[whatwg] several messages regarding Ogg in HTML5

Maciej Stachowiak mjs at apple.com
Wed Dec 12 02:03:43 PST 2007

On Dec 12, 2007, at 1:30 AM, Jeff McAdams wrote:

> We do have the choice of saying that Ogg is the way forward, and  
> that if
> Apple, Nokia, et al don't want to implement it, then they can choose  
> to
> not be conformant to the new standard.
> In my mind, this outcome is *far* superior to using a patent  
> encumbered
> codec, even if the patent holders grant a royalty free license on it
> since the Ogg family have had so much research done on them that the
> chances of submarine patents should be at least greatly reduced, if  
> not
> eliminated.

This makes it sound like you are just advocating Ogg, rather than  
advocating royalty-free as a requirement for a baseline codec. That  
doesn't seem like a principled position in favor of open source and  
open content, it just seems like Ogg fandom.

In particular:

1) Theora is a patented encumbered (with a royalty-free patent  
disclaimer), so that's not a basis to contrast it to other codecs that  
may have royalty-free patent availability.

2) I'm not aware of significant patent research having been done on  
Theora, unlike the case with Vorbis. If anyone knows otherwise, please  
cite a reference.

3) Pre-existing widespread use by large companies in practice  
mitigates submarine patent risk more than research. So actually a  
royalty-free license to a widely used codec would be better from a  
patent risk point of view.

I hope those who advocate Ogg for reasons of open source compatibility  
and freedom of content creation would agree that any royalty-free  
technically suitable codec would do. Otherwise, you are just making it  
harder to find a baseline that will work for everyone.

> In short, I am absolutely sick and tired of big companies coming in  
> and
> throwing their weight around in standards organizations and getting
> their end-user-screwing technologies embedded into supposedly open and
> free standards.  I've watched it happen in the past with the w3c, I've
> watched it happen repeated in the IETF, I don't think I've ever seen  
> it
> *not* happen with ISO, ECMA seems *designed* to rubber stamp
> end-user-screwing technologies.  And, yes, Apple, I'm looking at you
> here too.  Your hands are not clean in this from past exercises.   
> No, I
> don't trust you, yes, I'm going to object loud and long to any move  
> that
> appears to be moving away from free and open technologies, which is  
> what
> this is.

Incidentally, and for the record, no Apple employee has demanded that  
the Ogg SHOULD-level requirement be removed. We specifically said we  
can live with it, although having it in the spec seems unhelpful.  
We're also working to find a mutually workable solution by proposing  
alternatives and negotiating with the relevant parties. To those of  
you posting angry emails, consider whether you could find a way to  
contribute to resolving the situation.


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