paulslocum
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MPEG2 patents expiring

Wed Jan 03, 2018 3:28 pm

I'm wondering how will MPEG2 decoding be handled now that the MPEG2 patents are finally expiring? Will the codec be unlocked automatically with new versions of Raspbian?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U ... -2_patents

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DougieLawson
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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Wed Jan 03, 2018 3:42 pm

I think you'll have to wait until 15th Feb and see what happens.
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paulslocum
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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Thu Jan 04, 2018 1:03 pm

Any predictions? I'm working on a project where we'll need up to 1000 RPi's with Omxplayer MPEG2 capability, and it's a pretty complicated undertaking to unlock them since there's no way to fully automate the task due to the way the license purchasing works. It would be a huge relief and save a lot of money in production time, software development, and licensing fees if we could avoid all that.


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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:40 pm

Making the mpeg2 codec free would be a nice "pi birthday" gift to all pi owners later this month ...
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Heater
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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:11 pm

I don't see how having the patent expire necessarily, magically, makes anything free.

Vendor s of patented software can still continue to charge a license fee for it even if the patents expire. We can't just start using it, copying it and distributing it will nilly. It's covered by copyrights. Protected by the DMCA and so on. Then there are NDA's and such to worry about.

It does mean, however, that we are free to create new implementations of the patented idea if we like. I nice little project for somebody.

fanoush
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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:53 pm

It is mentioned also here http://www.mpegla.com/main/programs/M2/ ... tList.aspx
Please note that the last US patent expired February 13, 2018, and patents remain active in Philippines and Malaysia after that date.
And there is also link to 24 pages long pdf with word 'expired' on almost all lines except few first named MYxxx and PHxxx.

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Paul Webster
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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Mon Feb 26, 2018 5:32 pm

This is the list that mpeg-la sent me

Code: Select all

Patent Number	Licensor	Expiration Date
PH 1-1993-47458	GE Technology Development, Inc.	7/17/2019
MY 118172-A	GE Technology Development, Inc.	9/30/2019
MY 118444	Sony Corporation	11/30/2019
MY 118734-A	Thomson Licensing	1/31/2020
PH 1-1995-50216	Thomson Licensing	2/13/2020
MY 128994	GE Technology Development, Inc.	3/30/2022
MY 141626-A	GE Technology Development, Inc.	5/31/2025

paulslocum
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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:38 pm

Unfortunately in another thread, somebody from the Raspberry Pi foundation said that they will not make any change until the patent expires in every country (2025)

RichardS
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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Sun May 20, 2018 8:00 pm

I have been patient, in the past when I pointed out that ALL the RELEVANT MPEG 2 patents had expired a year ago (I.e. all those that involved technology that the Pi actually needed to decode MPEG2 program streams) - but was told then that due to the intricacies of how patent royalty agreements work, we would have to wait until ALL the legally applicable patents in the pool have expired - AND NOW THEY HAVE.

Just to be absolutly unambiguously crystal clear, the MPEG2 patents HAVE expired in the US, Europe, and UK where 99.99999 percent of the Raspberry Pi's are sold - which makes misrepresenting this LICENSE FEE you are charging as required by a patent licensing a blatant case of consumer FRAUD.

Broadcom sued Qualcom over their claim that Qualcom had missrepresented whether something was covered by a by a patent - i.e. something is either covered by a patent or it's NOT so misrepresenting the status and collecting a fraudulent "licensing fee" is a REALLY BAD IDEA.

If Broadcom wants to come clean and admit that the "MPEG2 License Fee" is really a direct payment to them to license the MPEG2 hardware decoder firmware GPU driver, then that's fine - but I wouldn't recommend this for a number of reasons.

First, it will reignite the whole debate about the closed source nature of this firmware and whether it violates the Linux open source licensing provisions, because given a choice, I would prefer a free open source GPU video driver, but that is not possible because of Broadcom does not make enough information available to allow the development of open source drivers.

Second, even if it's perfectly legal for Broadcom to charge a fee for licensing of their GPU accelerated MPEG2 driver, it's still going to give folks a really really good reason to hate on Broadcom, when they feel RIPPED OFF by being forced to pay a premium for 25 year old dinosaur MPEG2 tech, just so they can watch DVD''s or use their OTA TV tuner with thier Raspberry Pi.

If the Broadcom is really interested in promoting good will with the Raspberry Pi - UNLOCK THE MPEG2 DRIVER.

If they are interested in pissing people off, and instead maximizing BAD WILL, then by all means, continue to collect this scam little fee.

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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Sun May 20, 2018 8:42 pm

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Z80 Refugee
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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Mon May 21, 2018 6:41 am

The various remarks above are misleading. Do not confuse patents with the right to licence.

Licence fees are paid in return for the permission to use somebody's product - in this case, the MPEG2 software library. That "somebody" is whoever owns the copyright on the software. The fees the Pi Foundation collect are passed on to the copyright holders, not kept themselves.

A patent protects the idea behind the software. With the patent expired, you are free to exploit the idea behind the software, but the software itself remains copyright and the copyright holder remains free to impose conditions for its use.

If you don't want to pay to use the existing copyright MPEG2 library, you can exploit the patent expiry by writing your own MPEG2 software library... but you have to do that without cribbing from the copyright library - good luck with that!

Of course, we already have access to MPEG2 decoding for free - but it's a software implementation. What you are licensing for the RPi is Broadcom's specific implementation for on-board hardware acceleration. To implement that, Broadcom will have paid a licence fee for the use of the patented idea, and have invested time and effort to create the implementation. If they choose to continue to only permit its use on payment of a fee, that's their business (and it does not expire just because the patent has).
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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Mon May 21, 2018 7:47 am

The various remarks above are misleading.
Not to be contentious, but I did make the distinction - in fact I begged the Pi Foundation to clarify - because the past story has always been that the Pi Foundation (and by extension heroic lovely wonderful folks at Broadcom) had no choice but to pass along that fee because of those bad-ol-boyz at MPEG LA.

Now those annoying MPEG LA fees are no longer applicable, and because Broadcom's development cost of this firmware have been recouped a million times over with the literally MILLIONS of chips they have sold using this technology, if they CHOOSE to do this it's only because they CHOOSE to rip everyone off.

You are correct, they can set any damn price they want. If they choose to charge a million dollars for million year old technology, FINE - just PLEASE don't insult everyone's intelligence by dressing it up in officious BS language to make it sound like it's some kind of frigging law of nature - it's a CHOICE.

But before you buy some more bad will for Broadcom, you might want to Google "MPEG2 patents expire" and see how many hits you get, and the general celebratory tone.

So, when EVERYONE on the Planet Earth is celebrating the END of MPEG LA's stranglehold on MPEG2 technology, Broadcom and the Pi Foundation decide to figuratively kick everyone in the teeth and say "hold on there pardner, MPEG LA ain't the only thieves on the Planet you know" . . .

With the Pi 3b being such an underwhelming disappointment (No more RAM, No 4k video,marginally improved CPU, and 1/3 speed 1G Ethernet), unlocking the MPEG2 codec would have been a nice thank you to those who have continued to support the Raspberry Pi despite a LOT of competition from other more powerful boards.

But someone, somewhere has CHOSEN to flip everyone the collective bird on this instead, and come up with a series of lame excuses instead.

That's fine, as you stated, that's their right, but just SAY IT -"we believe that we should gouge everyone for 25 year old tech, BECAUSE WE CAN"

Not because they have to, but rather, because they WANT TO.

It's as simple as that.
Last edited by RichardS on Mon May 21, 2018 7:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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RaTTuS
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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Mon May 21, 2018 7:53 am

RichardS wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 7:47 am
....rant rant rant

With the Pi 3b being such an underwhelming disappointment (No more RAM, No 4k video,marginally improved CPU, and 1/3 speed 1G Ethernet), unlocking the MPEG2 codec would have been a nice thank you to those who have continued to support the Raspberry Pi despite a LOT of competition from other more powerful boards.
what part of SOC don't you understand
it's the same
the VC4 cannot address more than 1GB so no ram will appear until a new SOC is used
same with 4K - the SOC is the same
it will do some 4K - not top end stuff
CPU is improved - this is a cheap way of doing it
what other boards are more powerful and same price with same [similar] support

edit also a Sunday evening rant will not get a swift response
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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Mon May 21, 2018 8:48 am

What is it about people that they are unwilling for businesses to make an income? How would you get paid if your employer didn't make an income?

The choice is simple: if you want what a commercial enterprise has to offer, you pay for it or do without. Trying to find ways to have it for free destroys industry.
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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Mon May 21, 2018 9:04 am

RichardS wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 7:47 am
The various remarks above are misleading.
Not to be contentious, but I did make the distinction - in fact I begged the Pi Foundation to clarify - because the past story has always been that the Pi Foundation (and by extension heroic lovely wonderful folks at Broadcom) had no choice but to pass along that fee because of those bad-ol-boyz at MPEG LA.

Now those annoying MPEG LA fees are no longer applicable, and because Broadcom's development cost of this firmware have been recouped a million times over with the literally MILLIONS of chips they have sold using this technology, if they CHOOSE to do this it's only because they CHOOSE to rip everyone off.

You are correct, they can set any damn price they want. If they choose to charge a million dollars for million year old technology, FINE - just PLEASE don't insult everyone's intelligence by dressing it up in officious BS language to make it sound like it's some kind of frigging law of nature - it's a CHOICE.

But before you buy some more bad will for Broadcom, you might want to Google "MPEG2 patents expire" and see how many hits you get, and the general celebratory tone.

So, when EVERYONE on the Planet Earth is celebrating the END of MPEG LA's stranglehold on MPEG2 technology, Broadcom and the Pi Foundation decide to figuratively kick everyone in the teeth and say "hold on there pardner, MPEG LA ain't the only thieves on the Planet you know" . . .

With the Pi 3b being such an underwhelming disappointment (No more RAM, No 4k video,marginally improved CPU, and 1/3 speed 1G Ethernet), unlocking the MPEG2 codec would have been a nice thank you to those who have continued to support the Raspberry Pi despite a LOT of competition from other more powerful boards.

But someone, somewhere has CHOSEN to flip everyone the collective bird on this instead, and come up with a series of lame excuses instead.

That's fine, as you stated, that's their right, but just SAY IT -"we believe that we should gouge everyone for 25 year old tech, BECAUSE WE CAN"

Not because they have to, but rather, because they WANT TO.

It's as simple as that.
Nothing is ever "as simple as that".

We have clarified that we will not be changing the paid codec scheme until the patents expire WORLDWIDE, not just some subset. This is because the Pi is sold WORLDWIDE. To implement some scheme whereby we were able to track Pi and have licencing only for those countries that need it would cost a small fortune, if indeed it's even possible. We are also not gouging, once you take out the cost of the royalty, we hardly cover our expenses to run the scheme in the first place.

Sorry you are disappointed by the Pi3+. TBH, I'm disappointed in the number of times I've explained about how difficult and expensive it is to develops SoC's only to be completely ignored by people who clearly think they know better. And don't. Unless you have worked on SoC development, I'd suggest that ranting on about lack of features here and there is more likely to show your lack of knowledge about the subject, rather than anything else.

So kindly keep your ill informed rants to yourself. I've already had to delete one of your posts, due to offensive language, and basically being mostly incorrect nonsense, any more rants with that sort of content and you will be banned. Simple as that.
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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Mon May 21, 2018 9:08 am

This is an unofficial response as I am not directly involved in the codec licencing, but basically it is complicated.

There is an agreement between the RPT and MPEG-LA on licencing terms. Unless renegotiated then those terms remain in force.

There are still live patents on MPEG2 in the Philipines and Malaysia. Unless you can absolutely guarantee that no devices will ever be sold in those countries then there has to be some form of licence agreement in place. Get it wrong and their position would be to charge for every single Pi ever sold. They don't deal in grey areas of "but only 0.01% of devices are likely to be sold in those countries". Do you fancy handing over 20 million * around £2.40 per device? We'll gladly accept your cheque if you fancy paying it personally.

The ARM cores on a Pi2 or Pi3 are more than capabable of decoding all SD MPEG2 in software, so there is only a need for the codec licence key on a Pi0/1. Your claim therefore that unlocking the MPEG2 codec would have been a big gain on the 3B+ is a very flimsy strawman claim. (HD MPEG2 is pretty uncommon).
As it is only for Pi 0/1, the priority of renegotiating any agreement (a costly exercise in itself due to lawyers) is relatively low. It's not as if it's not widely known that the MPEG2 licence is not included in the base cost, so factor that cost in if that is critical to your use case. And please remember that the aims of the Raspberry Pi Foundation are for education, for which MPEG2 decode is not a requirement.
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bensimmo
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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Mon May 21, 2018 10:57 am

To whom is the 3B+ a huge disappointment*
It's a minor revision, a boost, hence the +. Hence it's still a 3B.

What do you expect?
It's exactly the same (hence 3B!) but with improved overall processing speed, and network throughput, hence the +.
Quite easy, even for me, to understand that.
3B plus an improvement equals 3B+


If you don't like them charging a few quid for their MPEG2 decoder, then use something else, simples.
Like you say, there are alternatives.

My PC happily plays DVDs, in Windows if I pay Microsoft a few quid or find another method that bundles an MPEG2 decoder.

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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Wed May 23, 2018 11:53 pm

bensimmo wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 10:57 am
To whom is the 3B+ a huge disappointment*
It's a minor revision, a boost, hence the +. Hence it's still a 3B.
I didn't say "huge" disappointment I said "underwhelming" which I think fairly captures how most of us felt who expected a full blown Raspberry Pi 4 release this year - and before someone goes into full-on lecture slapdown mode to explain-the-obvious, YES I know that Eben said no new Pi's this year - him saying it doesn't make it less disappointing. Or from my personal experience, make it so. I have learned the painful lesson over the years to not put a lot of faith in the veracity of these kinds of pronouncements, after being BURNED literally 3 times in a row, when I bought into "No new Pi models for a long time" shtick from the Pi Foundation and bought the "underwhelming" current model - just weeks before a much less disappointing model was released.

On one of those early Raspberry Pi purchases, I gave into the Pi Foundations excuses about why they were forced BY LAW to charge me extra to decode MPEG2 in KODI, even though this was NOT the case on ANY other system I owned, including several other arm processors. But sadly, even though I PAID for an MPEG2 license, that original 512k Pi is such a pig in KODI, due to it's single core CPU and lack of RAM that it wasn't very usable.

So, looking to move that multi-media KODI setup to my Pi3, but of course discovered the MPEG2 "license" isn't transferable.

This is why, like a lot of other folks, I was looking forward to 2018, when the Pi foundation could no longer assert that they were "legally bound" to charge me a fee for patents that were no longer legally in force in either the UK, EU, or US.

But when I pointed out that the Pi Foundation was now free to issue FREE licenses, I was attacked for not understanding all the complex nuances of the international situation and th Pi Foundation's MPEG LA contractual obligations, and was told that, after covering expenses, the Pi Foundation is hardly making anything at all, and that I was pretty much a horrible person for implying that this might be price gouging.

Like most folks, I rather dislike being lectured by folks who don't know what the talking about, so HERE ARE THE FACTS - in the form of the actual agreement information from the MPEG LA website

So, as you can see, after Jan 2018, the agreement can be voluntarily terminated on 30 days notice, so no one is 'locked in' to anything, and the royalty rate for Consumer Products is $0.35 per unit.

That's really interesting, because with the exorbitant rates my credit card charges for small dollar amount international fund conversions, the current £2.40 MPEG2 License Fee works out to pretty close to $3.50 or pretty near exactly 10 TIMES THE OFFICIAL MPEG LA MPEG2 ROYALTY RATE FOR CONSUMER DEVICES.

If you went to a car dealer and were considering a car with a window sticker price of 22 thousand and was told that "after dealer markup, that'l be 220 thousand" would you think they were gouging, or would you just roll over and "pay the vig".

I was also given a not very helpful suggestion about not needing the MPEG2 license anyway since the Pi 3 could do such a peachy job of decoding lower resolution SD MPEG2, and that this should be fine since "HD MPEG2 is pretty uncommon".

Yes it will do a so-so job on SD content, but thanks to another corner cut by the Pi Foundation to save a few dollars, the Pi 3 is pretty much a thermal basket case as shipped, so it will quickly throttle and start to stutter and drop frames if not equipped fairly substantial heat sink. That little 12 dollar dual fan job sold on Amazon works well, so does the 16 dollar passively cooled FLIRC case - both of which not coincidentally cost MORE than the damn MPEG2 license.

As to HD MPEG2 being "pretty uncommon", yeah I can kind of see that - well, except that it is used for OTA Television broadcasts serving 330 MILLION AMERICANS - yeah, except for THAT.

Lot's of us rebellious colonials here in the US are getting fed up with greedy cable companies and 'cutting the cord' and returning to off-the -air broadcasts. This encouraged by the fact we can buy nifty little PVR boxes like the HW-150 and 180 or AT-163 for very little (~$39). If you go by the number of reviews and questions on Amazon, these boxes are VERY popular - AND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM RECORDS IN HD MPEG2 PROGRAM STREAM FORMAT.

So, yeah, HD MPEG2 is, "pretty uncommon" - if you don't count or care about 330 MILLION AMERICANS.

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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Thu May 24, 2018 12:31 am

From your posts:
  • You've been "burned" three times by the Foundation.
    Foundation products are underwhelming disappointments.
    The Foundation lies.
    The Foundation is price gouging.
    There is a lot of competition and more powerful options available.

Why are you still here? I would walk away from any company where I had the same sentiments.

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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Thu May 24, 2018 5:39 am

If you went to a car dealer and were considering a car with a window sticker price of 22 thousand and was told that "after dealer markup, that'l be 220 thousand" would you think they were gouging, or would you just roll over and "pay the vig".
But what if the dealer said it would be 22 thousand and 5USD with the 5USD to cover their expenses in handling the transaction?

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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Thu May 24, 2018 6:55 am

Wow. What a tangy thread.

The foundation employs a lawyer. Advice is we need to continue to require to charge the licence until the final regions fall off licence. If you know or are a lawyer, and advice differs then, well, what? Spend money on court to see who is correct?

Those devices that don't pay licence fees? Yes, they do if they need to be sold world-wide, but they are probably region limited, they probably don't. We don't have that option.

We make no real money from selling the licence, the very small fee just about covers the cost of distribution. So what possible reason could we have for charging unless we had to?

As for underwhelming models, well, that's your opinion, but for some reason so far unexplained, you still buy them. And so millions of others. Which is actually where all the real money is, not in the licence.
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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Thu May 24, 2018 7:00 am

Oh, and anyone who expected a Pi4 this year after being specifically told by multiple sources there wasn't going to be one, well, not sure what to say about that.
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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Thu May 24, 2018 8:22 am

RichardS wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 11:53 pm
..., even though this was NOT the case on ANY other system I owned, including several other arm processors.
maybe they paid upfront the cost to the licence holders and charge you in the cost of the SOC
So, as you can see, after Jan 2018, the agreement can be voluntarily terminated on 30 days notice, so no one is 'locked in' to anything, and the royalty rate for Consumer Products is $0.35 per unit.
so that's 20million *.35 == $7mil cost to the foundation for something that only a small number of people need

[edited and removed a lot of other stuff]
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Re: MPEG2 patents expiring

Thu May 24, 2018 9:03 am

RaTTuS wrote:
Thu May 24, 2018 8:22 am
RichardS wrote:
Wed May 23, 2018 11:53 pm
..., even though this was NOT the case on ANY other system I owned, including several other arm processors.
maybe they paid upfront the cost to the licence holders and charge you in the cost of the SOC
So, as you can see, after Jan 2018, the agreement can be voluntarily terminated on 30 days notice, so no one is 'locked in' to anything, and the royalty rate for Consumer Products is $0.35 per unit.
so that's 20million *.35 == $7mil cost to the foundation for something that only a small number of people need

[edited and removed a lot of other stuff]
The charge for H264, for example, is already paid in the cost of the Pi because its a) A much better codec than MPEG2 b) Used by a lot more people c) Needed to run the camera. We only charge for these other codecs separately because the number of users is small, and not everyone wants to pay for something they don't use. Most other SBC suppliers are either charging upfront, or breaking the licence terms. However, their sales are small compared with the Pi, so charging upfront does not, as you point out, have such a huge affect on total revenue. You are correct, $7M less revenue if we had added the MPEG2 0.35c to every Pi from first launch.
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