Patent issues (Was: Re: [vorbis] Winamp5)

noprivacy at noprivacy at
Wed Dec 17 12:29:56 PST 2003

> Now I've heard this kind of claims over and over again, and yet I have
> failed to ever see a patent lawer issue something like a statement
> that a product certainly *does not* include patented technology. Why

They wont.

But from what I've heard in all these vorbis patent discussions is that Xiph
did have at least a limited patent search performed.  Nobody is quite sure
what was checked or how far it went, but that at least some checking was
indeed done.

That's not the same as a full patent search or investigation.

>From what I gather, all Xiph did was do just enough to protect themselves,
and no further.  This way they can say that they did have at least a cursory
search done and that none of the obvious patents that might have applied did
in fact appear to apply to their code so that they had reason to belive
their work was patent free.

It's a matter of degree.  And a matter of doing just enough to protect
yourself legally from major damage.  You might still get in trouble, but
because you did make at least a minimal effort to check, that protects you
some.  But it doesn't protect anybody else who might include the product in
their product.

And that is the situation AOL/TimeWarner etc. are in.  With licensed code,
the seller takes responsibility and the buyer / user is protected.  With
Vorbis, there is no sale, there is no guarantee, etc.  The buyer / user (AOL
etc.) are taking the full risk themselves.

> What I see is people from major media corporations claiming possible
> patent infringement by just because they know Xiph cannot

I have not heard even *ONE* case of anybody saying that Xiph's vorbis work
even possibly infringed any particular patent.


But at this point, that says more about nobody looking, rather than it being

What people are saying (and have been saying for a long time) is that nobody
knows whether it does or not.  It's unknown.  That's not the same thing as
being patent free or being likely to infringe some patent, etc.  It says you
don't know.

That's what is so hopeful about what Winamp / AOL-TimeWarner is doing.  If
it is indeed true that they are actually checking its legality / patent
infringment possibilities, and they decide to go ahead and use it, then it's
going to send strong signals to everybody (who can't afford to do that kind
of investigation!) that it is very likely to be okay to use it.

If this works out, then Vorbis will owe its future existance to AOL.
Because without a major player such as AOL doing this kind of check, it
would never be more than a hobbiests format.

> Luckily companies in Asia don't give a damn about this and ship
> their Ogg-capable devices anyway.

Probably ogg decoding, right?

That's not quite the same issue of encoding.

Different techniques apply, and something such as an encoder is far more
likely to accidently infringe upon some patent.

<p><p>--- >8 ----
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