EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

05.20.10

Techrights Welcomes Google’s WebM/VP8 Push

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 10:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Victory under water

Summary: Google does the right thing when it comes to codecs; it already converts vast amounts of video and it is going to defend free codecs from software patents, which in turn would possibly eradicate Flash and Silver Lie (if all goes according to plan)

YESTERDAY we alluded to the exciting news from Google [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] and presented the FFII's response, which was mostly enthusiastic.

Google’s VP8 is not perfect (no codec can be perfect), but it works decently and it shall be Free software to be supported by the major Web browsers, apparently even Microsoft’s (“Don’t forget that Microsoft basically does not have an option,” Oiaohm remarks about the news). Here is the “first in-depth technical analysis of VP8″ (it is the author’s claim that it’s the first). In conclusion it says:

VP8, as a spec, should be a bit better than H.264 Baseline Profile and VC-1. It’s not even close to competitive with H.264 Main or High Profile. If Google is willing to revise the spec, this can probably be improved.

VP8, as an encoder, is somewhere between Xvid and Microsoft’s VC-1 in terms of visual quality. This can definitely be improved a lot, but not via conventional means.

VP8, as a decoder, decodes even slower than ffmpeg’s H.264. This probably can’t be improved that much.

Patents are the issue many Web sites are discussing right now. These are of course software patents, mostly mathematical (compression, matrices, etc.) and Google might be addressing the issue by buying Global IP Solutions and eying the VoIP market (watch out, Skype).

According to this Web site, “Zencoder Excited About Open Source VP8″ and Theora’s founder thinks that it’s “wonderful”.

“This is great news,” said Christopher “Monty” Montgomery, founder of the Xiph.org Foundation, when I reached him by phone right after the announcement. Montgomery is spearheading the development of Ogg Theora and is a Theora developer himself, but he called VP8 going open source “absolutely wonderful” and sounded honestly stoked about the initiative. Montgomery did mention that Google didn’t make too much of an effort to reach out to open source developers ahead of the official announcement. He was notified of the development, but many others weren’t. “We have to see how it’s going to play out in the open source community,” he told me, adding that it will be a while until VP8 will really have an impact.

Guess who is still standing in the way? Flash’s co-creator.

However, Gay is skeptical that Google’s plans to open-source its VP8 video codec will be able to fundamentally change this situation, cautioning that it may be impossible to build open-source codecs that don’t infringe on someone’s patents.

Here we go. The “P” word again. Microsoft, Nokia, and Apple love bringing that one up, as we mentioned in:

Flash’s co-creator (or Adobe) is worried about VP8 because it complements HTML5 and may ultimately send Flash back to the dark ages. Silver Lie too is already suffering. TechCrunch‘s new headline states that “Netflix Is The Latest To Talk The HTML5 Talk”

As we all know, the battle between Flash and HTML5 for the future of online video is raging. But what about that other plugin some sites use for video? You know, the one made by Microsoft — Silverlight? A new posting tonight may call that platform’s future in video into question as well. Because arguably their most important client is looking to jump on the HTML5 video bandwagon: Netflix.

That’s excellent news. Will they use Ogg Theora? VP8? Hopefully not H.264, which would potentially put a form of tax on GNU/Linux [1, 2].

Google’s Tim Bray wrote about video publishing just days before Google’s anticipated announcement (people already knew that it was coming) and the press characterises Google’s move as a “gift” [1, 2] (even if it’s a self-serving one).

It is probably safe to say that the winners here are Google and the public, whereas the losers are companies like Nokia, Apple, and Microsoft. It’s a sad day for software patents maximalists and a wonderful day for the rest.

Google’s new codec could become the lingua franca of video on the web. From there it could influence all manner of gadgets connected to the web and render the polyglot of codecs antiquated. I would not be surprised if it became popular on CDs as well. What conserves bandwidth on the web can also save space on hard drives and CDs.

Electronista says that “WebM’s royalty-free HTML5 video raises patent issues” and Florian Müller argues that “The risk concerning WebM isn’t a matter of Google’s own patents. What about third-party patents?”

Red Hat’s Wildeboer responds to this pessimism by saying: “we should adopt webM and adopt it everywhere. Don’t be afraid of patent threats.”

“Google backs open codec against patent trolls,” heralds The Register.

Google is “very confident” that the newly open-sourced VP8 video codec will stand up to the sort of patent attack Steve Jobs warned of when he defended Apple’s decision to shun VP8′s predecessor, the open-source Ogg Theora.

[...]

In a private email, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs even went so far as to say that unnamed forces were putting together a patent pool to “go after” Ogg Theora. Today, when The Reg asked if VP8 was vulnerable to patent attack, Google product manager Mike Jazayeri indicated this isn’t a big concern for the company.

“We have done a pretty through analysis of VP8 and On2 Technologies prior to the acquisition and since then, and we are very confident with the technology and that’s why we’re open sourcing,” he said.

But wait. It gets better. A week or two ago, ARM complained that Flash was standing in the way of delivering sub-notebooks with GNU/Linux to the market. Watch this new report from the EE Times:

Chip makers back Google’s open source codec

A handful of mobile chip makers–including ARM, MIPS, Nvidia and Texas Instruments–said they will support Google’s move to establish V8, a video codec it acquired with On2 Technologies in August.

Google announced at its annual Google I/O event in San Francisco it will make the V8 codec available as open source code with a royalty free license as part of a new WebM project. Google said it will pair V8 with the Vorbis open source audio codec and support the two in its Chrome browser and YouTube service. Browser makers Mozilla and Opera also said they will support the codecs.

This would obviously help Google sell tablets, sub-notebooks, and other form factors with ARM/MIPS chips and Android/Chrome OS on them. So again, Google is acting to advance its own interests, but GNU and Linux may benefit as well.

As we pointed out in the latest news summary, Mozilla has reasons to be happy and to be sad about Google. On the one hand, Google threatens Firefox in more ways than it helps Firefox (competition), but on the other hand, Google is a vital source of income to Mozilla and it now removes a patents barrier that recently led to this Firefox fork which we wrote about in [1, 2]. If many parties commit to VP8, then Mozilla will no longer need to worry about codecs. Neither will GNU/Linux distributors.

“If you want to accomplish something in the world, idealism is not enough–you need to choose a method that works to achieve the goal. In other words, you need to be “pragmatic.””

Richard Stallman

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. Links 23/4/2019: Kodi 'Leia' 18.2 and DeX Everywhere

    Links for the day



  2. Code of Coercion

    Entryism is visible for all to see, but pointing it out is becoming a risky gambit because of the "be nice!" (or "be polite!") crowd, which shields the perpetrators of a slow and gradual corporate takeover



  3. António Campinos Would Not Refer to the EPO's Enlarged Board of Appeal If He Did Not Control the Outcomes

    António Campinos and his ilk aren’t interested in patent quality because his former ‘boss’, who publicly denied there were issues and vainly rejected patent quality concerns as illegitimate, is now controlled by him (reversal of roles) and many new appointees at the top are "yes men" (or women) of Campinos, former colleagues whom he bossed at EUIPO (as expected)



  4. Links 22/4/2019: Linux 5.1 RC6, New Release of Netrunner and End of Scientific Linux

    Links for the day



  5. USPTO and EPO Both Slammed for Abandoning Patent Quality and Violating the Law/Caselaw in Order to Grant Illegitimate Patents on Life/Nature and Mathematics

    Mr. Iancu, the ‘American Battistelli’ (appointed owing to nepotism), mirrors the ‘Battistelli operandi’, which boils down to treating judges like they’re stooges and justices like an ignorable nuisance — all this in the name of litigation profits, which necessitate constant wars over illegitimate patents (it is expensive to prove their illegitimacy)



  6. IRC Proceedings: January 27th, 2019 – March 24th, 2019

    Many IRC logs



  7. IRC Proceedings: December 2nd, 2018 – January 26th, 2019

    Many IRC logs



  8. Links 21/4/2019: SuperTuxKart's 1.0 Release, Sam Hartman Is Debian’s Newest Project Leader (DPL)

    Links for the day



  9. The EPO's Use of Phrases Like “High-Quality Patent Services” Means They Know High-Quality European Patents Are 'Bygones'

    The EPO does a really poor job hiding the fact that its last remaining objective is to grant as many European Patents as possible (and as fast as possible), conveniently conflating quality with pace



  10. A Reader's Suggestion: Directions for Techrights

    Guest post by figosdev



  11. Links 20/4/2019: Weblate 3.6 and Pop!_OS 19.04

    Links for the day



  12. The Likes of Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA), Team Campinos and Team UPC Don't Represent Europe But Hurt Europe

    The abject disinterest in patent quality and patent validity (as judged by courts) threatens Europe but not to the detriment of those who are in the 'business' of suing and printing lots of worthless patents



  13. The Linux Foundation Needs to Change Course Before GNU/Linux (as a Free Operating System) is Dead

    The issues associated with the Linux Foundation are not entirely new; but Linux now incorporates so many restrictions and contains so many binary blobs that one begins to wonder what "Linux" even means



  14. Largest Patent Offices Try to Leave Courts in a State of Disarray to Enable the Granting of Fake Patents in the US and Europe

    Like a monarchy that effectively runs all branches of government the management of the EPO is trying to work around the judiciary; the same is increasingly happening (or at least attempted) in the United States



  15. Links 19/4/2019: PyPy 7.1.1, LabPlot 2.6, Kipi Plugins 5.9.1 Released

    Links for the day



  16. Links 18/4/2019: Ubuntu and Derivatives Have Releases, digiKam 6.1.0, OpenSSH 8.0 and LibreOffice 6.2.3

    Links for the day



  17. Freedom is Not a Business and Those Who Make 'Business' by Giving it Away Deserve Naming

    Free software is being parceled and sold to private monopolisers; those who facilitate the process enrich themselves and pose a growing threat to freedom in general — a subject we intend to tackle in the near future



  18. Concluding the Linux Foundation (LF) “Putting the CON in Conference!” (Part 3)

    Conferences constructed or put together based on payments rather than merit pose a risk to the freedom of free software; we conclude our series about events set up by the largest of culprits, which profits from this erosion of freedom



  19. “Mention the War” (of Microsoft Against GNU/Linux)

    The GNU/Linux desktop (or laptops) seems to be languishing or deteriorating, making way for proprietary takeover in the form of Vista 10 and Chrome OS and “web apps” (surveillance); nobody seems too bothered — certainly not the Linux Foundation — by the fact that GNU/Linux itself is being relegated or demoted to a mere “app” on these surveillance platforms (WSL, Croûton and so on)



  20. The European Patent Office Does Not Care About the Law, Today's Management Constantly Attempts to Bypass the Law

    Many EPs (European Patents) are actually "IPs" (invalid patents); the EPO doesn't seem to care and it is again paying for corrupt scholars to toe the party line



  21. The US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Once Again Pours Cold Water on Patent Maximalists

    Any hopes of a rebound or turnaround have just been shattered because a bizarre attack on the appeal process (misusing tribal immunity) fell on deaf ears and software patents definitely don't interest the highest court, which already deemed them invalid half a decade ago



  22. Links 17/4/2019: Qt 5.12.3 Released, Ola Bini Arrested (Political Stunts)

    Links for the day



  23. Links 16/4/2019: CentOS Turns 15, Qt Creator 4.9.0 Released

    Links for the day



  24. GNU/Linux is Being Eaten Alive by Large Corporations With Their Agenda

    A sort of corporate takeover, or moneyed interests at the expense of our freedom, can be seen as a 'soft coup' whose eventual outcome would involve all or most servers in 'the cloud' (surveillance with patent tax as part of the rental fees) and almost no laptops/desktops which aren't remotely controlled (and limit what's run on them, using something like UEFI 'secure boot')



  25. Reader's Claim That Rules Similar to the Code of Conduct (CoC) Were 'Imposed' on LibrePlanet and the FSF

    Restrictions on speech are said to have been spread and reached some of the most liberal circles, according to a credible veteran who opposes illiberal censorship



  26. Corporate Media Will Never Cover the EPO's Violations of the Law With Respect to Patent Scope

    The greed-driven gold rush for patents has resulted in a large pool of European Patents that have no legitimacy and are nowadays associated with low legal certainty; the media isn't interested in covering such a monumental disaster that poses a threat to the whole of Europe



  27. A Linux Foundation Run by People Who Reject Linux is Like a Children's Charity Whose Management Dislikes Children

    We remain concerned about the lack of commitment that the Linux Foundation has for Linux; much of the Linux Foundation's Board, for example, comes from hostile companies



  28. Links 15/4/2019: Linux 5.1 RC5 and SolydXK Reviewed

    Links for the day



  29. Links 14/4/2019: Blender 2.80 Release Plan and Ducktype 1.0

    Links for the day



  30. 'Poor' (Multi-Millionaire) Novell CEO, Who Colluded With Steve Ballmer Against GNU/Linux, is Trying to Censor Techrights

    Novell’s last CEO, a former IBMer who just like IBM decided to leverage software patents against the competition (threatening loads of companies using "platoons of patent lawyers"), has decided that siccing lawyers at us would be a good idea


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts