With a court ruling of $1.5bn (see http://news.com.com/2100-1027_3-6161760.html), the Alcatel-Lucent vs Microsoft case is rather amazing.
It is particularly amazing since to everyone who has licensed from the MP3 licensing consortium was held under the impression that with that license they are off the hook for all patents related to MP3.
Well, now that MP3 is coming of age and any related patents will be running out fairly soon, Alcatel-Lucent has decided to take a share of the cake – and a rather large one.
What is worrying is that through this step, all companies that are licensing “standardized” codecs and thought that getting a license through the standards body would cover all possible infringement, now have to fear that there is always another hidden patent somewhere, which somebody can pull out of the hat at any time to sue them.
Doesn’t that put the aim of standardization on its head?
To me it just confirms that standardized technology should be technology that is not covered by patents and that the standards body has to make sure that such patents don’t exist.
Unfortunately, ISO/MPEG – and other standardisation bodies – have worked in the exact opposite direction until now: everyone who participated in MPEG made sure to get as many patents registered with MPEG as possible so as to get as large a share of the licensing payments as possible.
The only solution out of this mess is to create media codecs that are not infringing patents. Luckily, Xiphophorus is doing exactly that. So, this should encourage media companies to use Ogg Vorbis and Ogg Theora.
The first FOMS (Foundations of Open Media Software) workshop is over and it was an overwhelming success – more than ever expected! And wow – we have videos of it, too – thanks to Ralph Giles and Thomas Vander Stichele.
The goal of FOMS was to bring a diverse group of people from all around the planet who are all working on open media software together for the first time so they could get to know each other, exchange ideas, and generally address the things that annoy us all with open media technologies.
Strategically placing FOMS in the week before LCA was a great idea: not only would some of the developers attend LCA anyway and thus would not need to use up extra travel time, but also would LCA provide opportunities for the newly forged relationships to flourish and create code.
A new forum for discussion was created and since the community has committed to achieving a set of community goals, we expect it will have some basic effect on the usability of open media software over time.
And yes … all participants are up for a repetition of FOMS – possibly as a precursor to other FLOSS conferences overseas, but at a minimum again at next year’s LCA in Melbourne. Let’s rock it!
I’ve just fixed some missing links on the LCA video site, so all the talks are now online – yay!
It’s been an interesting experience, which is still not finished. I’m working on collecting all the slides for the talks and putting them into a common format (probably both pdf and odf). Jean-Marc is still working on transcoding the videos to speex (speech-only). And then there are all the annotations that we received through the irc channel, which I’d like to publish onto a cmmlwiki together with the videos.
It will all come in good time. The hardest and most important task were the videos.
I think we found a good formula this year to make the videos happen. DV tapes are impossible to handle. Recording to DVD provides a good backup straight away and a simple storage means. It could be further simplified if recording was done straight to disk and everything handled as files only, which is the way in which the DebConfs were done. But then – I am a big fan of having physical, high-quality backups.
Here’s a little FAQ for those annoying recurring questions:
- Why are there not all miniconf talks present?
We did not aim to record Monday and Tuesday, but rather used them as testing days for the equipment and the team. Therefore, having any video at all from the miniconfs is a bonys.
- The sound is rather quiet on some videos – can you fix that?
Unfortunately, some days came out really quiet and it will take a lot of post-processing to fix this. We don’t have the time and people to undertake this. So, just turn up your speakers, the volume on your desktop and on the application.
- What software did you use to transcode and publish?
We are only publishing the video in the open and free Ogg Theora format. Since we recorded straight to DVD, all we had to do thus was to rip the DVDs using
"vobcopy"(with the “-l” option in order to get all the pieces on the DVD stiched together). If the resulting vob file consisted of multiple sessions, then the timing restarted in the middle which confuses transcoding. So, we used
"avidemux"to recreate a correct MPEG_TS (transport stream). The resulting vob file was transcoded to Ogg Theora using a
ffmpeg2theorascript and finally uploaded to the server using
"scp"with the “-l” option. On a fast machine and a fast connection, each of these steps is faster than realtime (i.e. takes less time than the duration of the video). My slowest process was the upload, which I had to do over night in batch from my home ADSL connection.
- How much space do the published Ogg Theora files use?
Using the “-p preview” option of ffmpeg2theora provides you with 384×288 video at 25 fps for PAL recordings. The size in bytes varies a lot between the files. Our largest file is about 257MB and is from a 1:23 hrs long talk. Our shortest file is about 10MB and is from a 6 min long talk. Overall we’re using 11.9GB of disk space for 141 files. That comprises only the Ogg Theora video files. The vob files are a bit more than 10 times the size of a Ogg Theora file, so we don’t keep them on the server.
At LCA, two journalists came and played this little game of “sucks and scores” – you were given a keyword and had to quickly reply with “sucks” or “scores. They joined us at one of our video team meetings – and the result is here. Turned out quite funny IMHO – though it’s of course totally unbiased by the fact that it was played at LCA!