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Nokia Claims Ogg Format is "Proprietary"

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the i-do-not-think-that-word-means-what-you-think-it-means dept.

Software 619

a nona maus writes "Several months ago a workgroup of the W3C decided to include Ogg/Theora+Vorbis as the recommended baseline video codec standard for HTML5, against Apple's aggressive protest. Now, Nokia seems to be seeking a reversal of that decision: they have released a position paper calling Ogg 'proprietary' and citing the importance of DRM support. Nokia has historically responded to questions about Ogg on their internet tablets with strange and inconsistent answers, along with hand waving about their legal department. This latest step is enough to really make you wonder what they are really up to."

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Well, isn't it obvious? (5, Insightful)

Mesa MIke (1193721) | about 7 years ago | (#21634299)

They don't like open standards.

Re:Well, isn't it obvious? (5, Interesting)

Mantaar (1139339) | about 7 years ago | (#21634417)

I still don't understand why though.

Apart from it not supporting DRM, ogg has only advantages - it's equal or superior to most other codecs (the widely used mp3 and wma are inferior) and it's open-source w/o patents restrictions...

Seriously, does anyone have an explanation for that?

Re:Well, isn't it obvious? (5, Insightful)

drharris (1100127) | about 7 years ago | (#21634527)

I still don't understand why though. .... Apart from it not supporting DRM

You have your answer.

Re:Well, isn't it obvious? (0, Offtopic)

explosivejared (1186049) | about 7 years ago | (#21634571)

Apart from it not supporting DRM

Right there is a pretty big roadblock. Big media isn't interested unless it is going to help with DRM.

Secondly, the average person isn't really all that interested in whatever superior quality ogg has. It's really a nominal difference on most players and in most listening environments. MP3 does just fine for them.

Thirdly, and in conjunction with my second point, MP3 is old, well-known, and for the most part easy to use. People are familiar with it and therefore are reluctant to change. The fact is MP3 got their first. It causes to few real problems to push people to care about open standards. I myself like to think I'm at least a little enlightened/aware of digital media issues, and I don't even have that much ogg in my library. It's probably 90% MP3, then 5% FLAC and ogg.

Moral of the story, MP3 works well enough, and most people hold to "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Re:Well, isn't it obvious? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21634681)

It's funny that you responded to an article about video with a rambling about audio. It's however hilarious that it got modded Insightful.

Re:Well, isn't it obvious? (1)

Tranzistors (1180307) | about 7 years ago | (#21634815)

And what makes mp3 more easy than ogg? On Ubuntu box making oggs is far more easier than mp3.

If people don't care about quality, they do care about space taken.

And end users don't need DRM, so if W3C tries to help end users, this is advantage.

Re:Well, isn't it obvious? (2, Interesting)

explosivejared (1186049) | about 7 years ago | (#21634873)

And what makes mp3 more easy than ogg?

Well for one thing the PC is not the primary player for most people. iPod's and other "MP3" players are. MP3 is the lingua franca for audio, which makes it much easier to deal in for most. Most people don't make their own files. My previous post was primarily speaking to why ogg hasn't received more support across the industry and user base. Which format to use for encoding your own music or for maximizing your storage space (which isn't a real problem in the days a of 500 gb hdd) is a completely different argument from the one I was discussing.

Re:Well, isn't it obvious? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21634943)

What makes Mp3 easier than Ogg? iTunes. iPod. Ordinary people aren't in love with Mp3 it's just what works. Until Apple decides to allow Ogg on the iPod then forget about it ever being standard. I know, you can get custom firmware that allows it. I doubt the average user, who doesn't know the difference between Ogg, Mp3 or AAC, will really be up for a firmware hunt.

I wish Ogg ruled the roost. I do. I wish any open, cross platform format ruled, but it's unlikely to happen.

Re:Well, isn't it obvious? (5, Funny)

Aehgts (972561) | about 7 years ago | (#21634859)

The engineer's mantra: If it aint broke, fix it till it is.

Re:Well, isn't it obvious? (3, Insightful)

an.echte.trilingue (1063180) | about 7 years ago | (#21634879)

I ripped my whole CD collection in ogg about a year ago. Last week, I went to buy my first mp3 player, and I can't find a single one in my "budget" price range that has ogg support. I'm stuck re-ripping or downloading my entire library. I think that right there kills it for most people.

By the way, a lot of people here are focusing on the fact that ogg doesn't support DRM, but neither does mp3. Seems to be a rather tangential argument.

Re:Well, isn't it obvious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21634909)

Ogg can support DRM, so that is not the problem.

Re:Well, isn't it obvious? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21634713)

Actually Nokia has a great history with "open" standards (generally defined as RAND as opposed to royalty free). In fact Nokia's entire current business comes out of it's ability to cooperate with arch rivals such as Ericsson to build open standards such as NMT, GSM and WCDMA. So the question is not "why is Nokia opposed to open standards?". The question is "why is Nokia opposing this standard?"

Reading through the document, it's actually much more reaonable (DRM should be possible, but shouldn't be mandatory) than implied. The OGG thing, however, is very interesting. To me it almost reads like they know someone who has a fundamental patent on OGG. A fundamental patent is one which can't be avoided to implement a standard and thus guarantees control of the standard. However, give that Xiph.org have done a patent search and claim that OGG is patent free and nobody has contradicted them, I can think of at least two more likely things here.

a) the recent Microsoft / Nokia WMA licensing agreements have seriously crippled Nokias freedom to operate with different formats.

b) they are afraid of the fact that whilst OGG is open, control of how the standard evolves is "proprietary". By this they mean not under control of an "open" standardisation body that they can join. Looking at it; Xiph.org seems to have too much industry independence.

Make no mistake, though, the Nokia of five years ago is probably not the Nokia of today. Where old Nokia was trying to deliver devices to let you do whatever you wanted to do, new Nokia is trying to become a media company and that means is almost certainly joining the dark side.

Re:Well, isn't it obvious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21634733)

You do know Ogg is a container! It can contain many codecs, some of which are free.

Re:Well, isn't it obvious? (5, Informative)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | about 7 years ago | (#21634789)

Apart from it not supporting DRM, ogg has only advantages - it's equal or superior to most other codecs (the widely used mp3 and wma are inferior) and it's open-source w/o patents restrictions...

Seriously, does anyone have an explanation for that?

Ogg isn't a codec. It's a container format. Vorbis is the audio codec in question, and Theora is the video codec in question.

Theora was created using proprietary code and patented techniques developed by On2 and used in their VP3 codec, adapted to fit inside an Ogg container. There are tools to let you convert existing VP3 streams into Ogg streams.

The Xiph.org foundation negotiated free access for all to those patented technology before adapting and adopting it. From the Theora FAQ [theora.org] :

Yes, some portions of the VP3 codec are covered by patents. However, the Xiph.org Foundation has negotiated an irrevocable free license to the VP3 codec for any purpose imaginable on behalf of the public. It is legal to use VP3 in any way you see fit (unless, of course, you're doing something illegal with it in your particular jurisdiction). You are free to download VP3, use it free of charge, implement it in a for-sale product, implement it in a free product, make changes to the source and distribute those changes, or print the source code out and wallpaper your spare room with it.

The paper from Nokia seems to revolve around the fact that it doesn't support DRM from what I can see.

Shoot me, I'm the Messenger (5, Insightful)

DECS (891519) | about 7 years ago | (#21634897)

Ogg is not "equal or superior to most other codecs" because it's not a codec. It's a container file that holds content compressed using a codec.

Ogg is comparable with Apple's QuickTime container format (MOV), Microsoft's former AVI (based on IFF), Microsoft's newer ASF, the rival FOSS Matroska container, or the ISO's MPEG-4 container (MP4, based on QuickTime).

When you talk about Ogg being a "good codec," it demonstrates the kind of impractical, blind bias for free-sounding buzzword projects, which FOSS advocates are quick favor over real open standards that are accepted and established. Ogg isn't open vs closed MPEG-4; they're both open containers available for non-discriminatory licensing. The difference is that there are only some theoretical uses of Ogg and a single source of documentation and libraries for it, while MPEG-4 is in use everywhere, has support across the industry, and has wide hardware support in silicon, because the MPEG-4 container is paired with a portfolio of codecs that people actually use. Ogg also competes with other FOSS containers such as Matroska, so it's not the lone FOSS messiah at all.

Ogg's video codec is Theora, which was proprietary. On2 developed it as its closed competition to MPEG-4's H.263 (DivX) and H.264 (AVC) codecs, alongside other competing proprietary codecs from Real and Microsoft (WMV). The winner to shake out of all that competition has been the MPEG-4 standard, which includes both a container and different sets of codecs. MPEG-4 is open and supported by lots of companies, and is also supported by FOSS (x264 is among the best implementations).

After realizing there was no reason to fight MPEG-4 with a proprietary runner up, On2 donated Theora to Xiph to use with Ogg, and Xiph published it as an open specification. However, Microsoft basically did the same thing: it published WMV with the SMPTE group as an "open standard" called VC1.

If you think Microsoft's VC1--which it's using to compete against the open MPEG-4--is an "open standard," then you can also say Theora is. It's easier to describe both as failed proprietary technologies that nobody uses, although Microsoft is pushing VC1 hard in HD-DVD and in Windows Vista.

For the WC3 to push an obscure format that nobody uses as the baseline of web video of the future is absurd. It means that rather than having one set of codecs that the world contributes toward, we'll have an official joke that nobody uses decreed the "standard" while everyone actually uses MPEG-4 / H.264 (and probably H.265 by the time HTML5 arrives).

This is not a case of OpenDocument vs MS-XML, open vs closed. It's closer to a case of GPL v3 vs BSD/Apache: rhetoric vs reality. Trying to rip apart MPEG-4 and install an openly published version of a failed proprietary standard that nobody uses in its place will only hand the lead to Microsoft's VC-1 (which itself is a proprietary version of H.263). What would that accomplish?

Supporters for Ogg/Theora are voting for a Ross Perot, assuring that we'll really get a George Bush. What we really need is an Al Gore: centrist, workable, functional, capable, and proven to work.

If that analogy lost you: pushing Ogg/Theora might make you proud to have voted, but it will only distract from the industry's coalition to unitedly back H.264 from mobile devices to HD. There's far more FOSS support for MPEG-4 and H.264 than for Ogg/Theora and the rest of the outdated codecs Xiph has salvaged from the dumpster of proprietary efforts. Having wide support behind one good, open portfolio of standards will make it easier for FOSS to compete with and participate in the desktop computing world.

Why Low Def is the New HD [roughlydrafted.com]
Origins of the Blu-ray vs HD-DVD War [roughlydrafted.com]

ITU & ISO MPEG-4 codecs and container [roughlydrafted.com]

Re:Well, isn't it obvious? (5, Informative)

KugelKurt (908765) | about 7 years ago | (#21634951)

I'm sure that I'll be modded down for my following comment, but I post it anyway:

Vorbis is pretty much dead. While its quality is good, Vorbis has quite high performance requirements just for decoding (negligible on current desktop PCs, but not on portables that run on battery). Even Vorbis's developer Xiph.org acknowledged that and instead of trying to "fix" Vorbis, they started development of an entirely new audio codec called Ghost.

While Vorbis and Theora are in no way proprietary, the industry already decided to support MPEG-4. Even Microsoft supports it out of the box on Xbox 360 and Zune. Vorbis was cool when it was released, but it never had a modern video codec as companion.

Re:Well, isn't it obvious? (2, Informative)

arivanov (12034) | about 7 years ago | (#21634543)

Wrong, they do if they know where to pay and how much and if they consider the payment reasonable. Cellular industry mentality. Every bit of IP has to be payed for and accounted for. Essentially the software industry mentality of the early 80-es redux. They are not alone in this. Most of the industry is just as bad if not worse.

Re:Well, isn't it obvious? (1)

KugelKurt (908765) | about 7 years ago | (#21634757)

Ogg Vorbis and Theora aren't standards. Yes, they are open and at least Vorbis is quite good, but both are not standards (as in: standardized by ISO or a similar organisation).

Re:Well, isn't it obvious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21634891)

They don't like open standards.

Whether Vorbis/Theora are "free" or not, they are certainly not standards. And Nokia's language about the "current perception of them being free" echoes comments I've heard from several sources that consider it very unlikely that the Ogg codecs would not infringe on at least some of the many, many patents on audio or video codec technologies.

Remember #1: Just because their proponents do not claim patents on Vorbis/Theora does not mean nobody else does.

Remember #2: Whether you like the patent system or not, as long as it's the law any business would be well advised to work within its bounds. Especially a large and profitable business that is easily sued. With the MPEG family, Nokia & Co at least know what they are in for. With Ogg, they don't.

AC, for obvious reasons

Anoter one going for a Waterloo (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 7 years ago | (#21634307)

Ogg Vorbis/Theora is completely free and easily documantable so, since that was one of its primary design goals. I hope these people get kicked were it hurts and stay down afterwards.

Re:Anoter one going for a Waterloo (5, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 7 years ago | (#21634373)

Fully documentable nothin'! Theora and Vorbis are fully [xiph.org] documented [theora.org] . If you can't figure out how to make your own implementation from the docs and/or by studying one of the many existing implementations out there, you need to turn in your geek card and just forget about developing software.

Proprietary would imply that independent implementations cannot be made or cannot be made easily without violating patents or reverse engineering or whatever. Vorbis and Theora are nothing of the sort -- they are fully open and unencumbered.

Theft (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 7 years ago | (#21634435)

Theft is 9/10 of the law. The law is all theft.

FWIW: Their actual statement (1)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | about 7 years ago | (#21634495)

"a W3C-lead standardization of a "free" codec, or the
active endorsement of proprietary technology such as Ogg, ..., by W3C, is, in our
opinion, not helpful for the co-existence of the two ecosystems (web and video), and
therefore not our choice."

Crappy translator? (1)

Marcion (876801) | about 7 years ago | (#21634507)

This document has a number of grammatical errors and parts that seem unclear, so I am wondering whether it has just been translated badly? I can imagine that it was originally written by an engineer in Finnish or Swedish then translated by someone rather further down the food chain.

Or the guy is just a nut and has no idea of what he is talking about, you pay your money, you make your choice!

Re:Crappy translator? (2, Insightful)

Marcion (876801) | about 7 years ago | (#21634651)

Ok after looking at the website, it is probably both. He can't really speak English and he is a nut. However, Nokia is a really big company with lots of divisions, so I would not take it too too seriously

Re:Crappy translator? (1)

cbart387 (1192883) | about 7 years ago | (#21634803)

I said the same thing [slashdot.org] below and my response [slashdot.org] to myself. I read into it that his writings are for internal usage only and fairly informal. I blame the submitter/editor more than him.

Ah, the "Humpty Dumpty" defense (3, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | about 7 years ago | (#21634313)

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master -- that's all."

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again.

"They've a temper, some of them -- particularly verbs, they're the proudest -- adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs -- however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That's what I say!"

Re:Ah, the "Humpty Dumpty" defense (5, Funny)

callmetheraven (711291) | about 7 years ago | (#21634419)

(1) choose open standard/software
(2) have your lawyers claim it as your own
(3) profit!

Unless you're SCO...

Re:Ah, the "Humpty Dumpty" defense (2, Interesting)

denelson83 (841254) | about 7 years ago | (#21634685)

That's a corollary of Embrace, Extend and Extinguish.

From Vorbis.com (4, Insightful)

fractalVisionz (989785) | about 7 years ago | (#21634325)

From vorbis.com:
"Ogg Vorbis is a completely open, patent-free, professional audio encoding and streaming technology with all the benefits of Open Source."

I lost any respect for Nokia.

Re:From Vorbis.com (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21634355)

You had any??

Re:From Vorbis.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21634421)

Must... boycott... Nokia.

Calm Down (1)

Marcion (876801) | about 7 years ago | (#21634583)

It is just a word document converted to PDF. Forget what one random guy says look at what they do. They have made three revisions of their Linux Internet tablets and in the process put a rocket under GNOME Mobile libraries, that is quite a commitment to open source software.

Now I am hoping that Maemo will be a first step towards replacing that monstrosity that is Symbian with Linux.

Re:Calm Down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21634675)

"Maemo".... Great, I wonder what the geek who named that one was thinking about....

Re:From Vorbis.com (1)

humina (603463) | about 7 years ago | (#21634751)

It is strange that a guy that works as a professor on video compression knows so little about the licenses that they are released under. If you look at his webpage, http://www.stewe.org/ [stewe.org] , you can see that he has worked on H.264/AVC. You can see that he is a big backer of MPEG as a standard (he links to is on his webpage) his flag is obviously in the MPEG camp. It is unfortunate that he is waging an intellectually deficient argument against the adoption of a more open standard.

Re:From Vorbis.com (1)

Carewolf (581105) | about 7 years ago | (#21634775)

I lost any respect for Nokia.

What took you so long?

They have been the Microsoft of the mobile industry for almost a decade.

Re:From Vorbis.com (1)

MrHanky (141717) | about 7 years ago | (#21634809)

Congrats on the 5, insightful.

Re:From Vorbis.com (5, Insightful)

curunir (98273) | about 7 years ago | (#21634935)

From reading the whole position paper, rather than just the one poorly-phrased sentence, it sounds like the poster is making a mountain out of a mole hill.

The actual quote that's being focused on is:

...including a W3C-lead standardization of a "free" codec, or the
active endorsement of proprietary technology such as Ogg, ..., by W3C...
If you look at what the intent of this sentence is likely to have been in the context of the statement as a whole rather than read it literally, it appears that that he's using Ogg as an example of 'a "free" codec or a proprietary technology'.

The reason for opposing Ogg, though, is best summed up by another sentence from the paper:

Compatibility with DRM. We understand that this could be a sore point in
W3C, but from our viewpoint, any DRM-incompatible video related
mechanism is a non-starter with the content industry (Hollywood). There is in
our opinion no need to make DRM support mandatory, though.
It seems to me that Nokia just wants a standardized way to deliver paid-for video to mobile devices. This kind of service is coming relatively soon and it will involve DRM. And while we like to bitch and moan about how horrible DRM is, the average wireless customer could care less. Nokia just wants the delivery mechanism to be somewhat standardized so that they don't have to have separate implementations for each wireless carrier.

what a tool ! (4, Insightful)

maharg (182366) | about 7 years ago | (#21634331)

All these alternatives are, in our opinion, preferable over the recommendation of the
Ogg technologies, based almost exclusively on the current perception of them being
The current perception ? WTF ?

Re:what a tool ! (1)

maharg (182366) | about 7 years ago | (#21634377)

From Stephan Wenger's website http://www.stewe.org/contrib.htm [stewe.org] -

I write many of these contributions at 39,000 feet on my way to those meetings. Don't expect tutorials, but do expect typos, weird language, less then optimal presentation, procedural arguments, political statements, and sometimes errors.
Oh, that's ok then ! I mean, it's only W3C, accuracy is not important really, is it ?

Re:what a tool ! (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | about 7 years ago | (#21634525)

if their current perceptions are proven wrong, by their own admission, that pretty much throws out their recommendation, correct?

Although Nokia does basically say, we have already licensed the other formats, so their is no additional cost to Nokia. They do admit this wouldn't be true for everyone.

Re:what a tool ! (1)

gnuman99 (746007) | about 7 years ago | (#21634699)

The guy is probably the same person as in

Thank you for smoking [imdb.com]

Nice comedy :)

proprietary. (5, Funny)

sh3l1 (981741) | about 7 years ago | (#21634337)

In other news Microsoft is making claim that odt is proprietary.

Re:proprietary. (0)

HappySmileMan (1088123) | about 7 years ago | (#21634369)

I accidentally marked this as insightful, posting here to get rid of it

Re:proprietary. (3, Insightful)

calebt3 (1098475) | about 7 years ago | (#21634401)

The difference here is that Nokia does not own MP3.

For very large values of "now" (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21634379)

If you look at the link to the position paper, you'll see this was something Nokia published back in _August_.

Apple and Ogg (4, Interesting)

christurkel (520220) | about 7 years ago | (#21634393)

Apple doesn't support Ogg, which as a Mac user bums me. It shouldn't be hard to add support.

Re:Apple and Ogg (4, Informative)

jandrese (485) | about 7 years ago | (#21634437)

There is a plugin you can get for iTunes that lets it support ogg, but last time I tried it there were problems with it (you couldn't stream music to another copy of iTunes for instance because it would stream at the wrong rate and break up every couple of seconds, nor could you stream to an Airport Express).

Re:Apple and Ogg (1)

Fluffy_Kitten (911430) | about 7 years ago | (#21634489)

It would be hard on their business model.

Re:Apple and Ogg (5, Insightful)

Petrushka (815171) | about 7 years ago | (#21634533)

It shouldn't be hard to add support.

Of course it isn't. But I hope you weren't under the impression that Apple is actually against DRM in principle. They're only against DRM some of the time, only when it makes them money, and only because they're one of the few companies that have woken up to the fact that they can make more money by doing away with DRM some of the time.

And that's why Apple opposes Vorbis -- because they're actually on the ball, because they've got the foresight to realise both the pros and the cons of open formats for them, and they know exactly what the consequences would be if open standards were to become dominant.

Re:Apple and Ogg (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | about 7 years ago | (#21634817)

It has nothing to do with the fact that support vorbis in itunes and not on the ipod would simply be confusing to users. You might argue that they should support both, sure, go ahead, burn your batteries for no good reason.

Re:Apple and Ogg (4, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 7 years ago | (#21634831)

But I hope you weren't under the impression that Apple is actually against DRM in principle.

I think you're following a red herring here. Apple is opposed to DRM, from pure selfishness, but that applies as much to Vvideo as it does to audio. Apple implements DRM when they have to and removes it when they can, this is because their goal is to sell hardware. To sell hardware, you need content. If they can only get content with DRM, they'll try to use minimal DRM under their control because their goal is to make things as easy for users as possible, because then more people buy their hardware. If they can do away with it, well that is even easier for users and will sell even more hardware.

No, Apple's opposition to Vorbis as a standard has little to do with DRM, as they could always apply DRM encapsulation for it. Actually I suspect Apple is just heavily invested in the MPEG standard, which is not as open, but is DRM agnostic as well. Having developed a lot of technologies on top of the MPEG standard as well as both pro and consumer tools for creating it, Apple just sees no benefit to them for Vorbis, since licensing costs are not all that significant.

Re:Apple and Ogg (3, Informative)

raddan (519638) | about 7 years ago | (#21634693)

Nokia and Apple obviously have stakes in determining the codec that people use for video over the web. Apple is pushing H.264, which they point out is a standard [apple.com] , but fail to mention is also proprietary [wikipedia.org] . Nokia mentions this in their position paper, but goes on to recommend H.264 anyway. Ironically, they list their #1 criteria for codec adoption to be "The specifications, and supporting documentation and code (i.e. conformance test suites, example/reference code, ...) are obtainable by everyone, for free or against a reasonable fee (ISO/IEC fees are reasonable in this sense)." You can't get a more reasonable fee than free, which is the case with Ogg. Anyhow, it's clear that Apple wants AppleTV to be a new content-delivery platform. Nokia probably has similar plans.

What I really suspect Nokia is saying in this paper are in criteria #2 and #5: "There is only a manageable risk in implementing the specification. In practice, we prefer specifications that have been developed in a collaborative manner under an IPR policy with disclsore requirements. Examples include specifications developed by the ITU-T, ISO/IEC, or the IETF." and "Compatibility with DRM. We understand that this could be a sore point in W3C, but from our viewpoint, any DRM-incompatible video related mechanism is a non-starter with the content industry (Hollywood). There is in our opinion no need to make DRM support mandatory, though."

Basically, "we think Ogg will get us sued" and "Hollywood won't use Ogg". It's a shame that Stephan Wenger (the author of this paper) has now damaged his own credibility by writing a four-page exercise in being disingenuous.

I'd like to point out that the one really successful proprietary codec, MP3, is a success because of the huge numbers of people who intially implemented the codec without a license and because it didn't support DRM, thus leading to widespread piracy, and establishing the format as the de facto standard for unencumbered audio. I would personally consider the W3C negligent if they did not choose an open (free as in beer and speech) codec.

Re:Apple and Ogg (1)

fermion (181285) | about 7 years ago | (#21634779)

Frankly, Apple support is sketchy. I know that plugins can be gotten, but since Apple is supposed to be a media machine, I don't see why they can't ship media players that support all format(I would be happy to exclude MS proprietary formats). In fact for video, I find quicktime more than useless. I tend to use VLC. The DVD player on 10.5 is much improved, but the inability to take screen shots again pushes me to VLC.

As an Apple customer, I am always made aware that Apple knows on which side the bread is buttered, and though traditionally that knowledge has benefited the end user, those benefits have eroded significantly over the past 3 years or so.

ACC/H2.64 (2, Interesting)

Stevecrox (962208) | about 7 years ago | (#21634425)

Its seems Nokia wants to support Apples codecs, rather than Ogg or MP3 (although MP3 is mentioned as a possible) I found the paper interesting as they talk about majorally accepted file formats they state their after ACC, I always thought ACC was about as popular as Ogg with MP3 the generally accepted and mainstream codec.

Personnally I'd rather see divx and mp3 be used as the next standards, but Xvid and Ogg would be cool.

Re:ACC/H2.64 (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 7 years ago | (#21634629)

Uhh.. you mean AAC? Well, it's only used by the entire iTunes store including but not limited to their DRM-free tracks. I've bought myself some 256k AACs, supporting those would be important to me. So would probably anyone that's used the store and wants to switch to a different player, since I'm sure they'd find a way to strip the "FairPlay" protection and use the AAC tracks on their new player. In the grand scheme of things, exactly noone except private rippers have ogg files. AAC is also used in several other applications like digital radio, digital TV and so on. Yes, it's patent covered but apart from that the specs are open, the quality is top notch and on the whole it's a good codec.

Re:ACC/H2.64 (4, Interesting)

netcrusher88 (743318) | about 7 years ago | (#21634689)

First off, it's actually AAC. And it's not proprietary, at least not to Apple - AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) is part of the MPEG-4 standard and intended as a successor to MP3, though like MP3 it legally requires a patent license. Also H.264 is not an Apple codec - it's an ITU standard, also known as MPEG-4 Part 10, or AVC (but again with the patent nonsense).

I think why Apple picked them up is that they are about the best codecs out there (I'm not going to entertain a debate between AAC and OGG quality, please, the reasoning here is that H.264 and AAC are DESIGNED to work together). Also AAC is very good at surround sound, something MP3 has never been popular for, perhaps for the reasons below.

The reason that the community and market have been slow to accept them are that they are more complicated, thus heavier and/or more expensive to implement, as well as the fact that Xvid and Divx (same thing, different encoders - another part of MPEG-4 by the way) can (or used to) produce smaller filesizes for video, and at standard def you wouldn't really know the difference. But as HD content has become more popular, it's become more common to find media in H.264 with AAC 5.1 audio, and as en- and decoders get better (not to mention computers) H.264 and AAC present less of a relative strain on both disk (or bandwidth) and processor, and at HD resolution the hit to speed is completely worth it.

I think this might be way Nokia is pushing H.264 and AAC - they present real possibility for advancement into high-def streaming content, something that other codecs really don't. Please note that I really haven't had any experience with Ogg Theora (which is NOT the same as Ogg Vorbis) in high-def environments, so I can't really say for sure. Also I'm not sure how it is at streaming.

Re:ACC/H2.64 (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 7 years ago | (#21634705)

DivX;) is a ripoff of the patented MPEG4. That's what the smiley is about.

Re:ACC/H2.64 (2, Informative)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | about 7 years ago | (#21634753)

AAC and H.264 are Apples? Hmmm, you may want to let the Moving Pictures Expert Group know [wikipedia.org] about [wikipedia.org] that. [wikipedia.org]

Re:ACC/H2.64 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21634833)

...but Xvid and Ogg would be cool...

Err... (Ogg) Theora and (Ogg) Vorbis would be cool?

Lol (1)

skulgnome (1114401) | about 7 years ago | (#21634427)

What crack are these people smoking? And if I were to get hired to Nokia, would I get some as part of the benefit package (or is it only reserved for position paper writers)?

Take with a grain of salt... (2, Insightful)

cbart387 (1192883) | about 7 years ago | (#21634431)

I don't take much credence to a paper with rampant misspelling throughout. On slashdot okay, but a position paper? I'd also like to know when it's okay to use an emoticon in a paper?

Closer to theWeb world, dare we mentoned Flash :-)

Re:Take with a grain of salt... (1)

cbart387 (1192883) | about 7 years ago | (#21634475)

Apparently this article was never suppose to be seen by the public, according to Stephan. I rescind my comment and direct towards the submitter of the article instead :)

Typically, such documents do not go through a reviewing process, have a very limited lifetime, and are intended for the experts of a standardization committee and not for the general public

Reaaallly? (4, Interesting)

nmoog (701216) | about 7 years ago | (#21634443)

This document was written by Stephan Wanger [stewe.org] who, according to his bio "serves on the Board of Directors of UB Video Inc., a leading supplier of video compression software".

I wonder if this has anything to do with him not particularly liking ogg?

To the tagger: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21634445)

To whomever was lucky enough to have his tag randomly selected...

Way to misspell "complete..."

Re:To the tagger: (1)

Mix+Master+Nixon (1018716) | about 7 years ago | (#21634499)

I suspect it's a reference to the 80s documentary THE COMPLEAT BEATLES.

Re:To the tagger: (2, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | about 7 years ago | (#21634523)

that's an anachronistic spelling.

Apple and Ogg (0)

Diordna (815458) | about 7 years ago | (#21634481)

I really wish Apple would start building in Ogg-vorbis support. It's a common format these days, and there really isn't a reason not to support it (that I can think of).

Re:Apple and Ogg (1)

MLS100 (1073958) | about 7 years ago | (#21634603)

They want you to use AAC, a format which they have heavy stock in - so they don't add support. Simple, really.

Re:Apple and Ogg (1)

mrsmiggs (1013037) | about 7 years ago | (#21634869)

frustrating isn't it? I'd probably have purchased an iPod at every other generation update if they added Ogg Vorbis support. I've got a music collection full of ogg format music that I ripped on Linux, I don't use ACC _at all_ because my aging iRiver doesn't support it. Having to convert my entire collection to another format makes me hold off, I don't need a new digital music device but I want one that I can migrate to easily. Come Apple it'd be so easy to do, I reckon my patronage in Macbooks and iPods would probably be worth it alone.

Re:Apple and Ogg (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 7 years ago | (#21634933)

On most generations of the iPod you can install Rockbox [rockbox.org] , Free Software firmware that supports Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, and myriad other obscure formats.

Nokia: You Just Don't Get It (3, Insightful)

segedunum (883035) | about 7 years ago | (#21634511)

Yer. I would imagine the web would work brilliantly, and would have taken off the way that it is over the last 15 years, if it was wrapped up in lots of DRM stuff so people didn't have access to any information. Yer, that would really have worked.

I had a scan through the PDF document, and couldn't really believe what I was reading. They're yet another company being pussy-whipped by Hollywood and the whole DRM issue (and it has now been demonstrably proven that widespread DRM can never work), rather than looking at the realities of the technology and working out how to make money from it. This is a very bizarre section to read: Commercial Constraints of the Web and Video ecosystems:

In their vast majority, neither the digital video standard implementations nor the encoded content are "free". The forms of payment vary greatly: patent royalties are folded into the device/software prices; content fees (both for patent use and copyright royalties) are part of the subscription fees a consumer pays (i.e. for cable TV), absorbed through advertising, by governments (e.g. public radio/TV stations), and so on.
Nokia doesn't seem to understand that the W3C is not in the habit of recommending technologies as web standards that are patented and proprietary and that mean that implementation is restricted.

The perhaps astonishing part of the story is that all these royalties have, however reluctantly, be accepted by the market, and have not significantly hindered the adoption of digital video.
Digital video over the web has been severely hindered, because it is not as widespread as content available through HTML.

Compatibility with DRM. We understand that this could be a sore point in W3C, but from our viewpoint, any DRM-incompatible video related mechanism is a non-starter with the content industry (Hollywood).
No other W3C standard takes into account DRM. Nokia seems to misunderstand the role of the W3C.

Reasonable content fees, including provisions for royalty free content from non-professional sources.
Non-professional sources?

Anything beyond that, including a W3C-lead standardization of a "free" codec, or the active endorsement of proprietary technology such as Ogg, ..., by W3C, is, in our opinion, not helpful
I think that should confirm that this document is junk, and that Nokia doesn't have the faintest idea what it is talking about.

MP3 has been ratified in 1991, and that also sets a certain target year (not too far in the future) from which on one can be reasonably certain to be able to use this technology without financial compensation. The disadvantage of this approach is clearly the use of technologies that are two decades old, but that may be at least partly offset by the commercial advantage. And, these codecs are very lightweight on the computational complexity aspect.
This is just downright bizarre.

At first, I wasn't not so sure that Nokia was concerned about keeping Hollywood happy, as they are about keeping the current status quo of proprietary video and audio codecs, additionally restricted by patents if required. However, I haven't got the foggiest what Nokia are arguing. They just seem to be squirming over Ogg Vorbis and Ogg Theora for some reason.

And the reason is? (0, Troll)

Anontroll (688740) | about 7 years ago | (#21634519)

I suspect Nokia and others balk at the inclusion of Ogg and other GPL standards because it would force them to give away their work if they want to support it.

Re:And the reason is? (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | about 7 years ago | (#21634671)

There you go, living up to your name again....

Just because the standard is open doesn't mean that all implementations must be GPL'd or even open source.

Re:And the reason is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21634707)

I suspect Nokia and others balk at the inclusion of Ogg and other GPL standards because it would force them to give away their work if they want to support it.
Wow.. you are so incredibly wrong..

Ogg is public domain. Public fucking domain. It can't get any more free. From the ogg site: "developers are still free to use the specification to write implementations of Ogg Vorbis licensed under other terms."

The example libraries and SDK are under the BSD license. So if you're too lazy to write the implementation yourself, all you have to do is agree not to use the name of the xiph.org foundation or its contributers to promote your product. Ooh viral!

http://www.xiph.org/licenses/bsd/ [xiph.org]

Nokia not at ease with Ogg (5, Insightful)

neutrino38 (1037806) | about 7 years ago | (#21634531)

The post focuses on a single detail: the author calls Ogg a "proprietary format". This is of course a regrettable and stupid comment as Ogg, Theora and Vorbis are not proprietary in any sense. But I suggest reading the whole paper which is an interesting and valid point of view. They are AGAINST the decision of the W3C to recommend those format for Web video. They use three arguments:

      1. Theora video is somewhat based on H.261 and is obsolete in regards with recent developments such as H.264 and VP8 from On2. Can someone knowledgable about Theora make any comment on this assertion?
      2. De facto standard of the Web is Flash video and H.264 encapsulated in either FLV or MPEG 4 file formats. This one valid and reversing the trend seems difficult to imagine.
      3. They believe are not at ease with the process of the organisations behind ogg / vorbis / theora development and fear standard forks.

The last one is partially valid also but I have to add a comment: First, Nokia has vested interest in codec developments itself (they have patents related to the AMR codec). Second one has to remind that they are phone manufacturers. It is clear that they are more at ease with the standard process developed by the ITU. And I understand them: they are not building software but they are embedding chips with hardware codec capabilities. If someone 'forks' the standard and the OSS community decides to create an alternative standard (see Torrent protocol), all the chips that they developped are toasted.


Re:Nokia not at ease with Ogg (3, Informative)

Wesley Felter (138342) | about 7 years ago | (#21634919)

Theora video is somewhat based on H.261 and is obsolete in regards with recent developments such as H.264 and VP8 from On2. Can someone knowledgable about Theora make any comment on this assertion?

Monty (the inventor of Vorbis) can comment on it: http://web.mit.edu/xiphmont/Public/theora/demo.html [mit.edu]

"Unlike Vorbis and Speex, legitimate best-in-class codecs, Theora's coding quality is obviously poor relative to contemporary competition. This poor performance stems both from implementation and design deficiencies."

compleatwankers (1)

Dracophile (140936) | about 7 years ago | (#21634539)

Considering our requirements, we believe the widespread use of technically competitive, but not necessarily "free" open standards, such as H.264 for video and AAC for audio, would serve the community best. This would be fully aligned with the business model dominant in the digital video ecosystem.

At least they're honest, I suppose.

Poorly Written (3, Interesting)

Selanit (192811) | about 7 years ago | (#21634561)

For a position paper issued by a major company, that was awfully rough. I found several spelling mistakes ("anoher" for "another") for example. Apparently Nokia can't be bothered to run a spell checker on documents like this one. And call me crazy, but usually you don't use smiley faces like :-) in a position paper (as he does on page four). Then we have sentences like this one, which is the bit about Ogg being proprietary:

Anything beyond that, including a W3C-lead standardization of a "free" codec, or the active endorsement of proprietary technology such as Ogg, ..., by W3C, is, in our opinion, not helpful for the co-existence of the two ecosystems (web and video), and therefore not our choice.

Holy comma splice, Batman! And isn't it redundant to talk about a "W3C-lead standardization ... by W3C"? But te worst thing here is the totally unclear use of "proprietary." At other places in the document, the author recommends selecting "older media compression standards, of which one can be reasonably sure that related patents are expired (or are close to expiration)." Which seems odd. Isn't the whole attraction of Ogg Theora that it isn't patented at all? Why recommend an older standard that IS patented over a newer one that isn't? And how exactly does that come under the label "proprietary" anyway?

As a position paper, then, it could be better. It does in fact give their position. But it does so in a way which is unclear, and its author doesn't seem to think that writing a position paper is different from writing a comment on a web forum.

Re:Poorly Written (2, Interesting)

cbart387 (1192883) | about 7 years ago | (#21634901)

I had the same initial thought as you, until I found that these 'position papers' are not really meant [stewe.org] for publication. Not sure why you'd allow them to be accessed through the internet (I wouldn't), but at least they're not meant to be formal.

Re:Poorly Written (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21634917)

Holy comma splice, Batman!
Actually, there is no solecistic comma use in the quoted passage, and there is certainly no comma splice. All of the subordinate clauses are correctly parenthesised, and the rest are co-ordinated with the correct conjunctions. Yes, there may be overuse of commas, but they serve their purpose (for emphasis on individual sentence elements). A splice would imply that two independent clauses are joined without a conjunction: something that here has clearly not been committed. Grammar Nazi Nazis unite.

False advertising (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21634563)

They're currently selling one of their models with the advertising line "Takes all music formats", when in fact it doesn't do Ogg Vorbis, nor FLAC nor any of the many other formats in wide use.

Re:False advertising (0)

morbid (4258) | about 7 years ago | (#21634607)

Oh goody. Here in Blighty we could probably get them under the Trades Descriptions Act :-)

This must be a joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21634627)

As anyone knows, Ogg/Theora+Vorbis is an open format. There is clearly nothing proprietory about it and whoever write that NOKIA paper is obviously utterly confused about what constitutes an open format and the legal framework of IP. I recommend NOKIA to immediately fire that person and issue a clarification with the proper definition of the open Ogg/Theora+Vorbis format in order to save their face and the reputation of the company.

This is what passes for a Nokia position paper? (1)

An dochasac (591582) | about 7 years ago | (#21634643)

I can't believe this is a legitimate Nokia position paper. The document is full of typos and misinformation. Not only does it claim that ogg is proprietary, it suggests that MPEG2 or Flash would be more acceptable to Nokia. I hope someone from Nokia publishes a correction otherwise they'll lose some respect in open source communities and within the w3c.

Paper lacks argumentation (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | about 7 years ago | (#21634645)

Nokia calls OGG proprietary and talks about a "percption of OGG being free" (slightly paraphrased by me to fit this sentence), but completely fails to address how a codec that is released under GPL can be proprietary.

I also noted that they drop terms like "proprietary" in passing rather that making them a bullet point. Reads like an attempt to get them past the readers attention ;-)

Reasoning (1)

hsa (598343) | about 7 years ago | (#21634663)

While these codecs that are proposed are FREE, they are not widely supported.

Firstly, Nokia wants complete ecosystem, where content of the future is available on the web now.

We have YouTube. Do you really think they are going to convert their whole digital library to Ogg just because some company proposed it as their next standard. No. Nokia just wants to leverage the power W3C has to make it promote the file formats it already supports.

AAC is used in iTunes library. Nothing more is needed.

If these formats become accepted, devices can support the technology NOW, and be ready for the future, where more content is coming in these formats.

Secondly, I think Nokia has licensed all this stuff from Apple and other organizations, so they don't have to
a) Buy new licenses
b) Write new software
c) Use any code that can cause potential licensing problems (GPL is a no-no, if you run a propietary solution)

The other options (some really old stuff, where patents have expired) , kinda succested this. Nobody is going to fill the web with stuff done with codecs older than themselves. MP3 being the only exceptio, but if I read correctly, that won't be available free until 2011.

Re:Reasoning (1)

TheNetAvenger (624455) | about 7 years ago | (#21634729)

Fact Check: More audio is available on the Internet via WMA than any other format, in fact all other formats combined...

Theft (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 7 years ago | (#21634679)

Sounds like theft of a standard always intended to be open. And Nokia comes off sounding like a bully who feels they're so big that they will get away with it.

Nokia article summary (3, Informative)

Fzz (153115) | about 7 years ago | (#21634723)

Here's a rough summary of the concerns Nokia have:
  • No-one knows if Ogg Vorbis or Ogg Theora are encumbered by patents. They were developed to be free of the main known patents, but they could still be encumbered by some submarine patent. If they're accepted as the baseline, Nokia face unknown risk if such a patent emerges after they've deployed the technology in hundreds of millions of phones. With H.261/AAC, the risks are more known because an unknown patent-holder would have sued someone by now.
  • There's a lot of content available online (though not directly as part of Web standards). Nokia in concerned that the content producers will will stear clear of Ogg in favour of solutions that support DRM or at least have a known track record. Better the devil you know...
The second concern is probably rubbish, in so far as they are asking for H.264/AAC instead. DRM on these is completely orthogonal to the issue of the codec - you could easily wrap Theora in a DRM wrapper if you wanted (though why you'd want to is beyond me).

The first concern though is more interesting. Basically Nokia seems to be saying that they'd rather pay predictable patent licensing fees for H.264/AAC than face unknown risk. That's a business decision, and I don't know of any good argument against it - we really don't know if there are any submarine patents that Theora or Vorbis might infringe on. From what I know about coding, it seems unlikely (especially in the case of Vorbis), but not impossible to me.

Despite this, I think W3C made the right call and should stick to it.

Re:Nokia article summary (1)

yeremein (678037) | about 7 years ago | (#21634791)

Basically Nokia seems to be saying that they'd rather pay predictable patent licensing fees for H.264/AAC than face unknown risk. That's a business decision, and I don't know of any good argument against it

I have an argument against it. How do they know there aren't submarine patents covering H.264/AAC in addition to the patents they're paying license fees for?

Re:Nokia article summary (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#21634823)

Certainly Mr. Terry Pratchett can claim copyright on the names of these formats, as both are from characters in his books!

Re:Nokia article summary (1)

IkeTo (27776) | about 7 years ago | (#21634915)

> No-one knows if Ogg Vorbis or Ogg Theora are encumbered by patents.
> They were developed to be free of the main known patents,
> but they could still be encumbered by some submarine patent.
> ...
> The first concern though is more interesting. Basically Nokia seems to be saying that they'd rather
> pay predictable patent licensing fees for H.264/AAC than face unknown risk.

Um... you mean other formats cannot have "submarine" patents because they have some known patents on them? You must be among those who will bring a bomb onto an aircraft because then you have a known bomb and thus, with the same argument, no unknown bombs you cannot control...

We Already Know... (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 7 years ago | (#21634747)

This latest step is enough to really make you wonder what they are really up to.

We already know what they're up to. The only real question is, will they get away with it?

They are right though (4, Interesting)

halk (139476) | about 7 years ago | (#21634793)

Ogg Theora is a product of a single company. It has not been standardized by any recognized standards organisation. That indeed makes it "proprietary".

  The company, On2 Technologies, has disclaimed all patent right on the technology. However, as far as I know they are not a significant holder of video compression patents. I don't think any actual big video patent holders has commented about Theora. This means that there is a significant risk of submarine patents.

According to the paper Theora is comparable in performance to the old H.261 codec. H.261 is about 20 years old so all patents on it have most likely expired. H.261 is widely implemented and if the performance claims are true, it makes Theora rather pointless.

MP3 advantage for video (0)

CustomDesigned (250089) | about 7 years ago | (#21634805)

Since the article is about *video*, not audio, let me ask a question. Isn't the constant bit rate feature of MP3 important for video, so that keeping audio in sync with video frames is easier? Ogg may have better quality for a given bucket of bits, but it is not a constant bit rate, making synchronization with video more complex. Of course, with the advent of Youtube, no one expects video and audio to be in sync anyway ...

ministry of truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21634835)

Reminds me of the time I was talking to the CTO of a large, now-defunct book store
chain. I was selling migration of applications to UNIX.

The CTO told me that Windows-NT was more open than UNIX. The phone did not
adequately communicate my jaw dropping.

Lisence (1)

pat mcguire (1134935) | about 7 years ago | (#21634839)

Vorbis is lisenced in the public domain http://www.vorbis.com/faq/#flic [vorbis.com] . Nokia could just staple on whatever DRM they want and wouldn't have to share it with anyone. Granted, it would mean they'd have a format that no phone but theirs would be able to play, but on the other hand, when has that ever stopped anyone?

Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#21634851)

Nokia went into my shitcan when they supported EU software patents. The senior management at Nokia appear to be clueless and unable to restrain employees who are solely acting in personal self interest. First their in-house council pushing for patents and now some jerk who also sits on the board of a company involved with propriety codecs.

Vorbis and theora are currently the only contenders for standardizing online video. If this cunt doesn't like it, why doesn't he quit bitching and release better patent-unencumbered, open source code that we can look at? That goes for Microsoft, Apple and the other players too!

Hear that? Shut the fuck up or show us the code!

Whats this got to do with HTML5? (1)

Zarxrax (652423) | about 7 years ago | (#21634853)

Maybe I'm missing the entire point here, but why the heck does the next version of html 5 even need to define a standard format for video? Are they also going to recommend what browser I should use, what operating system I should run, or what brand of coffee I should drink? I mean, seriously, I don't see what this even has to do with html.
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