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iPad does in fact support H.264

iPad does in fact support H.264

Posted Feb 4, 2010 15:56 UTC (Thu) by DonDiego (guest, #24141)
In reply to: iPad does in fact support H.264 by roc
Parent article: HTML5 video element codec debate reignited

> In many countries, the MPEG-LA could sue you (and win) for using *or distributing* ffmpeg's H.264 decoder. Is that the kind of regime you want to live under?

The MPEG LA has never sued an end-user to date. While in theory they could do that in the future, it's about as likely as getting killed by a meteor hit. Microsoft could also sue you for using Linux. You never know, they do have patents that cover it.

If you are afraid of distributing an H.264 decoder, fine, leave it to others and use what is available on the system.

> > As far as other platforms XP does not support H.264 out of the box, but Vista and Windows 7 does.

> Vista doesn't.

Who uses Vista? ;-p

Seriously, how big a slice of your userbase uses Vista? For the FFmpeg and MPlayer websites I see less than 20% of the Windows users on Vista, most are still on XP and likely to skip Vista on their upgrade path.

So what are the statistics? How many of your users do not have access to a system H.264 decoder and how many will not in five years time?


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iPad does in fact support H.264

Posted Feb 4, 2010 16:44 UTC (Thu) by blitzkrieg3 (subscriber, #57873) [Link]

> The MPEG LA has never sued an end-user to date.

They would not sue an end user. End users have no money. They would sue a Red Hat, or a SUSE for giving you access to ffmpeg package.

iPad does in fact support H.264

Posted Feb 4, 2010 16:48 UTC (Thu) by quintesse (guest, #14569) [Link]

RedHat doesn't distribute ffmpeg exactly for that reason I guess.

iPad does in fact support H.264

Posted Feb 4, 2010 20:59 UTC (Thu) by roc (subscriber, #30627) [Link]

> Who uses Vista? ;-p

Some people. I was just correcting an error in the poster's facts.

> So what are the statistics?

I believe currently around 60% of our users are on WinXP. Not sure how many are on Vista. The fraction of those people who have installed a DirectShow H.264 code is probably tiny, so we can expect that somewhat less than 40% of our users have an H.264 codec on their system.

iPad does in fact support H.264

Posted Feb 4, 2010 21:09 UTC (Thu) by roc (subscriber, #30627) [Link]

> The MPEG LA has never sued an end-user to date. While in theory they could
> do that in the future, it's about as likely as getting killed by a meteor
> hit.

There's no way to tell. Five years ago you could have said the same thing about the RIAA suing individual file-sharers, but then they started doing it.

Fundamentally it's a bad idea to bet on the MPEG-LA being lenient forever. Their job is to bring in licensing revenue for patent holders. At some point in the future, if suing users is a convenient way to scare people, or to destroy free competition to products that actually generate license revenue, there's no reason to believe they won't do it. Keep in mind that the optimal revenue-generation strategy changes over time: it pays to be lenient at first, to get the format maximally entrenched, and then you can squeeze the licensees for all you can get (modulo contractual restrictions). History is instructive.
http://www.0xdeadbeef.com/weblog/2010/01/html5-video-and-...

Plus, let me remind you that your guess about the intention of the MPEG-LA to "not require" licenses for free software proved to be completely wrong. Betting on such guesses, no matter who makes them, would be foolish.

iPad does in fact support H.264

Posted Feb 5, 2010 10:50 UTC (Fri) by DonDiego (guest, #24141) [Link]

> There's no way to tell. Five years ago you could have said the same thing about the RIAA suing individual file-sharers, but then they started doing it.

The RIAA is not a patent pool, this is a straw man.

> Plus, let me remind you that your guess about the intention of the MPEG-LA to "not require" licenses for free software proved to be completely wrong. Betting on such guesses, no matter who makes them, would be foolish.

I never said any such thing. The MPEG LA patent license question rests on the depth of your pockets, not on the type of software you use.

iPad does in fact support H.264

Posted Feb 7, 2010 22:08 UTC (Sun) by roc (subscriber, #30627) [Link]

> The RIAA is not a patent pool, this is a straw man.

The point is that "<Large Corporate Entity> would never sue end users, because they have no money" is an argument that has failed in the past.

>> Plus, let me remind you that your guess about the intention of the
>> MPEG-LA to "not require" licenses for free software proved to be
>> completely wrong.
> I never said any such thing.

http://lwn.net/Articles/371439/
> You don't need a license from the MPEG-LA (and neither does FFmpeg)
> because you don't qualify for requiring one:

Suing individual users of H.264

Posted Feb 8, 2010 2:07 UTC (Mon) by jhhaller (subscriber, #56103) [Link]

Suing end-users would be dependent on the particular domestic law. In the US, my understanding (IANAL) is that practicing a patent does not require a license, only importing or distributing. Certainly, if I were to write my own H.264 decoder, I am not infringing. Now, if I were to distribute a software decoder, that would require a license under current case law. Surprisingly, there has been no effort as of yet to stop US-based mirrors of distributions containing FFMPEG. Of course, this case law is under review by the US Supreme Court, so this uncertainty could be inhibiting bringing of lawsuits, as they could make such lawsuits easier or harder. This leaves the typical method of getting H.264 software, importing it into the US. The International Trade Commission can block import of products containing patented technology, although how that would play out against multiple, independent importers could be interesting.

Suing individual users of H.264

Posted Feb 8, 2010 4:01 UTC (Mon) by Trelane (subscriber, #56877) [Link]

"In the US, my understanding (IANAL) is that practicing a patent does not require a license, only importing or distributing."

The USPTO Sez (http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/doc/general/#patent)

The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention. Once a patent is issued, the patentee must enforce the patent without aid of the USPTO.

Relevant portions bolded and italicized by me. (See also the the MPEG-LA's response to my query in the other article comments.

Certainly, if I were to write my own H.264 decoder, I am not infringing.

Yes, you would. That would be the non-bolded "making" above, which precedes the bolded "using".

Now, if I were to distribute a software decoder, that would require a license under current case law.

Perhaps under current case law (IANAL), but not under a strict reading of the USPTO's talk (as long as it's not for sale, sold, or brought into the US).

Suing individual users of H.264

Posted Feb 8, 2010 20:50 UTC (Mon) by roc (subscriber, #30627) [Link]

> In the US, my understanding (IANAL) is that practicing a patent does not
> require a license, only importing or distributing.

Incorrect. Practicing requires a license.

> Certainly, if I were to write my own H.264 decoder, I am not infringing.

Incorrect. If you used it, you would be infringing.

Suing individual users of H.264

Posted Feb 8, 2010 21:10 UTC (Mon) by Trelane (subscriber, #56877) [Link]

If you used it, you would be infringing.

If you used an encoder/decoder that you wrote, you'd be infringing twice (see the USPTO link above; the act of making a patented idea is prohibited, as is using an implementation without a license).

iPad does in fact support H.264

Posted Feb 7, 2010 12:01 UTC (Sun) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

While in theory they could do that in the future, it's about as likely as getting killed by a meteor hit.
Meteors scare me, man! Just the thought of them makes me afraid. Often fear (not likelihood) is enough to prevent people from doing things.


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