[whatwg] The truth about Nokias claims

Joseph Daniel Zukiger joseph_daniel_zukiger at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 14 22:06:18 PST 2007

--- Ian Hickson <ian at hixie.ch> wrote:

> On Fri, 14 Dec 2007, Joseph Daniel Zukiger wrote:
> > 
> > Or, rather, if we knew that Apple (and others?)
> would at least be 
> > willing to open their phones 

I think I said "phones" there?

> > to 3rd party codecs.
> (Yes, the third party 
> > codecs can be built, if the API for the container
> is truly open.)
> This already exists -- there have been reports even
> in this thread of Ogg 
> Theora plugins working with Apple's <video>
> implementation.

Which is part of the reason the independent developers
feel antagonized, I'd guess.

> This doesn't help with closed systems (e.g. iPhone),

No news would be bad news, in this case. (But the
notes from Dave and, I think, Macie, clarifying
Apple's position are appreciated.)

> and it isn't an ideal 
> situation -- we'd _like_ to be in a position where
> all players can 
> implement the same thing without relying on third
> parties.

Flash survived a fairly long time while support in
browsers was hit and miss. I distinctly recall having
to download plugins for Shockwave, for instance (not
to mention early versions of Flash, itself) and I
_was_ working on MSWindows and Mac workstations at the

> Failing that, though, it is true that third party
> codecs can be the way to 
> a solution.

It looks to me like the only solution as long as Nokia
and whoever else insist on not being invited to the

> > After a little sleep, a suggestion occurs to me.
> (I have not read all 
> > the subthreads, maybe it has been made already, if
> so, mea culpa.)
> Incidentally, I must encourage everyone to read all
> the messages before 
> posting. If you don't think everyone else's messages
> are worth reading, 
> why should they consider yours worth reading? :-)

I don't know. After reading about 150 messages from
the various branches of this debate from the last
month or so, my eyes glazed over, I got a headache, I
decided I wanted some sleep, I had to go to work the
next day, you know, meetings with teachers and such.

If it makes you feel any better, I just finished
reading the remaining 51 messages from the list that I
hadn't read since the twelfth. 

There is a limit to how much homework you can ask of
people (which is something that someone needs to
convince the US Congress and patent office about).

Besides, it (still) seems to me that those who are
supporting Nokia's, et. al.'s positions keep dancing
around the problems, with idealistic hopes that big
money will resolve the issue painlessly.

And, yes, it does seem to me that I never saw anyone
make the exact suggestion I made, and I think everyone
is getting hung up in precisely that lack of

Has someone made the precise suggestion I made?

(1) Require (MUST) a container/codec not known to be
encumbered for the <video> tag.

(2) Require an open plugin API for the browser, so
that 3rd-party implementations can be dropped in, and
allow the requirement of (1) to be met by a third
party plugin.

(3) Mention Ogg as an example of container/codecs
which are not presently known to be encumbered.

I guess I can see a problem with that if it turns out
that someone can make ogg appear to be encumbered. So
it would probably need 

(4) Allow the requirement of (1) to be waived, or
commuted to the next best thing available under RAND
terms in the event that there are no implementations
not known to be encumbered.

(Not known to be encumbered is possible. Known not to
be Encumbered is not, and it would be difficult to
require some specific degree of certainty about
encumbrances without forcing implementors to pay some
sort of very large bond, or to fund the research at a
level which would be way out of reach for your local
independent web monkey. (Hopefully, those who are
doing the research on Ogg now will share their results
so that the work doesn't have to be duplicated too
very often.)

I want to say this again, but reading these threads,
I'm pretty sure Nokia (or some faction among their
share-holders) is just engaging in a chest-beating
exercise to see how much they can get the standard to
give in what they might think is their direction. 

(Bad business, but there never seems to be any
shortage of share-holders that think the market should
be forced or played to their momentary profit.)


(5) Take this issue to the US Congress to explain how
"strong" "IP" laws actually do interfere with
innovation by anyone but 800 ton^H^H^H pound gorillas.

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