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Vorbis development, status & patent issues, PART 1 - NON-technical discussion
m0rbidini
post Sep 30 2003, 22:38
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QUOTE (rjamorim)
QUOTE (m0rbidini @ Sep 30 2003, 01:32 PM)
But you don't have the right to ask Xiph to join this public and open discussion, with all the technical details in the middle.

That's absurd, what is going on? Now we are under a dictatorship and aren't allowed to ask about the legal status of a public project developed by a non-ptofit organization that is supposedly claiming to set a standard of "openness"?

Bottom line: Of course we have the right to ask them to do that, it's even ridiculous such issue has been brought.

And, of course, they have the right not to join the discussion anyway. But just because they don't need to join, doesn't mean we can't ask them to join.


Whoa, that's not what I intended to say. OK, I should have said "demand" instead of "ask"... but the tone of "asking" in this thread has been pretty strong. But that's just my opinion. Correction accepted.

cya
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ScorLibran
post Oct 1 2003, 06:48
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Position: The "patent-free" status can be proven or disproven.

This would require defining the subject(s) and goals, defining scope, performing testing/analysis, observing the results (analysis output), and then reaching a conclusion in a timely and controlled manner. This is not essential to the effort, but would benefit the scientific as well as legal value of it, among other ways by providing adequate organization. To confirm patent infringement, patents would have to be "triaged" and tested until one is found to be infringed upon. Current work in another thread is addressing at least one patent, but if nothing conclusive is found, then perhaps some version of the method in this post could help with a continued effort in that thread.

This is obviously a first draft in need of input for refinement, so please critique as necessary.

>>>>>
[Phase One (1.0.0)] Determining The Status of Ogg Vorbis As Being Free Of Infringement Of US Patents

1.1.0 Goals.

1.1.1 Prove that Vorbis infringes upon one or more patents using the process defined herein.

1.1.2 Prove that Vorbis does not infringe upon any patents by analyzing every relevant patent and eliminating it from the list determined in Scope Definition below.

1.2.0 Process Description. Test all of the Vorbis code against all possibly relevant patents currently in effect using the method defined in herein.

1.3.0 Scope Definition. This section descibes a method of identification of test subjects (patents and code) and of defining the scope of analysis. As a start, I ran a search for "audio AND encoding AND format" on the patft.uspto.gov website and it returned 9016 matches. For "signal AND transmission AND window" I received 37599 matches. If a better search criteria can be used, it should be done at this point in the process.

1.3.1 : Parse out the clearly unrelated patents from the list.

1.3.2 : Prioritize all remaining patents by relevance.

1.3.3 : Determine the workload (in man-hours) of analyzing all patents in the prioritized list. All aspects of patent claims, descriptions and references must be considered to ensure the integrity of this process. References in patent definitions are often nested; one patent can have a list of references to other patent documents, each of which can have their own lists of references to yet other patent documents. The total contents of a patent definition will determine the number of man-hours required to fully analyze that patent. Determine the total man-hours of work for all patents in the prioritized list to determine the total duration of the analysis portion of this project.

[Work Units] x [Man Hours / Work Unit] = [Duration of Analysis]

Note that the project may reach a conclusion sooner than it's total duration as defined, if Goal 1.1.1 is satisfied at any point in the process.

1.3.4 : As each patent is analyzed for scope impact, also prioritize the list from step 1.3.2 again by using more detailed points of relevance.

1.4.0 Analysis. Perform a detailed study (test) of each patent definition, as prioritized from Scope 1.3.4 above by comparing all included claims, descriptions, and all references (including nested references) to Vorbis source code (and if required, to Vorbis' intended functionality as described in application design and architecture documents).

Once Goal 1.1.1 is met, proceed to the Conclusion section.

If Goal 1.1.1 is not met, analysis must continue until either Goal 1.1.1 or Goal 1.1.2 can be met.

If Goal 1.1.1 is not met within a reasonable time window (one month?), the Scope Definition will have to be repeated in order to include any new patents which were approved after this project began. Note that this can be done in "parallel" with continuing analysis work. New additions to the scope definition can be merged into the current workflow accordingly. Integrity checks will have to be performed to insure analysis output is not adversely affected by merging new scope definitions into the continuing analysis workflow.

Current Progress: US #5,214,742

Analysis output would comprise a statement by the analyst declaring Vorbis to either be free of a patent or infringing on a patent. One statement per patent should be feasible in most cases, unless the scope of a patent is unusually broad and requires multiple levels of analysis.

1.5.0 Observation On a (defined) regular basis, gather the analysis output for all patents analyzed to date and using the data gathered, confirm that either Goal 1.1.1 or Goal 1.1.2 has been reached. Until one of the defined goals has been reached, Analysis and periodic Scope Definition will continue.

Once all patents in the latest iteration of Scope Definition have been analyzed and Observation is complete, then proceed to the next section, Conclusion.

If any new US patents are published (filed) before a conclusion has been determined, then processing returns to Analysis and periodic Scope Definition.

1.6.0 Conclusion.

1.6.1 : If Goal 1.1.1 is met, the conclusion is that Vorbis infringes upon the relevant patent described in the analysis output and discovered either during Analysis or Observation. Vorbis can no longer rightfully claim "patent-free" status.

1.6.2 : If the process defined herein is completed without Goal 1.1.1 being met, then by default Goal 1.1.2 is met and Vorbis has been proven to be "patent-free" at the moment of the last analysis. Once the next US patent is published (filed), this process must be repeated starting with Scope Definition in order to maintain Vorbis' "patent-free" status.

[end of Phase One]
<<<<<

>>>>>
[Phase Two (2.0.0)] Determining The Status of Ogg Vorbis As Being Free Of Infringement Of International Patents

2.1.0 Goals.

2.1.1 . . .

<<<<<

Well, you get the idea.


Edit: Adding another search result for Scope Definition (1.3.0), changed intro and closing.

This post has been edited by ScorLibran: Oct 2 2003, 13:53
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PatchWorKs
post Oct 1 2003, 08:03
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QUOTE
Determining The Status of Ogg Vorbis As Being Free Of Infringement Of US Patents


US patents are NOT world patents... rolleyes.gif
...and often suckz ! dry.gif

This post has been edited by PatchWorKs: Oct 1 2003, 08:11
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JohnV
post Oct 1 2003, 08:57
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Threads re-arranged. This thread includes the non-technical discussion.

All technical discussion should go here:
Vorbis development, status & patent issues PART 2 - Technical discussion

Currently the Vorbis patent issue covers these threads:
Vorbis development, status & patent issues PART 1 - NON-technical discussion (This thread)
Vorbis development, status & patent issues PART 2 - Technical discussion


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danchr
post Oct 2 2003, 00:26
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How can it be impossible for anyone but a patent attorney to tell how to avoid a patent if a patent free codec exists that has been written by a non-attorney and avoids said patent?

You have previously said that the main argument for Vorbis' patent freedom is that it's developer was cautious not to use any patented techniques. If such a development strategy is to have any advantage, mustn't it be possible for the developer - not being a patent attorney - to form a technical opinion on a patent? And if it is possible to form an opinion, isn't it also possible to discuss it?
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ScorLibran
post Oct 2 2003, 14:30
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QUOTE (danchr @ Oct 1 2003, 07:26 PM)
How can it be impossible for anyone but a patent attorney to tell how to avoid a patent if a patent free codec exists that has been written by a non-attorney and avoids said patent?

I think it would be possible indeed for a non-attorney (codec developer) to be sure of avoiding patent infringement if they can be familiar enough with the scope and content of all relevant patents to be avoided. Identifying that scope and then analysing the patents are time-intensive tasks, but actually possible by anyone familiar with the subject matter (source code). Something like the method above could be used to this end, as it was meant to [1] lend control to such an effort, and [2] limit the FUD that inevitably arises in an effort susceptable to bias and interpretation (as has happened repeatedly) by being able to parse out discreet analysis results as required.

QUOTE (danchr @ Oct 1 2003, 07:26 PM)
You have previously said that the main argument for Vorbis' patent freedom is that it's developer was cautious not to use any patented techniques. If such a development strategy is to have any advantage, mustn't it be possible for the developer - not being a patent attorney - to form a technical opinion on a patent? And if it is possible to form an opinion, isn't it also possible to discuss it?

Not sure who has said this, and forgive me if I'm out of place responding. I completely agree, though that makes me wonder about something. Does Xiph claim a "patent-free" status mainly because they avoided relevant patents? Or mainly because they didn't patent any part of Vorbis themselves? If the former is the case, then the matter is complex and would require some form of organized effort if anyone wanted to attempt validation of the technical opinion(s) of the developer. If the latter is the case, then at least a cursory confirmation would be easy (an initial search for "Xiph" in the USPTO online database returns 0 matches). Other names a patent could have been filed under by them could be searched similarly, but a formal (read: expensive) patent search would be required for anything to be presented in court, even if the results are null.

The concept of "avoiding patents" seems to be the understood intent. (Just brainstorming.) As for the developers ability to openly discuss their opinion, that would require the blessing of their lawyer first to keep them "out of trouble". rolleyes.gif
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rjamorim
post Oct 2 2003, 15:20
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QUOTE (ScorLibran @ Oct 2 2003, 10:30 AM)
Not sure who has said this, and forgive me if I'm out of place responding.

He was talking about JMvalin. The admins keep jugling the posts back and forth among the threads, making a mess out of it in the meantime. biggrin.gif


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JohnV
post Oct 2 2003, 15:27
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QUOTE (rjamorim @ Oct 2 2003, 05:20 PM)
QUOTE (ScorLibran @ Oct 2 2003, 10:30 AM)
Not sure who has said this, and forgive me if I'm out of place responding.

He was talking about JMvalin. The admins keep jugling the posts back and forth among the threads, making a mess out of it in the meantime. biggrin.gif

There are only 2 threads. Technical and non-technical talk, so it should be really simple.. provided that people post to the correct thread. And there wasn't much juggling.. Part2 started originally technical but turned non-technical, so only the non-technical posts from part2 were moved here. If you have a better idea how to make these threads more clear, so that technical points aren't buried in the middle of all the other posts, please share with me.


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rjamorim
post Oct 2 2003, 15:52
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QUOTE (JohnV @ Oct 2 2003, 11:27 AM)
If you have a better idea how to make these threads more clear, so that technical points aren't buried in the middle of all the other posts, please share with me.

I had no problem with both threads together, really.

Now, with threads split, we are being plagued by several posts referencing and quoting posts that are in another thread. It's hard to follow the discussion this way.

These posts are good examples. They quote posts that are nowhere to be seen in that thread:

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....ndpost&p=137675
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....ndpost&p=137639
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....ndpost&p=137709

(all this only in the first page of the technical thread)


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JohnV
post Oct 2 2003, 16:04
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QUOTE (rjamorim @ Oct 2 2003, 05:52 PM)
QUOTE (JohnV @ Oct 2 2003, 11:27 AM)
If you have a better idea how to make these threads more clear, so that technical points aren't buried in the middle of all the other posts, please share with me.

I had no problem with both threads together, really.

Now, with threads split, we are being plagued by several posts referencing and quoting posts that are in another thread. It's hard to follow the discussion this way.

These posts are good examples. They quote posts that are nowhere to be seen in that thread:

http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....ndpost&p=137675
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....ndpost&p=137639
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....ndpost&p=137709

(all this only in the first page of the technical thread)

Well I wasn't thinking of you with the split.. I was mainly thinking of developers so that they wouldn't have to first read 200 posts in order to reach the essential parts, and then later try to find the technical posts among all these "analogies" and off-topic messages.

Any mess with quotes should be very minimal (and if there are clearly marked 2 threads, how hard it is to understand where a quote comes from anyway). The first post you linked is in the correct thread now. The 3rd link's quote was from the message above it, so there is no mess there.

But oh well.. some people are just never happy.. I try to do my best here. If you think you are better for the admin job, you can cover me for few weeks so that I can take some time off of this...


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rjamorim
post Oct 3 2003, 00:44
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QUOTE (JohnV @ Oct 2 2003, 12:04 PM)
But oh well.. some people are just never happy.. I try to do my best here. If you think you are better for the admin job, you can cover me for few weeks so that I can take some time off of this...

Haha. And you say I am the dramaaddict. biggrin.gif

No, JohnV. You know I don't want to be an admin/mod and you know why.

Thanks for the clarification.


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ScorLibran
post Oct 6 2003, 21:46
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Well, to be honest (and I actually read the logs beginning to end first thing this morning), I see the need for both sides to have their needs met. I think you've stated the request for clarification very articulately, John, and Ivan has found a clear issue with a particular function in the Vorbis source which comes very close to one of Bernd Edlar's patents, and seems to have defined the issue clearly.

But I also (for the most part) understand the limitations that Monty and Jack and the rest the Xiph people have limiting them from being able to say much at all. Maybe if they can have a little time (a month or less, hopefully) to work with their lawyers to prepare something official, they may come up with something thorough enough to satisfy you guys, and Vorbis users, and hardware companies who are considering a Vorbis implementation. If not, these issues could be addressed again (more vigorously, even) using the data gathered in this thread as a reference.

I just couldn't envision anything happening, based on what Carsten and Jean Marc have stated here, and what everyone said in the meeting yesterday, sooner than the time they can put together such a statement. If it were anything less critical, then there wouldn't be so much for them to be concerned about. But consider that they're on dangerous ground, just as any company would be when it comes to patent law. And of all realms of law, to my knowledge patent law is one of the most complex and poorly defined concerning infraction and enforcement.

I'd say if Xiph can't provide an adequate resolution in the form of an acceptably thorough statement within a reasonable (short) timeframe, only then should the matter be pushed further.

Just my $0.02...


Edit: BTW...I do think JohnV's concerns were "pushed to the side" a bit briskly, but perhaps only as a defensive reaction by Xiph members, for a reason previously described in this post.

This post has been edited by ScorLibran: Oct 7 2003, 12:24
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ScorLibran
post Oct 6 2003, 22:21
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Also, other considerations (out of current scope, but future concerns?). Most people here are probably familiar with all of these, just pointing them out for those who may not be...

At Xiph.org, Speex is also called a "patent-free" codec, though this not the case for Theora (unspecified patent/licensing status, only described as an "open technology"), Paranoia (nothing specified about openness/patent/licensing) nor Icecast (GNU Public License).

The description of FLAC there is interesting, though, and might have been a better way to describe Vorbis to avoid the current situation of an "under-explained" patent status. For FLAC, they say "...neither the FLAC format nor any of the implemented encoding/decoding methods are covered by any known patent." It seems a little more descriptive than simply saying "patent-free", though it may imply the same thing. However, there would be no easier way to prove that it's not "covered by any known patent" than it would be to prove that Vorbis is "patent-free". One sounds explanatory and the other sounds like a marketing line, but both say the same essential thing.

Just something to think about.
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odnorf
post Oct 7 2003, 11:17
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QUOTE (ScorLibran @ Oct 6 2003, 09:21 PM)
......... though this not the case for Theora (unspecified patent/licensing status, only described as an "open technology").........

From the FAQ page at www.theora.org

Q: Isn't vp3 a patented technology?

A: 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.

For more information, check the VP3 Legal Terms on the CVS page.

Q: What is the license for Theora?

A: Theora (and all associated technologies released by the Xiph.org Foundation) is released to the public via a BSD-style license. It is completely free for commercial or noncommercial use. That means that commercial developers may independently write Theora software which is compatible with the specification for no charge and without restrictions of any kind.
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Ivan Dimkovic
post Oct 7 2003, 12:00
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QUOTE
A: 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.


Some portions of vp3 are covered by patents...

Who owns these patents? On2, or third party?

If the answer is "third party" does Xiph mean that they negotiated irrevocable free license to the vp3 codec with On2 or with third party IPR holders ?
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odnorf
post Oct 7 2003, 12:25
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I am afraid that I can't answer those questions but I'll quote some other parts from the theora site from which it seems (at least to me) that xiph has negotiated irrevocable free license to the vp3 codec with On2.


From http://www.theora.org/theorafaq.html

Q: What if Xiph.org and On2 decide to break off their agreement?

A: Because Theora is an Open Source project, the source code will continue to be available and development will continue. Users will still be protected from the On2 patents.


From http://www.theora.org/cvs.html

[ VP3 Legal Terms ]

On2 represents and warrants that it shall not assert any rights relating to infringement of On2's registered patents, nor initiate any litigation asserting such rights, against any person who, or entity which utilizes the On2 VP3 Codec Software, including any use, distribution, and sale of said Software; which make changes, modifications, and improvements in said Software; and to use, distribute, and sell said changes as well as applications for other fields of use.
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bani
post May 30 2004, 12:32
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QUOTE (Garf @ Sep 24 2003, 08:57 AM)
You can still sue when Vorbis gets too big. (And they might do this, even if they _dont_ have any good grounds to do so, see SCO example)

actually a question in the courts would be if fhg knew about infringement but chose not to do anything about it, not even a simple c&d, judges don't like that. there's a legal precedent that when you are aware of damages you are legally compelled to reduce them asap. if you sit on them today just waiting for them to "grow" in hopes of profiting tomorrow, a judge is likely to rule against you.

fhg publically claim vorbis infringes, yet they knowingly and willingly choose not to mitigate damages, leads me to believe that fhg are just full of s*it.

i'm guessing that iriver, neuros, rio, etc came to the same conclusion.

iriver broke almost a half billion dollars in revenue recently. fhg can no longer claim ogg is "too small to bother with".

the fact that fhg continues to sit on their hands and do nothing digs fhg into a deeper and deeper hole.

This post has been edited by bani: May 30 2004, 12:44
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