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MPEG-4 Patent Holders Capitulate on Pay-Per-Stream

By 90X Double Side in Media
Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 03:27:14 AM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)
Technology

MPEG LA, the association of the owners of patents relevant to MPEG-4 video, has released a new license which only requires broadcasters to pay royalties on a per-stream basis if they are charging viewers on a pay-per-view basis. This assumably comes from pressure from Apple Computer (among others) which refused to release the new version of it’s QuickTime software until the stream tax was removed.

Now, four years after the MPEG-4 format was approved in 1998, the final version of QuickTime 6 is available as the first product to support interoperable .mp4 files. Hopefully the way is paved for others to adopt the MPEG-4 standard without a stream tax.


Apple actually released a public preview of QuickTime 6, including all the MPEG-4 features, weeks ago, and even released the final version hours before the contract was finalized, according to a C|Net article. MPEG LA’s official position is that the original license would have limited adoption of the technology. Who would have thought?

QT6 also pushes Dolby’s AAC audio, which can produce better sound in half the size of the venerable MP3 format; another opportunity for standard formats to catch up to proprietary, DRM-laden schemes. There is even a rumor of AAC being the preferred format on a new 20GB iPod, bearing an inevitable “8,000 songs in your pocket” slogan. This could be one of the fastest hardware implementations of one of the new standards.

Indeed, much of the point of the standards, laden with their patent licencing mess, is that they have the kind of huge corporations backing them that you need to stand a chance against the Windows Media Behemoth as digital multimedia moves into the embedded age. The Internet Streaming Media Alliance, which promotes MPEG-4 interoperability, includes such members as Apple, Cisco, IBM, Sun, Philips, AOL Time-Warner, Dolby, Hitachi, Lucent, Panasonic, Sharp, SGI and Sony; and Nokia already has plans to use standard ISMA MPEG-4 streams on cell phones.

But even with the emergence of modern standards with big backers, the multimedia market is more fractured than ever. We have the ISMA supporting the standard MPEG-4 format, while Apple also still supports a huge array of proprietary codecs and formats in QuickTime, and bases it’s revenue on selling the pro version of their player along with the attraction tier multimedia layer integration creates to other pro products like Final Cut Pro and DVD Studio Pro, while open-sourcing it’s server. Meanwhile we have Microsoft announcing it’s new Windows Media 9 format, and seeking to get it’s revenue through selling server software and through locking hardware into their format. Real stays on it’s track of very slowly updating the RealVideo format and charging for both their pro player and server, although they do plan to let you stream MPEG-4s on their server software. And open-source advocates push promising new formats made by Ogg along with any obsolete format that gets abandoned, while seeking better hardware support.

Only time will tell if the “standard” is true to it’s title, and how far Microsoft can push Windows Player 9 and it’s pervasive DRM given the availability of competing formats which are either standard or open.

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Poll
More Annoying
o QuickTime "Go Pro" window 14%
o Windows Media DRM 28%
o Ogg zealots 1%
o RealPlayer in general 55%

Votes: 84
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o MPEG LA
o QuickTime
o QuickTime 6
o C|Net article
o AAC audio
o Internet Streaming Media Alliance
o Windows Media 9
o RealVideo format
o stream MPEG-4s on their server
o Ogg
o any obsolete format that gets abandoned
o Also by 90X Double Side


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MPEG-4 Patent Holders Capitulate on Pay-Per-Stream | 19 comments (12 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Nice to see E r i c posting semi-legit stuff (n/t) (none / 0) (#1)
by leviramsey on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 08:07:35 PM EST



Yes... (5.00 / 1) (#7)
by br284 on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 08:57:29 PM EST

... it's very nice... I wonder what happened? And how are we sure this is Eric?

-Chris

[ Parent ]

Wow, great news (4.66 / 6) (#4)
by mcc on Mon Jul 15, 2002 at 08:23:36 PM EST

When I first found out about the MPEG-4 Licensing terms, I was really upset: I had been looking forward to MPEG-4 and a common, really crossplatform, base video format for YEARS, and the licensing terms for MPEG-4 were so rediculous that clearly their sole effect would be to kill off MPEG4 and make DivX;P even MORE popular. And I hate Divx.

When I found out Apple was withholding the release of Quicktime 6 because they disapproved of the MPEG4-LA, I was proud of them for making a stand. I wasn't sure if they could really have any effect, but on the other hand, they were one of maybe two or three players in the tech industry who could.

When I found out this morning that Apple had released Quicktime 6, I was really upset because it seemed Apple had caved on the MPEG-4 licensing thing. I was going around complaining to people I knew about the way Apple seems to never follow through on things.

Wow, do I feel stupid now. Good show, Apple, I guess you did make a difference.. I'd maybe go so far as to say that karmically, this latest event cancels out that horrible thing Apple did to the Windows users of Emagic Logic Audio last week.. :)

So, correct me if I'm wrong: does this mean now that sometime in the near future, I will be able to set up a Quicktime Streaming Server on my mac set to stream MPEG4, and linux users will be able to to view that stream from some free app that supports the open-ish MPEG4 and RTSP formats?

---
Aside from that, the absurd meta-wankery of k5er-quoting sigs probably takes the cake. Especially when the quote itself is about k5. -- tsubame

now (5.00 / 2) (#17)
by akb on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 05:52:53 PM EST

So, correct me if I'm wrong: does this mean now that sometime in the near future, I will be able to set up a Quicktime Streaming Server on my mac set to stream MPEG4, and linux users will be able to to view that stream from some free app that supports the open-ish MPEG4 and RTSP formats?

You can do that now by using the player included with mpeg4ip, a free software project being written by cisco employees. Note that w/ the encoding tools in the project you can avoid having to buy Quicktime Pro.

Collaborative Video Blog demandmedia.net
[ Parent ]

To kill a annoying reminder (none / 0) (#11)
by Pac on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 01:14:17 AM EST

For those annoyed with QuickTime eagerness to remember you how finer your experience would be if you had QuickTime Pro, this Slashdot post shows how to get rid of it (yes, dear, now and then you will see good information in Slashdot...). It is known to work for QT 5, but not under QT 6 beta.

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


AAC (2.50 / 2) (#12)
by chbm on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 05:49:26 AM EST

Contrary to what you imply, AAC was worked on on MPEG2 as pre-release of MPEG4/Audio. It was always the plan to use AAC in MPEG, not as a competitor like AC3 vs mp3.

Just a colateral tidbit :)

-- if you don't agree reply don't moderate --

.mp4 vs. divx vs. wmv (4.00 / 2) (#13)
by SpaceCoyote on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 09:36:10 AM EST

Anybody know of a clear breakdown somewhere of the comparative advantages / disadvantages of the major new video compression formats, including size, quality, streaming ability, etc? You see a lot written about these fancy new video formats, but I haven't come across any comprehensive comparisons of them. On a similar note, is there a program that can convert between these file formats, so that I could convert all those fussy divx movies into something a little more standard?
___ Cogito cogito, ergo cogito sum.
No conversion (none / 0) (#19)
by sean23007 on Tue Aug 06, 2002 at 10:50:19 PM EST

There is really no way to convert a file encoded with a lossy codec (like DivX) to a different lossy codec (or even a non-lossy codec). The problem is that the new codec (like MPEG-4) will find data missing in places where it expects data and the image will end up looking like crap. If you get it in DivX, you have to stick with DivX, unfortunately (if that's how you see it).

Lack of eloquence does not denote lack of intelligence, though they often coincide.
[ Parent ]
Not quite fair (5.00 / 2) (#14)
by jonathan_ingram on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 09:41:48 AM EST

And open-source advocates push promising new formats made by Ogg along with any obsolete format that gets abandoned.

VP3 has quite a lot of potential. Although it's not the 'latest and greatest' in On2's development, their newer codecs at a different audience than the DVD ripping crowd. I'm actually quite excited at having a decent audio *and* video format with no patent or licensing issues.

And don't believe the hype that AAC is the best thing ever, either. The format may be very interesting, but at the moment the encoders are not getting the full potential out of the system. It's also licenced to hell and back.

If you're interested in the current state of the art in 64kbits encoding, then try listening to these samples (generated by JohnV from the HydrogenAudio audio compression board. If you're on Windows, then a great way to compare these without introducing bias is by using ff123's ABCHR tool.

All except the vorbis files are compressed with FLAC, a lossless audio compressor. You'll have to decode the vorbis files back to .wav yourself.
-- Jon
Re: Not quite fair (4.00 / 1) (#15)
by 90X Double Side on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 03:40:14 PM EST

The point is that AAC and WMA are the only formats with any big business backing, so they are the only ones relevant to the multimedia war on the desktop and in the embedded space. There will always be other formats for geeks, but they will be sitting on the sidelines in the big battles. And we know that AAC will trounce Vorbis onece an even halfway decent encoder gets made for it; look at how well it does now that it's restricted to the default settings an a litle slider bar.

“Reality is just a convenient measure of complexity”
—Alvy Ray Smith
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't be so sure (none / 0) (#16)
by jonathan_ingram on Tue Jul 16, 2002 at 05:30:39 PM EST

The point is that AAC and WMA are the only formats with any big business backing, so they are the only ones relevant to the multimedia war on the desktop and in the embedded space

There's quite a lot of interest in Vorbis in the internet streaming market -- there would have been a lot more except that the RIAA managed to kill off 95% of small music streamers last month without anyone protesting.

In addition, I think you'll see Vorbis getting more widely used by companies -- particularly PC games makers, who are interested in ways to avoid paying the MP3 distribution fees. It's already been used in quite a few games -- Serious Sam 2 being one of the more recent examples.

As always, it's going to be the users that make or break a format. Vorbis is already very popular in Linux distributions. The break into Windows popularity will only happen if it's taken up by the DVD and CD ripping community -- porn and warez are what made MP3, DivX, etc.
-- Jon
[ Parent ]

Share your OGG's (none / 0) (#18)
by mozmozmoz on Tue Jul 30, 2002 at 08:54:31 AM EST

only happen if it's taken up by the DVD and CD ripping community

So all you vorbis fans, start sharing your music files on gnutella. It's all lonely at the moment with a few hundred results returned and me sharing 3000 files half the time (when I can, in other words).

There's lots of comedy on TV too. Does that make children funnier?
[ Parent ]

MPEG-4 Patent Holders Capitulate on Pay-Per-Stream | 19 comments (12 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
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