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. “Corrupt Benoît Battistelli and Željko Topić Today in Zagreb at 25th Anniversary of SIPO Croatia”

    Shortly after Željko Topić lost his court case for the third time (over allegations of corruption at SIPO), his EPO boss Benoît Battistelli joins SIPO celebrations



  2. The US Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Maintains High Pace of Patent Invalidation, in Spite of Appeals to CAFC

    The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), i.e. the court system, has become the last resort of serial litigators, as the PTAB gets in their way more and more often following AIA and Alice



  3. Good Luck to the US Supreme Court in Eliminating a Supremely Unjust Misuse of Patent Law

    In an important upcoming patent case, gross abuse of patent laws for the support of dubious business models can finally be tackled



  4. EPO Protest This Coming Wednesday Strives to Restore the Rule of Law and Freedom of Speech at the Office

    The level of autocracy at the European Patent Organisation, an institution which has effectively positioned itself above the law with Battistelli and his minions in charge of the Office, faces growing backlash from staff



  5. The EPO is Collapsing. Attacks on Journalists, Interns as Staff, Patents on Plants, and Bureaucratic Red Tape...

    A look at some of the latest issues surrounding the European Patent Office, whose insistence on denying the problems and instead attacking those who bring up legitimate concerns, will spell its doom



  6. Ignore the Bristows UPC Echo Chamber, the UPC is Not Happening

    Response to some of the latest UPC promotion, courtesy of some of the usual suspects, who stand to benefit financially if the UPC ever becomes a reality



  7. British Media Slams Battistelli for Attempting to Cover Up 2 Years of Juridical Abuses With Help From the Administrative Council of the EPO

    A growing voice of concern about the integrity of the European Patent Organisation, whose management appears to be in cahoots (overseers/regulators included) so as to cover up its own serious abuses



  8. Boards of Appeal Still Under Attack From Team Battistelli While the EPO Proceeds to Granting Patents on Carlsberg BEER!

    The lunacy of the EPO with its patent maximalism will likely go unchecked (and uncorrected) if Battistelli gets his way and turns the EPO into another SIPO (Croatian in the human rights sense and Chinese in the quality sense)



  9. Memo “Deliberately Leaked to Cover up the UPC” With Its Many Associated Issues Amid Brexit

    Some eye-opening updates about the awkward move from Lucy Neville-Rolfe, who made promises (expression of intent) she can neither fulfill nor justify to the British public



  10. Links 8/12/2016: Korora GNU/Linux 25, SparkyLinux 4.5.1

    Links for the day



  11. Links 7/12/2016: ROSA Desktop Fresh R8 Plasma 5, Ubuntu Touch OTA-14

    Links for the day



  12. The UPC Scam Part VII: A Fine Mess in the Making, as Nothing Can be Made of It Amid/After Brexit

    The final part in this multi-part series about UPC, which cannot be implemented in the UK as long as Brexit is on the agenda



  13. The UPC Scam Part VI: The Real Story Which People Missed Due to Puff Pieces Seeded by Battistelli-Bribed Media is That UPC Technically Cannot Come to the UK

    Another long installment in a multi-part series about UPC at times of post-truth Battistelli-led EPO, which pays the media to repeat the lies and pretend that the UPC is inevitable so as to compel politicians to welcome it regardless of desirability and practicability



  14. EPO Spiraling Down the Drain as Experienced Examiners and Judges Are Seemingly Being Replaced by Interns

    Implementing yet more of his terrible ideas and so-called 'reforms', Battistelli seems to be racing to the bottom of everything (patent quality, staff experience, labour rights, working conditions, access to justice etc.)



  15. A Lot of News From the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) Today, With Some Important Decisions on Patents Coming Soon

    A roundup of today's outcomes from the US Supreme Court, which intends to review and decide on important patent cases



  16. In Historic Blow to Design Patents, Apple Loses to Samsung at the Supreme Court

    A $399 million judgment against Android devices from Samsung, with potential implications for other Android OEMs, is rejected by SCOTUS



  17. Good Riddance. Ray Niro is Dead.

    The infamous father of patent trolling is dead, so we need to remember his real legacy rather than rewrite his history to appease his rich relatives (enriched by destroying real companies)



  18. EPO Suicides Greater in Number Than is Widely Reported, Unjust System a Contributor to These

    The horrible regime of Benoît Battistelli has an enormous human toll (fatalities), far greater than the Office is willing to publicly acknowledge



  19. Lobbying Disguised as 'Reporting' by the Patent Microcosm, Which Wants More Patents and More Lawsuits (Lawyers Needed)

    A rebuttal to some new articles about patents, especially those that strive to increase patent-related activities (usually for personal gain)



  20. USPTO Echo Chamber That Lacks Actual Software Professionals Deciding on Patentability of Software

    A look at yesterday's "Roundtable on Patent Subject Matter Eligibility," which lacked involvement from those actually affected by patents rather than those who sell, trade, and exploit these



  21. More Examples of Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls Taxing Linux, Even After Microsoft 'Joined' (Paid) the Linux Foundation

    A quick look at the past week's news and clues about Microsoft's (and its broad army of patent trolls) strategy for taxing Linux, or imposing bundling at zero cost (to Microsoft)



  22. Heiko Maas, the SPD “Cash for Access” Affair, and Suspicions of Unwarranted Censorship at IP Kat (Again)

    Unsayable views or just a glitch? Readers of IP Kat express concern about a culture of censorship at IP Kat



  23. Endgame for Battistelli at the European Patent Office (EPO)

    Battistelli turns bad into worse by spitting on the very notion of accepting justice (from the highest court in The Hague or even the UN in this case)



  24. Les Échos Chamber: Having Corrupted the Media (With EPO Money), Battistelli Now Uses It for More UPC Propaganda

    The lies about the Unitary Patent are now being broadcast (Battistelli given the platform) by the publication that Battistelli pays



  25. Rumour: EPO in Berlin the Next Casualty of Battistelli's 'Reform' (Organisational Suicide Plan)

    Months after we learned that a former staff representative in Berlin had been dismissed we come across an anonymous claim that Berlin's 'branch' of the EPO will be folded onto Munich's



  26. Caricature: the Maas App

    The failure of Maas to even bother with regulation of Battistelli (among others) earns him this cartoon



  27. Links 5/12/2016: Linux 4.9 RC 8, DeepMind as FOSS

    Links for the day



  28. Leaked: Battistelli Acknowledges Bunk 'Justice' in About 100 Cases at the Internal Appeals Committee of the EPO

    A look at Battistelli's response to the latest from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), exceptionally delivering two decisions at the very end of last month



  29. The UPC Scam Part V: Unitary Patent Regime a Fantasy of Patent Trolls

    "Good for trolls" is a good way to sum up the Unitary Patent, which would give litigators plenty of business (defendants and plaintiffs, plus commissions on high claims of damages) if it ever became a reality



  30. EPO at a Tipping Point: Battistelli Quarrelling With French Politicians, Administrative Council Urged to Act, Staff Unrest Peaking

    The latest messages about Battistelli's regime at the EPO, which faces growing opposition from more directions than ever before


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