Nokia throws spanner into Google's plans for VP8 codec standard

Nokia throws spanner into Google's plans for VP8 codec standard

Summary: Nokia says VP8 does not qualify as a standard and has refused to license patents that pertain to VP8.

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TOPICS: Nokia, Google, Patents
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Nokia has refused to license a handful of patents in a move that could be make it difficult for Google to realise VP8 codec as 'royalty-free' standard.

Last week Nokia filed a declaration to web standards organisation the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) saying it was not willing to license patents for components of the VP8 standard, which Google is seeking to make an "open, royalty-free" alternative to the H.264 HD video playback standard.

The Finnish company listed 64 granted patents and 22 pending patent applications that it believed are relevant to the IETF "VP8 Data Format and Decoding Guide" RFC6386 specification for the VP8 codec, according to patents expert Florian Mueller.

Mueller notes that Nokia's refusal to license its patents for free or FRAND could make implementing VP8 may be more costly than H.264.

Nokia says it took the "unusual step" of withholding licences because VP8 was not an industry-wide effort, but an attempt by one company to force through proprietary technology in a standard.

"Nokia believes that open and collaborative efforts for standardization are in the best interests of consumers, innovators and the industry as a whole," Nokia said in a statement emailed to ZDNet.

"We are now witnessing one company attempting to force the adoption of its proprietary technology, which offers no advantages over existing, widely deployed standards such as H.264 and infringes Nokia's intellectual property. As a result, we have taken the unusual step of declaring to the Internet Engineering Task Force that we are not prepared to license any Nokia patents which may be needed to implement its RFC6386 specification for VP8, or for derivative codecs."

Nokia's patent knock back follows a VP8 win for Google, which ended a long-running dispute with the MPEG LA, LCC earlier this month.

The agreement was not an admission VP8 infringed on MPEG LA patents, but a measure to provide more certainty to VP8 implementors.

Topics: Nokia, Google, Patents

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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24 comments
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  • Yeah

    Stopped reading as soon as I seen Florian Mueller in the reference. You might as well get a Random guy off thestreets.
    slickjim
  • Nokia is absolutely right here.

    There is no need to shove VP8 down peoples throat, because it has no benifit over H.264 and with the next version of H.264 already in the pipeline.

    Google has evil intentions, and that's the exact reason it dumped support for H.264.

    The good news is that Google is not winning, it has lost the patent fight to Microsoft recently and hopefully Nokia will come on top in this case.

    Google is abusing open source projects to line its pockets with cash.
    Owllll1net
    • H.264 costs a good bit.

      It is quite expensive.

      You don't have the right to even use it guaranteed. And encoders cost.
      jessepollard
      • H.264 costs a good bit.

        Sorry, but this is just wrong. Using H.264 doesn't cost very much, and it only costs money if you have a lot of paying customers. Off the top of my head I think the price structure is something like:

        Any video 12 min or less is free.
        Any video for sale (only if you charge for it) must pay 2% or $0.02, whichever is LESS.
        Anyone with more than 100 000 PAYING subscribers must pay $0.001 per subscriber per year.

        If your business model can't survive such licensing fees, it's your business model that is bad, not the fees.

        If you want to use an H.264 encoder in a product you create, that will cost you between $2500 and $25 000, depending. Again, if your business model can't handle that, you're using the wrong business model.

        If you are a content producer you will have to pay indirectly by the fact that the maker of the software you use has paid on your behalf (essentially, there are complicating factors here too, but not relevant for the 95%). The thing is, if you are a professional content producer you have to support H.264 anyway, if you don't you're not in business. The industry standard is H.264, and that is what you HAVE to support (in addition to MPEG-2 etc). So, even if Google goes VP8, you still have to pay a (tiny) fee to the MPEG-LA.

        So, no, this isn't particularly expensive.
        terjeb@...
    • So why was it released for free?

      Google has ZERO control over how people use VP8.
      Natanael_L
      • Nokia's ticket to get money

        Google paid the MPEG-LA to get a free license on their VP8 patent pool, and to free VP9 from those patents, too, without accepting the validity of those patents.

        If you read between the lines, it looks to me like Nokia is just pulling another MPEG-LA patent pool trick. It's just a ticket to get money from Google.

        In contrast to the MPEG-LA patent pool, however, this time the list of patents is made openly. So, it's possible to refute each and every one of them as infringing on VP8/VP9. I'm hoping the community will just do that, since we are really in need of a generally agreed upon free and open video codec.
        Silvia Pfeiffer
        • That will be unlikely

          as VP8 most likely does infringe on at least two of the the patents in question.

          Nokia has at least 12 different patents at hand on this matter and has already started asserting them in german courts against HTC and Google.
          IE11
    • VP supports transparency

      In a previous job we used it to do green screen videos that would play on top of other content running in a web page. As far as I know H.264 only supports videos in a rectangular format.
      ggibson1
  • This is a blow to Google plans

    After a good deal with MPEG-LA, this is a step back to VP8.
    I was looking at the Nokia list and it seems what they did was to list any patent they have related with video/image/compressions - almost a blind choice. The problem is that even if those patents are not going against VP8, they for sure will spread FUD... Nokia intention.

    I don't know if there is a hidden reason for Google to promote VP8, what they announce makes perfect sense, it's better to have a free open standard than a non free for such a vulgar thing as video. But I think it's stupid and maybe even strange for Google to go alone, I'm sure they could have joined others to fight non free standards.

    As for Nokia, they seem decided to be the pebble on Google's shoes. They should fight for their rights, but I wonder if gaining enemies with their current position is a smart move.
    AleMartin
    • They are just following MS orders.

      Nothing else.
      jessepollard
      • You have any evidense to support that theory?

        Google intensions is to control the web video. They will convert all YouTube to VP8 and then scare everybody else with bullying tactics.

        There is absolutely no need for another Google controlled web standard.

        Could you explain what is the reason behind they dropping support for H.264 in Chrome?
        Owllll1net
        • Control?

          Google has released VP8 under a license that *don't allow them* to control how people use it. Google won't be able to control anything about VP8.
          Natanael_L
        • There is an obvious reason

          If google is being true about it - it's free.
          Even if many devices have H264 for free, people don't know but videos made with their mobile phone or camera can't be used for profit always... and that can include advertising on youtube. So someone posting a cat video on youtube can be breaking the law!!!

          I think we need an open/free standard for video, I just don't know if it should be google alone owning it.... I don't like the idea... but at least they are trying to do something.
          AleMartin
        • Unlike Microsoft

          ...who use their monopoly position to force "standards" down everybody's throat, and then arbitrarily break them - as in Office versions not being cross-compatible.

          By the way, I can't wait 'til you take spelling class in grade 4 - it will make your paranoid rants at least easier to skim over.
          radleym
          • Wow, classy

            >> By the way, I can't wait 'til you take spelling class in grade 4

            Wow, were you born retarded or did you not learn that there are many reasons that people may not spell your favorite language "properly". They might, for example, be non-English native.

            I am so looking forward to the day when those dumb-ass Americans self destruct by pressing the read button marked WARNUNG!

            Clue: I am a non-native English speaker living in the US who thinks the US is a very good place to live. I don't actually think all Americans are intellectual pygmies. Just radelym and friends.
            terjeb@...
        • VP8 is GARBAGE

          Google is trying to force a sub-par "standard" on the web simply because they want to rule the world. There is no need for VP8, it is old, bad, junk. It isn't even as good as H.264 baseline.

          I am with Nokia all the way on this. The web doesn't need yet another inferior "standard" to make things worse.
          terjeb@...
    • Google can be easily dumped

      The competitors products are much better and Google don't have much enterprise presence. Google has bribed many politicians in numerous and that is how it continue to march with its corrupt practices

      Shutdown YouTube and Google will be dead in no time.
      Owllll1net
      • Just like all things

        I could dump oracle and use sqlserver or SAP, I could dump windows and use linux, I could dump hp-ux and use solaris, I could dump samsung and use sony phones, I could dump my current mobile provider, I could dump gmail and use hotmail, I could dump silverlight and use HTML5, ... the question is, what's the best for me?
        AleMartin
    • Patents are going agianst VP8

      "problem is that even if those patents are not going against VP8"

      Actualy Nokia is already in court against HTC and Google over patents on VP8
      IE11
  • B@st@#ds and liars

    "We are now witnessing one company attempting to force the adoption of its proprietary technology,..."
    At least do a wink-wink when you write such crap. Good job, Microsoft... I mean Nokiasoft!
    eulampius