[Linux-aus] Fwd: Ogg Vorbis and Theora removed from HTML5

Jeff Waugh jdub at perkypants.org
Sun Dec 16 11:59:31 UTC 2007

<quote who="Mike Lampard">

> If so, how would Ogg be any different? Xiph have stated repeatedly that
> Ogg has no patent encumbrances, and the spec is in the public domain.
> Surely that would immunise any company using their tech?

Good question -- I hope this is an informative answer. :-)

It's the word "additional" that is the key. Apple and Nokia have taken on a
certain amount of risk by using the formats they support. Let's call that a
"known risk".

Xiph have said there are no *known* patent encumberances for both Vorbis and
Theora [1]. In particular, some patents related to Theora were freed along
with its release.

However, for Apple or Nokia to add Theora to their set of supported codecs,
they are taking on new unknown risk. They don't even have the cold comfort
of dealing with a licensor who operates the way they are comfortable with.
We don't know if patents exist that relate to Vorbis or Theora (as with
anything else in software technology), nor do we know who owns them, if they

As with many other issues, this one is not black and white, and I'd caution
any noisy advocate who would suggest that Apple and Nokia have no cause for
concern. Most wouldn't know how to do even the most basic patent search in
the first place, let alone a legally and technically relevant search in an
amazingly complex technology domain such as this! ;-)

The important thing is that we need an open web. Right now, we don't have an
easy solution for that, with regards to audio and video. But we can hope it
is in everyone's interests to *find* a solution to this, and that's what we
need to communicate to Apple, Nokia and others (rather than flaming them).

- Jeff

[1] Ogg is basically irrelvant here and is not a particularly good container
format anyway.

linux.conf.au 2008: Melbourne, Australia        http://lca2008.linux.org.au/
           "It's weird being without white noise." - Catie Flick

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