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

Jon 'maddog' Hall maddog at li.org
Sun Dec 16 20:35:21 UTC 2007

> > 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

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.

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.

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

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

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?

Warmest regards,


Jon "maddog" Hall
Executive Director           Linux International(R)
email: maddog at li.org         80 Amherst St. 
Voice: +1.603.672.4557       Amherst, N.H. 03031-3032 U.S.A.
WWW: http://www.li.org

Board Member: Uniforum Association
Board Member Emeritus: USENIX Association (2000-2006)

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