[whatwg] Codecs (was Re: Apple Proposal for Timed Media Elements)

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Thu Mar 22 22:25:23 PDT 2007

On Fri, 23 Mar 2007, Robert Sayre wrote:
> On 3/23/07, Ian Hickson <ian at hixie.ch> wrote:
> >
> > The technologies I listed _are_ covered by patents, yet they are not 
> > proprietary. This seems like a relevant counterexample to your 
> > argument.
> If I have to pay someone because they own something, that seems like a 
> pretty good indicator of a proprietary technology. Why would I have to 
> pay money if no one owns the codec?

It's not the codec owners you have to pay money to. You have to pay money 
to the people whose techniques are used in the codec algorithms. They 
don't own the codec, they own a government-granted temporary monopoly on 
the ideas that the codec makes use of.

> > > > It's not available under royalty free licensing. But it is not 
> > > > under the control of a single vendor. That is the important 
> > > > difference, not whether the technology is patented or not.
> > >
> > > Proprietary technologies can come from a group of vendors as well.
> > 
> > Yes, if that group is closed.
> How can I join MPEG-LA?

MPEG-LA didn't make the patent. They're simply an association that 
collects fees for people whose patents happen to cover ideas that are used 
in the MPEG4 codecs. Frauhnhofer is the similar group for MPEG1 Layer 3 
audio codec, another ISO standard.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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