Jobs: Ogg Theora may violate patents

invisibleSHIELD case for iPad“Apple chief Steve Jobs has warned in a reply to an open latter [sic] that Ogg Theora wouldn’t necessarily be the best choice for HTML5 video,” Electronista reports.

“Addressing a call by Free Software Foundation Europe to use the open-source codec for plugin-free video, Jobs warned that it may infringe on patents and could face a lawsuit, though not necessarily from Apple,” Electronista reports. “He suggested that H.264 fit the definition of an open standard and admitted it wasn’t necessarily what open-source advocates would expect.”

Electronista reports, “‘All video codecs are covered by patents,’ Jobs wrote from his iPad. ‘A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other ‘open source’ codecs now. Unfortunately, just because something is open source, it doesn’t mean or guarantee that it doesn’t infringe on others patents. An open standard is different from being royalty free or open source.'”

Full article here.


  1. “Of course, developers can rely on the H.264 codec and hardware acceleration support of the underlying operating system, like Windows 7, without paying any additional royalty.”

    But they will need to purchase a licence to encode their content for commercial uses, esp. after the grace period (2016).

  2. Patent Pool Being Assembled To Go After Theora

    Well, this certainly explains a whole lot. Both Apple and Microsoft have stated that the legality of Theora is highly debatable, and as it turns out, they knew more than we do – most likely courtesy of their close involvement with the MPEG-LA. Responding to an email from Free Software Foundation Europe activist Hugo Roy, Steve Jobs has stated that a patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora.

  3. @ T, Monger, ChrissyOne, iQuack et al

    An open letter is one which is published openly rather than sent directly to the recipient as a private communiqué.

    Here are two examples:

    One from Steve to the World at large

    And one from Hugo Roy to Steve

    Authors tend to use open letters in an inclusive way to encourage a response to a topical issue by invoking a debate in the public gaze, rather than a private approach which may be ignored by the recipient.

    @Sir Gill Bates: make mine a Boddingtons!

  4. Adobe Implement H264 Acceleration for Flash on Mac OS X

    I think it’s about time we got an Adobe category. Apple recently made public an API to allow OS X software access to hardware H.264 acceleration (albeit such acceleration is only available on chipsets since the Nvidia 9400M–early 2008) and Adobe have already baked this in to a beta preview of Flash 10.1 “Gala”! Update: Steve Jobs himself weighs in on Flash (via Engadget): “New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.”

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