crashed and I'm not going to pay $30 for something with no trial version off some website.

Ditto with mp4. I actually managed to do it after a fair bit of work, but still a pain in the ass.

I'm speaking in general terms, but if you want others to adopt something, you need to make it easy for others to use. The really smart folks behind some of these formats and codecs just don't seem to understand that though.
I don't know if its an elitist attitude or what, but without good apps that can convert your awesome new format into existing ones so people can actually do what they want, you're not going to get widespread adoption.

There is some serious hatred towards mkv from quite a few people on the web because of this - and although mp4 is better, it still isn't perfect.
People have portable video players, people might want to edit the clip in programs like premiere and virtualdub and people might want to burn it to DVD and watch on their old DVD player.
So.. anyways... a rant to go with yours...

Theora... pretty good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17784314)

Theora+Vorbis is pretty good actually. You can get a 2 hr movie in 540x360 looking quite good, in my opinion.

Download some movies and see for yourself: http://btjunkie.org/search?q=theora [btjunkie.org]

There's a really easy-to-use DVD-to-Theora ripper available now that runs under GNOME: http://thoggen.net/ [thoggen.net]

Re:Not really (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785204)

H.264 + AAC is, in fact, a standard MPEG-4/AVC video. The wrapper format recommended by ISO/IEC in 14496-12 through 14496-15 is essentially a QuickTime .mov file. There's not reason AVI or Ogg, NUT, or Matroska wrappers wouldn't work also, but the recommended format is closer to .mov than any of those alternatives.

Re:Not really (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785410)

The only truly, intentionally open standard I know of is Theora, and I really haven't heard much about it.
MPEG-1 (Video/Audio/Container). Open spec, patent-free, plays absolutely everywhere, etc. Surprisinly good quality too, easily better than VP3, and in most cases, nearly as good as MPEG-4 (better in a few, very specific cases, like excess noise, or high resolution with very low bitrate).

Besides that, there is Dirac and Snow, which certainly is better than h.264 in many cases, though both are still in development, and not ready for distributing files.

Of course, I often just keep the original DVD stream around, which means -- what -- mpeg2+aac?
No, DVDs use AC3 audio.

Free ... of which patents? (5, Interesting)

rzei (622725) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782354)

Doesn't this make H.264 only free of the two patents held by Qualcomm? There has to be dozens and dozens of other patents used as AFAIK H.264 is just a profile (AVC) of MPEG-4?

And afaik again, MPEG-4 is very far from being patent encumbered.

Re:Free ... of which patents? (0, Troll)

CryoPenguin (242131) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782376)

[quote]Doesn't this make H.264 only free of the two patents held by Qualcomm?[/quote]
Right.

[quote]There has to be dozens and dozens of other patents used as AFAIK H.264 is just a profile (AVC) of MPEG-4?[/quote]
Yes, there are lots of other patents involved in H.264, but that has nothing to do with the rest of MPEG-4. MPEG-4 is only a name; H.264 would be just as patent encumbered if it didn't share the name with 20 other standards.

Re:Free ... of which patents? (5, Informative)

kyousum (664287) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782618)

Doesn't this make H.264 only free of the two patents held by Qualcomm? There has to be dozens and dozens of other patents used as AFAIK H.264 is just a profile (AVC) of MPEG-4?

True. There are 20 corporations [mpegla.com] participating in the MPEG LA patent portfolio for H.264. Each of these corporations believe they have patents essential to impliment H.264(here's a long list(pdf) [mpegla.com])) and are collecting licensing fees from hundred of licensees [mpegla.com].

Re:Free ... of which patents? (5, Informative)

novus ordo (843883) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782640)

That's why organizations like this [mpegla.com] exist. Just because you use it in your home project doesn't mean you will get your pants sued by everybody imaginable. Not every organization is like RIAA or MPAA. However, if you intend to use it in a commercial product you should seriously weigh the advantages of licensing as opposed to litigating. Here are some of MPEG LA's licensing terms [mpegla.com]:

Royalties to be paid by end product manufacturers for an encoder, a decoder or both ("unit") begin at US $0.20 per unit after the first 100,000 units each year. There are no royalties on the first 100,000 units each year. Above 5 million units per year, the royalty is US $0.10 per unit.

# Title-by-Title - For AVC video (either on physical media or ordered and paid for on title-by-title basis, e.g., PPV, VOD, or digital download, where viewer determines titles to be viewed or number of viewable titles are otherwise limited), there are no royalties up to 12 minutes in length. For AVC video greater than 12 minutes in length, royalties are the lower of (a) 2% of the price paid to the licensee from licensee's first arms length sale or (b) $0.02 per title. Categories of licensees include (i) replicators of physical media, and (ii) service/content providers (e.g., cable, satellite, video DSL, internet and mobile) of VOD, PPV and electronic downloads to end users.

# Subscription - For AVC video provided on a subscription basis (not ordered title-by-title), no royalties are payable by a system (satellite, internet, local mobile or local cable franchise) consisting of 100,000 or fewer subscribers in a year. For systems with greater than 100,000 AVC video subscribers, the annual participation fee is $25,000 per year up to 250,000 subscribers, $50,000 per year for greater than 250,000 AVC video subscribers up to 500,000 subscribers, $75,000 per year for greater than 500,000 AVC video subscribers up to 1,000,000 subscribers, and $100,000 per year for greater than 1,000,000 AVC video subscribers.
Not really unreasonable. Especially when you consider what kind of license terms are offered for content(aka RIAA or MPAA).

Re:Free ... of which patents? (4, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783022)

You let out the crucial internet portions

Over-the-air free broadcast - There are no royalties for over-the-air free broadcast AVC video to markets of 100,000 or fewer households. For over-the-air free broadcast AVC video to markets of greater than 100,000 households, royalties are $10,000 per year per local market service (by a transmitter or transmitter simultaneously with repeaters, e.g., multiple transmitters serving one station).

Internet broadcast (non-subscription, not title-by-title) - Since this market is still developing, no royalties will be payable for internet broadcast services (non-subscription, not title-by-title) during the initial term of the license (which runs through December 31, 2010) and then shall not exceed the over-the-air free broadcast TV encoding fee during the renewal term.


So, nothing is owed between now and 2010 on the Intenet. However, the fee could be $ 10K per channel after then; if that's the case, then there will be trouble in 2011. Also note that it is unclear if the VOD is per download (in which case it is quite high) or per title offered (in which case, quite low).

Re:Free ... of which patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17783926)

Yes, right, they should offer the agreement under that terms indefinitely. Regardless of whether you need $1 or $100000 to buy a loaf of bread in 2011.

Re:Free ... of which patents? (3, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782748)

Yes and no. H.264 isn't 'MPEG-4' it's MPEG-4 AVC. MPEG-4 is just a name the covers many, many codecs. H.264 is just one such codec. Even so, Qualcomm isn't th only patent holder, by far, of H.264/AVC, so the article title is misleading. From MPEG-LA [mpegla.com], which is the primary provider of licenses for H.264 (and lots of other MPEG standards): MPEG LA's AVC Patent Portfolio License currently includes patents owned by DAEWOO Electronics Corporation; Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute; France Télécom, société anonyme; Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Foerderung der angewandten Forschung e.V.; Fujitsu Limited; Hitachi, Ltd.; Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.; LG Electronics Inc.; LSI Logic Corporation; Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.; Microsoft Corporation; Mitsubishi Electric Corporation; Robert Bosch GmbH; Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.; Sedna Patent Services, LLC; Sharp Corporation; Siemens AG; Sony Corporation; The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York; Toshiba Corporation; UB Video Inc.; and Victor Company of Japan, Ltd. MPEG LA's goal is to provide worldwide access to as much AVC essential intellectual property as possible; new Licensors and essential patents may be added at no additional royalty during the current term. Interestingly enough, I don't even see Qualcomm in list. Considering that Qualcomm is the patent holder for CDMA and related technologies, I'm guessing that Qualcomm doesn't even have any patents in the MPEG LA pool, but instead has patented particular implementations of H.264 for use in mobile phone applications.

Re:Free ... of which patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17782936)

Because of how the U.S. legal system works, this case only applies as precedent in the jurisdiction of the court which heard it and it only really applies between Qualcomm and Broadcomm. It does make it appear that Qualcomm's patents that were presented at the case are weak. But that does not mean you or I can just go breaking them until the U.S. patent office makes its own ruling. Broadcomm, though, can.

Re:Free ... of which patents? (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#17784206)

Actually, it isn't precedent at all. "Precedent" refers to published cases of higher courts. A precedential case has the effect of law on everyone within the jurisdiction of the appellate court. If a case is a precedent, a similar case must be resolved in the same manner. Precedents are a form of "mandatory authority".

A trial court decision is "the law" only for the parties involved. Other courts might consider the case to be an influential decision, but are in no way required to follow it to the same result in a similar case. Trial court decisions can be valuable for guessing how things might come out, but they don't tell you how things "will" come out. Trial court decisions are "persuasive authority" (noting that "persuasive" doesn't necessarily mean the trial court would be persuaded -- it means you can suggest the court play along with everyone else, but the court gets to make up its own mind).

Re:Free ... of which patents? (3, Informative)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783824)

"Doesn't this make H.264 only free of the two patents held by Qualcomm?"

The article doesn't have many details, but since Qualcomm is (or at least used to be) an IC manufacturer among other things and Broadcom's infringing products are ICs, these patents could easily be specific only to a specific method of implementing H.264 in hardware. The MPEG-4 LA covers licensing of patents that cover the algorithm, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are additional patents out there covering specific unique implementations of H.264. i.e. the MPEG4-LA covers the MPEG-4 related patents that you absolutely can't avoid infringing if you create a compliant MPEG-4 implementation, but not necessarily implementation-specific patents.

It reminds me a lot of the article a few weeks ago where a university was suing some manufacturers of Bluetooth chipsets. Everyone on Slashdot went postal with comments like "How could they patent Bluetooth. Prior art! Prior art!", when in fact the patent was not in ANY way Bluetooth-specific at all but for a method of designing a low-cost RF receiver, a method which a number of Bluetooth silicon manufacturers happened to use in their receiver designs.

My suspicion (the article doesn't have enough details) is that this court decision has absolutely zero effect on anyone who implements H.264 in software as there is a good chance they weren't even infringing in the first place.

Re:Free ... of which patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17784128)

What about the JPEG patents claimed by Forgent from their acquisition of Compression Labs. Those may be applicable to H.264 as well, since video compression is mostly a extension of still image compression methods.

Hopefully those will expire within a few years.

Did I Read the Right Article? (2, Informative)

Copperhead (187748) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782360)

According to the article, the case is going to the jury, and that "experts" believe that the jury will find against Broadcom, not Qualcomm. I'm not seeing anything that says that the jury has ruled on anything.

Re:Did I Read the Right Article? (5, Informative)

Rashkae (59673) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782408)

Wrong article is linked in the blurp. (But we already knew Slashdot 'editors' never actually verify this stuff) Try here [bloomberg.com]

Here's to the first post to snipe at the editors and (hopefully) get modded way up :)

Slashdot editors: Only pretending to be editors? (3, Interesting)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783152)

Story Errors: I would have thought that, after all these years, Slashdot editors would have learned to be editors. Often Slashdot stories are posted that show not even the simplest examination, such as this one, that references an article that does not support was said in the Slashdot story.

This is more of the real story Broadcom sees win for 'H.264' industry [signonsandiego.com] (January 27, 2007). However, the article does NOT say that the patents were invalidated; they have not been invalidated.

This statement from the Slashdot story is incorrect: "This ruling clears the way for H.264 to become a widely adopted open standard." If that were true, it would be important, but it is not true, for three reasons: 1) The patents have not been invalidated (yet). 2) There can be an appeal. 3) There are other patents.

Re:Slashdot editors: Only pretending to be editors (0)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783556)

I would have thought that, after all these years, Slashdot editors would have learned to be editors.

Ok, that's worth a +5 "funny" right there.

-jcr

Re:Slashdot editors: Only pretending to be editors (0, Troll)

tm2b (42473) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783962)

I would have thought that, after all these years, Slashdot editors would have learned to be editors.
Hardly. After all these years, Slashdot "editors" have clearly learned well that they face no consquences for not learning to be editors.

And anyway, Isn't that supposed to be the glory of the "new" Web? If you assume that privileged editors have no valuable input to the process, well, they stop trying to make any valuable input into the process. Not that Slashdot "editors" have ever tried very hard...

H.264 = MPEG-4 (0)

DavidHOzAu (925585) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782386)

This is otherwise known as MPEG-4 [wikipedia.org]

Hopefully this will mean that movie codecs will be part of a respectable Linux distribution instead of getting relegated to 'extras'?

Re:H.264 = MPEG-4 (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17782410)

no, this is also known as mpeg-4 part 10

mpeg-4 part 2 has been around for years (ie. xvid and divx)

Re:H.264 = MPEG-4 (5, Informative)

neutrino38 (1037806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782468)

No. H.264 is only PART of MPEG 4

H.264 = MPEG 4 part 10 = MPEG 4 AVC

MPEG 4 is a how framework that comprises

  • Two video codecs (MPEG 4 ASP and H.264) with several profiles
  • Several audio codecs
  • A file format
  • A network transport
  • etc ...

The guys who wrote the standards (H.264) expected that one of the profile (baseline profile) would be patent free anyway

Anyway if this jugement could free up more profile, it would be great

Very very Important question (0, Offtopic)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782974)

>No. H.264 is only PART of MPEG 4

But is its the "I can use it to watch pr0n" part of MPEG 4?

Re:H.264 = MPEG-4 (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783622)

Well...

This is not any different from any other Qualcomm behaviour regarding the standards process. All I can say - a good way to start, can we have more of that.

In fact, let's hope that the Nokia 3G lawsuit and a few others that are in the queue will be decided the same way.

Re:H.264 = MPEG-4 (2, Informative)

ben there... (946946) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782584)

For once an article actually uses some specificity to describe the correct codec involved, H.264, and it gets "corrected" to the general, way too broad name that many other articles use when they are referring to H.264, an implementation of MPEG-4 Part 10.

You could have said "otherwise known as MPEG-4 AVC" and you would have been more precise, but "MPEG-4" in general also includes DivX/XviD, 3ivx, Nero Digital, and Quicktime. Obviously the article is not referring to any of those codecs.

Re:H.264 = MPEG-4 (1)

HeroreV (869368) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783516)

H.264 is not an implementation of MPEG-4 Part 10.

The ITU-T and ISO/IEC worked together to create a standard that the ITU-T calls "H.264" and the ISO/IEC calls "MPEG-4 Part 10" (among other names).

You might be thinking of x264, an H.264/MPEG-4 Part 10 encoder.

Awkward (-1, Offtopic)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782420)

I have friends both at Broadcom and Qualcomm, and I've been in both of their HQs [stealing free lunch].

Tom's rooting for the public in this one.

Tom

Ruling? (2, Insightful)

NekoXP (67564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17782790)

Surely a judge rules, not a jury? Juries render verdicts.

Re:Ruling? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17782990)

Not necessarily.... juries determine the FACTS, judges interpret the LAW and handle procedure (unless you have a bench trial w/o a jury where the judge does it all). These days in civil trial in the US, many (especially in complex cases) juries are given interrogatories as verdict forms. They have to answer a series of questions about facts that the parties disputed in a sort of flow chart. "1) Do you find Mr. X did Y? If so, go to question 2. If not, STOP. 2) Do you find that any portion of Miss Z's injuries were caused by Y. If so, go to question 3. If not, STOP. 3) Do you find that Miss Z failed to mitigate the damages from Y?" You get the picture.

Wrong Article (4, Informative)

soulsteal (104635) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783124)

Article linked is yesterday's announcement that it's going to the Jury. Here's the link [signonsandiego.com] and text of the right article:

Broadcom sees win for 'H.264' industry
By Kathryn Balint and David Washburn
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITERS

January 27, 2007

After just six hours of deliberating, a federal jury found yesterday that chip maker Broadcom did not infringe on two patents held by San Diego-based Qualcomm and determined in two advisory votes that Qualcomm had withheld key information from a standards-making body and the patent office.

Union-Tribune file photo
San Diego-based Qualcomm lost a round in federal court yesterday against Southern California chip-making rival Broadcom.
Qualcomm, which accused Irvine-based Broadcom of infringing on two video-compression patents, was seeking $8.3 million in damages for one of the patents. It did not seek any damages for the other patent.

The San Diego jury's unanimous decision is a win for manufacturers that comply with the same video-compression standard as that used by Broadcom.

Qualcomm had argued that one of the two patents at issue was incorporated into the H.264 industry standard used in millions of consumer devices, such as high-definition DVD players and Apple video iPods.

"We're grateful for the jury's verdict - a resounding victory for Broadcom," said David Rosmann, vice president of intellectual property litigation for the company. "This is a victory not just for Broadcom, but for the entire H.264 industry."

Qualcomm had little to lose in the case but everything to win.

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If it had prevailed in its patent-infringement claims, it potentially could have asked courts to ban products that used the industry standard or sought royalty payments from their manufacturers.

Yesterday's decision does not affect Qualcomm's core business of licensing cell phone technology.

A loss for Broadcom, however, could have resulted in the ban of some of its chips and could have cost the company possibly hundreds of millions of dollars in future royalty payments.

The U.S. District Court case was just one of seven lawsuits between the two companies scheduled for trial this year.

"There certainly was a significant upside potential for us, but it was all upside, no downside," said Qualcomm executive vice president and general counsel Lou Lupin. "For Broadcom, it was all downside, no upside. It probably won't have any impact on us one way or the other. It's just the latest round in a series of battles."

The speed with which the nine-member jury returned the verdict was stunning, particularly for a case that involved more than 40 hours of testimony and evidence akin to a graduate-level college course on video compression.

Jury foreman David Ingraham, a Carmel Valley resident and retired vice president of finance and planning for McGraw-Hill, said the quick verdict came about because each jury member entered deliberations with a strong understanding of the evidence.

"I'm not going to say we were all electrical engineers, because we aren't," Ingraham said. "But people listened carefully to the testimony and took good notes - and it came down overwhelmingly on one side."

The jury did find that the two Qualcomm patents in question in the case were valid, a loss to Broadcom, which had argued otherwise.

One of the biggest blows to Qualcomm came in the form of advisory votes, sought by the judge, in which the jury questioned Qualcomm's integrity.

In one advisory vote, the jury found "clear and convincing evidence" that Qualcomm had withheld previous scientific studies on video-compression from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office when applying for one of the patents in question. The jury's advisory vote said that the patent is "unenforceable due to Qualcomm's inequitable conduct in the patent application process."

In the second advisory vote, the jury found that Qualcomm had waived its right to enforce both of the patents in the case, because it had failed to inform a standards-making group that it held patents it thought were key to the H.264 standard that was in development. The standard was developed in 2003 by a group of companies to provide better-quality high-definition video.

The votes on those two issues will be taken under advisement by U.S. District Judge Rudi Brewster, who is presiding over the case in federal court in downtown San Diego and who will ultimately decide those questions.

Qualcomm's Lupin said the company was disappointed with the verdict, particularly in the advisory votes that Qualcomm had not been forthright with the patent office and the standards-making body.

"We feel very strongly that our conduct in front of the standards body and the patent body is always candid and in compliance with the rules," he said.

Lupin said it's too early to say if Qualcomm will appeal yesterday's decision, because Brewster still must rule on the two advisory votes.

For Broadcom, the decision could give the maker of semiconductors more clout in the larger feud between the two chip-making giants.

Michael Cohen, director of research for San Diego-based Pacific American Securities, said he believed after closing arguments that Qualcomm's patents had been infringed.

"This should be looked at that Broadcom did a good job of defending itself from Qualcomm's retaliation to Broadcom's initial attacks," Cohen said. "I think it's very notable how fast the jury came back. It's highly unusual for a jury to come back on something this complicated on the same day they started deliberating. I think it means their minds largely were made up going in."

In the long run, he said, it gives Qualcomm less leverage in its ongoing battle with Broadcom over how much Broadcom should pay to license Qualcomm's wireless technology that is key to cell phones.

Broadcom attorney Bob Brewer said he was very optimistic when the jury returned a verdict on the same day deliberations began.

Juror Aimee Lee Cheek said she expected days of deliberation, given the complicated evidence and obscure technology involved.

"I hope the attorneys don't feel that we didn't give them due consideration," said the 70-year-old historian. "It did seem very fast - but we know it is a very important issue and took it very seriously."

Cheek, who lives in the College Area, said none of the jurors walked into the jury room with their minds made up, but came to a quick consensus after reading their notes to one another and following the jury foreman's lead through the jury instructions.

Financial analyst Steve Re said he thought Qualcomm had proven its case, but that the verdict didn't surprise him.

"When I left, I had the sense that the rapport that (Broadcom lead attorney William) Lee had with the jury was just a much, much stronger one than (Qualcomm lead attorney James) Batchelder's," said Re, president of Quality Growth Management in Rancho Santa Fe.

Re:Wrong Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17783732)

So the summary would be: The Slashdot article is wrong, there are plenty of patents in H.264. And Qualcomm owns two patents. However, they blew it on the first patent because they withheld information in their patent that the patent examiner would probably have liked to see, so they cannot enforce that patent. And they blew it on the second patent, because they knew exactly that the patent would end up in the H.264 Standard and they didn't tell anybody about it - so everyone implementing H.264 _will_ infringe their patent, but there is nothing that they can do about it.

So H.264 is full of patents that you can license without any problems on very reasonable terms (even without payment unless you build a really successful product), plus one patent by Qualcomm that you can safely ignore. Nice for everyone, except Qualcomm

Re:Wrong Article (2, Informative)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783744)

Reposting after posting as AC:

So the summary would be: The Slashdot article is wrong, there are plenty of patents in H.264. And Qualcomm owns two patents. However, they blew it on the first patent because they withheld information in their patent that the patent examiner would probably have liked to see, so they cannot enforce that patent. And they blew it on the second patent, because they knew exactly that the patent would end up in the H.264 Standard and they didn't tell anybody about it - so everyone implementing H.264 _will_ infringe their patent, but there is nothing that they can do about it.

So H.264 is full of patents that you can license without any problems on very reasonable terms (even without payment unless you build a really successful product), plus one patent by Qualcomm that you can safely ignore. Nice for everyone, except Qualcomm

H.264 vs GSM, G.729? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783140)

How does H.264 compare with GSM and G.729 codecs, in terms of performance (CPU MIPS:Kbps) and quality (at different Kbps)? GSM isn't patent encumbered ($free and freePL), but G.729 is patented and licenses cost at least $10 per codec instance (and up, up, up). Is a $freePL H.264 codec a good compromise between the two current favorites, or better/worse than both the current alternatives?

Re:H.264 vs GSM, G.729? (2, Informative)

HeroreV (869368) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783550)

Your post is completely nonsensical.

From Wikipedia:

The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM: originally from Groupe Spécial Mobile) is the most popular standard for mobile phones in the world.

G.729 is an audio data compression algorithm for voice that compresses voice audio in chunks of 10 milliseconds.

H.264, MPEG-4 Part 10, or AVC (for Advanced Video Coding), is a digital video codec standard that is noted for achieving very high data compression.
I don't see how H.264 is related to GSM or G.729.

Re:H.264 vs GSM, G.729? (1)

NMikkila (409521) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783648)

H.264 (= MPEG-4 Part 10, or AVC) is a video encoding/decoding standard while GSM and G.729 are audio codecs. You could probably use H.264 video and G.729 audio in video conferencencing applications, but personally I'd rather use Speex or Vorbis (when higher quality is needed) for the audio part.

By the way, FFmpeg's Snow codec could actually be quite useful for video conferencing since it is comparable to H.264 at low bitrates and the video resolution would not need to be that high so that encoding could perhaps be done in realtime with a fast processor.

Another reason patents don't make a lot of sense (2, Interesting)

jmichaelg (148257) | more than 7 years ago | (#17783170)

I have no idea whether Qualcomm's idea rose to the ideal patent standard but I'd bet dollars to donuts the jury didn't either. Given the time constraints, they can't possibly learn enough to understand the technology to determine whether Qualcomm had a lousy patent or Broadcom was infringing. Patent enforcement decisions make about as much sense as flipping a coin.

Patents are designed by and implemented by attorneys. They're the beneficiaries of this system, not the public nor the inventor. The inventors and public just end up getting screwed.

mod UP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17783194)

comi8g a piss

Did anyone else notice this? (2, Interesting)

hasbeard (982620) | more than 7 years ago | (#17785120)

Did anyone notice that one of the spokesmen for the companies had the title of Vice-President for Intellectual Property Litigation? I don't know that I want to do away with software patents altogether (maybe, I'm not sure), but it bothers me when a company has a department, evidently important enough to be headed by a vice president, dedicated to litigation. Here's another vote for some serious reform in the patent system.

What Qualcomm Wants (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17785502)

Qualcomm wants to control video on mobile devices.
http://www.qualcomm.com/mediaflo/index.shtml [qualcomm.com]

That's why they spent so much time and money ..er..'convincing' regulators
to allow them to take over part of the spectrum for mobile video transmission.
Verizon and other carriers want this so they can move video off of their
digital voice lines and on to something parallel with a different infrastructure.
An infrastructure that, no doubt, the carriers will recieve loads of federal funding
to complete (even though it won't be opened up to benefit anyone but Qualcomm financially).

I don't think this loss is much of a blow to them really. They have many other chip
monopolies to exploit.

Hurray! (1)

crhylove (205956) | more than 7 years ago | (#17787638)

Now where is a reasonable video chat program that takes advantage of it? Us windows kids gotta be jealous of iChat for how much longer? Is Ekiga ever going to come out gtk?

rhY
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