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

David Singer <> Wed, 03 December 2014 18:33 UTC

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From: David Singer <>
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Date: Wed, 03 Dec 2014 10:33:04 -0800
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Subject: Re: [rtcweb] Finishing up the Video Codec document, MTI (again, still, sorry)
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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.

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.

(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.)

Dave Singer

David Singer
Manager, Software Standards, Apple Inc.