“Another big Bag of Hurt” (since the USPTO asked)

June 20, 2011

As Slashdot reported Software Patent Reform Happening Now (17.06.11) and the “USPTO is inviting public comments to change the system”.

Here is my public comment, I took the liberty of adapting some of my favourites lyrics for the occasion. Do sing along by all means!

Another big Bag of Hurt (part 2)

We don’t need no software patents

We don’t need no Jobs control

No unfree codec in the classroom

Lawyers, leave them kids alone

Hey! Steve! Leave them kids alone!

All in all it’s just another big Bag of Hurt.

All in all you’re just another big Bag of Hurt.

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H.264 licensing explained: it’s like “Schwarzer Peter” (“Old Maid”)

May 6, 2010

H.264 = last one pays (= gets the looser card)

As explained on engadget:

“…the person who sells the encoder and the person who sells the content are the ones who have to pay.”

So this here (also quoted from engadget) is *not* good:

“Yes, but it’s not as bad as it seems. First off, we’ve directly asked MPEG-LA whether or not using an H.264 camera simply to shoot video for a commercial purpose requires a license, and the answer is no.”

They are lawyers! R-e-f-r-a-s-e your question…!!!

“We’ve also asked whether an end user watching H.264 videos would ever have to pay or be licensed, and the answer to that question is also no. Yes, the license terms are worded poorly, but those are the answers straight from the patent horse’s mouth. Everyone can breathe again, ‘kay?”

Someone down the line will have to pay: “…the person who sells the content are the ones who have to pay”.

And what do you think will hold up in court? The written agreement you bought with the camera or what a clever lawyer says who obviously was sent to this H.264 PR event…? Those a l-a-w-y-e-r-s!!! Make them sign their own statements and be very careful with your wording…!!!

H.264 based video business = lock-in as soon as you push that record button

So if you are having a video business licensing fees for your H.264 recorded footage will be due down the line!

Basically your business will be *disadvantaged* over the business that avoids the H.264 lock-in!

H.264 licensing = the last one in the distribution chain pays, he gets the “Schwarzer Peter” (= the looser card – an old children’s card game here in Europe).

So what are my clients going to say when I sell them footage that they will need to pay licensing fees for…?! My guess is the bill will land on my table, at least it will weaken my position when it comes to selling/licensing my own video clip/3D footage!

I’m not so stupid and will build my business upon that model, pass on the “Schwarzer Peter” card (= looser card) to my clients!

As a film and video maker I like to 100% own my work.

What a lock-in business model it is that Apple, MS, the MPEG LA and all those companies that hold H.264 patents have built!

H.264 is the appropriation of your work from the moment you press that record button on your H.264 camera.

Why on earth is this legal? I can see the word m-o-n-o-p-o-l-y written all over this, specially when thinking of Steve Jobs/Apple (quoted from Open Letter to Steve Jobs): “All video codecs are covered by patents. A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other “open source” codecs now.”

I guess it comes down to this:

All video codecs are equal, but some codecs are more equal than others.

Hello FCC…, hello EU commission…, hello consumer rights advocates…, hello film and video makers of this world:

This is our wake-up call…!!!


H.264 and The Tunnel of Babel

May 5, 2010

It’s (almost) free, use it…!!! *)

Every time I read a longer document or blog entry about H.264 licensing (www.engadget.com) my head starts spinning, every article that tries to explain H.264 gets complicated when it comes to the dreaded fine print of what you may or not may do…

And that’s the point, you see!

It’s the same trick as used on your average (mobile) phone/flat rate ad in the streets:

“It’s (almost) free to use, anywhere, anytime. Try it…!!! *)”

*) The fine print: It may cost you dearly.

The MPEG LA says they are “The Standard for Standards”. (How exclusive, almost noble that sounds…!) And to achieve that they have dug both very deep and wide and built something…

At least that’s how I think I dreamed it last night…

The Tunnel Of Babel

Here I was. A dark entrance. There was a sign but I did not have to read it, I knew that this was the entrance to

The Tunnel Of Babel

I hesitated. While being a film maker and looking for a good moving pictures (post) production infrastructure I knew what the deal was… By entering The Tunnel Of Babel you accept a set of rules:

1) Every motion pictures compression algorithm belongs to the Authorities Of The Tunnel Of Babel

2) No other motion pictures compression algorithm may exist outside The Tunnel Of Babel

3) Every time you use one of The Tunnel Of Babel’s Almighty Algorithms (known as TBAAs or ToBAAs), in particular the TBAA know as i.OU (sometimes also spelled i.Ou) you may – or may not – need to pay licensing fees. But no need to worry…! The Authorities Of The Tunnel Of Babel will let you know the moment your fees are due.

4) *New!* For distribution via the Intertubes there is now a special offer: for non-commercial use it’s free!!! *)

*) At least until 2015…!

Before I could decide not to enter The Tunnel Of Babel I woke up and realised that this was only a bad dream…

But then I looked around and saw my new Samsung WB1000 camera next to my bed and started thinking about that footage that I shot in the last couple of weeks, the footage that I now possibly can’t use commercially because it’s H.264 tainted (= possible licensing fees down the road) from the moment I pressed that record button.

Looking at the headlines on news.bbc.co.uk I was reminded of the financial situation in Europe…

What if one day I wake up living in a country that is (no more) an EU member and respects software patents…? Update 21.05.10: The EU is still standing, but software patents may be on the way to Germany

And thinking of my camera:

Could I shoot footage with that camera in a country that respects software patents and still 100% own my H.264 footage…?

Could I use H.264 recorded footage coming from a country that respects software patents…?

What about selling my footage to a country that respects software patents…?

Could I sell my camera on eBay to an American an s/he use it commercially…?! (Or is this where ACTA might come in one day, restrictions like the region code system on DVDs but for all sorts of goods…?!)

What about transcoding to an open format for editing? Where is the free, worldwide legal to use de-coder from the MPEG LA for H.264 to PNG etc. for H.264 camera owners in order to legally escape the lock-in…? Should that not be mandatory, an open-source app for all operating systems, available as a download from the MPEG LA’s site…?!

I realised I was daydreaming already and quickly got up.

And while drinking my coffee I started thinking about all the options I now still have when it comes filmmaking and staying 100% independent.


Who owns your H.264 footage…?

May 2, 2010

For the last couple of days I already had a bad feeling about my new camera that does 1280×720 H.264 encoded video @ 30 fps – I was thinking about patents, H.264 while shooting footage that I was planning to use for a (possible commercial) project…

This here is an eye opener and will make you think twice about ever wanting to use H.264 again, anywhere in the production or post-production process:

Why Our Civilization’s Video Art and Culture is Threatened by the MPEG-LA (www.osnews.com)

You may not know it, but one day you might find out, that you’ll have to pay licensing fees for your own (H.264 recorded) footage that you shot with the camera that you bought with your own money!

Some business models, as it seems, are more successful than others – and there is one for the music, one for moving images (lock-in via codec) and another one on top of that, just to make sure that it all works out:

RIAA – MPEG LA – ACTA

Do you own your own footage…?


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