[whatwg] Video Tag Proposal

Richard Watts rrw at kynesim.co.uk
Tue Mar 30 18:07:56 PDT 2010

Boris Zbarsky wrote:
> On 3/30/10 11:43 AM, Perry Smith wrote:
>> Isn't the concept of a submarine patent also possible against a
>> "patented" algorithm?
> Yes, but since Apple already ships other H.264 decoders it already has 
> exposure to whatever patents could come up against it.  So from their 
> point of view, the marginal patent exposure of shipping H.264 in <video> 
> is 0.  Similar for Microsoft.  I can't speak to the situation Google is in.

  For my money (and this is worth what you paid for it :-)) the whole
submarine patents thing is a non-issue in the context of HTML5. The same
argument could be made about any feature of HTML5 - and I'm sure there
are 'submarine' (in the sense of not-widely-known-about) patents on
many other HTML5 features that all of the big browser companies are
happily implementing.

  Unless they know something I don't, the risk is certainly not much
less - at least the Theora guys have taken care to avoid all the
patents they knew about: more than can be said for most standards bodies
(and I don't know how vigorous the whatwg have been in sanitising
HTML5, but you can bet that someone somewhere involved in the
implementation of your browser hasn't).

  So: I think the submarine patents argument is a red herring.

  Given what I've seen of the utter incomprehension the computing
strategy people in general have of video, I suspect the actual reason
for resistance is some form of pure political idiocy centering on the
mobile companies lobbying to restrict video to things they already
(think they have) silicon to accelerate.

  One might expect resistance from Apple, at least - they have a lot of
iPods and iPhones out there (and now iPads) which as far as I know
simply won't play anything but H.264 without a major upgrade - or
that's what they could be expected to think, anyway.

  It will be interesting to see what the attitude is to the H.265
propsals the MPEG-LA are now discussing when they finally become
public (of course, in a sane world, VP8 would become H.265 and
everyone would be happy)


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