[Novalug] about mpeg licenses according to wikipedia
gmaxwell at gmail.com
Tue Oct 6 18:30:37 EDT 2009
On Tue, Oct 6, 2009 at 6:03 PM, Bryan J. Smith <b.j.smith at ieee.org> wrote:
> Only some MPEG-2 codecs are still under their temporary, granted
> monopoly period, and others are licensed to the public Several of the
> common ones are not, including those that ship under Debian, Fedora
> and other distros that are very "anal" on this.
Unfortunately, this is not correct. I wish it were so.
While many of the patents in the original MPEG-2 pool have expired,
there are still many covering essential elements. So MPEG-2 and even
MPEG-1 are quite clearly still patent encumbered. SUN's OVC "we're
damn sure no patents read on this" was derived from H.261 (an ancestor
of MPEG-1) with parts removed (and parts of JPEG added) and even its
release is delayed.
There are fairly essential framing elements like the pre-gop alignment
frame which are patented until 2016 or so. I'm reasonably confident
that it will not be possible to make either an MPEG2 encoder or
decoder until around that timeframe, at least one which has a
worthwhile degree of interoperability. (i.e. can write something a DVD
can read, can read things authored for DVD).
Not even the folks arguing against including Theora as a baseline for
HTML5 video were bold enough to try claiming otherwise. (Though Nokia
did suggest that a patent-free H.261 could be made; too bad that H.261
needs several times the bitrate of even MPEG-2)
Unfortunately, MPEG2 is pretty much hopelessly out of date already.
Even MPEG-4 part 2 was in the ballpark of half the required bitrate
and H.264 is even better. It'll be interesting to see how it pans
out, but you can bet that the license holders (many of whom hold newer
patents that read on H.264/AVC) hope that MPEG-2 will be long
forgotten before the balance of the patents expire... and thus the
hamster wheel continues.
The only way out is to demand unencoumbered file formats *today*.
Formats enable progress and development so there is no shortage of
resources to develop unencumbered formats if thats what the market
demands and there is little reason to develop an encumbered format
when a free one exists and has an acceptable adoption rate. But thats
not where we are today with video and audio: There is little/no
advantage for someone to support the unencumbered formats when they
have to pay licensing fees anyways for compatibility sake.
...But that isn't helpful advice when you're trying to create a DVD
for your in-laws to play on their DVD player, or whatever. So I didn't
bother commenting on this thread previously.
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