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Re: [homework] summary of the video (and audio) codec discussion

From: Dave Singer <singer@apple.com>
Date: Fri, 9 Nov 2007 11:18:17 -0500
Message-Id: <p06240871c35a373fa0a9@[]>
To: David Dailey <david.dailey@sru.edu>, public-html@w3.org

At 11:06  -0500 9/11/07, David Dailey wrote:
>At 10:24 AM 11/9/2007, Dave Singer wrote:
>>I was asked to write up the discussion on codecs we had.  Here are 
>>my notes.  This probably should be wiki-ed somewhere?
>Thanks Dave for your lucid presentation of the matter. Ultimately 
>some of the "deep pockets" you allude to may be nervous about Ogg 
>because of submarine patents. The issue has come up that it is not 
>feasible to determine that a given technology (albeit ostensibly 
>open-source) is in fact unencumbered by patents.
>What you have written may well imply this, but it certainly would be 
>nice if the December workshop could directly investigate this 
>feasibility, since it seems to have direct bearing on the entire 
>Royalty Free disposition of the W3C. Perhaps in the context of a 
>particular codec or two, an exhaustive patent search would in fact 
>prove to be a finite effort. Inviting the relevant license holders 
>to the table seems like an excellent idea.

Yes.  And though member companies are probably hesitant to do a 
patent analysis, the w3c could consider doing it independently, if it 
wished.  A patent analysis may be time-consuming, and therefore 
costly, though, which suggests both careful scoping and funding would 
need thought.

>Additionally, it may prove worthwhile for the December workshop to 
>re-examine the proposition that inter-operability of the video tag 
>would be substantially harmed through adoption of more than one 
>standard -- for example MPEG-4 for the deeper pockets and Ogg/Theora 
>for the shallower ones.

But if you follow what I think you're saying, I'm not sure it works. 
At the moment, all the mandate is on the browser and all the choice 
with the author.  The browsers must implement one thing, and the 
authors can choose to use that (if they want broad interop) or 
something else (for whatever reason).  We could think about mandating 
that browsers implement at least one of a list of container/codec 
combos, but then the poor author wanting assured playback would have 
to author in *all* of them.

>Third, if the existing patents for cross-frame video compression 
>have effectively "sewed up" the market and left no room for new 
>inventions, then it would seem that the "non-obvious" clause of the 
>patent requirement might effectively void a part of the scope of 
>such patents. If not, then might the December meeting spend a wee 
>bit of its time identifying and claiming some of the fertile ground 
>that remains for the development of extensions / revisions of the 
>nonproprietary formats that would effectively allow us to step 
>around the IP landmines. Most would probably agree that an IP 
>regimen which makes the presence of landmines undetectable is not 
>productive. A letter from the W3C to WIPO acknowledging such might 
>provide some incentive for more enlightened international 
>harmonization of IP.

A few people in the industry have noted that there may well be 
wiggle-room soon when you consider the combination of patents that 
have expired, or will soon, with obvious or un-patented, or novel, 
techniques.  But this too requires some analysis.  Adding patents 
that someone thinks might be capable of invalidation is an 
interesting wrinkle...
David Singer
Received on Friday, 9 November 2007 16:19:51 UTC

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