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

Mike Lampard mike at mtgambier.net
Sun Dec 16 21:17:40 UTC 2007

On Monday 17 December 2007 07:05:21 Jon 'maddog' Hall wrote:
> > > I find the idea of 'additional patent risk' somewhat amusing, coming
> > > from the parties involved, even if valid.
> It is not just "additional patent risk", but also the demand from
> consumers....a dance, if you will, between pain (risk) and pleasure
> (revenues).
> First of all, even the most "known" of technologies is not free of
> "patent risk".  This can be seen by various past patent fiascoes such as
> the Sperry/Burroughs/Unisys LZ[77|78|W] compression algorithm (how many
> books, magazines and unix systems were printed and distributed
> discussing and using these algorithms before Unisys lowered the boom?)
> to the recent Alcatel-Lucent win on mp3 technologies, with Microsoft
> being the FIRST 1.5 Billion dollar loser?  I hesitate to say "poor
> Microsoft", but after all, Microsoft DID pay the companies (Thomson and
> Fraunhofer) who were the *supposed* patent holders and licensors $16
> million dollars to ship mp3 in their products, didn't they?
> So you see, even the "most known" of codecs and software patent issues
> are not free of risk.

Which begs the question: Can any open source compatible codec meet the 'no 
additional patent risk' requirements without having that opensource code 
infringe on known patents?  Obviously it cannot.  Are there any large 
opensource companies willing and able to pay royalties to patentholders on 
behalf of myriads of opensource projects/users?  Can there really be a 
sustainable middle ground in this quagmire?  Is 42 really the meaning of 
life, the universe and everything?

Obviously I don't have the answers, except to that last question, and I'll 
stop making noise now..

> On the other hand, if people said "I will not buy your music player
> unless it has Ogg Vorbis", then every company would include it, perhaps
> building a pool of money for legal defense, or taking out patent
> infringement insurance.

Ah, the old chicken and egg problem.  It does go back to this HTML5 decision 
though.  If Ogg is mandated as the baseline codec, the above might actually 
happen.  It probably won't otherwise.

> I think the real issue is a combination of three things:
> o there already is a compression technique that most large companies
> have incorporated, payed their royalties on (more or less) and that the
> public demands.  That technique is MP3
> o the patent is not a "blocking patent" (i.e. keeps companies out of the
> business)
> o the royalties for MP3 playback are so small that for most devices it
> is inconsequential (or the companies paid a one-time fee).  Compression
> royalties are paid for by the royalties/licenses on the software that
> uses it or added onto the hardware price, and are equally
> inconsequential.
> o there is not sufficient demand *from consumers* for another technique
> that is royalty free
> The place that a royalty-based codec really hits and hurts is (of
> course) Free Software, and who really cares about that?

A conundrum, to be sure.


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