RE: MP4 Player Available for Download


you may be right about the licensing of MPEG-4 in general;  but I 
believe I have told this group already the best of my knowledge on 
the licensing of the file format, so I am a little disappointed that 
you should end up on that particular subject.

At 12:25 PM -0800 3/30/01, Rob Lanphier wrote:
>I've hesitated from joining this conversation because it was pointed 
>out that it's "off-topic".  Since everyone has been dying to get the 
>last word in on this thread, and since I do think this is an 
>important discussion to have, I'm requesting that we move it to the 
>Apps area discussion list rather than end the thread altogether 
>(hence the addition of "" to the cc 
>line...please send followups to this alias instead of rem-conf).
>For those in the apps area, a brief introduction.  Someone posted a 
>note to rem-conf (the IETF AVT working group mail alias) on the 
>topic of two players that support the ".mp4" file extension which 
>don't interoperate.  The discussion turned toward the issue of 
>whether or not genuine interoperability is possible, due to patent 
>licensing restrictions, to which several people made statements to 
>the effect of "oh, that's just a red herring".
>Well, I disagree.  MPEG-4 licensing is still very murky.  Here's the 
>statement in the M4IF FAQ (see
>     Based on the information that M4IF has received, the situation
>     is as follows:
>     MPEG-4 Systems: A call for essential patents was issued at the
>     beginning of September. Licensing is expected to start in
>     Spring 2001, and should encompass all of MPEG-4 version 1 and
>     version 2 technology
>     MPEG-4 Visual: portfolios are under development for the Simple
>     and Core Visual Profiles. Patents are currently being evaluated,
>     and a meeting will be called in October. It is expected that
>     licensing will begin in the beginning of 2001.
>     MPEG-4 Audio: A Call for essential patents is expected by the
>     end of October. Licensing should start in 2001.  Details are
>     still being worked out.
>In other words, there's still a bunch of people talking in smoke 
>filled rooms about what the licensing terms are.  Fine....just don't 
>push this as a standard that's ready for prime time.
>Having seen the hue and cry in IETF plenary meetings when *one* 
>company holds an essential patent, I shudder to think how a 
>discussion of MPEG-4 licensing would play out if done in the IETF, 
>where my understanding is that there are dozens of rights holders 
>involved in the essential technology.  Perhaps that's why it's never 
>been brought up.....   :)
>So, I'm at a loss.  The MPEG4 group hasn't been very vigilant in 
>ensuring that the technology that they are standardizing is 
>practical to implement, from a technology perspective or from a 
>business perspective. On the technology front, the specification is 
>a sprawling set of documents from which only a small portion is 
>useful for the nuts-and-bolts of interoperability, and even then 
>it's not complete and is still a work-in-progress. On the business 
>side, there are dozens of companies claiming to own intellectual 
>property associated with essential technology in the specification, 
>and the group responsible for working out a licensing pool (the 
>MPEG-4 Industry Forum, M4IF) is long overdue in its attempts to work 
>out the first of many pieces necessary for a complete end-to-end
>Would it be useful for the IETF to engage in standardization of 
>audio/video file formats?  If not the IETF, then who?
>At 09:12 AM 3/27/01 +0200, Olivier Avaro wrote:
>>Hi all,
>>For clarification on some questions raised by the original mail from Hari.
>>1- mp4 is the file format of MPEG-4. If you comply to the mp4 spec., you can
>>parse any mp4 stream. The ability to play the stream is another dimension
>>covered by the signaling of the audio, video, graphics and scene description
>>profiles contained in the file.
>>2- Because it would be nice when opening an mp4 file to know what bundles of
>>codecs you need, the mp4 file format contains specific tags to signal this.
>>As decided in the last MPEG meeting, these tags will be in part managed by a
>>registration authority outside MPEG. Industry fora, like ISMA, 3GPP, ... can
>>therefore defined the specific flavor of the MP4 file and signal it in a
>>clean way.
>>3- It's great to see the MPEG-4 wave happening now, with new MPEG-4 products
>>released regularly (and not only audio and video !).Still, I am also
>>concerned about the confusion created when people do not announce to what
>>part of MPEG-4 they comply. It would be interesting to have this information
>>from the technology provider, otherwise the products are pretty useless, and
>>even more, they do not serve neither themselves nor the standard.
>>4- I join Philippe regarding patents issues. I am also surprised by the kind
>>of naive questions raised and therefore am inclined to doubt their true
>>naivity. Quoting Leonardo : "Of course getting things for free is nice, but
>>wise buyers know that a "free" price tag on something that is known to be
>>valuable means that the cost of that particular "free" item is just folded
>>into another cost item. The particular cost item that remunerates those who
>>have developed Intellectual Property applies to the MPEG standard solution
>>as much as to a proprietary solution. The fact that there is no explicit
>>price tag for the Intellectual Property of proprietary solutions does not
>>mean there there is no cost associated with it, it just means that it is
>>hidden. And this is not necessarily a good feature for a wise buyer.". I
>>would add to this that before considering developing another solution,
>>possibly free of IP, maybe wise buyers should consider the cost of doing so,
>>including the extra cost of navigating between the existing patents.
>>Kind regards,
>>>  > >> Flavor Software is proud to release the first commercial
>>>  > MPEG-4 player
>>>  > >> and authoring software. The Mild Flavor(tm) player and
>>>  > sample MP4 files
>>>  > >> featuring New York City indi bands "The Pasties", "Brave
>>>  > New Girl", and
>>>  > >> "The Rosenbergs" are available for download from the
>>>  > Flavor Software web
>>>  > >> site.
>>>  > >>
>>>  > >> Go to and click on downloads.
>>>  > >>
>>>  > >> Spread the joy... tell your friends to go to the Flavor
>>>  > web site and get
>>>  > >> into MP4! Even better... create your own MP4 files and
>>>  > send them to your
>>>  > >> friends!  -- The Flavor Team

David Singer
Apple Computer/QuickTime

Received on Friday, 30 March 2001 21:34:30 UTC