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Google and MPEG LA Reach VP8 Patent Agreement 112

Posted by timothy
from the you-drive-a-hard-bargain dept.
First time accepted submitter Curupira writes "The official WebM blog announced that MPEG LA has licensed all VP8 essential patents to Google Inc., allowing the company to sublicense the described techniques it to any VP8 user on a royalty-free basis." TechCrunch offers a bit more analysis.
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Google and MPEG LA Reach VP8 Patent Agreement

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  • by Qwavel (733416) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:54PM (#43110589)

    TFA indicates that MS was only holding back on WebRTC (which uses VP8) because of patent concerns, so they may now move forward on it.

    That seems to defy history. MS drags its feet and tries to undercut every new web tech it can. That's just MS - their strength is the desktop and they see the web and the Internet in general as a threat.

    I can well believe that MS said that patents were the reason, but making random excuses for why they won't support a web tech - and then creating new ones as necessary - is just how MS operates when it comes to the web and open standards.

  • Re:Woo hoo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @07:17PM (#43110805) Journal

    Yes, so in reality, this is actually still counted against freedom. This is fundamentally no different than allowing someone to patent Pi, and then someone and paying for a license so all their customers don't have to pay to calculate the properties of circles.

  • Re:VP8 is terrible (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aztracker1 (702135) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @07:37PM (#43110957) Homepage
    Simple: Using x264 doesn't protect, limit you from patent litigation. If you now deliver VP8 content over the internet, or support it in your browser, you aren't going to get sued into the ground by MPEG-LA. Google licensed it for royalty-free use by others.
  • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @07:40PM (#43110991) Journal

    Google did a good thing here...

    By kicking the can further down the road? I don't think so. It only delays resolution of the matter, and in no way deters the need to abolish patents and copyright.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 07, 2013 @07:46PM (#43111035)
    Google proposed a patent-encumbered standard and lied about it. MS made the correct call. You interpret that as MS dragging it's feet. Well done.
  • by tlhIngan (30335) <(ten.frow) (ta) (todhsals)> on Thursday March 07, 2013 @07:48PM (#43111077)

    These days, if a big patent holder in a related field (e.g. MPEG-LA) says they are going to gather all their patents and attack you, then they can do serious damage regardless of what any experts might say about actual infringement.

    A company deciding to license patents that it believes it hasn't infringed it pretty common-place unfortunately.

    MPEG-LA isn't a patent holder. They are a licensing authority

    What happens is all the patent holders of various standards like h.264 got together, negotiated a fee schedule and split up the payments such that if you wanted to license everything related to h.264, you basically paid a fee per device or implementation. That licensed you all the patents you need (they're FRAND).

    It's a little better than what we have in 3GPP which results in having to license patents from individual patent holders - if you need to negotiate with 10 or 20 or 50 of them, your legal feels rise substantially versus just go and paying the fixed fee.

    All Google did here was negotiate with all the patent holders together through the MPEG-LA. So now as long as you paid the fee, (or in this case, it's royalty free), no patent holder in the pool can go after you for that implementation (if you didn't pay for h.264, you can be sued for that, even if the patent was granted for VP8 - it's only valid for VP8 and not for technologies related).

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @08:25PM (#43111433)

    Google lies about patent coverage for VP8 (which places people who buy into it at serious risk), admits to their lies by finally licensing patents

    Executing a blanket license to any and all patents that members of the MPEG LA may or may not hold that turn out to be essential to implementing either VP8 or VP9 (which isn't even specified yet, so that's pretty much a blank check from MPEG LA) is not admitting that VP8 is patent-encumbered. Its just an indication that the value to Google of eliminating, for potential users, the uncertainty raised by MPEG LA over VP8's status, plus the value to Google of assuring that MPEG LA can't do the same thing with VP9, is greater than the cost of paying off MPEG LA.

  • Re:VP8 is terrible (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kalriath (849904) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @09:46PM (#43112121)

    No, it means "not charged per use". You can be charged an upfront fee for a royalty-free license.

  • My perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xiphmont (80732) * on Friday March 08, 2013 @01:48AM (#43113285) Homepage

    I'll add my own thoughts here, also posted at http://xiphmont.livejournal.com/59893.html [livejournal.com]

    "After a decade of the MPEG LA saying they were coming to destroy the FOSS codec movement, with none other than the late Steve Jobs himself chiming in, today the Licensing Authority announced what we already knew.

    They got nothing. There will be no Theora patent pool. There will be no VP8 patent pool. There will be no VPnext patent pool.

    We knew that of course, we always did. It's just that I never, in a million years, expected them to put it in writing and walk away. The wording suggests Google paid some money to grease this along, and the agreement wording is interesting [and instructive] but make no mistake: Google won. Full stop.

    This is not an unconditional win for FOSS, of course, the LA narrowed the scope of the agreement as much as they could in return for agreeing to stop being a pissy, anti-competetive brat. But this is still huge. We can work with this.

    For at least the immediate future, I shall have to think some uncharacteristically nice things about the MPEG LA.*

    *Apologies to Rep. Barney Frank"

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