FUD pushing back hard against Google WebM

FUD pushing back hard against Google WebM

Summary: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt have had a field day on Google's WebM codec over the weekend.

TOPICS: Google

Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt have had a field day on Google's WebM codec over the weekend. It may have had a worse debut than Rand Paul.

(As with the word Spam, the acronym FUD also appears on quality meat products. It's a Spanish acronym meaning refined, unique and delicious.Expect kids to be carrying FUD snack packs to Silicon Valley schools this fall.)

The most important attack may be a fisking of Google's claims by Jason Garrett-Glaser, the primary x264 developer. His summary is that WebM (formerly called VP8) isn't that good a codec, but here's the nut graph:

VP8 copies way too much from H.264 for anyone sane to be comfortable with it, no matter whose word is behind the claim of being patent-free. This doesn’t mean that it’s sure to be covered by patents, but until Google can give us evidence as to why it isn’t, I would be cautious.

That was enough for MPEG LA CEO Larry Horn to lay it on thick for The Wall Street Journal. He's planning on creating the same kind of "patent pool" for WebM that binds H.264 to Hollywood and forces everyone to pay royalties forever on what may be old technology.

Google is plowing straight ahead, but former Sun open source guru Simon Phipps says they haven't done their open source homework, either.

The WebM license is non-standard, he writes, with a "field of use" restriction (this license only covers this software) that's not in the OSI playbook. It's similar to the Apache 2.0 license, but it's not the same.

Those patent problems Garrett-Glaser points to may be all the excuse Apple needs to stay far away from WebM, Phipps writes. When patent trolls attack with a good case, they go for the deepest pockets, and Apple is now worth $70 billion more than Google itself.

Then there's patent attorney Rob Glidden, former TV and media alliance director at Sun, now independent.

At his blog he questions whether Google's move is good for the open Web at all.

leaving VP8 code out in the open with nothing but a mutual non-assert license leaves the patent issue not only unaddressed, but up for capture by those with uncharitable agendas, and on their turf and time frame

The beauty of a "patent pool" is that members of the pool wrap up their claims in non-disclosure agreements, meaning outsiders never get to know who is claiming what, and for how much.

A better move, Glidden suggests, would be to hand the codec over to a standards group with a strong patents disclosure policy. My first thought is the World Wide Web Consortium itself might be a candidate, but I don't think they would want the legal risk.

Google claims to have done its homework, Glidden concludes, and now needs to show its work.

It's going to be a long week at the Googleplex.

Topic: Google

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  • google wont indemnify or use an unrestricted license

    thats all you need to know. as a potential incorporator you'd better just have a plugin framework and let your users install a plugin for it built by someone else and you can bet it wont be google...
    Johnny Vegas
    • Apple and M$ won't indemnify for illegal use of competitor's licenses

      and yet that does not seem to stop them, Apple being actively sued by at least two competitors (Nokia and HTC) on both hardware and software license violations.<br><br>Meanwhile M$ illegally incorporates open source in their closed products, when caught they apologize and that's all.<br><br>As someone would say: Cue the double standards.
      OS Reload
      • RE: FUD pushing back hard against Google WebM

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  • FUD is only a problem if it is baseless.

    JGG gave a very detailed and technical review of the problems. As an expert I think he deserves credence. Even if you ignore the patent stuff, just a visit to www.webmproject.org was enough to generate some doubt as to the near term viability of webM.
    • Shouldn't 40 major software and hardware vendors deserve some credence too?

      I say they should, there are some real big names in the list of WebM supporters.
      OS Reload
      • True but this is typical for new announcements

        @OS Reload
        True but this is typical for new announcements. It really doesn't mean that much until you actually see some real support. Especially for hardware the devil's in the implementation details and JGG indicated that some of the VP8 spec would be much harder to implement in hardware. I am for webM. I'm not against it. I hope it dominates but I honestly think a few years will be required at least. It would be ok if video quality was on par or even slightly sub-par to H.264 but if it suffers much in the compression or decompression performance after it is optimized (assuming that it will be - right now it suffers), I don't think vendors will adopt it for real regardless of what they indicate now for PR reasons!
  • Hmm... I can think up some strategy to discredit MPEG-LA:

    Charge $24.95 to view a single video that uses H.264 in my website
    Charge $0 to view a video that uses WebM or Ogg Theroa.

    If they wish to pay $25 to watch a video with H.264, I can deliver that money to Google to discredit MPEG-LA.

    That's criminal, I know, but all those patents for the web are stupid.
    Grayson Peddie
  • Does Google now own patents infringed by H.264 ?

    By purchasing VP8, I wonder if Google acquired any patents that are infringed by H.264, and that aren't part of the MPEG-LA pool? If so, they could theoretically sue H.264 licensees and force them to stop using it. They would probably lose their H.264 license in the process. So what? Video is not a major source of revenue for Google -- they could afford to shut down YouTube. Can the same be said for the entertainment and consumer electronics companies? I think they'd blink first.
  • Lovely.

    So basically you can sue somebody for using something even when there is no way for them to know it's yours? Absolutely wonderful. What an awesome, free country.
    • Patent's claims are published

      @AzuMao The whome problem in patent is that th? existance of a patent does not mean it is opposable, as patent offices do not check the merits of the claims when granting a patent they check that the formalism is respected. A long legal procedure determines the merit when litigation occurs but the process is extremely expensive as aa result a small firm can be dried up by legal fees before the matter is decided
      • In otherwords you can't know if you're breaking the law or not..

        ..until it's too late.

        Hell, even if it was known whether a certain listed patent was valid or not.. so what? Nobody has the resources to look through millions/billions of patents. It is completely unfeasible.
  • RE: FUD pushing back hard against Google WebM

    Mommy, can I sleep with you, MPEG-LA says there is a monster in my closet and if I don't give them my cookies
    the monster will eat me.
  • it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.

    --Macbeth, SCENE V. Dunsinane. Within the castle.

    How about an analysis from the other side of the patent issue:<br><br><a href="http://carlodaffara.conecta.it/?p=420" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://carlodaffara.conecta.it/?p=420</a><br><br>and<br><br><a href="http://blog.ibeentoubuntu.com/2010/05/lead-ogg-dev-responds-to-jobs-jibes.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://blog.ibeentoubuntu.com/2010/05/lead-ogg-dev-responds-to-jobs-jibes.html</a><br><br>The latter concerns Theora, but in light of the first article, most of it probably applies to VP8.
  • RE: FUD pushing back hard against Google WebM

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