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  • Steve versus Theora


    According to an email sent by an increasingly talkative Steve Jobs on Friday, Apple is assembling a "patent pool" - sort of an intellectual property supergroup - to go after open source video codecs that they feel infringe on private patents. As part of Jobs's crusade to get developers to drop Flash in favor of the H.264 video standard, he's brought on a key ally in Microsoft, which sent out a similar message in a blog post last week.

    The Theora codec is a free video compression format which derives from the VP3 format developed by On2 Technologies. On2 opened the source code to VP3 back in 2002 and then donated it to the Xiph.Org Foundation, and made an irrevocable license-free grant for any patent claims. They stopped development of VP3 and worked with Xiph.Org to release Theora completely royalty-free. H.264, on the other hand, is closed source and the license is only royalty-free until 2015. Developers fear that once H.264 is accepted as a de facto standard, the patent holders will demand royalties from every product that implements it.

    Apple and Microsoft have intimated, without proving that this is the case, that the Theora codec derives from patented technology. In an email to Hugo Roy of the Free Software Foundation Europe, Steve Jobs asserted that "All video codecs are covered by patents." Much of this concern is thought to come from the so-called "patent thicket" which surrounds the MPEG-2 standard: over 640 patents are involved in the basic technology. Xiph.Org, for its part, asserts that this is not so, labeling it a way of spreading "FUD" (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) among developers considering the standard. Lead developer Gregory Maxwell is claiming that Theora avoided these pitfalls "by rejecting the taint of encumbered technology, and accepting the challenges and compromises that come from doing so."

    Clearly, Apple and Microsoft and the rest of their patent posse believe that they can prove otherwise. Whatever the truth may be, there is certainly an imbalance of legal firepower between the industry giants and the free software campaigners.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Steve versus Theora started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 35 Comments
    1. Cer0's Avatar
      Cer0 -
      Stop making this a discussion that it shouldn't be. Any more will get infractions.
    1. George Lopez's Avatar
      George Lopez -
      Lmao!! I know i got the warning and please im sorry. But "cerote" in spanish is big pile of sh!t. Sorry...buwahahaha.

      Ahem...Apple is evil.
    1. Cer0's Avatar
      Cer0 -
      I know. Not very many people catch that. Father's native tongue. Or taken as full of .......................................
    1. itmustbejj's Avatar
      itmustbejj -
      If Apple has their way, everyone will have to pay to post videos online by 2015. I've reached my end with Apple's shady business practices. I've set up a person boycott of Apple products. I'm not going to buy another iTune, app, or Apple product.

      The goals of Apple have become so counter to those of me as a consumer and a developer, that I refuse to support them. I think the more stuff like this they do, the more people will feel the same as me.

      This just in: Apple has served me with a lawsuit because my genes infringe on several of their patents.
    1. hollow0's Avatar
      hollow0 -
      I'm confused as to why everyone is saying they're hating Apple for this. Isn't Microsoft going in the same direction?
    1. cpkirkley's Avatar
      cpkirkley -
      Put your hand up if you were surprised in the least something like this came up, given Apple's current activity.

      This is great, because many Apple diehards that jumped all over my decision of hawking all my mac products are beginning to echo the same sentiments I felt several months ago.

      The writing is on the wall - Apple takes the inevitable popularity (and most importantly, sales) tumble inside of 18 months. Sell now while the resale value is still good...

      On the uptick, in about half a year, Windows 7 has sold something like 90 million copies. Erm...Owned.
    1. George Lopez's Avatar
      George Lopez -
      @hollow

      yes, but we expect that from
      Microsoft. So it's okay. But Apple?? Please!!
    1. reanimationxp's Avatar
      reanimationxp -
      Funny this gets posted today. I emailed Steve too after reading his letter about Flash, regarding the same topic:

      Quote Originally Posted by me View Post
      Steve,

      I think you're a smart guy, and I like the fact that you're forcing Flash out of the mainstream web. A lot. I've been asking myself for years why we need a plugin in a browser just to play animation and video. Bravo for taking a stand, I can appreciate that.

      However, you're being quite hypocritical. If the web is meant to be open and you support HTML5 video, why do I need a QuickTime plugin to view almost any video on Apple.com? Why are you supporting H.264 as the latest and greatest video codec, when it's a closed platform with horrendous licensing fees?

      Lastly, why are you complaining that Adobe has not optimized Flash for your OS, that until recently (post MBP and iPhone), did not - arguably - have the market share to back it up? If you want to complain about cross-platform performance, why are iTunes and QuickTime still the worst performing apps I've ever seen on Windows, the OS with the largest market share? Should Microsoft kick iTunes permanently off the Windows platform until you make it run well? You'd seem to think so.

      I agree with the points you're making 100%, but how about taking some action on Apple's relative part before we go calling names? Please lead by example. Nobody likes a hypocrite.
    1. lili4311's Avatar
      lili4311 -
      Quote Originally Posted by reanimationxp View Post
      Funny this gets posted today. I emailed Steve too after reading his letter about Flash, regarding the same topic:
      You are awesome!!!
    1. dsg's Avatar
      dsg -
      Quote Originally Posted by reanimationxp View Post
      Funny this gets posted today. I emailed Steve too after reading his letter about Flash, regarding the same topic:
      Did you get a response or threat.....
    1. redcard's Avatar
      redcard -
      Quote Originally Posted by cpkirkley View Post
      Put your hand up if you were surprised in the least something like this came up, given Apple's current activity.

      This is great, because many Apple diehards that jumped all over my decision of hawking all my mac products are beginning to echo the same sentiments I felt several months ago.

      The writing is on the wall - Apple takes the inevitable popularity (and most importantly, sales) tumble inside of 18 months. Sell now while the resale value is still good...

      On the uptick, in about half a year, Windows 7 has sold something like 90 million copies. Erm...Owned.
      Uhh what? Coca Cola sells 2 billion cans of Coke in a year. MS got pwnd.

      Who cares that you sold all your Mac products; you bought Sony instead. Way to take a stand!

      So 18 months ago you were an Apple fanboy, now you're a Microsoft fanboy? Sounds like you just jump on whatever bandwagon is fashionable.
    1. lili4311's Avatar
      lili4311 -
      Quote Originally Posted by redcard View Post
      Uhh what? Coca Cola sells 2 billion cans of Coke in a year. MS got pwnd.

      Who cares that you sold all your Mac products; you bought Sony instead. Way to take a stand!

      So 18 months ago you were an Apple fanboy, now you're a Microsoft fanboy? Sounds like you just jump on whatever bandwagon is fashionable.
      Dude, don't be a hater
    1. cpkirkley's Avatar
      cpkirkley -
      Quote Originally Posted by redcard View Post
      Uhh what? Coca Cola sells 2 billion cans of Coke in a year. MS got pwnd.

      Who cares that you sold all your Mac products; you bought Sony instead. Way to take a stand!

      So 18 months ago you were an Apple fanboy, now you're a Microsoft fanboy? Sounds like you just jump on whatever bandwagon is fashionable.
      Erm, how does buying one Sony laptop make an Sony Fanboy? I would've bought the Asus K Series if it was available with a backlit keyboard. I guess that makes me an ALMOST Asus fanboy, right?

      Secondly, I bought apple to start with because my father - who runs the design firm I am now employed, started me off as an apple user when I was a child. I learned to Photoshop on an old PowerPC 7500/100. My house has always had some sort of Mac hardware sprinkled in. Not to mention that the OS isnt half bad and the tech is pretty sexy.

      Your Coca-Cola reference in comparison to MS is like comparing grapefruits to jet fuel. What the hell are you smoking? I brought up Microsoft's sales total to drive home the fact that while Apple sites are proclaiming absolute victory with the iPad's launch sales, Microsoft has been oh so quietly pounding OSX sales into the ground. In summation, Apple is still getting owned.
    1. redcard's Avatar
      redcard -
      Quote Originally Posted by cpkirkley View Post
      Erm, how does buying one Sony laptop make an Sony Fanboy? I would've bought the Asus K Series if it was available with a backlit keyboard. I guess that makes me an ALMOST Asus fanboy, right?

      Secondly, I bought apple to start with because my father - who runs the design firm I am now employed, started me off as an apple user when I was a child. I learned to Photoshop on an old PowerPC 7500/100. My house has always had some sort of Mac hardware sprinkled in. Not to mention that the OS isnt half bad and the tech is pretty sexy.

      Your Coca-Cola reference in comparison to MS is like comparing grapefruits to jet fuel. What the hell are you smoking? I brought up Microsoft's sales total to drive home the fact that while Apple sites are proclaiming absolute victory with the iPad's launch sales, Microsoft has been oh so quietly pounding OSX sales into the ground. In summation, Apple is still getting owned.
      I brought up Coke to show the ridiculous of your Windows v OSX argument.

      In summation, I can bring up a number of figures to you show Apple is not getting 'owned'. But you pick one figure and you run with it, kid!

      What Apple sites proclaimed absolute victory? Would love to see all the sites you've read saying that.

      I never said anything about you being a Sony fanboy. You just made that bit up. You made a point of telling everyone you sold your Mac products as if it was some sort of stand against Apple's patent policy. You bought Sony instead. I guess the irony is lost on you.

      How does it feel getting paid to make daddy coffee? Must be good!
    1. tekwiz's Avatar
      tekwiz -
      Quote Originally Posted by redcard View Post
      I brought up Coke to show the ridiculous of your Windows v OSX argument.

      In summation, I can bring up a number of figures to you show Apple is not getting 'owned'. But you pick one figure and you run with it, kid!
      Sounds like he struck a nerve, are you an Apple Fanboi? Cause that's how you are coming off.

      What Apple sites proclaimed absolute victory? Would love to see all the sites you've read saying that.
      Steve exclaims his sales figures, twisted to fit his presentation on whatever day. Apple is not alone in doing this but they sure have been pretty vocal lately. And depending on HOW you spin the numbers, on OSX they are getting owned in sales by Win 7. In Mac sales, they are getting owned by themselves with the iPad. In phones sales, Android is catching up. Unless they make some huge changes, this years phone (imho) will not do as well especially after Google's keynote yesterday.

      I never said anything about you being a Sony fanboy. You just made that bit up. You made a point of telling everyone you sold your Mac products as if it was some sort of stand against Apple's patent policy. You bought Sony instead. I guess the irony is lost on you.
      There is no irony because you dump apple not only for patent BS but because of how locked down they are trying to make everything. You have MAC conferences being cancelled because of IPHONE restrictions, how crazy is that? You also have devs jumping ship etc....

      How does it feel getting paid to make daddy coffee? Must be good!
      How does it feel coming off as a douche?