Re: [rtcweb] Cisco to open source its H.264 implementation and absorb MPEG-LA licensing fees

David Singer <> Thu, 31 October 2013 09:14 UTC

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Date: Thu, 31 Oct 2013 10:14:14 +0100
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Subject: Re: [rtcweb] Cisco to open source its H.264 implementation and absorb MPEG-LA licensing fees
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On Oct 30, 2013, at 21:33 , cowwoc <> wrote:

>     While I appreciate Cisco's huge contribution in this area, Lorenzo and Keith bring up some good points.
>     How about this approach?
> 	• Mandate both codecs as MTI
> 	• If either codec becomes problematic (requiring us to pay royalties) we simply drop that codec as MTI (implementation becomes optional) and searching for a replacement to add as MTI. In the meantime, we have that other codec to fall back on.

That is, alas, not the only way a codec becomes problematic.  One can also get sued.

>     With this approach we no longer have to depend on the generosity of Cisco or Google, and it reduces the incentive of patent trolls (it's harder to squeeze us for royalties when we have a fallback).
> Gili
> On 30/10/2013 4:09 PM, DRAGE, Keith (Keith) wrote:
>> But to work with VP8 you are also relying on Google's generosity. 
>> Google have IPR on VP8; you are relying on a statement from them they will continue to offer it royalty free. 
>> Google and Cisco are both reputable organisations, but ultimately you trust who you trust, and I don't see that being different whichever path you follow.
>> Keith
>>> -----Original Message-----
>>> From: 
>>> [
>>> ] On Behalf Of Lorenzo Miniero
>>> Sent: 30 October 2013 19:17
>>> To: Jonathan Rosenberg (jdrosen)
>>> Cc: 
>>> Subject: Re: [rtcweb] Cisco to open source its H.264 
>>> implementation and absorb MPEG-LA licensing fees
>>> Il giorno Wed, 30 Oct 2013 12:28:50 +0000 "Jonathan Rosenberg 
>>> (jdrosen)" 
>>> <>
>>>  ha scritto:
>>>> I'd like to make an announcement material to the 
>>> conversations around 
>>>> MTI video codecs in rtcweb.
>>>> Cisco is announcing today that we will take our H.264 
>>> implementation, 
>>>> and open source it under BSD license terms. Development and 
>>>> maintenance will be overseen by a board from industry and the open 
>>>> source community.  Furthermore, we will provide a binary 
>>> form suitable 
>>>> for inclusion in applications across a number of different 
>>> operating 
>>>> systems (Windows, MacOS, Linux x86, Linux ARM and Android ARM), and 
>>>> make this binary module available for download from the 
>>> Internet. We 
>>>> will not pass on our MPEG-LA licensing costs for this module, and 
>>>> based on the current licensing environment, this will 
>>> effectively make 
>>>> H.264 free for use on supported platforms.
>>>> We believe that this contribution to the community can help address 
>>>> the concerns many have raised around selection of H.264 as MTI. I 
>>>> firmly believe that with H.264 we can achieve maximal 
>>> interoperability 
>>>> and now, do it with open source and for free (well, at least for 
>>>> others - its not free for Cisco :)) More information on the open 
>>>> source project can be found at 
>>>> , which is 
>>>> sparse now but more coming soon.
>>>> Thx,
>>>> Jonathan R.
>>>> --
>>>> Jonathan Rosenberg, PhD
>>>> VP, CTO Collaboration
>>>> Cisco Systems
>>> Am I really the only one not that enthusiastic about this?
>>> Don't get me wrong, I appreciated Cisco's statement. I just 
>>> don't think it changes anything. It doesn't make H.264 more 
>>> open (or less closed, if you prefer) than it was before. It 
>>> just says that, if you download their module from them when 
>>> installing your stuff, your applications can use it to 
>>> encode/decode H.264 and not worry about fees (hoping with 
>>> your fingers crossed that the platform is supported, that 
>>> is). I still cannot use x264, ffmpeg, 
>>> randomsuperawesomeopensourceH264codec or even a version of 
>>> Cisco's H.264 code I compile myself: at least, not if I don't 
>>> want (or just can't afford) to pay license fees, that is. 
>>> Which means we're back to step one again. Under those 
>>> premises, I still think it's not MTI material.
>>> The problem is, I don't want to rely on Cisco's generosity[*] 
>>> (or anyone else's, for that matter) to work with video, 
>>> especially when we're building an (allegedly) open web 
>>> communication framework. What if their module sucks? I'm sure 
>>> it won't, but I still don't have any choice, there are no 
>>> free alternatives. Besides, we have no assurance at all that 
>>> this is something we can rely on. If Cisco wakes up in a 
>>> couple of months and decides it's all not worth it and shuts 
>>> all of this down, what happens to WebRTC implementations, to 
>>> companies that decided to depend on it, to their 
>>> clients/customers? We wait for another generous "mecenate", 
>>> while big companies thrive? We complain on social networks? 
>>> We cry at the moon?  And this is not such a remote
>>> possibility: after all (and I'm quoting one of Jonathan's 
>>> latest tweets here), "We cannot say forever but unless things 
>>> change we will continue this indefinitely". If this is 
>>> supposed to convince me H.264 is now the best solution as MTI 
>>> for WebRTC then, especially as a developer, I'm not convinced.
>>> I see this opening more as the (welcome, no denying that) 
>>> software equivalent of daddy pinching you on the cheek and 
>>> giving you a coupon for your "free ice cream (for a while)". 
>>> Everyone loves free stuff, I do as well. But IMHO it's not 
>>> more than that, a free gift to convince the unconvinced. 
>>> Ancient Romans would have called this "Panem et Circenses", 
>>> and according to all the enthusiastic posts on Twitter and 
>>> the like, I guess it still works: people are entertained.
>>> Make the codec REALLY free, without any license fee required 
>>> at all, and then you'll entertain me as well.
>>> Lorenzo
>>> [*] I must shamefully admit I sniggered a bit when I read the 
>>> "it's not free for Cisco" part, as if you were really paying 
>>> for this. I have trouble thinking Cisco doesn't already pay 
>>> the infamous cap every year.
>>> You're doing something you really don't have to (and we 
>>> really appreciate this, make no mistake), but that's not the 
>>> same thing.
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> rtcweb mailing list
>> _______________________________________________
>> rtcweb mailing list
> _______________________________________________
> rtcweb mailing list

David Singer
Multimedia and Software Standards, Apple Inc.