Originally Posted by d-range
No they didn't, they licensed use of the codec, but not the patents themselves. There are still clauses in the licensing term that will allow Google to pull any right you have using it if you don't play by their rules (e.g: sign a cross-licensing deal with MPEG-LA if it turns out VP8 still infringes on H264 patents and you want to keep selling your VP8 based products). In that regard, WebM is much worse than H264, since while you have to pay a (very reasonable) fee for using it, at the very least you can be 100% sure you are not stepping into a legal minefield because there is only one company holding VP8 patents, and that company explicitly waives any responsibility if *you* get into problems using *their* standard for no good reason besides saving a few pennies. The market confirms that almost no-one actually cares about Googles crappy format or the supposedly evil MPEG-LA royalties anyway, just look around you to find out that nowadays even a $20 knock-off Chinese PMP implements H264 and will have paid the royalties.
The only clause for losing the rights to a license over webm is if you sue the webm organization. That's to use it as a bargaining chip if MPEG-LA holders decide to sue.
Nowhere does MPEG-LA grant any indemification either if another patent holder sues over h.264. While the situation appears better it took over a decade for all the patent lawsuits to be cleared up over the ancient MPEG1-Layer III audio codec.
You can only say something like that if you really have no idea what you're talking about and how much expertise and investments are involved creating an advanced codec like H264. I happen to know quite a lot about video codecs having implemented some myself, and you really are oblivious.
What the MPEG-LA does is nothing more than providing a legal safeguard for companies to invest money in the creation of open video standards that are too advanced for any of them to develop themselves. It took MPEG folks (experts from all kinds of fields and companies) that invented the standard about 25 years of work to get to the point where we are now, which is H264. That takes millions if not billions of dollars of investment from commercial parties that benefit from such a standard. Every party involved also benefits if the specification can be open, ie: every aspect of the specification can be published for anyone to see, to allow other companies to implement it properly and base products off of them. It's called standardization.
Nowhere did I deny this point; Mr. Horn aka CEO of MPEG-LA is himself going after others as a non practicing entity of MobileMedia over phone patents.
Now maybe if you use your brain for more than just a few seconds and don't try to view the world as if it were black vs white, good vs evil, patent trolls vs saints, you can see where this is going:
Large investments + new technology + high level of domain-specific expertise + years of development + publicly available specifications + no legal protection = no way of ever recuperating the investment in creating something like an advanced video codec.
Everybody would just take the specifications, implement them, make money off of them, and keep all the profits to themselves as if they did all the hard work.
The fact that Google decided to try to push a ripped-off H264 codec that desperately tries to sidestep all of the patents held by MPEG-LA confirms why stuff like this has to be patentable. You are accusing MPEG-LA of being patent trolls, but Google nicely shows you why MPEG-LA needs to have 1000s of patents on H264 in the first place.
Except for the fact that On2's work predates H.264 and there is a chance that MPEG are liable for infringement. VP8/webm is inferior as a codec, but that is partly because they didn't implement the one main feature that could make it better, b-frames, because they didn't want to step on MPEG's patents.
There are probably many aspects of H.264 that are not software based, but this whole argument that patents are necessary to protect work is a bit ridiculous; copyright grants the necessary protection needed for software. Patents were never meant to protect ideas
, nor math or software, yet the stupid patent office grants them day in and day out. While people argue that software patents are necessary to protect innovation, they forget that the reason why they were excluded in the first place is not because they didn't want to grant that protection, it is because it brings up weird issues. For example, someone can come up with a equation to figure out a desired result, but if I can run that equation right in my head, am I infringing?
Apple's multi touch patents are a good example of this. They didn't invent a multi-touch screen, just a gesture and the whole scrolling routine. The problem with this is the idea is implemented 100% in software, and typically in software you can accomplish tasks only one way. What if I find a different way to implement that idea/feature in software? Am I still infringing?
Apple patenting a sliding switch on a screen is just a software implementation of a hardware switch. Nothing new, nothing novel about it; just a software routine made to work as a switch on software. Yet it was granted a patent. Now those who use android are liable because it uses a connecting dot system to unlock the phone, which is more novel and non obvious that apple's idea by far. Neither deserve nor need patent protection. Each requires their own work and programming to implement, and as long as neither steals source code to do the work, it isn't stealing the mythical "IP".
The funny thing is that people like yourself who think MPEG-LA are 'patent trolls' don't seem to understand what the only alternative is. The alternative would be that every company would develop everything themselves, keep it closed-down, publish no specifications, and sue everyone who reverse-engineered it. We've been there already, when half of the internet and video was only useful on Microsoft-based platforms, video standards were utter crap and nothing properly interoperated with other OS's. Back then you couldn't even view *any* video on Linux based systems because everything used licensed technology like WMV or Indeo video. THAT was stifling innovation, not the fact that commercial entities have to pay a few pennies for using H264.
Right. I'm not the organization who turns a deaf ear to Ziph's request for making sure their codec doesn't infringe on MPEG's.
And btw, you can't sue someone for reverse engineering.
You saying 'MPEG' in 'MPEG-LA' used to mean something again shows you are making statements about things you simply don't understand. MPEG-LA and MPEG are completely unrelated. MPEG (motion picture experts group) is just a collective that develops and designs all the cool technology you are benefiting from every day. MPEG-LA is the club of companies that paid for that work, invested their money so the MPEG folks could do their work, commissioning them to make better video codecs, ie: funding them, in exactly the same way there are private companies investing money in cancer research and new pharmaceuticals.
The compaines that make up MPEG are the same that comprise MPEG-LA; they setup the "LA" part to make it easier to license the patent and make sure that all involved submitted their slice of the pie.
MPEG-LA going out of its way to get people to submit patents for a codec they have no dealings with for the cynical purpose of protecting their revenue stream isn't what it was meant to do in the first place.
They didn't give two shits about VP6, VP8 or even the ancient VP3 until Google made it popular. Waiting for it to become popular then using your patents to stifle competitors is what this is all about.