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. The EFF Back to Tackling Software Patents, Not Just Patent Trolls

    Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyers start targeting large companies that exploit patents for intimidation and extortion, not just patent trolling



  2. Microsoft Wants to Devour the Competition (Linux), Devour People's Data

    Refuting the "new Microsoft" propaganda and some ludicrous concept that Microsoft is now "playing nice"



  3. Benoît Battistelli Thinks 'President' is Above the Law, Decides to Ignore the Court's Ruling

    Staff of the EPO is given yet more reasons to protest tomorrow at the British Consulate, for the so-called 'President' of the EPO reminds everyone of the very raison d'être for the protest -- a vain disregard for the rule of law



  4. Links 24/2/2015: Xfce 4.12 a Week Away, GNOME 3.16 Previewed

    Links for the day



  5. Links 23/2/2015: Ubuntu Kylin 14.04.2 LTS, Cinnamon 2.6 Previews

    Links for the day



  6. IRC Proceedings: February 8th - February 21st, 2015





  7. The EPO's Sham 'Internal Investigation' of EPO Vice-President Željko Topić's Affairs

    The EPO never investigated the Željko Topić affair, it only pretends to have investigated (one small aspect, i.e. cherry-picking) using a Benoît Battistelli-controlled group



  8. Links 21/2/2015: GNOME 3.15.90, Google Wins Android Lawsuit

    Links for the day



  9. Microsoft AstroTurfing War on GNU/Linux is Still Going On, But Hidden Better, Uses API as Instrument of Lock-in

    The corruptible press continues to describe blatant attacks (Embrace, Extend, Extinguish) against GNU/Linux and Free software as Microsoft 'embracing' Open Source



  10. Lenovo's Superfish Scandal is Spyware on Top of Spyware (Microsoft Windows), the Problem is Inherently Proprietary Software

    Shifting focus to the root problem, which is neither Lenovo nor its laptops but the non-free programs installed on hardware



  11. Benoît Battistelli Once Again Threatens EPO Staff That 'Dares' to Protest, Battistelli Exploits Terror Attacks to Pretend to Respect Free Speech

    The European Patent Office (EPO) President, Benoît Battistelli, reportedly started threatening -- as before -- staff that decides to exercise the right to assemble and protest against abuses, including the abuses of President Battistelli himself



  12. Links 20/2/2015: Android Studio v1.1, GDB 7.9

    Links for the day



  13. Links 20/2/2015: Bloomberg Joins Linux Foundation, ClearOS Community 6.6.0

    Links for the day



  14. The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys Slams the European Patent Office for Structural Failings

    An important letter which we overlooked while writing yesterday's 4 articles about the European Patent Office (EPO); yet another key stakeholder complains



  15. Links 19/2/2015: Hewlett-Packard on Cumulus Linux, Previews of GNOME 3.16 Beta

    Links for the day



  16. Techrights Under Attack Again, Shortly After Important EPO Articles

    Techrights highlights a pattern that is months old; Site faces availability issues shortly after reports about the European Patent Office and its abuses



  17. EPO Staff Protests Against Benoît Battistelli’s Lowering of Patents Quality (Scope Expansion and Software Patents for Profit)

    A protest in Munich in less than 6 days will target Mr. Sean Dennehey, who has helped Battistelli cover up his abuses and crush legitimate critics, whom he deemed illegal opposition as if the EPO is an authoritarian regime as opposed to a public service which taxpayers are reluctantly (but forcibly) funding



  18. Breaking: European Patent Office Sued by Its Own Staff in The Hague, Must Unblock Staff's Voices

    The crooked management of the European Patent Office (EPO) gets in legal trouble after repeated attempts to cover up abuses and suppress criticism



  19. Željko Topić's History in SIPO Leaves a Legacy of Alleged DZIV Vehicles (Bribes), Authorship Abuses, and Intimidation Against Reporters

    Another deep look at Željko Topić's background in Croatia, preceding his very notorious appointment to the EPO where he now serves as Benoît Battistelli's most controversial attack dog



  20. The Old Obsession With Patent Trolls Continues to Distract From Debate About Software Patenting

    A roundup of recent coverage about monopolies on algorithms in the United States



  21. Links 19/2/2015: 64-bit ARM Linux, Chinese New Year

    Links for the day



  22. Links 18/2/2015: Linux Report, FlightGear 3.4

    Links for the day



  23. EPO Scandals: The Story So Far

    An overview of articles about mischief, misconduct and breach of laws at the EPO



  24. Links 17/2/2015: TripleO, Pivotal

    Links for the day



  25. Links 17/2/2015: SystemD 219, Frugalware 2.0 (Rigel) Released

    Links for the day



  26. Željko Peratović Slammed for Whitewashing Željko Topić After Publishing Important Piece on Behalf of Key Sources

    Response from Ivan Kabalin to Zeljko Peratovic's so-called "apology" which is both mysterious and seemingly inadequate as it does nothing to actually explain what was wrong (if anything)



  27. Benoît Battistelli Has Made Oversight of European Patent Office Absolutely Impossible





  28. Microsoft Already Killed Nokia, Don't Let It Kill Android Players Too

    Microsoft's strategy against Android mirrors the company's evil strategy that derailed MeeGo and Nokia



  29. Intel Continues to Attack Software Freedom Through UEFI

    The Trojan horse that Microsoft uses to cement its monopoly on desktops and laptops (making it hard or impossible to install and run GNU/Linux) is also being misused to block Coreboot



  30. Links 16/2/2015: Netrunner 15, Bridge Linux

    Links for the day


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