Originally Posted by MacRulez
Agreed: Neither rms nor anyone else can claim with any certainty that either h.264 or WebM is entirely free of patent violations.
The only thing we know for sure is that last year members of MPEG-LA made some noises about WebM violating their patents, but even though the source is available they have to date produced nothing which would substantiate their claims.
Does that fit the definition of FUD?
Yes, a little bit.
But at that point WebM was a mere curiosity being played with by Mozilla for implementing support for it and a test implementation in Chrome. So MPEG-LA threw up a little FUD because they weren't worried and knew the FUD was really directed to the ears of the commercial content creators. Maybe they thought that would be enough to get Google to back off since Google had no financial stake in the fight to that point.
Now, Google brings itself and it's paid proxy, Mozilla, into the fore again. There's no reason to go after Mozilla, they are just a bunch of coders with a common personal mission. They aren't going to shift the market one way or the other on their own as much as they try.
But Google suddenly made noises that could someday be seen as possible harming MPEG-LA member pocketbooks. Now that little bit of early FUD could turn into a real quick lawsuit because I doubt Google would risk losing face by backing off if MPEG-LA even quietly walked in with a "you stole our code line-for-line case". The play was all-in and they either follow all the way through, even in a case they know they could lose, intentionally playing the Open Source Martyr (like they are playing with Oracle pre-court over Android right now), or they lose HUGE partner credibility. Nobody, including the Android crowd could ever trust they will stick with a partner project if a hint of Patent case comes up should Google cut and run in either of those 2 situations.
WebM and Chrome is really a pretty small issue in isolation, it isn't big until you look at what the future precedent could be and it's the precedent and fallout everyone is talking about, not Chrome itself. It would be interesting to know if P&B really realize the stakes their company was just brought into, or if it was a division level call and now the Company hand is accidentally forced. Perception is everything in partnerships and they set some pretty tough perceptual requirements here.