Re: [rtcweb] Finishing up the Video Codec document, MTI (again, still, sorry)

David Singer <> Wed, 03 December 2014 21:08 UTC

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From: David Singer <>
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Date: Wed, 03 Dec 2014 13:07:54 -0800
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To: Harald Alvestrand <>
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Subject: Re: [rtcweb] Finishing up the Video Codec document, MTI (again, still, sorry)
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> On Dec 3, 2014, at 11:12 , Harald Alvestrand <> wrote:
> On 12/03/2014 07:33 PM, David Singer wrote:
>> As I understand it, the recent face to face meeting decided to draft the requirement that WebRTC browsers be required to implement both VP8 and H.264, and get feedback on this, on the list.
>> This is some feedback.
>> I’d like to point out that this could easily place companies in an impossible position.
>> Consider: it is not uncommon for IPR owners to grant a license (often free) only to ‘conforming implementations’. (A common rationale is that they want to use their IPR to bring convergence and interoperability to the industry).  Let’s hypothesize that this happens, now or in future, from Company X, for some IPR in the WebRTC specifications.
> I'm having trouble following the logic here. What technology are you imagining that Company X will put IPR claims on, and what conformance do you imagine that it would require?

I am imagining the common case that company X has IPR on some aspect of the WebRTC spec. (some other aspect than the codec), and they offer the fairly-common “license is free to conforming implementations of WebRTC”.  

> (We could also consider the case of someone, call it Company G, claiming IPR on some non-codec part of WebRTC technology and refusing to license it at all. We can discuss the relative chances of the two things happening.)

No, I am not interested in discussing trolls here.  I am pursuing much more normal circumstances.

>> Consider also: we have an “unwilling to license” statement from Nokia on VP8, on the formal record (and including a long list of patents).
>> Consider finally: a small company for whom WebRTC is important.
>> Let’s look at the choices:
>> 1.  Follow the mandate, implement VP8, and risk a ruinous lawsuit from Nokia.
>> 2.  Reject the mandate, do not implement VP8, and be formally therefore not conformant and therefore not in receipt of a license from company X; risk a ruinous lawsuit from X.
>> 3.  Do not implement WebRTC, and risk a ruinous loss of relevance.
>> I do not think that the IETF should be placing anyone into the position of having three extremely unpalatable choices.
> If Company G does its thing, both 1 and 2 risk a ruinous lawsuit from Company G.
>> (Yes, I am aware that #2 is ‘unlikely’, but one day someone will decide that the “only to conformant implementations” clause needs to be real and enforced, and will do this; our hypothetical small company might prefer not to be the example case.)
>> (I use a small company as the example, because for them the risk is bankruptcy, but of course no-one likes to step into the path of trouble even if they have the resources to weather it.)
> My impression from the meeting was that the people speaking in favour of the proposed solution had evaluated the risks, and were ready to make a decision based on their evaluation.

Well, this is exactly that:  for the ‘vanilla’ company, mandating VP8 means mandating a violation of Nokia’s statement, which puts them at risk;  or forcing people to abrogate a ‘must’ clause, which also may put them at risk.  Or not do WebRTC.

Dave Singer

David Singer
Manager, Software Standards, Apple Inc.