[rtcweb] H.264 patent licensing options (was: Re: confirming sense of the room: mti codec)

Florian Weimer <fw@deneb.enyo.de> Wed, 10 December 2014 21:46 UTC

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From: Florian Weimer <fw@deneb.enyo.de>
To: Andrew Allen <aallen@blackberry.com>
References: <E3FA0C72-48C5-465E-AE15-EB19D8D563A7@ieca.com> <54820E74.90201@mozilla.com> <54861AD6.8090603@reavy.org> <BBF5DDFE515C3946BC18D733B20DAD233998AC05@XMB122CNC.rim.net> <63BC3D6D-03A1-41C2-B92D-C8DD57DC51DB@nostrum.com> <BBF5DDFE515C3946BC18D733B20DAD233998ADF1@XMB122CNC.rim.net>
Date: Wed, 10 Dec 2014 22:46:29 +0100
In-Reply-To: <BBF5DDFE515C3946BC18D733B20DAD233998ADF1@XMB122CNC.rim.net> (Andrew Allen's message of "Tue, 9 Dec 2014 00:45:03 +0000")
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Subject: [rtcweb] H.264 patent licensing options (was: Re: confirming sense of the room: mti codec)
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* Andrew Allen:

> Our preference is for H.264 to be the single MTI. We believe that
> Cisco's open source royalty free code offer goes a long long way to
> address the concerns of many related to IPR on H.264

Cisco is required to say this about the patent license they allegedly
confer:

“THIS PRODUCT IS LICENSED UNDER THE AVC PATENT PORTFOLIO LICENSE FOR
THE PERSONAL USE OF A CONSUMER OR OTHER USES IN WHICH IT DOES NOT
RECEIVE REMUNERATION TO (i) ENCODE VIDEO IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE AVC
STANDARD (“AVC VIDEO”) AND/OR (ii) DECODE AVC VIDEO THAT WAS ENCODED
BY A CONSUMER ENGAGED IN A PERSONAL ACTIVITY AND/OR WAS OBTAINED FROM
A VIDEO PROVIDER LICENSED TO PROVIDE AVC VIDEO.  NO LICENSE IS GRANTED
OR SHALL BE IMPLIED FOR ANY OTHER USE.  ADDITIONAL INFORMATION MAY BE
OBTAINED FROM MPEG LA, L.L.C. SEE HTTP://WWW.MPEGLA.COM”

This rules out commercial use.  Doesn't this fail the “reasonable”
part of RAND because it is expected that commercial end users obtain a
separate patent license of their own (which is not part of a product
that can be purchased)?  If this is still considered “reasonable”, is
the fact relevant that all published MPEG-LA material about H.264
refers to patent licensing in a broadcasting context (either the
production side, or the receiver side)?  This strongly suggests to me
that they may lack the rights to license H.264 for use in video
conferencing applications.

Furthermore, a service using WebRTC is not a “consumer”, so this
patent license does not extend to the service provider.