[theora] Theora patent question

Silvia Pfeiffer silviapfeiffer1 at gmail.com
Sat Oct 10 22:52:31 PDT 2009

Mozilla and Google adopted Theora support into their browsers, both
after independent analysis of the patent situation and the risks.
Dailymotion, Blip and several other hosting sites are distributing the
content. If there is a patent troll out there, he should be getting
ready to jump.

Honestly, I don't think that's the case though. I believe the
intention of the Xiph / On2 agreement and of On2's act of open
sourcing VP3 was to make available a royalty-free alternative video
codec to the MPEG codecs. Therefore, On2 will not pursue its patents
across anyone using or re-implementing Theora. Also, Google who would
now own the On2 patents are known for doing no evil, so I don't think
there will be a threat from there. I further believe On2 made sure
they did not infringe on patents when developing VP3. Thus, the
original VP3 codebase/patent status is safe IMHO. I further believe
that no contributions to Theora since it's creation from VP3 have
stemmed from patent trolls - i.e. from people who made the
contributions with the intention of later suing anyone who uses
Theora. Further, I understand the Theora contributions were all safe
since they used well-known and old techniques. Therefore, I am of the
firm belief that Theora is safe. This is obviously my personal opinion
and IANAL. You are free to form your own and to get your own lawyer to
analyse it for you.


On Sun, Oct 11, 2009 at 4:20 PM, Shayne Wissler <wissler at gmail.com> wrote:
> Here is a blog entry from 2007 discussing the potential "submarine
> patent" problem as it related to Theora:
> http://www.bluishcoder.co.nz/2007/12/video-element-and-ogg-theora.html
> Here's a more recent discussion that indicates that Apple's problem
> with Theora is precisely from the issue I tried to underscore: that no
> one has been sued over Theora precisely because it hasn't been
> embraced by a large company yet, and there's a risk of submarine
> patent if they do:
> http://lists.whatwg.org/pipermail/whatwg-whatwg.org/2009-June/020620.html
> This is not "FUD", this is the fact of life for people who try to
> write any kind of software nowadays.
> Suppose Apple did adopt Theora, and the submarine came up (and
> supposing one is indeed lurking, we should expect it to wait until
> broad adoption). Then what happens to all of us small-time/non-profit
> users? Right now we're OK, but after that, it seems we'd be screwed.
> Shayne
> _______________________________________________
> theora mailing list
> theora at xiph.org
> http://lists.xiph.org/mailman/listinfo/theora

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