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

From: Silvia Pfeiffer <silviapfeiffer1@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, 9 Mar 2013 19:24:20 +1100
Message-ID: <CAHp8n2ktxDgKU+iBxrZvenYj4iGgbXB-RBTm-WrBPTEAw5aqcQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Cc: Glenn Adams <glenn@skynav.com>, Steve Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, HTMLWG WG <public-html@w3.org>
On Sat, Mar 9, 2013 at 2:05 PM, Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com> wrote:

>
> 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.
>

Fair enough. There is more information in the email to the rtcweb list at
http://www.ietf.org/mail-archive/web/rtcweb/current/msg06631.html . It
states that "Google intends to license the techniques under terms that are
in line with the W3Cís definition of a Royalty Free License."  So I expect
this to happen.


(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?
>

I believe this move does the opposite. Google states in the above cited
email that "This agreement is not an acknowledgment that the licensed
techniques read on VP8. The purpose of this agreement is meant to provide
further and stronger reassurance to implementors of VP8."
So, their move has been to reduce FUD, not to agree that the MPEG-LA patent
pool had any relevant IP. In contrast to your reading, I would actually say
that the patent pool holders didn't see enough value in pursuing their
claims and instead took whatever Google offered, which to make casts more
doubt on the value of their IP rather than on Google's claims.

As for whether to know if Google has all the relevant IP - that is not a
question that you will ever get answered. The risk is reduced and it's
reduced to the same level that H.264 has, if not less.


(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.
>

Sure, there is much to analyse by the lawyers. I'm sure we haven't heard
the end of this yet. But it's worth taking another stab at getting a
baseline codec with news like this.


(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
> >.
>

It will indeed be interesting to see if Nokia is one of the 11 MPEG-LA
patent pool entities. This patent trial is, however, not about VP8, but
about Android and VP8 is just a pawn being entered into the picture. We
will see how that holds up.



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


Google promised more details  so hopefully that will help your concerns.


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?
>

Opera doesn't support H.264. Firefox desktop doesn't support H.264 and only
reluctantly came on board to hand through HW support on mobile, but not
using SW. So, we still don't have a baseline codec that meets the W3C RF
requirements.

Regards,
Silvia.
Received on Saturday, 9 March 2013 08:25:13 GMT

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