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The fight for patent-unencumbered codecs is nearly won
By Thom Holwerda on 2018-01-10 23:49:00

Apple joining the Alliance for Open Media is a really big deal. Now all the most powerful tech companies - Google, Microsoft, Apple, Mozilla, Facebook, Amazon, Intel, AMD, ARM, Nvidia - plus content providers like Netflix and Hulu are on board. I guess there's still no guarantee Apple products will support AV1, but it would seem pointless for Apple to join AOM if they're not going to use it: apparently AOM membership obliges Apple to provide a royalty-free license to any "essential patents" it holds for AV1 usage.

It seems that the only thing that can stop AOM and AV1 eclipsing patent-encumbered codecs like HEVC is patent-infringement lawsuits (probably from HEVC-associated entities).

I can barely believe this is still a thing, and that it seems like a positive outcome.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-15
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Comment by FlyingJester
By FlyingJester on 2018-01-11 01:01:49
It's really something to see the companies that were dead-set against actually open codecs last time coming together for it. I have no idea what changed, but I hope it's changed for the better.

It's also really good to know that at least some of the effort that went into Daala wasn't wasted!
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Software Patents
By Alfman on 2018-01-11 01:55:40
Tom Holwerda,

> I can barely believe this is still a thing, and that it seems like a positive outcome.
> Now all the most powerful tech companies - Google, Microsoft, Apple, Mozilla, Facebook, Amazon, Intel, AMD, ARM, Nvidia - plus content providers like Netflix and Hulu are on board.

The legal landscape hasn't changed much. It may be that the patents holding back encumbered codecs are beginning to expire. Or it may be that the entire patent system is extremely costly and unprofitable to most software companies who are in the business of selling rather than litigating. Some companies, like oracle and ibm, who produce income through litigation, but the vast majority of companies just want to sell products unencumbered and recognize that the software patents have been a net loss to the industry. Billions spent with very little ROI (like google paying billions to buy motorola's patents just to be able to defend itself). The patent system has failed to live up to it's intended purposes and most of these companies have been victimized by it at one point or another.


This one's not related to video codecs or anything, but I mention it because it's one of the most absurdly maddening patents I've ever read. I challenge others to post something more ridiculous!

http://www.patentbuddy.com/Paten...
> BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Manufacturers and service providers offer rebates as a financial incentive to increase sales. Rebates offer cash back to consumers who fulfill a set of requirements after purchasing a product bearing a rebate. By requiring post-purchase activities, the rebate offerer attempts to reduce the number of successful rebate claimants. Breakage occurs when a product bearing a rebate is sold, but the rebate is not successfully claimed. Because rebate programs offer the potential for breakage, manufacturers can offer a more valuable rebate compared to a straight reduction in product price. Thus, manufacturers establish procedures to maintain a sufficient rate of breakage and to prevent fraudulent rebate claims.
Consumers, in contrast, desire the quickest and easiest process for receiving their rebates. This creates a tension between the manufacturer's desire to maintain consumer satisfaction and the need to sustain a sufficient level of breakage in rebate programs.


Edited 2018-01-11 01:57 UTC
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empty
By nicubunu on 2018-01-11 08:48:06
This sounds a lot like back when Microsoft joined the Linux Foundation
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Comment by kurkosdr
By kurkosdr on 2018-01-11 21:13:40
Since old patents for old formats will eventually expire sometime in the 2020s, does this mean we are headed towards patent-unencumbered video encoding and decoding for old and new formats? A man can hope.

I guess the reason Microsoft and Apple decided to join is the success Google had with the VP formats, which are used extensively in YouTube videos and decoders for which are found in any new GPU, as well as Google's refusal to use HEVC in YouTube.

Much like in the case of Linux Foundation, they are seeing the industry backing behind it and want to be in it.

Edited 2018-01-11 21:14 UTC
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Becomes real when...
By cjcox on 2018-01-12 00:51:35
Becomes real when there is a Roku that handles the codec. :)
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Comment by Flatland_Spider
By Flatland_Spider on 2018-01-12 13:56:01
> It seems that the only thing that can stop AOM and AV1 eclipsing patent-encumbered codecs like HEVC is patent-infringement lawsuits (probably from HEVC-associated entities).

And consumer apathy about open standards. It's not like they're paying the licensing fees for all of the patent encumbered stuff.

Tech history is littered with stuff that was better but never adopted by the masses.
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RE: Software Patents
By Lennie on 2018-01-12 17:10:27
> I can barely believe this is still a thing, and that it seems like a positive outcome.

From what we know of Apple 'joining' IETF standards body they would have someone sit in but that doesn't mean they will actually implement it.

> The patent system has failed to live up to it's intended purposes and most of these companies have been victimized by it at one point or another.

Well, the current situation clearly is wrong: because of wrong policies (or not adhering to them) aka: to long and to broad.
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RE: Comment by Flatland_Spider
By kurkosdr on 2018-01-12 21:18:50
> And consumer apathy about open standards. It's not like they're paying the licensing fees for all of the patent encumbered stuff.

Content is served to most consumers in pre-encoded and potentially DRMed form over the internet, so most of the time consumers have no choice in the matter even if they happen to care. If your device doesn't have the decoder for a format (be it VP9 or HEVC) all you can do is stream the H.264 version of the content, possibly at lower resolution or lower quality.

Much of the reason behind the success of VP9 is that Google chose VP9 exclusively over HEVC as their post-H.264 format (which was a good decision IMO) so any manufacturer that wants their device to be able to play those higher quality streams from YouTube has to have a decoder for VP9.

Edited 2018-01-12 21:32 UTC
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ATSC 3.0 just released
By phoenix on 2018-01-12 21:48:30
ATSC 3.0, the new digital "broadcasting" standard for North America, was just released, mandating the use of HEVC. So the "encumbered" codec won't be going anywhere anytime soon.

https://www.anandtech.com/show/12...
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RE: ATSC 3.0 just released
By FlyingJester on 2018-01-12 23:40:16
How important is broadcast to all of this anyway? If you're receiving broadcast TV, you're already buying into the cable company oligarchy. The cable companies are about as dead set against an open and accessible Internet as imaginable.
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