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Re: Ogg Vorbis typos in http://www.w3.org/TR/SVG12/#smil2-audio (and elsewhere) (fwd)

From: Jack Moffitt <jack@xiph.org>
Date: Thu, 8 May 2003 23:07:52 -0600
To: Nathan Sharfi <comatoast@motherfish-II.xiph.org>
Cc: www-svg@w3.org
Message-ID: <20030509050752.GY8922@i.cantcode.com>

> > Ogg Vorbis (nowhere do we refer to Vorbis-compressed audio in an Ogg
> > container as "Ogg/Vorbis) files have the mimetype application/ogg, not
> > audio/vorbis. If the file is known to have only Vorbis data in it, then
> > the file can be served up with audio/x-vorbis.
> Thanks for the correction.

Generally one would only use audio/x-vorbis (and this will eventually be
audio/vorbis) for vorbis over RTP, since there is no use for Ogg in that

> > As for patent encumbrance, Ogg Vorbis has gone through two patent
> > searches--one in 2000 for CMGI (now dead or almost-dead dot-com), and
> > another one by AOL to see if it was "safe" to include with Winamp. It is.

I'll clarify here.

Monty always had patent-free in mind, and was very careful to choose
algorithms and technology that were known to be clear.  iCast was
worried anyway, so we hired a lawyer from Hale & Dorr (sp?) to
specifically investigate the Thompson/Fraunhofer set of patents, which
were the only ones that anyone knew about that might be troublesome.
The lawyer wrote a formal opinion in our favor, and CMGI probably still
has this on record somewhere. 

AOL lawyers contacted us some time ago, claiming to be doing something
similar.  I have no knowledge if an opinion was written, or anything
other than the two facts: 1) AOL lawyers were digging around in this
area 2) soon after Winamp started shipping Ogg.  Several conclusions can
be drawn.

> To be clear, are you saying that AOL believes
> that there are no patents held by any company infringed by Ogg
> Vorbis, ie. it would be safe for anyone to include Ogg Vorbis
> (encoding + decoding) in any application? The reason I'm asking
> is that AOL is a mega-huge company that probably has a large
> number of cross-licensing arrangements with other mega-huge companies,
> meaning that it may be OK for AOL to infringe with Ogg Vorbis, but
> doesn't mean other organisations can.

We have no way to know this, unfortunately.

> Would AOL be willing to make the results of their patent
> search public? 

I sincerely doubt it, and neither would we, or CMGI, beyond the very
basic information.  The reason is somewhat obvious...  why let the
potential litigators know what our defense is?  Monty and I both wanted
to make the information public, but it just wasn't reasonable.

> Including any examinations of patents that
> claim on technology used by Ogg Vorbis (I'm sure there
> are plenty of these)?

Everytime someone has mentioned one to us, it has been something that
wasn't an issue.  Patent abstracts read like the book of armageddon, you
have to dig and know what to look for.  We're happy to give you our
non-lawyerish, technical opinions of course.

> > Speex (http://www.speex.org/) and FLAC (http://flac.sourceforge.net/) are
> > both believed to be patent-free, but they haven't had the patent-search
> > verification that Vorbis has had. If the W3C or any of its member
> > companies want to put up the money to hire counsel versed in these
> > matters, feel free to contact us.
> W3C definitely doesn't have the money to hire counsel for this. W3C
> members may have an interest in doing this, but I'm not sure how to
> ask them. And as far as my non-legal training goes, the result would
> just be a list of potential patents that *may be* infringed, and possibly
> a recommendation on how defensible each patent is. What you
> need is the list of patents that *are* infringed and are defensible, but
> that really takes a court to decide, not legal counsel.

We haven't found any patents we infringe yet, and most people seemed
satisfied with our patent status over a year ago.

There are a number of large companies using Ogg Vorbis now, including
AOL, several large game companies (EA, etc), and some embedded device
companies.  I think this is as safe as anyone can ask for.

One thing to note is that Speex at least got the same kind of
patent-free intent during development that Vorbis did.  We haven't
sought an opinion formally (and this may not even be necessary), but it
was a design goal.  A few game comapnies are starting to use it now.  

Theora had much IPR work done by On2 themselves.  The patents they held
were licensed freely to the community at large for commercial and
non-commercial use.

Flac I know next to nothing about, as it is one of the newest arrivals
at Xiph.  I will probably have more information on the its legal status
as time goes one, but I suspect there are no surprises lurking there

I'm sorry that I'm not able to give a clear black and white answer on
this issue, but one is certainly not possible.  After all, aren't
hyperlinks patented? :)  We do the best we can.

Received on Friday, 9 May 2003 01:15:47 UTC

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