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

06.16.10

Striding Towards Codec Freedom to Remove ‘Linux Tax’ from Dell

Posted in Dell, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents, Red Hat, Ubuntu at 6:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The importance of WebM, its progress in GNU/Linux-compatible Web browsers, and Google’s situation wrt MPEG-LA FUD

A few weeks ago Mozilla's CEO was quoted as saying that WebM is safe to use and it finally comes to Firefox 4 (trunk):

Opera is getting it too and optimisations are being reported by the developers at Google:

Since WebM launched in May, the team has been working hard to make the VP8 video codec faster. Our community members have contributed improvements, but there’s more work to be done in some interesting areas related to performance (more on those below).

The elephant in the room is still MPEG-LA, which is a patent aggressor that agitates Google. We wrote about the subject in posts such as:

The patent issue continues to come up in some articles about WebM:

In other words, if Google doesn’t address patent indemnification-or at least release information about its findings on the patents efficacy-a new licensing pool will be created to capitalize on fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Yet Google seems more concerned with modifying its WebM FAQ than it is with helping the online video world understand the practical and financial benefits of an open-source competitor to H.264.

So the patent issue and Google’s existing plan matter a lot here. Fortunately, we have received some valuable information over the past few days. It helps us understand how Google views MPEG-LA. Florian Müller has had a scoop and he finally gave us the needed permission to shoot off the following:

“[S]omeone told me something that raises doubt about MPEG LA’s $5 million license fee cap but that same source has now substantially weakened its claims to the extent that the cap actually seems to be the case at least for most companies,” Müller told us.

Prior to this there was a stronger claim. “Concerning video codecs I heard something that raises doubt about the $5 million license fee cap, but I’ll try to obtain authorization from someone so I can attribute a quote to a person rather than just saying it’s a good source,” he expounded.

“The source originally claimed that contrary to the related claim made on MPEG LA’s website, the source has information that some licensees do indeed have to pay much more for such reasons as the $5 million per-company per-year royalty cap not including all categories of products.”
      –Florian Müller
Later he wrote: “The source does not want to be named. The conversation took place at this event in Brussels on Wednesday. The house rules allow quoting from what was said at the event, but it’s not allowed to say WHO said something (without permission, of course). The source originally claimed that contrary to the related claim made on MPEG LA’s website, the source has information that some licensees do indeed have to pay much more for such reasons as the $5 million per-company per-year royalty cap not including all categories of products. With a view to the house rules of the event, I asked the source, which was present at the event and may have information I don’t, whether I could provide its name when quoting. The source asked not to be named. Meanwhile (yesterday) the source also added this clarification: “For most companies, they probably don’t see much more than one overall fee.” I will mention this on my blog next time I report on codecs [...] The thing is that philosophically I’m against those codec royalties, but economically, if big companies pay a maximum of $5 million per year, it’s not a fundamental problem to the industry and those who end up paying are largely in favor of software patents anyway, so I’m not much more sympathetic to them than to MPEG LA. I’m most sympathetic to those who want to get rid of software patents but are attacked nevertheless.”

Finally, Müller said: “I don’t know when to put it out because it was no longer the “gem” I thought it was once I received that additional clarification about most companies just seeing one item on the bill. You know, I would really have liked to call into question the truthfulness of the representations they make about the cap, but with the clarification the same source provided, it doesn’t really have a lot of teeth anymore.”

Google is often criticised for secrecy, so we found it neither surprising nor curious that “there are some confidentiality-related sensitivities there: at the start of the event in Brussels, the chairman announced the “house rules” which related to quoting…”

This matter is extremely important because codecs like Theora and VP8 help eliminate the patent problem often associated with codecs in GNU/Linux. To platforms like Windows and Mac OS X it matters a lot less, for sure (they already ship the codecs on the computer/CD). A couple of years ago Red Hat cited codecs as a key reason for abandoning plans to release a desktop product.

Some days ago we learned that software patents may affect the motivation of Free software developers — a subject that Glyn Moody has just elaborated on:

What this might mean is that although hackers’ views and motivations are relatively unaffected by the existence of software patents, they might in fact find themselves hugely affected if major software companies or patent trolls start trying to assert their software patent portfolios – something that many fear might happen. True, this is only speculation, but at the very least, it might provide an interesting topic for further research….

Here in Europe, codec patents can be more or less ignored, at least in theory*, but as multinational companies like Dell are selling computers here, it is hard to avoid the MPEG ‘codec tax’ which even a Ubuntu machine from Dell comes with [1, 2] (yes, also in Europe). This issue ought to be resolved in order to make GNU/Linux free (which it’s not, at least not from major, multinational OEMs).
____
* Nevertheless, as Müller points out, “you can find links to stories on the rigid enforcement of MP3/MP4 patents in Europe, particularly at the CeBIT trade show. So much for the exclusion of patents on software in Article 52 of the European Patent Convention…”

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 25/4/2015: Debian LTS Plans, Turing Phone Runs Linux

    Links for the day



  2. Who Kills Yahoo? It's Microsoft, Not Yahoo!

    The media should blame Microsoft, not Marissa Mayer, for what's going on (and has been going on for 7 years) at Yahoo!



  3. EPO Management is Trying Hard to Appease Its Critics While Pushing Forth Unitary Patent Agenda

    The European Patent Office and European Commission promote the agenda of large multinational corporations (at the expense or European citizens) and critics are being kept at bay



  4. Real Patent Reform Will Not Come From Biggest Backers of GNU/Linux, Not Even Google

    A look at the 'new' Google, the company which is hoarding patents (2,566 last year alone) instead of fighting for reform



  5. Microsoft's Troll Intellectual Ventures Loses Software Patents

    Intellectual Ventures is bluffing with software patents, but this time around it doesn't get its way



  6. Links 24/4/2015: Ubuntu and Variants in the News, Red Hat Developer Toolset 3.1

    Links for the day



  7. Links 23/4/2015: Ubuntu 15.04 is Out, Debian 8.0 Out Very Soon

    Links for the day



  8. Links 22/4/2015: Fedora 22 Beta, Atlassian Acquires BlueJimp

    Links for the day



  9. The Dying Debate Over Patent Scope (Including Software Patents) Replaced by 'Trolls' (But Not the Biggest Ones)

    The corporate media and Web sites or people who are funded by large corporations have essentially suppressed any debate about issues in the patent granting process, thereby guarding software patents and preventing criticism of large corporations' power grab



  10. The Patents Gold Rush Continues

    The morbid obsession with monopolising mere ideas still dominates the media, even increasingly in China



  11. 9 Millionth US Patent Tells a Story of Failure and USPTO Misconduct

    The USPTO, much like FISA (notorious court for surveillance/espionage authorisation), has become a rubber-stamping operation rather than a patents examination centre, as new evidence and old evidence serve to show



  12. HBO Helps Shift Debate Over Patents to 'Trolls' (Scale), Not Scope

    More of that awkward shifting of the patent debate towards small actors who are misusing patents, not large conglomerates like Apple and Microsoft which use patents to destroy competitors, crush startups, drive up prices, and so on



  13. Software Patents Are Still Menacing to Free Software: OIN Expands Scope, HEVC Adds to MPEG-LA Burden/Tax, Google and Facebook Give in on Patents

    A look at recent news about software patents and especially Free/libre software, which is inherently incompatible with them



  14. The Latest Developments Around Microsoft's Clever Attack on Android/Linux

    Microsoft's campaign of destruction, extortion, etc. against the most widely used Linux-powered operating system is revisited in light of new reports



  15. The Microsoft 'Community' is Maligning the Free Software Community

    Dishonest generalisations and baseless deductions portray the Free/Open Source software communities as a nasty place that leads to poverty and despair



  16. Googlebombing 'Microsoft Open Source' Even When Microsoft Shuts Down Its 'Open Source' Proxy

    A massive failure by the press to cover the most basic news, which is Microsoft putting an end to a supposedly 'Open Source' effort



  17. Links 22/4/2015: Calculate Linux 14.16, SparkyLinux 4.0 RC KDE

    Links for the day



  18. Links 21/4/2015: Project Photon, Ubuntu Touch Buzz

    Links for the day



  19. Embrace, Extend, Extinguish: How Microsoft Plans to Get Rid of Linux/Android

    Microsoft's sheer abuse against Android is laying bare for everyone to see now that Microsoft has paralysed Google's legal department with potential antitrust action in Europe



  20. Yahoo's Current CEO (Mayer, Formerly of Google) is Trying to End Yahoo! Status as Microsoft Proxy

    There are signs of relinquishing Microsoft's control over Yahoo! after Marissa Mayer worked to end the company's suicidal/abusive relationship with Steve Ballmer's Microsoft



  21. Repeating Microsoft's Lies Without Any Journalistic Assessment

    Poor fact-checking by relatively large media/news sites results in Microsoft's patently false claims being repeated uncritically



  22. Links 19/4/2015: New KaOS (2015.04), Manjaro Linux 0.8.13 Pre1

    Links for the day



  23. Links 18/4/2015: ExTiX 15.2, RaspArch

    Links for the day



  24. Microsoft Tired of Pretending to be Nice to Free/Open Source Software (FOSS), Microsoft 'Open' Technologies Dumped

    Microsoft dumps its proxy (misleadingly named 'Open Tech') and other attacks on Free software persist from the inside, often through so-called 'experts' whose agenda is to sell proprietary software



  25. More Translations of French Article About the EPO

    German and Dutch translations of the Le Monde article are now available



  26. Links 17/4/2015: Wipro and the Netherlands Want FOSS

    Links for the day



  27. Microsoft's Multi-Dimensional Assault on Android/Linux: Extortion, Lobbying of Regulators, and Bribes

    Microsoft's vicious war on Linux (and Android in its current incarnation) takes more sophisticated -- albeit illegal (as per the RICO Act) -- forms



  28. Microsoft's Plot to Associate Windows with 'Open Source' is Proving Effective, Despite Being Just a Big Lie

    A look at the latest headlines which can lead to a false perception that Microsoft is now in bed with 'Open Source'



  29. Microsoft Windows Remotely Crashed, Remotely Hijacked, But Still No Logo and No Branding for the Bugs

    Windows maintains its reputation as a back doors haven, but the media is still not highlighting the severity of this issue, instead focusing on accidental bugs in Free software, even very old (and already fixed) bugs



  30. Black Duck's Latest Self-Promotional Propaganda (for Proprietary Software) Still Fools Journalists

    Under the traditionally misleading title "Future of Open Source" Black Duck expresses its desire for proprietary software sales, salivating over fearful managers who may get bamboozled into buying the patents-'protected' Black Duck 'product'


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