[whatwg] Removal of Ogg is *preposterous*

Manuel Amador (Rudd-O) rudd-o at rudd-o.com
Tue Dec 11 10:09:34 PST 2007

Afternoon, Ian, gents:

> > is a preposterous and gross mischaracterization of fact (dare I say
> > lie).  At the very least, it's FUD.
> It is intended to be exactly truthful, actually. I apologise if you
> believe this to be fear mongering.

Well, the intentions certainly didn't match the actions.

> > - The Xiph developers were extremely zealous and almost fiduciarily
> > diligent in researching all possible patent threats to Vorbis
> > technology, and for more than a year they found none -- they even did
> > the research *before* beginning to code, explicitly to avoid submarine
> > patents.
> While this is very true, and admirable, and impressive, it is sadly not a
> guarantee. Certain companies (Nokia and Apple among them) have reported
> that they still fear that undisclosed patents may exist that cover the
> relevant codecs,

I fear that an earthquake will make my building tumble and fall over.  That 
doesn't mean I'm gonna move to the open street.

In other words, here we go.  FEAR.

> as they might exist for other formats like MPEG4/H.264. 


> The difference is that while Apple (for example) have already assumed the
> risk of submarine patents with H.264, they currently have taken no risks
> with respect to the aforementioned codecs, and they do not wish to take on
> that risk. Given the extremely large sums of money that are awarded for
> patent violations (cf. Microsoft's recent settlements), it is
> understandable that companies with the high profile of Apple and Nokia
> would not wish to take on such risks.


To borrow a phrase from (I was gonna say Gregory House, but let's not --) the 
staff of House M.D. writers at FOX:
See what I did there?

It's all unsubstantiated terror-mongering.  How curious that the very same 
companies who are rallying against free multimedia and throwing hissy fits 
because of the "patent monster" are the ones most deeply supportive of 
software patents.  They have huge patent portfolios to wage a war against any 
patent troll, so why are they trolling now?

The answer is below.

> MP3 is and old codec as well, yet the threat of submarine patents covering
> MP3 surfaced recently, much to Microsoft's chagrin. Unless the codecs are
> older than the patent lifetime, there is unfortunately no guarentee.

Of course there is no guarantee.  There is *never* any guarantee.

> Patent trolling companies are patient and will wait for bigger targets, as
> has been seen time and time again. (As an example of this, the Eolas
> patent case is still fresh on everyone's minds, I'm sure.)

Wow, sounds like something's wrong with software patents around the world.  
Watch out, someone may be holding a submarine patent on encoding hypertext.

Fact: Vorbis is the *only* codec whose patent status has been widely 
researched, nearly to exhaustion.  Repeating the same FUD over and over again 
(which you just did) may lead the world to believe this to be false, but it's 
TRUE.  You should at least have talked to Monty @ Xiph before jumping to rash 
> As much as I am personally a supported of the free software development
> model, I cannot let that control the spec's development. I agree, however,
> that any codec selected absolutely must be compatible with free software
> licenses, as is clear in the paragraph that you so rashly called FUD.

That's not commendable, that's just being a decent person, which is to be 
expected.  Why would you want to revive the W3C RAND monster at this 

> Ogg is not necessarily the only solution that avoids patent encumbrence.
> There are codecs that have been in existence for longer than the patent
> lifetime, for instance. Dave Singer posted a quite thorough analysis of
> this issue recently.

Yes, but Vorbis is the only one offering competitive performance, which you 
explicitly laid out as a requirement (and, frankly, I coulnd't agree more 
with you).

> Apple, Nokia, Microsoft and other large companies have stated that they
> will not support Theora purely based on the requirement in the spec.
> Having or not having this requirement in the spec thus makes no difference
> to independent authors.

Yes it does.  And don't use the word "requirement" because it's misleading.  
The earlier draft said SHOULD, not MUST.

> In the meantime, having this requirement is

Not a requirement

> causing difficulties for those of us actually trying to find a true
> solution to the problem.

Let me rephrase your statement to be worded in a more *honest* way.  Vorbis 
provides the perfect escape for proprietary audio prisons.  Apple and Nokia 
are having problems with consumers and authors actually waking up and using 
free, non-patent-encumbered, widely available, unrestricted, non-proprietary 
technology.  Since Vorbis directly threatens their ability to sell traps, 
they are extorting your compliance with threats of not supporting the HTML5 

If your friends only "help" you after they've blackmailed you, I suggest you 
look for new friends.

> I assure you that your needs are not being 
> forgotten. Indeed, the very first requirement now listed in the spec is
> directly related to catering for independent authors.
> I hope this explains the reason behind the recent change and that you see
> why the change was necessary and is not a step backwards. I assure you
> that efforts are being made to address this properly.

It doesn't.  The effort that would most effectively address these issues would 
be a "patch -r" on the related spec revision, combined with a polite 
mail: "no, Nokia, no, Apple, we're very sorry but you are wrong and we're not 
going to let you break the spec's legs before it's even born".

Ian, *revert*.

	Manuel Amador (Rudd-O) <rudd-o at rudd-o.com>
	Rudd-O.com - http://rudd-o.com/
	GPG key ID 0xC8D28B92 at http://wwwkeys.pgp.net/

Beware of a dark-haired man with a loud tie.
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