Posted by & filed under MPEG.

Now that Google and patent license administrator MPEGLA have announced an agreement about the VP8 codec (press release here), questions will arise about next steps.

A Google representative has already elaborated here to the Internet Engineering Task Force about Google’s proposal at the last MPEG meeting to standardize VP8 as an official MPEG standard:

And now, we have taken taken two significant steps that we hope will make the situation clear to all:
7. Submitted VP8 to ISO SC29/WG11 (MPEG) in January of this year for standardization.
8. Invested a significant amount of time and resources into reaching an agreement with the MPEG LA, to provide further reassurances.

For those who are looking for public information, the actual proposal to MPEG (document M28182) was publicly released a few days ago on an IETF mailing list (here).

The MPEG meeting resolutions about Google’s proposal are below.

[UPDATE: This post got noticed and referenced in a few of articles:

 


From Resolutions, the 103rd SC 29/WG 11 Meeting, 2013-01-21/25, Geneva, Switzerland  [SC 29/WG 11 N 13250]
http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc29/open/29view/29n13234c.htm

14.1 Internet Video Coding
14.1.1 The Video subgroup recommends approval of the following documents:

No. Title TBP Available
  Exploration – Internet Video Coding    
13353 Internet Video Coding Test Model (ITM) v 4.0 N 13/02/20
13354 IVC Core Experiment CE1: Overall Codec Testing N 13/01/25
13355 IVC Core Experiment CE2: Improvements of ITM N 13/01/25

 

14.1.2 The video subgroup would like to point out that an alternative technology with potential benefits over the current ITM4 has been proposed in M28182 and M28187 for consideration in the IVC standardization. A Core Experiment (CE1) was defined for systematic testing under comparable conditions. NBs and interested experts are encouraged to perform further study of the technology proposed in M28182 and M28187 regarding the IVC requirements.

14.1.3 The contributors of M28182 and M28187 are asked to provide more information about potential restrictions which might prohibit the progressing of their technology into an MPEG standard, in case it would be considered beneficial from the perspective of IVC development.

14.1.4 WG11 requests its members to review M28182 and M28187 and provide suggestions concerning their usability in the IVC process.

14.1.5 WG11 thanks the AUNB for the comment on IVC (M28365). WG11 considers the actions taken at this meeting to be sufficient in responding to AUNB’s request.

14.1.6 The video subgroup thanks ITU-T for the viewing equipment that was used in the context of evaluating IVC contributions.


Posted by & filed under Digital TV, Featured, Ginga DTV, Headline.

The Brazil government has decided to include the Ginga software standard in Brazilian TVs, starting January 2013.

The announcement and decree are translated below.

Multiple news articles in Brazil have covered the run-up to this announcement (links below).  Ginga TV sets have been shipping for some time, but the official certification program is not yet in place, resulting in much debate about roll-out schedule.

As an ongoing consultant to the leading commercial Ginga supplier, TQTVD:

Congratulations to the Brazilian government for its continuing recognition of and commitment to the market-building power of open standards!

——

http://www.mdic.gov.br//portalmdic/sitio/interna/noticia.php?area=2&noticia=11331


Government changes PPB for televisions to include Ginga interactive software

24/02/2012

Government changes PPB for televisions to include Ginga interactive software

Brasilia (February 24) – From 2013, the Brazilian interactivity software Ginga must be installed in 75% of televisions with liquid crystal display manufactured in the Manaus Free Zone. Companies that want to start production this year, between July 1 and December 31, may deduct such production from the quota in 2013. The requirement for inclusion of the software increases to 90% of production, from 2014, according to the Ordinance published in the Official Gazette on Monday by the Ministries of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade (MDIC) and of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI) .

Ministerial Ordinance No. 140 amends the Basic Productive Process (PPB) that already exists for televisions with liquid crystal display and sets the schedule to be followed by manufacturers for inclusion of Ginga in devices.  It is from the PPB that the government sets the domestic content that a company must meet to be eligible for tax benefits granted to companies established in the Industrial Pole of Manaus and to manufacturers of computer items installed anywhere in the country.

About Ginga

In 2004, the federal government started to promote the development of the Brazilian System of Digital Terrestrial Television (SBTVD-T), which has interactivity as one of its principles. Ginga, software developed by a group of researchers from Brazilian institutions, allows for the operation of interactive applications on TVs and for open source, which does not require royalty payments, and may be adopted by other countries. In Argentina, for example, Lifia (Federal University of La Plata) is providing the software for the government.

Participating in the development of Ginga were researchers at the University of Sao Paulo, Federal University of Pernambuco, Federal University of Paraiba, National Institute of Telecommunications (Inatel), Federal University of Minas Gerais, Coppe-UFRJ and PUC-Rio. The group gave scope to the software specification, now an international standard validated by ITU (International Telecommunication Union) and regulated at the national level by a set of standards of the Brazilian Association of Technical Standards (ABNT).

For the Brazilian government, the implementation of Ginga in digital TV will encourage the interactive software industry in the country and will be an opportunity to connect public policies to support innovation and development of production with value added based on local content.

http://www.in.gov.br/ imprensa/visualiza/index.jsp? jornal=1&pagina=2&data=24/02/2012

INTERMINISTERIAL DECREE No 140, OF 23 FEBRUARY 2012

 THE STATE MINISTERS OF DEVELOPMENT, INDUSTRY AND FOREIGN TRADE and SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION, using the powers conferred on them by section II of the sole paragraph of art. 87 of the Federal Constitution, in view of the provisions of § 6 of art. 7 of the Decree-Law No 288 of February 28, 1967, and considering what is in the MDIC process No. 52000.001749/2002-48 of January 29, 2002, determine:

Article 1. The Interministerial Ordinance MDIC / MCT No. 233, of 16 September 2011, that establishes the Basic Productive Process for the product TV MONITOR WITH LCD SCREEN, industrialized in the Manaus Free Zone, amends art. 9 – A, with the following wording:

“9 – A. The TELEVISIONS WITH LIQUID CRYSTAL DISPLAYS shall incorporate the ability to perform interactive broadcast applications, according to Standards ABNT NBR 15606-1, 15606-2, 15606-3, 15606-4 and 15606-6, obeying the following schedule , taking as basis the total amount produced in the respective periods:

I – until June 30, 2012: exempted;
II – July 1 to December 31, 2012: optional;
III – from January 1 until December 31, 2013: 75% (seventy five percent) of televisions, and
IV – from January 1, 2014: 90% (ninety percent) of televisions.

§ 1 – All models of TVs that make available support for IP connectivity and that implement the interactive middleware must ensure the access of the interactive applications to the communication channels.

§ 2 – The number of interactive televisions produced in the period defined in section II can be deducted, in absolute numbers, from the production required for the period specified in section III, respecting a minimum of 60% (sixty percent) in section III.

§ 3 – From the period specified in section III, the obligation applies to all TVs that provide support for IP connectivity, without consideration to the total percentage of equipment produced.

§ 4 – The resource that is the subject of the heading of this article should come pre-installed, pre-configured and enabled at the factory.

§ 5 – If the percentage set forth for the periods mentioned in sections III and IV of the heading of this article are not achieved, the company will be obliged to meet the residual differences in relation to the minimum percentage established in units produced, until the end of period thereafter, with no impact to the continuing obligations of each period.

§ 6 – The residual difference referred to in § 5 shall not exceed 10% (ten percent), taking as basis the production of the year that did not reach the established limit. ”

Article 2.  This Ordinance shall enter into force on the date of its publication.

FERNANDO DAMATA PIMENTEL
State Minister of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade
MARCO ANTONIO RAUPP
State Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation

 

Incorporation of Ginga in TVs is set for January 2013

http://telesintese.com.br/index.php/plantao/18531-incorporacao-do-ginga-nas-tvs-fica-para-janeiro-de-2013

In 2013, 75% of Brazilian digital TVs will have Ginga

http://tecnologia.terra.com.br/noticias/0,,OI5630577-EI15607,00-Em+das+TVs+digitais+brasileiras+deverao+ter+Ginga.html

TV with Ginga will be mandatory only in 2013

http://exame.abril.com.br/tecnologia/noticias/tv-com-ginga-sera-obrigatoria-apenas-em-2013

Government gives in and Ginga will only be required in digital TVs starting in 2013

http://idgnow.uol.com.br/mercado/2012/02/24/governo-cede-e-ginga-so-sera-obrigatorio-nos-televisores-digiatais-a-partir-de-2013/

Posted by & filed under Headline, Open Video.

MPEG announced today it is working on a royalty-free MPEG standard in two tracks, one track based on expired MPEG patents and other royalty free technologies and the other based on a proposal that patent holders grant a royalty-free license to a “constrained baseline profile” of the widely used AVC/h.264 standard.

According to the MPEG press release, “Depending on the progress of the two tracks, MPEG will decide, in 2012, whether to choose IVC or WebVC to become an International Standard.”

Given the heavy hitters that are lining up behind these proposals and the significance of the forum of ISO and the MPEG committee, it is worth looking deeper at the public information that has been released on these proposals.

“MPEG Plus” (IVC)

The MPEG press release describes IVC:

“focuses on developing a standard based on MPEG-1 technology which is believed a safe royalty-free baseline that can be enhanced by additional unencumbered technology described in MPEG-2, JPEG, research publications and innovative technologies which are promised to be subject to royalty-free licenses”

Cryptically, a MPEG meeting resolution states “The Requirements subgroup recommends that MPEG members make WG 11 aware of market developments in the space addressed by IVC.”

According to the MPEG meeting resolution, the IVC proposal appears to come from “HKUST, Peking University, Tsinghua University and Zhejiang University”.

“Patent Pool Lite” (WebVC)

According to the MPEG meeting resolution, the WebVC proposal appears to come from “Apple, Cisco, Fraunhofer HHI, Magnum Semiconductor, Polycom, and RIM”.  The MPEG LA website shows that 4 of these (Apple, Cisco, Fraunhofer, and Polycom), are among the 28 existing patent holders in the AVC/h.264 patent pool.

The MPEG press release describes WebVC:

“A second track, called WebVC, is driven by stakeholders of AVC technology. WebVC focuses on the constrained baseline profile from the widely used AVC standard (Rec. ITU-T H.264 | ISO/IEC 14496-10). Proponents of WebVC have indicated that they hope to convince stakeholders to grant a royalty-free license for this technology, which was originally standardized in 2003.”

According to section 3.11.1 the meeting resolutions, it appears that if approved Web Video Coding would become a new part 29 to the AVC/h.264 standard (ISO/IEC 14496-29 – Web Video Coding).

Cryptically, a MPEG meeting resolution states “The Requirements subgroup recommends that proponents of technology for Web Video Coding further improve the support for their proposal in order to meet market needs as identified in the IVC CfP”.

What Will Happen?

As a proponent of “IPR-aware” royalty free standardization (see for example Half of MPEG-2 Patents Expire in 2012), I am naturally inclined to the first track and skeptical of the second.  It seems every few months a patent pool or some one manages to spin up wishful thinking that there will soon be a “new deal” that will answer the needs of royalty free communities, only to cleverly leave the hopeful twisting in the wind.  Indeed, AVC/h.264 has been holding out the prospect of a royalty-free baseline since 2001, when the work on AVC/h.264 was first announced!  And AVC/h.264 patents are still being litigated.

But … one can easily imagine multiple possible outcomes under the oversight of MPEG:

- one, none or both of the proposals end up ultimately adopted, perhaps in a modified or improved form
- the two proposals evolve and are merged down the road
- etc.

My take:  Read the fine print and published patent analysis on any “AVC/h.264 constrained baseline” very, very carefully before you get excited.  And hopefully, ISO and the MPEG committee will continue to do a professional, no-nonsense job in assessing these proposals and moving forward on a royalty-free MPEG standard that the industry can have confidence in.

Posted by & filed under Featured, Headline, Patent Pools.

MPEG-2 Patents

The patents on substantial technologies of MPEG-2 will soon expire.

More precisely, 50% of the MPEG-2 patent pool (134 US patents, including the 27 original 1996 MPEG-2 IPR Working Group’s patents) will expire by October 16, 2012.  The remainder dribble out for several years through various patent life-extension techniques (continuations, divisions, and patent term adjustments).

I prepared these materials to assist MPEG’s consideration of a royalty-free MPEG standard.  Presentation MPEG-2 Patents, spreadsheet MPEG-2 Patents List (also in MPEG-2-Patents-List xls format).  Also a presentation on MPEG-2 Systems Patents.

Special acknowledgement to Josh Cogliati’s insightful work at OS News.  But all errors here are my own, corrections are welcome, and standard provisos are in the presentations.

Some slide excerpts below.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by & filed under Featured, Headline, Open Video.

MPEG has announced it has received proposals for a royalty-free MPEG standard and has settled on a deliberation process to consider them.

The press release is here; the underlying meeting resolution is here.  Relevant portions are copied below.

A short analysis of the proposals is available at: MPEG Plus or Patent Pool Lite? MPEG Mulls Royalty-Free Proposals.

From ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29/WG 11 N12258, December 2011 – Geneva, CH:

MPEG continues toward royalty-free video coding

At its 98th meeting, MPEG received responses to the Call for Proposals on Internet Video Coding Technologies. As a result, two tracks towards royalty-free video coding are being pursued. One track, called IVC, focuses on developing a standard based on MPEG-1 technology which is believed a safe royalty-free baseline that can be enhanced by additional unencumbered technology described in MPEG-2, JPEG, research publications and innovative technologies which are promised to be subject to royalty-free licenses. A second track, called WebVC, is driven by stakeholders of AVC technology. WebVC focuses on the constrained baseline profile from the widely used AVC standard (Rec. ITU-T H.264 | ISO/IEC 14496-10). Proponents of WebVC have indicated that they hope to convince stakeholders to grant a royalty-free license for this technology, which was originally standardized in 2003.

Depending on the progress of the two tracks, MPEG will decide, in 2012, whether to choose IVC or WebVC to become an International Standard.

————
From Resolutions, the 98th SC 29/WG 11 Meeting, 2011-11-28/12-02, Geneva, Switzerland  [SC 29/WG 11 N 12254:

3.11        Part 29 Web Video Coding

3.11.1        The Requirements and Video subgroups thank Apple, Cisco, Fraunhofer HHI, Magnum Semiconductor, Polycom, and RIM for their response to the CfP on Internet Video Coding.

3.11.2        The Requirements subgroup recommends that proponents of technology for Web Video Coding further improve the support for their proposal in order to meet market needs as identified in the IVC CfP.

3.11.3        The video subgroup recommends to approve of the following documents

No. Title TBP Available
14496-29 – Web Video Coding
12365 Request for subdivision: ISO/IEC 14496-29 N 11/12/02
12366 Working Draft of  ISO/IEC 14496-29 Web Video Coding Y 11/12/19

3.11.4        The availability of N12366 and its publication may be delayed if the Video chairs consider the working draft not sufficiently mature.

15.3        Internet Video Coding

15.3.1        The Requirements and Video subgroups thank HKUST, Peking University, Tsinghua University and Zhejiang University for their response to the CfP on Internet Video Coding.

15.3.2        The Video subgroup recommends approval of the following documents:

No. Title TBP Available
Exploration – Internet Video Coding
12355 Internet Video Coding Test Model (ITM) v 1.0 N 11/12/16
12356 Description of Core Experiments in Internet Video Coding N 11/12/10

15.3.3        The Requirements subgroup recommends that MPEG members make WG 11 aware of market developments in the space addressed by IVC.

———–

Posted by & filed under Digital TV, Featured, Headline, Open Video.

MPEG has issued a press release describing its intent to move forward on developing a royalty-free MPEG standard.

The press release is here, relevant part is below.  The meeting resolution approving the press release is here.

************
UPDATE:  This press release was picked up in multiple articles, and most interestingly discussed in the Guardian blog by Florian Mueller.

Guardian: Royalty-free MPEG video codec ups the ante for Google’s WebM/VP8
Slashdot: MPEG Continues With Royalty-free MPEG Video Codec Plans
The Register: Google open video codec faces second challenger: VP8 v MPEG v MPEG LA v acronym chaos
The H: MPEG calling for royalty-free web video codec
LWN:  In other news – “MPEG envisages royalty-free MPEG video coding standard”

************

INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATION FOR STANDARDISATION
ORGANISATION INTERNATIONALE DE NORMALISATION
ISO/IEC/JTC 1/SC 29/WG 11
CODING OF MOVING PICTURES AND AUDIO

ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29/WG 11 N11703
January 2011 – Daegu, KR

Source: Convenor of MPEG
Status: Approved by WG11
Subject: MPEG Press Release
Date: 28 January, 2011

MPEG envisages royalty-free MPEG video coding standard

Daegu, KR – The 95th MPEG meeting was held in Daegu, Korea from the 24th to the 28th of January 2011.

Highlights of the 95th Meeting

MPEG anticipates March 2011 CfP for Type-1 Video Coding Standard

MPEG has been producing standards that provide industry with the best video compression technologies. In recognition of the growing importance that the Internet plays in the generation and consumption of video content, MPEG intends to develop a new video compression standard in line with the expected usage models of the Internet. The new standard is intended to achieve substantially better compression performance than that offered by MPEG-2 and possibly comparable to that offered by the AVC Baseline Profile. MPEG will issue a call for proposals on video compression technology at the end of its upcoming meeting in March 2011 that is expected to lead to a standard falling under ISO/IEC “Type-1 licensing”, i.e. intended to be “royalty free”.

Posted by & filed under Broadband Policy, Featured, Headline, Open Video, Patent Pools, Uncategorized.

I’ve been saying for a while that the best way out of the Web video codec mess is formal standardization of a royalty-free video codec and that formal standards groups like MPEG and others should step up to the task.

Of course, I mean a real, bona-fide standardization process, not a dubious rubber-stamping “ratification” nor a half-hearted kick-the-can-down-the-road affair.

Below is a draft personal response to a public call for comments by the ISO MPEG committee on issues related to standardizing a royalty-free video codec.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

(DRAFT) Response to MPEG Request for Comments
on Option-1 (Royalty-Free) Video Coding

At its October 2010 meeting, MPEG requested public comment on industry needs and performance targets for an Option-1 (royalty-free) video codec standard [1].

MPEG should enlarge its portfolio of standards by offering some that are expected to be royalty free [2], taking into account the following points:

Google has proposed ratification of its video codec VP8 as mandatory by IETF, and has stated it will remove h.264 support from Chrome:

In November, 2010, Google filed a proposed Internet-Draft, standards track document for real-time communication over the Web that states:

“In video, the VP8 codec [vp8] MUST be supported..” [3]

As to removing support of h.264 from Chrome, Google stated in January, 2011:

“Specifically, we are supporting the WebM (VP8) and Theora video codecs, and will consider adding support for other high-quality open codecs in the future. Though H.264 plays an important role in video, as our goal is to enable open innovation, support for the codec will be removed and our resources directed towards completely open codec technologies.” [4]

In discussing ratification of VP8 as a mandatory-to-implement specification by IETF even without a formal standardization process, the author of the Google proposed Internet-Draft has opined that making VP8 mandatory to implement is reasonable, and if IETF does not address the issue, proponents “may have to start up a third effort in some forum that’s willing to define the profile needed for interoperability” [5].

The Internet and World Wide Web are fundamentally based on royalty-free standards [6] and therefore need and expect a royalty-free video codec standard [7].

Tim Berners-Lee in an article in the Scientific American in November, 2010 restated the often-stated point that the Web’s richness, diverse user base and different (free and pay) business models require that royalty-free standards are and must be the foundation of the Web:

“The basic Web technologies that individuals and companies need to develop powerful services must be available for free, with no royalties.

… Open, royalty-free standards that are easy to use create the diverse richness of Web sites, from the big names such as Amazon, Craigslist and Wikipedia to obscure blogs written by adult hobbyists and to homegrown videos posted by teenagers.

… Openness also means you can build your own Web site or company without anyone’s approval. When the Web began, I did not have to obtain permission or pay royalties to use the Internet’s own open standards, such as the well-known transmission control protocol (TCP) and Internet protocol (IP). Similarly, the Web Consortium’s royalty-free patent policy says that the companies, universities and individuals who contribute to the development of a standard must agree they will not charge royalties to anyone who may use the standard.

… Open, royalty-free standards do not mean that a company or individual cannot devise a blog or photo-sharing program and charge you to use it. They can. And you might want to pay for it if you think it is “better” than others. The point is that open standards allow for many options, free and not.” [8]

The World Wide Web Consortium recently stated in the context of the much-watched deliberation about a royalty-free codec for the upcoming HTML5 specification:

“The W3C HTML Working Group has not identified a Royalty-Free video codec or container format that would satisfy all parties. … W3C is still highly interested in finding a solution in this space.”[9]

Looking forward, trends like cloud computing, the “Internet of devices”, and the many business models and usage scenarios thriving on the Internet all point to the continuing necessity of placing royalty-free, rather than royalty-bearing, standards at the foundation of the open Internet.

MPEG (WG11 of ISO SC29) has the competence and responsibility to standardize an Option-1 (royalty-free) video codec.

With a 20+ year history, MPEG, now has a portfolio of standards and technologies at or approaching patent expiration from which to assemble a royalty free standard. [10]

MPEG has deliberated at multiple meetings and a quorum of SC29 national bodies have expressed support [11].

The ISO/IEC/ITU patent policy provides a process framework [12], and related bodies like IETF are already moving forward with royalty-free codec standardization [13].

Recent changes in h.264 licensing have been rejected by key Internet industry leadership as inadequate to meet the need for a fully royalty-free standard [14].

As three of many examples, Web browser vendors Mozilla [15], Opera [16], and Google [4] have expressed that these new license terms from MPEG LA are unacceptable to them.

MPEG’s well-established methodology of defining a test model and evaluating improvements to it is the appropriate approach for Option-1 standardization.

MPEG has a long-established and successful work method of defining and then improving a test plan based on pre-defined, rigorous methodology [17].  This test model approach is ideally suited for Option-1, royalty-free standardization, which requires a two-step process of first defining a generic video test model of a known royalty-free foundation, then only allowing additions and modifications of known IPR source and licensing.

It would be unwise, counterproductive, and against long-established MPEG practice for MPEG to publicly set only a “hard” performance target like “a 2x coding gain, in comparison to MPEG-1″ for an Option-1 (royalty-free) codec.

A narrow measure of video codec performance is a metric such as image quality (like PSNR) against bandwidth, but the practical reality is that all viable video codec standards activities must and do incorporate trade-offs of multiple features, application profiles and requirements, and platform constraints.

For example, MPEG-2 wisely did not set a hard performance target over MPEG-1; rather, MPEG-2′s core rationale [18] was specifically aimed at adding features like interlace to make the overall standard more generically useful and supportive of specific application profiles:

Rationale

…The general aim of MPEG-2 is to support a broad number of features and operating points which were not the focus of MPEG-1, and in so doing to establish an essentially generic, i.e. application independent standard, which will support a small number of key application profiles.”

Performance-related requirements were only specified as “optimized” image quality, and balanced against multiple parameters like multi-resolution scalability, transmission and storage channel-coding and error-recovery schemes, and  low coding-decoding delay:

“Requirements

MPEG-2 Video extends the capabilities of MPEG-1 with efficient methods to encode interlaced video formats. MPEG-2 Video key requirements include: optimized image quality in ranges from about 3 to 15 Mbit/s; support for various interlaced (as well as progressive) video formats; provision for multi-resolution bit-stream and decoder scalability; random accessibility to support efficient channel-hopping and editability; compatibility with both MPEG-1 and the CCITT H.261 recommendation for video telecommunications; adaptability to various transmission and storage channel-coding and error-recovery schemes; provision for low coding-decoding delay.

And the workplan required only an evaluation process to identify independently confirmable, appreciable improvements in picture quality to make improvements in a short time:

Workplan

… A video test model has been established, and several key modules in its algorithmic block diagram are subject to improvement up until March 1993.  For a proposed alternative to be selected to replace the current method, two independent experts must confirm experimentally that the proposed method yields appreciably improved picture quality.  This methodology permits MPEG’s dozens of experts from the world’s top video coding laboratories to make tremendous improvements to the state-of-the-art over a remarkably short time”

The 2001 ISO/ITU Terms of Reference for AVC and h.264 [19] did set a 50% performance target as one of 9 requirements in Annex 1, but it separately required a royalty-free baseline for which the priority requirement was to be its demonstrably royalty free IPR.  And the overall aim was limited to “offer the best possible technical performance under the practical constraints of being implementable on various platforms and for various applications enabled by the relevant ITU-T Recommendations and ISO/IEC International Standards”

Similarly, the High-Performance Video Coding activity has wisely acknowledged that optimizing performance over some ranges may produce worse performance over others [20]:

“3 Requirements

3.1 Compression Performance

A substantially greater bitrate reduction over MPEG-4 AVC High Profile is required for the target application(s); at no point of the entire bitrate range shall HVC be worse than existing standard(s).”

In sum, while performance efficiency is undoubtedly an important requirement of any viable video codec standard, requirements must include and weigh trade-offs of multiple factors.  As described above, MPEG’s long-established methodology of first establishing a test model (in this case an Option-1/royalty-free test model) and then evaluating (Option-1) improvements to it, within the constraints of multiple application and platform requirements, is the appropriate requirements methodology.

References

[1]     “Resolutions of the 94th Meeting”, ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC29 N11553, Guangzhou, CN, October 2010, http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc29/open/29view/29n11604c.htm:

“MPEG requests that companies comment on the following topics relating to Option-1 licensable video coding:

1. The relevance of pursuing such a standards activity within MPEG, particularly with respect to current market conditions and industry needs.

2. What are the specific video codec performance targets that may be required in order to secure the desired level of market adoption? As an example, current discussions related to an Option-1 codec have considered a 2x coding gain, in comparison to MPEG-1, as a minimum performance target.”

[2]     Leonardo Chiariglione, The missed award speech, May 2008, http://www.chiariglione.org/leonardo/publications/epo2008/index.asp:

“I believe MPEG should enlarge its portfolio of standards by offering some that are expected to be royalty free and typically less performing and with less functionality next to those that are state of the art, more performing and with more functionality.

… “[F]air – reasonable – non discriminatory” used to be meaningful words when standards were designed for the needs of one industry whose members generally shared the business model according to which the standard would be used.

… I fear that the virtuous circle … whereby the reward from innovation is used to create more innovation may be coming to an end.

… [T]he problem is not “how many cents, tens of cent or euros of licensing fee is fair and reasonable” but “how can licensing be fair and reasonable without specifying a business model”.”

[3]     IETF Internet Draft, Standards Track, “Overview: Real Time Protocols for Brower-based Applications”, H. Alvestrand (Google), November 11, 2010, http://tools.ietf.org/html/draft-alvestrand-dispatch-rtcweb-protocols-00.

Section 5, Data formats, states:

“This document specifies a minimum baseline that will be supported by all implementations of this specification, and leaves further codecs to be included at the will of the implementor.

… In video, the VP8 codec [vp8] MUST be supported.” …

[4]     “HTML Video Codec Support in Chrome”, Mike Jazayeri, Google Product Manager, January 11, 2011, http://blog.chromium.org/2011/01/html-video-codec-support-in-chrome.html

[5]     January 13, 2011, Re: [dispatch] Charter proposal: The activity hitherto known as “RTC-WEB at IETF”, http://www.ietf.org/mail-archive/web/dispatch/current/msg03119.html:

“My personal thinking is that a mandatory codec is reasonable for the profile document that I tried to create in draft-alvestrand-dispatch-rtcweb-protocols, while it is not reasonable for the protocol document of draft-alvestrand-dispatch-rtcweb-datagram. But if the IETF decides that it doesn’t want to address this issue … we (the people who want interoperability of RTC-Web applications) may have to start up a third effort in some forum that’s willing to define the profile needed for interoperability”

[6]     See, for example, W3C Patent Policy, http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Patent-Policy-20040205/:

“In order to promote the widest adoption of Web standards, W3C seeks to issue Recommendations that can be implemented on a Royalty-Free (RF) basis. Subject to the conditions of this policy, W3C will not approve a Recommendation if it is aware that Essential Claims exist which are not available on Royalty-Free terms.”

[7]     For example, the Open Video Alliance, founded in 2009 by Mozilla, Kaltura, Participatory Culture Foundation, and Yale ISP, has issued five “Principles for an Open Video Ecosystem”, which clearly indicate that royalty-free open standards are the only acceptable approach for open web video standards:

“Open Standards for Video — Video standards (formats, codecs, metadata, etc.) should be open, interoperable, and royalty free”

http://openvideoalliance.org/wiki/index.php?title=Some_principles_for_open_video

[8]     Tim Berners-Lee, “Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality”, Scientific American, November 22, 2010,  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=long-live-the-web

[9]     W3C HTML5 FAQ, http://www.w3.org/html/wiki/FAQs, last modified 23 November 2010:

Does HTML5 provide for Royalty-Free video and audio codecs?

Question: Since no video codec and container format have been specified yet, CPs and service providers have to prepare multiple versions of same video contents for browsers supporting different codecs and container formats with HTML5. Therefore, it would be nice to specify (mandatorily) supported codec(s) and container format(s). When do you estimate this can be done? Or is it possible that this can be done at all?

The W3C HTML Working Group has not identified a Royalty-Free video codec or container format that would satisfy all parties. There are various requirements to consider, including the W3C Royalty-Free licensing commitments and various open source projects (Mozilla, Webkit). W3C is still highly interested in finding a solution in this space. At the moment, two video codecs seem to cover all major Web browsers.

See also Jeremy Kirk, “Browser vendor squabbles cause W3C to scrap codec requirement”, Infoworld, July 2, 2009 http://infoworld.com/d/developer-world/browser-vendor-squabbles-cause-w3c-scrap-codec-requirement-974

[10]   See MPEG 20th Year Anniversary Commemoration, Tokyo, November 8, 2008, http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/forum/forum2008MPEG20.html;       Hiroshi Yasuda, “MPEG Birth to Practical Use”, November 8, 2008, http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/forum/forum2008MPEG20/01MPEG20_Yasuda.pdf; Cliff Reader, “Video Coding IPR Issues”, http://www.avs.org.cn/avsdoc/2003-7-30/Cliff.pdf; Cliff Reader, “History of MPEG Video Compression–Ver. 4.0,” 99 pp., document marked Dec. 16, 2003.

[11]    Resolutions, the 92nd SC 29/WG 11 Meeting, 2010-04-19/23, Dresden, Germany, SC 29/WG 11 N 11241, http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc29/open/29view/29n11185c.htm:

“Given that there is a desire for using royalty free video coding technologies for some applications such as video distribution over the Internet, MPEG wishes to enquire of National Bodies about their willingness to commit to active participation (as defined by Section 6.2.1.4 of the JTC1 directives) in developing a Type-1 video coding standard.”

Resolutions, the 93rd SC 29/WG 11 Meeting, 2010-07-26/30, Geneva, Switzerland  [SC 29/WG 11 N 11356], http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc29/open/29view/29n11382c.htm:

“The Requirements group requests National Bodies and experts to provide contributions on the draft Option 1 Licensing Video Coding documents”

[12]   See Part 1, section 3 of “Guidelines for Implementation of the Common Patent Policy for ITU-T/ITU-R/ISO/IEC” (1 March 2007). The guidelines for the common patent policy encourage disclosure as early as possible by participants and third parties of any known patents or applications:

“[A]ny party participating in the work of the Organizations should, from the outset, draw their attention to any known patent or to any known pending patent application, either their own or of other organizations.

In this context, the words “from the outset” imply that such information should be disclosed as early as possible during the development of the Recommendation | Deliverable.

…  In addition to the above, any party not participating in Technical Bodies may draw  the attention of the Organizations to any known Patent, either their own and/or of any third-party.

[13]   http://tools.ietf.org/wg/codec/

[14]   See for example, “Think H.264 is Now Royalty-Free?  Think Again – and the ‘Open Source’ Defense is No Defense to MPEG-LA”, Peter Csathy, CEO Sorenson Media, Sept. 20, 2010,  http://blog.sorensonmedia.com/2010/09/think-h-264-is-now-royalty-free-think-again-and-the-open-source-defense-is-no-defense-to-mpeg-la/

It appears that many may  have been initially misinformed that MPEG-4 AVC was to become entirely royalty free, as highlighted by Peter Csathy, CEO of encoder vendor Sorenson Media:

“But, you say, MPEG LA recently announced that it will no longer charge royalties for the use of H.264. Yes, it’s true – MPEG LA recently bowed to mounting pressure from, and press surrounding, WebM and announced something that kind of sounds that way. But, I caution you to read the not-too-fine print. H.264 is royalty-free only in one limited case – for Internet video that is delivered free to end users. Read again: for (1) Internet delivery that is (2) delivered free to end users. In the words of MPEG LA’s own press release, “Products and services other than [those] continue to be royalty-bearing.”

This inspires speculation that there may be underlying and less charitable motives in play:

“MPEG LA, in fact, continues to make “noises” that even Google’s royalty free WebM gift to the world (which resulted from its acquisition of On2 and its VP8 video codec) infringes the rights of its patent holders.”

[15]   “Mozilla shrugs off ‘forever free’ H.264 codec license: Uh, will H.264 even be relevant in 4 years?”, Cade Metz, August 26, 2010, http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/mozilla-unmoved-by-royalty-free-h264/9499

[16]   “Opera still won’t support H.264 video”, Jan Vermeulen, October 1, 2010, http://mybroadband.co.za/news/internet/15547-Opera-still-wont-support-H264-video.html

[17]   See for example, MPEG2 Workplan, http://mpeg.chiariglione.org/meetings/london/london_press.htm:

“For the Video work, a disciplined methodology has been established to enable experimentation on various modules of the video encoding and decoding system to proceed in parallel.  A video test model has been established, and several key modules in its algorithmic block diagram are subject to improvement up until March 1993.  For a proposed alternative to be selected to replace the current method, two independent experts must confirm experimentally that the proposed method yields appreciably improved picture quality.  This methodology permits MPEG’s dozens of experts from the world’s top video coding laboratories to make tremendous improvements to the state-of-the-art over a remarkably short time.”

[18]   MPEG-1 rationale, requirements and workplan are publicly described in MPEG Press Release, 20th  Meeting, Nov. 6, 1992, http://mpeg.chiariglione.org/meetings/london/london_press.htm

[19]   “Terms of Reference for a Joint Project between ITU-T Q.6/SG16 and ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29/WG11 for the Development of new Video Coding Recommendation and International Standard”, ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 29/WG 11 N4400, December 2001,  http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc29/29w12911jvt.pdf

[20]   “Vision, Applications and Requirements for High-Performance Video Coding (HVC)”, ISO/IEC JTC1/SC29/WG11/N11096, January 2010, Kyoto, JP, http://mpeg.chiariglione.org/working_documents/explorations/hvc/HVC_VR.zip

Posted by & filed under Featured, Headline, Open Video.

MPEG has issued a request for comments and a call for further evidence on a royalty-free video codec standard under consideration.

The request is contained in the  publicly available meeting resolutions of the October 2010 94th Meeting in Guangzhou, China.

The request follows responses received at the October Guanghzou meeting to the previous August call for evidence on Option-1 licensing (MPEG-speak for royalty-free) and input from the Chinese and US National Bodies.

In addition to information about target performance, the request cryptically asks:

The relevance of pursuing such a standards activity within MPEG, particularly with respect to current market conditions and industry needs.

Presumably this is a veiled reference to the announcement after the August MPEG meeting by the MPEG LA patent licensing administrator of new royalty terms on its AVC/H.264 (MPEG-4 Part 10) pool that has met Internet industry opposition.

————————————————————————————————————————————————

14.6 Option 1 Licensable Video Coding

14.6.1 The Requirements subgroup thanks the following organizations for their response to the Call for Evidence on Option-1 Video Coding Technology: Oracle, Peking University, Tsinghua University, Zhejiang University.

14.6.2 The Requirements subgroup thanks the CNNB and USNB for their input related to Option-1 video coding technology.

14.6.3 The Requirements subgroup recommends approval of the following documents:

No. Title TBP Available
Exploration – Option 1 Licensing Video Coding
11676 Call for Evidence on Option-1 Video Coding Technology N 10/10/15

14.6.4 Interested parties are encouraged to respond to N11676.

14.6.5 MPEG requests that companies comment on the following topics relating to Option-1 licensable video coding:

  1. The relevance of pursuing such a standards activity within MPEG, particularly with respect to current market conditions and industry needs.

  2. What are the specific video codec performance targets that may be required in order to secure the desired level of market adoption? As an example, current discussions related to an Option-1 codec have considered a 2x coding gain, in comparison to MPEG-1, as a minimum performance target.

————————————————————————————————————————————————

References

“Resolutions of the 94th Meeting”, ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC29 N11553, Guanzhou, CN, October 2010, http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc29/open/29view/29n11604c.htm

“Think H.264 is Now Royalty-Free? Think Again – and the “Open Source” Defence is No Defense to MPEG-LA”, Peter Csathy, CEO Sorenson Media, Sept. 20, 2010, http://blog.sorensonmedia.com/2010/09/think-h-264-is-now-royalty-free-think-again-and-the-open-source-defense-is-no-defense-to-mpeg-la/

“Mozilla shrugs off ‘forever free’ H.264 codec license: Uh, will H.264 even be relevant in 4 years?’, Cade Metz, August 26, 2010, http://www.zdnet.com/blog/hardware/mozilla-unmoved-by-royalty-free-h264/9499

“Opera still won’t support H.264 video”, Jan Vermeulen, October 1, 2010,  http://mybroadband.co.za/news/internet/15547-Opera-still-wont-support-H264-video.html

“Open Standards for Video — Video standards (formats, codecs, metadata, etc.) should be open, interoperable, and royalty free”, in “Some principles for open video”, Open Video Alliance, http://openvideoalliance.org/wiki/index.php?title=Some_principles_for_open_video

Posted by & filed under Broadband Policy, Featured, Headline.

MPEG has moved forward with a royalty-free standard activity, approving a “Call for Evidence”, the typical first step in the MPEG standardization process.

The MPEG Call for Evidence is referenced in the public Resolutions of the just-completed 93rd MPEG meeting, which also hint at an upcoming Call For Proposals.

The Call for Evidence follows the April call for active participation in a royalty-free standardization activity to verify the ISO-required minimum of 5 National Bodies willing to actively participate.

No doubt of interest in response to the Call for Evidence will be performance tests on royalty free codecs and coding techniques (perhaps along the lines of the annual MSU h.264 codec comparison, which in June released test results on Google’s VP8 codec) and background on patent and prior art searches.

The documents use the new MPEG-speak for royalty-free licensing of “Option-1 Licensing”, named for the first check box on the ISO/IEC/ITU Common Patent Policy Patent Statement and Licensing Declaration, which allows patent holders to affirm that “[t]he Patent Holder is prepared to grant a free of charge license to an unrestricted number of applicants on a worldwide, non-discriminatory basis and under other reasonable terms and conditions to make, use, and sell implementations of the above document.”

14.6 Option 1 Licensing Video Coding

14.6.1 The Requirements subgroup recommends approval of the following documents:

No. Title TBP Available
Exploration – Option 1 Licensing Video Coding ISO-group.jpg
11533 Call for Evidence on Option-1 Video Coding Technology N 10/07/30
11534 Draft Context, Objectives and Applications for Option-1 video coding for Internet applications N 10/07/30
11535 Draft Requirements for Option-1 Video coding for Internet applications N 10/07/30
11536 Draft Call for Proposals for Option-1 Video Coding for Internet applications N 10/07/30

The Requirements group requests National Bodies and experts to provide contributions on the draft Option 1 Licensing Video Coding documents

Posted by & filed under Featured, Headline, Open Video, Uncategorized.

As readers of this blog know, I am a long-time proponent of royalty-free standardization as the best option for open Web media, preferable to informal, vendor-run open-sourcing of undocumented or unreviewed Intellectual Property Rights.

MPEG, an ISO working group (WG 11 of ISO/IEC JTC 1 / SC 29, to be precise), has been looking into royalty-free standardization and has issued a resolution soliciting interest in active participation by the relevant voting units (“National Bodies”).  Here is my manifesto on why a new dual-track standards activity in ISO could succeed where the 2001 h.264 royalty-free baseline failed.

So I forwarded the resolution to Steve Jobs (Apple has been a long-standing member of the MPEG committee), soliciting Apple’s support.

His response — “The problem is that it will have lower quality video…” — is in my view an accurate and reasonable conclusion and one shared by others, including the head of MPEG, who has said “I believe MPEG should enlarge its portfolio of standards by offering some that are expected to be royalty free and typically less performing and with less functionality next to those that are state of the art, more performing and with more functionality”.

Judge for yourself (no, no response to my second email):

——– Original Message ——–

Subject: Re: Please help develop a royalty-free ISO video standard
Date: Tue, 01 Jun 2010 11:21:28 -0700
From: Rob Glidden <rob.glidden@xxx.xx>
To: Steve Jobs <sjobs@apple.com>

Steve:

Same quality at ~20% more bandwidth looks patent-safe today, so not a direct replacement for h.264.

Rather, a viable HTML5 solution, because World Wide Web Consortium, vendors, and community require codec to be royalty free AND standardized (not just open sourced).

Would Apple support ISO starting standardization process for HTML5-type uses?

Rob

On 6/1/2010 10:03 AM, Steve Jobs wrote:

The problem is that it will have lower quality video…

On Jun 1, 2010, at 9:33 AM, Rob Glidden wrote:
Steve:

I am writing to encourage Apple to actively participate in developing an ISO-approved royalty-free video coding standard.

The MPEG group has issued a resolution seeking active participation in developing a Type-1 (royalty-free) video coding standard:

“Given that there is a desire for using royalty free video coding technologies for some applications such as video distribution over the Internet, MPEG wishes to enquire of National Bodies about their willingness to commit to active participation (as defined by Section 6.2.1.4 of the JTC1 directives) in developing a Type-1 video coding standard. MPEG would appreciate if NBs provide the names of individual organisations that will commit resources”

Type-1 (royalty-free) licensing has been considered at recent MPEG meetings, and multiple National Bodies have expressed their support.

ISO procedure requires active participation by individual organizations to move the activity through the ISO standards process.

Please contact your ISO / SC 29 National Body and express your support for this important standards initiative.

Kind regards

Rob Glidden


References

[1] Resolutions, the 92nd SC 29/WG 11 Meeting, 2010-04-19/23, Dresden, Germany, SC 29/WG 11 N 11241, http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc29/open/29view/29n11185c.htm:

“Given that there is a desire for using royalty free video coding technologies for some applications such as video distribution over the Internet, MPEG wishes to enquire of National Bodies about their willingness to commit to active participation (as defined by Section 6.2.1.4 of the JTC1 directives) in developing a Type-1 video coding standard. MPEG would appreciate if NBs provide the names of individual organisations that will commit resources. MPEG will use the information gathered from the NB responses, particularly including the number of countries willing to actively participate, in order to decide at the Geneva meeting whether to request approval of a new Work Item Proposal. MPEG does not intend to reopen the issue, unless strong support of at least five national bodies is presented in the future.”

[2] ISO/IEC JTC 1 Directives, 5th Edition, Version 3.0 ISO/IEC JTC 1 N8557, http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc29/directives.pdf:

“9.3.1.1 Votes on NPs at the SC Level

… For the ballot to be successful at the SC level, the NP shall be supported by a majority of all P-members of the SC with at least five P-members committed to active participation.

6.2.1.4  Active participation for NPs includes involvement by NBs in more than one of the following:

- Attendance at meetings (see also 7.11);
- Contributing to the development of the WD;
- Performing substantial review on a CD and subsequent stages;
- Submitting detailed comment with ballots.”

[3] Meeting Report, the 91st SC 29/WG 11 Meeting, 2010-01-18/22, Kyoto, Japan, SC 29/WG 11 N 11077, http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc29/open/29view/29n11151c.htm:

“Royalty-free Codecs

In order to help with the discussion on royalty-free codecs, several National Bodies provided input as requested in N11066 Call for Comments on Possible Future activities on “Royalty-free” Standardization by MPEG. MPEG thanks with N11222 Responses to NB position statements on N1066. No clear conclusions could be drawn from the diverse responses. Furthermore, neither MPEG nor ISO can guarantee that a standard developed with the goal of being RAND or royalty-free will actually be RAND or royalty-free since the analysis of patents is outside of the scope and competence of ISO and MPEG.

MPEG issued document N11221 Possible future actions on standardization with Type 1 licensing where the legal issues are summarized and discussed. Type 1 licensing refers to option 1 of the joint patent declaration form, where an intellectual property holder can indicate that he will not charge for his IP. Laymen refer to this type of licensing as royalty-free.

However, MPEG believes that 20 years after its publication some technology will become royalty-free. Since parts of MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 were published in 2013 and 2014, candidates are a MPEG-2 Part 2 baseline profile carved out of MPEG-2 Part 2, MPEG-1 Part 3 Layer 2 baseline profile carved out of the MPEG-1 part 3 Layer 2, a MPEG-1 Part 3 Layer 3 baseline profile carved out of the MPEG-1 part 3 Layer 3, and a MPEG-2 Part 1 baseline profile carved out of the MPEG-2 part 1. These candidates would be compatible with existing equipment. Alternatively, MPEG may define a new set of standards which are believed to be RF provided such standards provide sufficient differentiation to be successful in the market place.

[4] Meeting Report, the 90th SC 29/WG 11 Meeting, 2009-10-26/30, Xian, China, SC 29/WG 11 N 10876, http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc29/open/29view/29n10944c.htm:

“Royalty-free Codecs

The Chinese National Body encouraged MPEG to discuss the option of royalty-free codecs developed within MPEG (N11065 Responses to CNNB position statement on more friendly IPR policy). Especially small companies perceive licensing as cumbersome. Some royalty free standards have become successful in the market place.

MPEG might consider royalty-free codecs only as a supplement to its current standards development process. The preliminary results of the discussion are summarized in N11067 Summary of Issues and question from the 90th MPEG Meeting in connection with CNNB input document (M16903). In order to help with this discussion, MPEG requests National Bodies to provide input according to N11066 Call for Comments on Possible Future activities on “Royalty-free” Standardization by MPEG.”