W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > July 2009

Re: Codecs for <video> and <audio>

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Thu, 02 Jul 2009 15:14:47 -0700
Cc: Joe D Williams <joedwil@earthlink.net>, robert@ocallahan.org, Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, David Singer <singer@apple.com>, public-html@w3.org
Message-id: <8383FA89-4852-44F1-891C-6545F6D979F6@apple.com>
To: Doug Schepers <schepers@w3.org>

On Jul 2, 2009, at 2:50 PM, Doug Schepers wrote:

>
>
> As I understand it, Apple and Nokia are among the chief patent  
> holders for H.264.  I'm sure it's naive of me, but can't Apple  
> approach MPEG-LA to reexamine the costs and benefits of having the H. 
> 264 decoder available under a Royalty Free license for both desktop  
> and mobile implementations of HTML5 (and SVG)?  Ideally, this would  
> also apply to the encoder for authoring tools, but I know that might  
> be a harder sell.  Perhaps smaller patent holders could be persuaded  
> that it's in their financial interest to sell their IP rights, and  
> the cost could be absorbed by the browser vendors and/or a  
> grassroots funding campaign? (I know I'd donate!)

My understanding (not very well-informed) is that the idea of a  
royalty-free baseline profile for H.264 has been floated within the  
MPEG-LA, and not all patent holders agreed. I wouldn't expect either  
Apple or Nokia to be among the holdouts, but I don't know anything  
about the details of these discussions. I have heard that at least  
some of the holdouts have patents that expire sooner than others in  
the pool.

> Failing that, can't Apple take another look at implementing Ogg  
> Theora, or do a thorough patent review in combination with other  
> implementers? I find it hard to believe that this is out of the  
> range of resources for a combination of Apple, Mozilla, Google,  
> Opera, and possibly Microsoft.

Doing an exhaustive patent search is extremely dangerous and most  
large companies won't do it. The reason is that if it can be proven a  
company knew about a patent, then it can face treble damages for  
willful infringement. Thus, discovering patents on technologies that  
the company already uses could pose a significant increase in liability.

So far, I'm not aware of anyone doing a patent search on Theora, at  
least not one where the results have been shared with the public.

Note also that besides patent risk, there are issues of coding  
efficiency, availability of hardware implementations, and hardware in  
already shipping devices.

Regards,
Maciej
Received on Thursday, 2 July 2009 22:15:29 UTC

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