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Re: Google and MPEG LA Announce Agreement Covering VP8 Video Format

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Fri, 08 Mar 2013 19:05:20 -0800
Cc: Glenn Adams <glenn@skynav.com>, Steve Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, HTMLWG WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-id: <63E0AD6D-B73E-4407-B92D-EFFCC4A73DF9@apple.com>
To: Silvia Pfeiffer <silviapfeiffer1@gmail.com>

Disclaimers:
(1) Chair hat off.
(2) I am not a lawyer.

On Mar 8, 2013, at 2:10 PM, Silvia Pfeiffer <silviapfeiffer1@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Sat, Mar 9, 2013 at 3:56 AM, Glenn Adams <glenn@skynav.com> wrote:
> 
> On Fri, Mar 8, 2013 at 1:19 AM, Steve Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> Does this mean we should revisit the requirement for a  supported video format in HTML?
> 
> http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20130307006192/en/Google-MPEG-LA-Announce-Agreement-Covering-VP8
> 
> IANAL, but I don't think so. (1) this is an agreement with Google, not with W3C or the Web Community; (2) this does not mean other entities will not have to negotiate an independent license with the same IPR holders.
> 
> On the other hand, if Google were to grant a sub-license to the W3C and the Web Community that meets the W3C PP, then that might be sufficient cause to re-open this issue.
> 
> Google has already done that: 
> http://www.webmproject.org/license/bitstream/
> 
> There is more in the FAQ at:
> http://www.webmproject.org/about/faq/#when-will-other-google-products-support-webm-and-vp8
> 
> In the past, this license has been questioned about patents that Google doesn't own. This uncertainty has now been removed.

Google's move may reduce uncertainty, but it certainly does not remove it.

(1) The licensing material you quoted is for Google's own patents, it has not (yet?) been updated to reflect sublicensing of licensed patents. We'll have to wait that this is out until we review it.

(2) This move actually casts doubt on past claims that Google owned all the relevant IP, and therefore their RF license made the codec royalty free. How do we know that this time, Google actually has all the relevant IP?

(3) It's been stated that 11 entities contributed to the MPEG-LA patent pool that Google licensed, but it's not known at this time who they are or what patents specifically they are licensing. It is not clear if that information will ever be publicly disclosed. By contrast the MPEG-LA's H.264/AVC patent pool lists all organizations that are part of the poo and all patents in the pool. Even so, the H.264 pool is known to be incomplete; for example Motorola is not a member of the pool and Google has argued that their grant-back obligation does not apply to Motorola's patents. Without knowing who contributed to the pool or under what terms, it's impossible to assess how much IPR risk has been reduced.

(4) There is active patent litigation against VP8. It appears that some key IP stakeholders may not be part of the pool that Google licensed. See e.g. <http://www.fosspatents.com/2013/03/patent-clouds-remain-over-vp8-google.html>.

Google's move is helpful, but it is far from removing uncertainty about its IPR status in my opinion.


Furthermore, since the first round of HTML baseline codec debates, every major browser has gotten on board with shipping H.264. Given that interop is coming to exist de facto, why do we need to declare a baseline at all?


Regards,
Maciej
Received on Saturday, 9 March 2013 03:05:53 GMT

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