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. We’ve talked about this on OSNews in quite some detail already. H264 is no better than Flash. This video codec is proprietary and patented up the wazzoo, and therefore, wholly incompatible with the very concept of an open standard. To make matters much, much worse, the licensing body that oversees H264, the MPEG-LA, has stated in no uncertain terms that they will not hesitate to sue ordinary users for using the video codec.

  2. Well, this was about as inevitable as Apple not losing a super-secret iPhone prototype: Google and Adobe have pretty much formed an alliance against the iPhone, in true the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend style. The agreement between the two companies is clearly a big middle finger towards Apple and the iPhone. Update: Apple has finally added a framework to Mac OS X that will enable accelerated Flash video content – something Adobe has been asking for. This should enable Adobe to greatly improve Flash video performance on Mac OS

  3. Flash video most often these days is a container that contains h.264 video. Saying that h.264 is no better than Flash, is like saying Shell gas is no better than a BMW gas tank. One has nothing to do with each other. Now if you said Flash vs say a HTML5/Javascript player i mplementation I might understand (but still disagree).

  4. omg:

    I don’t know what was discussed at OSNews, but what you are saying is simply NOT true. Adobe is the sole owner of the proprietary Flash technology. It is them, and only them (i.e. one SINGLE company) who decides who gets to use Flash and who doesn’t. Mac users have many years of frustration as proof how well this works; ever since Adobe went Windows, Mac became neglected and disregarded, and products were never on par. Meanwhile, MPEG-LA is a company that manages patent pools for MPEG standards. These are NOT property of any ONE company; these are OPEN standards, and MPEG-LA handles licensing for patented components. The company’s motivation is to provide license to EVERYONE who requests it.

    Open-source proponents often (deliberately?) confuse terms ‘open standard’ and ‘open-source’. Open source generally means that no fee can be charged for a license to use the technology, while open standard allows using patented technologies. The open standards are different from proprietary standards in that open standards are accessible to anyone who is willing to pay for the necessary license, while proprietary (closed) standards are a property of a single company, which chooses what to do and whether to license the technology or not. Big difference.

  5. @ Predrag

    Should copy and paste that response on text edit. Simply because they will bring up the same point over and over and over again. Until it finally sinks in, if ever.

  6. You’re right about that. I just took a look at that OSNews site; they are a very passionate bunch, but really detached from reality.

    This Theora codec is as obscure as they could possibly come. Why on Earth would any mainstream manufacturer bother to develop technology that supports it, if nobody actually uses it (outside of the very narrow circle of übergeeks.

  7. omg,
    “We’ve talked about this on OSNews in quite some detail already. H264 is no better than Flash. “

    Wow dude, way to start out. Prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you don’t even have a concept of the difference between a Data Pipe, and a codec.

    Even if anything else you said actually made sense (which it didn’t BTW) no one with a clue would have read it because you blew it completely in the first sentence.

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