Re: [rtcweb] H.261

Stefan Slivinski <> Fri, 22 November 2013 18:35 UTC

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From: Stefan Slivinski <>
To: Maik Merten <>, "" <>
Date: Fri, 22 Nov 2013 12:27:43 -0600
Thread-Topic: [rtcweb] H.261
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Subject: Re: [rtcweb] H.261
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The whole argument around H.261 came up as a way around potential patent issues.  My argument is that it is literally impossible and thus we should not have that factor into our decision on what technology to use.

Your last point is the most critical, if you're worried about litigation from patent trolls don't do anything or if you do, don't be successful at it.

-----Original Message-----
From: rtcweb [] On Behalf Of Maik Merten
Sent: Friday, November 22, 2013 10:09 AM
Subject: Re: [rtcweb] H.261

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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