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Google Patents Technology

ITU Approves H.264 Video Standard Successor H.265 182

Posted by timothy
from the looks-so-much-like-his-brother dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The H.265 codec standard, the successor of H.264, has been approved, promising support for 8k UHD and lower bandwidth, but the patent issues plaguing H.264 remain." Here's the announcement from the ITU. From the article: "Patents remain an important issue as it was with H.264, Google proposing WebM, a new codec standard based on VP8, back in 2010, one that would be royalties free. They also included it in Chrome, with the intent to replace H.264, but this attempt never materialized. Mozilla and Opera also included WebM in their browsers with the same purpose, but they never discarded H.264 because most of the video out there is coded with it. MPEG LA, the owner of a patent pool covering H.264, promised that H.264 internet videos delivered for free will be forever royalty free, but who knows what will happen with H.265? Will they request royalties for free content or not? It remains to be seen. In the meantime, H.264 remains the only codec with wide adoption, and H.265 will probably follow on its steps."
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ITU Approves H.264 Video Standard Successor H.265

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  • by loufoque (1400831) on Saturday January 26, 2013 @10:54AM (#42700393)

    Good thing software patents don't exist in most of the civilized world then.

  • by stenvar (2789879) on Saturday January 26, 2013 @11:15AM (#42700487)

    They also included it in Chrome, with the intent to replace H.264, but this attempt never materialized.

    Apart from the awful English, WebM has been quite successful, too: a lot of software packages use WebM because they don't need to license H.264, and not just open source software.

    Video standards aren't replaced overnight, and in fact, in a lot of places can't be replaced at all. The best way of dealing with these kinds of compatibility issues is to offer an alternative when people need to upgrade and change hardware/software anyway. So, let's hope that WebM can compete with H.265, because then we have a real chance of largely getting rid of proprietary video standards.

  • by Nimey (114278) on Saturday January 26, 2013 @11:30AM (#42700561) Homepage Journal

    The answer is some variant of "follow the money", I'm sure, but why doesn't the standards body in question require that the standard be truly open?

  • Re:So who won? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 26, 2013 @11:31AM (#42700563)

    "Company does a bunch of research work, and then says "hey, you can use the research work we did if you pay us"."

    Translation

    "Somebody does some research then a company patents it and every little incremental change every few years to keep old patents alive and to stop anyone else trying to enter the market" ...

    "It's almost like the people there are normal human beings who want to live and eat!"

    Sorry, I couldn't translate that with a straight face. Its even more laughable and insulting than when the RIAA says it.

  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Saturday January 26, 2013 @12:10PM (#42700737)

    So, let's hope that WebM can compete with H.265, because then we have a real chance of largely getting rid of proprietary video standards.

    WebM could barely compete with H.264, so how the hell is it going to compete with H.265 which is going to offer the same quality at H.264 but only use about half the bitrate?

    If Google could have improved WebM this much, they would have.

  • Re:So who won? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by serviscope_minor (664417) on Saturday January 26, 2013 @12:51PM (#42700945) Journal

    Yeah, it's funny. Almost like there's more than one commenter.

  • by peppepz (1311345) on Saturday January 26, 2013 @12:54PM (#42700961)
    You don't choose to "use" standards. You are forced to implement them either by government regulation or interoperability needs. See what happens with the FAT file system: it's the result of an insignificant research effort, it is itself extremely poor technology, yet every device manufacturer is currently forced to implement it, and therefore needs to pay money to Microsoft.

    This adds a sunk cost to the barriers to entry into the device market, in favour of the established market dominators (which is what patents are all about), and to the detriment of free market, consumers and technological progress.

  • by maxwell demon (590494) on Saturday January 26, 2013 @01:05PM (#42701015) Journal

    The point is that there is not much choice if it is part of an interoperability standard. You simply cannot view a H.264 video on the web with a browser that only supports WebM, just as you'll have no luck to watch NTSC broadcasts with a PAL-only TV. Of course you are free to try to sell that PAL-only TV in the US, but you won't succeed, not because it is bad (the same TV may sell like crazy in Europe), but because it doesn't work with US broadcasts.

    You only have a choice if there are two options that both work.

  • Re:Mp3 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LordKronos (470910) on Saturday January 26, 2013 @01:19PM (#42701089) Homepage

    Once a standard becomes good enough, people will hang on to it for a long long time. Why bother re-encoding a complete music library from mp3 even if vorbis/aac is clearly the superior codec? Apple has enough difficulties pushing aac through, and not many hardware producers are including vorbis support. I guess the same could be said for windows xp and desktop hardware.

    MP3-files are small enough to be streamable perfectly well even on really slow connections, but video files ain't small. A 2-hour, 1080p video file with any kind of a remotely-acceptable quality will weigh in at 4GB+, and well, it sure ain't streamable over very slow connections. Not to mention the fact that bandwidth costs money. Ergo, any developments that result in higher quality at the same size or similar quality at a smaller size are certainly welcome, both for consumers and for content-producers.

    As a thought-experiment, let's assume that this or that TV-series I was watching on Netflix weighed in at 1.5GB for a 1h episode, and I watched 15 episodes in a month. That'd be 22.5GB of data. Now, if the move to a new codec reduced filesizes by 5% we'd end up with ~21.4GB of data -- that's already one gigabyte in savings. Now, multiply this with e.g. 200 000 users, what do you see?

    Apparently you don't remember it, but at one time, MP3 files weren't small either. I remember it taking about an hour to download a good quality MP3. And there was streaming, too. Things like Real Player provided lower quality, higher compressed versions that were more suitable for streaming. Then do you know what happened next? Did Real Player and stuff like it win out? Nope. I'll give you a hint...the MP3 files didn't get any smaller.

    Connections got faster, and bandwidth got cheaper. Much like those days for MP3, today good quality h264 files are a bit cumbersome, but I can easily download them in an hour or 2 with a typical (not even high end) consumer level internet connection. And today there are ways to get lower quality, more highly compressed version that can stream a fairly good quality HD video in real time. Give it another 5 years and the problem will easily solve itself without replacing every single piece of hardware and re-encoding every existing file.

  • by AdamHaun (43173) on Saturday January 26, 2013 @02:33PM (#42701729) Journal

    There are already lossless video codecs out there. Lagarith is a recent and popular one. The problem is that they only cut maybe 2/3 off your raw file size. Ten seconds of raw 1080p video is over a gigabyte. There's just too much information there -- you have to throw some away to get reasonable compression ratios. Waiting for lossless video to be as small as H.264 is like waiting for a 200MB download for a DVD-sized Linux ISO. Sadly, it's just not going to happen.

  • Moronic Article (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 26, 2013 @02:51PM (#42701927)

    The 'H' video encoding standards have NOTHING to do with free-to-use codecs. They are a COMMERCIAL industrial standard, designed to be reasonable and safe to license, because of the patent pool.

    Complaining that H265 will include some royalty mechanisms is like complaining that the sky is blue! Even the document that will detail the final H265 standard will NOT be free, just as today you have to pay to get a copy of the H264 standard.

    The open-source movement is not the same as demanding "death to capitalism" or the end of profit, as some very stupid people here seem to think. The 'H' standards have nothing to do with open-source. However, because the 'H' standards are not industrial secrets, open-source developers can and will develop open-source encoders and decoders.

    Talk of WebM is pure garbage, since the key developers of x264 looked at the source Google released, and discovered that VP8 had illegally ripped off the H264 standard (badly), taking advantage of the fact that VP8 was originally closed-source. In other words, Google was conned (actually, this isn't true- Google knew full well that VP8 infringed hundreds of patents, but simply wanted to transfer millions to the owners of the company).

    If people want to be activists over the royalty situation, it should be with this goal. Encoders, and encoded video (including streamed) should be royalty free. Only the decoders (hardware or software) should pay a royalty. This way, once you own your tablet, laptop, phone, or Windows, you have already paid for the licence to decode H265, allowing all apps to use this format freely.

    The advantage of H265 (and H264) to end users is clear. Tiny, extremely energy efficient, hardware circuits can handle the video decoding, providing first quality video services on devices of all kinds. The standards allow software teams (like those behind x264) to produce insanely efficient, ultra-high-quality encoding solutions, and also allow work to progress on very fast (although low quality or very high bandwidth) hardware encoders.

    H265 promises (if the encoding efficiency shown by x264 is possible for H265) 4K films on existing Bluray technology- which is essential since the collapsing market for disks means that it is most unlikely a new disk standard will ever replace Bluray.

    To conclude. Standards are good, and some standards will involve royalties.

  • Re:So who won? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Goaway (82658) on Saturday January 26, 2013 @06:43PM (#42703729) Homepage

    Google is already working on VP9, so they aren't giving up quite yet. Whether they'll manage to be competitive is another matter, but at least they're trying.

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