Re: [rtcweb] H.261

Maik Merten <> Fri, 22 November 2013 18:09 UTC

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Date: Fri, 22 Nov 2013 19:08:45 +0100
From: Maik Merten <>
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Subject: Re: [rtcweb] H.261
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Disclaimer: IANAL

You can get *sued* for anything from anyone at any time. Trolls are not 
in the business of making sound claims on technology, they're in the 
business of getting paid to leave you alone.

However, you will have as good a defense as you can get if you can point 
to a 25 years old reference implementation. Such an old reference 
implementation (including an encoder) exists for H.261, meaning a set of 
encoder techniques should be identifiable that is "as safe as it can 
be". Of course, if your encoder introduces encoding techniques beyond 
that you're not automatically "safe" anymore. However, the existence of 
spec-compliant H.261 encoders in the late 1980ies clearly means that old 
techniques exist that are useful for creating valid H.261 streams.

In a nutshell: Doing really old stuff *should* actually improve your 
standing regarding IPR claims.

Of course, a troll might have a nice patent like "Method and apparatus 
for doing real-time bible lessons over a digital network in the context 
of hypertext-enabled applications" which might or might not read on any 
WebRTC implementation, no matter what the codec. The fix for that: Don't 
implement anything, ever.


Am 22.11.2013 18:23, schrieb Stefan Slivinski:
> You are not going to avoid patent issues with H.261.  Even if all patents associated with the H.261 specification have expired you are going to run into generic video patents around motion estimation or rate distortion and many, many other areas that have not.  At the end of the day, if a patent troll sees you have money, they are going to find a way to sue you.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: rtcweb [] On Behalf Of Ron
> Sent: Friday, November 22, 2013 9:10 AM
> To:
> Subject: Re: [rtcweb] H.261
> On Fri, Nov 22, 2013 at 05:17:45AM +0000, Mo Zanaty (mzanaty) wrote:
>> On 11/21/13 12:48, Basil Mohamed Gohar <<>> wrote:
>> Has anyone actually objected to H.261 being the one MTI codec [...] ?
>> Assume this wins and all obey. Chrome does H.261+VP8, Firefox does
>> H.261+H.264+VP8, IE does H.261+H.264, Safari does H.261+H.264.
>> According to various (incredibly extrapolated, possibly inaccurate and
>> sometimes
>> conflicting) sources [1] on who uses what browser, the chance of H.261
>> fallback is a whopping 30% [2]. Not the minor insignificant case some
>> had assumed.
>> How will these users react to H.261 QCIF/CIF compared to what they use today ...
> You seem to be forgetting that WebRTC is a communication protocol for PEOPLE, not some one-sided push technology that gives them take it or leave it choices decided by self-interested vendors.
> So I would assume they'll react the same way they already do.
> Something along the lines of:
>    "D00d!!  Y U use that crap browser!??!111"
> And then they'll use the amazing text capabilities to paste a download link for firefox or something.
>    2 minutes later, problem solved.
> And they'll be watching each other's cats do fun things in full hi-res glory.
> It's not some accident of fate that the vendor browsers have the poor level of mindshare that they do, even given the solid advantage of incumbency they should otherwise enjoy.
> If the only way they think they can compete is via lock in and exclusivity using codec patents, then that alone speaks for the irrelevancy of those opinions about what is best for making this standard become ubiquitous.
> We need to guarantee interoperability between things that claim to implement the standard.  Quality of implementation is something that users will judge for themselves, and their mindshare will again gravitate accordingly between the available options.
> I'd still much prefer a better codec than H.261 as our baseline, but if the proprietary patent holders refuse to let us have that, then we need to work with the technology that is available to us.
> It doesn't take a doctorate in formal logic to connect those dots.
> This is our next best option for "making the patents evaporate", are people really now saying they didn't really want that to actually happen after all, despite what they said previously?
>    Ron
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