View Full Version : Lead OGG Dev Responds to Jobs' attacks

May 3rd, 2010, 07:15 PM
Xiph's Gregory Maxwell, the designer and lead dev of the OGG container and the Vorbis audio and Theora video codecs, had a few choice words for Steve Jobs over his recent suggestion that OGG Theora would soon be in court over patent infringement. What did Steve say, exactly?

"All video codecs are covered by patents. A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other “open source” codecs now. Unfortunately, just because something is open source, it doesn’t mean or guarantee that it doesn’t infringe on others patents. An open standard is different from being royalty free or open source.

Sent from my iPad"

Sigh. You've got to love Apple's self promotion...



May 4th, 2010, 01:36 AM
Thanks for the post, I really don't like looking at the site it is on though, the original is much easier on the eyes:


Dr. C
May 4th, 2010, 02:39 AM
Thanks for the post. Gregory Maxwell makes some excellent points. In particular
The specific standards process used to develop the MPEG codecs creates patent minefields that royalty-free codecs don't generally face. Because many knowledgeable people have heard of the problems faced by these patent-soup standards, they may extrapolate these risk to codecs developed under a different process where these problems are less considerable. This is a mistake, and I'll explain why here.


Certainly this is the case for the MPEG codecs, but it is not a universal truth. To understand why, you must understand a little about the process used to build these international standards.

The reason the MPEG formats are so thoroughly encumbered by patents is that the process used to build the formats is designed to be "blind" to patent considerations: all the participants have agreed that any patents they hold will be licensed under "Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory" terms, a term of art which few normal people would actually describe as all that reasonable or all that non-discriminatory, as RAND often means "quite expensive". With only that assurance in hand, they go about constructing their formats through an extensively political tournament process where proposals are made and encouraged to be combined.

So no effort is made to avoid patents, but it gets worse:

If you're a participant in this process, it is very important that some of your patented technology make it into the result: if it doesn't you'll end up having to pay the same royalties as the rest of the world, but if it does you can cross-license your patents with the other "winners" and completely avoid paying to use the resulting format.

So even if you're not looking to make a profit from your participation, you'll be sure to get some patents into the result so that you don't have to _pay_ for the result of your own labors.


There is a major economic incentive for the MPEG-LA codecs to be deliberately designed to be encumbered by patents. By the way Apple is in the thick of all of this.