Open Letter to Steve Jobs

update 16:00: Steve Jobs answers to my open letter, see below.

Steve Jobs pointing his finger

That's rude!

Dear Steve Jobs,

Having read your Thoughts on Flash, I could not agree with you more. Flash is not the Web, and I am glad Apple seizes the opportunity of open standards to build better products for their customers.

But I am not so sure about your definition of the word Open in general. I will not argue here that it is ironic you find the Apple Store more open than Flash. I will not complain either that you like Openness so much that when you use “Open Source” Software to build your Mac operating system, you keep all the openness for yourself and don’t give it to your customers, nor to the developers whose works have been very useful to you.

I figured that writing an open letter was an appropriate way to remind you of a couple of things that you may have forgotten — maybe in good faith — about open standards.

It is true that HTML5 is an emerging open standard, and I am glad that you adopted it (well, did you really have the choice anyway?). However I have to say I am impressed in the way you succeed in saying how Apple has been doing great with open standards against Flash… while explaining Flash videos is not a problem, because Apple has implemented another video codec: H.264.

May I remind you that H.264 is not an open standard? This video codec is covered by patents, and “vendors and commercial users of products which make use of H.264/AVC are expected to pay patent licensing royalties for the patented technology” (ref). This is why Mozilla Firefox and Opera have not adopted this video codec for their HTML5 implementation, and decided to chose Theora as a sustainable and open alternative.

Free Software Foundation Europe have been raising consensus and awareness on Open Standards for some years already. I am sure we would be happy to help Apple make the good decision. So, to begin with, here is the definition:

An Open Standard refers to a format or protocol that is

  1. subject to full public assessment and use without constraints in a manner equally available to all parties;
  2. without any components or extensions that have dependencies on formats or protocols that do not meet the definition of an Open Standard themselves;
  3. free from legal or technical clauses that limit its utilisation by any party or in any business model;
  4. managed and further developed independently of any single vendor in a process open to the equal participation of competitors and third parties;
  5. available in multiple complete implementations by competing vendors, or as a complete implementation equally available to all parties.

Hugo Roy
April 2010


Steve Jobs’ email (with sources)

From: Steve Jobs
To: Hugo Roy
Subject: Re:Open letter to Steve Jobs: Thoughts on Flash
Date 30/04/2010 15:21:17

All video codecs are covered by patents. 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.

Sent from my iPad

Since it was an open letter, I think I have the right to publish his answer.

144 thoughts on “Open Letter to Steve Jobs

  1. Does he know something we don’t, or have I missed an incoming trial against Theora?

  2. Interesting. Some people have no faith in community made technology. It was very good of Steve to take the time to reply however. Kudos to him for that.

    Sent from my Free Software desktop operating system that is good enough in its own right to not require unsubtle endorsements in inappropriate places by its project leaders.

  3. Well, I read many times there was some people claiming to have patents on Theora… but so far it was much more FUD than anything else. Apple has always claimed that Theora is an patent-encumbered codec. They are not the only ones to believe that, and indeed, considering the disastrous situation in which the patent system is sometimes, it is possible.

    But, again, so far, nothing concrete. So maybe he know, maybe it’s FUD, but anyway it does not change the fact that H264 is not an open standard, and that an open standard could never make distinctions like H264 between users, and have patent-licensing-royalties.

    Note that I never said open standards are necessarily royalty-free. Moreover, I have no idea what he is talking about when he says “an open standard is different from open source.” Standards aren’t software.

  4. He is right about an open standard being different from being open source, but I don’t agree that you can define an open standard based on something that everyone _knows_ is covered by patents, and where the patent holders are prepared to go after infringers. With an open standard you need to be able to create and distribute your own software that handles the format without fear of legal persecution.

    The difference between H.264 and Theora is that with H.264 we know that MPEG-LA hold patents on it, and they do charge royalties if you eg. have a website where you want users to pay for streaming. With Theora, there’s no known patent problems.

    Unfortunately, it’s so easy to cover at least part of a software patent’s claims by accident, without knowing anything about that patent, so we can in any case never be 100% certain. But the difference mentioned above is still important. It’s the difference between knowing for sure that an open standard is impossible to maintain, and being a bit uncertain that there might be trouble in the future (“car accidents happen all the time, would you rather take your chances on driving to work, or should I just kill you right now?”).

    By the way, I recommend Tridgell’s talk at http://news.swpat.org/2010/03/transcript-tridgell-patents/ is a great antidote to all the FUD.

  5. I am not sure it is the reason why we should chose Theora over H264. IMHO, companies like Apple want to avoid uncertainty and risks, both of them are not costless… and they can afford H264 licensing policies, where Free Software cannot (Free Software distribution is incompatible with such patent-licensing policies).

    So here it is about strategy, and business, as usual. But call it “open” is pure manipulation.

  6. This may all be a moot point within a couple of years. With Google’s purchase of On2 last year, they now have possession of the VP8 codec. And the general consensus seems to be that Google with make it an open-source codec. It is much higher quality than Ogg Theora (VP3). Performs on par with H.264. So in a few years, maybe only Apple and Microsoft will stick with H.264.

  7. Where do you live Roy. Seems it is already 3:30 by the time you published this and I am curious that a Hugo Roy live in the far east. Not suspicions. You could be like Arthur C Clarke.

  8. If you use H.264, you know what the cost of licensing is, and it’s cheap. Really, really cheap. If you use Theora, you have a potential legal exposure of an indeterminate magnitude. Add to that the fact that most browsers can play H.264 and very few users have a Theora codec installed, and the business decision of which to go with is obvious.

  9. H.264 cost of licensing may be cheap for Apple. It certainly isn’t for everyone.
    Then when you say “If you use Theora, you have a potential legal exposure of an indeterminate magnitude.” that legal exposure can be avoided with big players like Apple (and their patent portfolios) behind it, or organizations like the open invention network.

    And from the moment we know which patents are at stake, I am sure the Free software community will find code or legal hacks to go around the problem.

  10. Talking about Theora and patents is just spreading FUD.

    Yes Theora may infringe on some unknown patents. However the common omission is the *unknown* patents that H.264 infringes – as well as the known patents that you have to license.

    H.264 could end up being just as expensive when it comes to patent infringement as Theora could.

  11. @hugo The ‘Open Invention Network’ isn’t going to help open source in any way, contrary to what the parties funding it say. Those who finance it are some of the worst when it comes to asserting patents.

    @Carl It’s true that even a codec for which there is an official patent pool, such as H.264, may infringe patents. As I explained on my FOSS Patents blog recently, the multimedia codec field is a patent thicket and patent offices often grant new patents on old things.

  12. Interesting use of the passive voice, “is being assembled”. Presumably the patent pool isn’t assembling itself, so who’s assembling it, and why?

  13. There is a big difference between Mozilla using Theora and Apple. If Apple tried to adapt it, there would be lawsuits coming out of the woodwork. Free software fans should be thankful that big companies don’t get involved. I can write the story ahead of time for you.

    Apple announces support of Theora.
    Lawyers crawl all over Theora like flies on sh**.
    Lawyers sue Mozilla first because you always want to hit a smaller target first to establish a favorable position.
    Lawyers settle with Mozilla for most of what they have.
    Lawyers target lawsuit at Apple, basically playing with “House” money from the Mozilla lawsuit.
    Lawyers win, the rest of us lose.

  14. Steve is correct that no codec is completely free of legal issues.

    But the problem is the patent system itself and Steve, as he benefits personally from that, doesn’t address this issue.

    That’s the root of the issue.

  15. I think Steve Jobs is right here. It’s not that H.264 is wrong. It’s that software patents are wrong. We will never be able to guarantee the free software nature of a code until software patents are extinguished.

    H.264 is a good codec, and was not patented by its creators. Its creators wanted it to be open. Then the stealers from MPEG-LA came and started those patent claims. The same could happen to Theora or to any video codec.

    It’s time to extinguish this nonsense system of software patents.

  16. “It is true that HTML5 is an emerging open standard, and I am glad that you adopted it (well, did you really have the choice anyway?).”

    I wouldn’t have used “adopted” here. The evolution from HTML4 to HTML5 was by large an impulse from Apple. And most of its important features (, transition, storage…) are born from Apple’s team, initially. And they leveraged the WhatWG to push them forward as an Open Standard. Their evil plan was probably to kill flash from the beginning, which wouldn’t be surprising given how they like to control everything.

  17. An interesting thing in Steve’s reply is the implication of going after all open source video codecs. Does this mean going after the Matroska container? Dirac? Ogg?

    Software patents are not being used to innovate. They are being used as a protection racket to help keep the big corporations in play and fend off the competition.

    Part of the problem is that the patent isn’t for something like the filament lightbulb, so someone could create a flourescent lightbulb, or an LED-based bulb, or an energy saving bulb, but for “a device that emits light when electricity is applied to it”. They are not protecting the inventor of a specific invention from competitors creating the same product and selling it cheaper. Instead, they are being applied to a wider field, which is what is wrong with the current system as it allows the protection rackets to flourish.

  18. I think Mr. Jobs is doing a needed service to OGG Theora. Theora has patents, they are just not encumbered and are free for all to use. But it (the codec) hasn’t been tested against “submarine” patents. The patents that show up out of nowhere and claim precedence and infringement. H.264 and other codec being considered for HTML 5 have been used in products and have gained a measurable amount of backers and use. It has put (to this point) succeeded in surviving a patent attack. Ogg Theora has not. It need too if it is survive to be a unencumbered and free standard for HTML5. So bring it on Mr. jobs. Let’s see what’s out there.

  19. Well he never said iPhone OS was MORE OPEN. He debunked Adobe’s claim that they were more open the the iPhone/App Store. The fact is companies have proprietary systems and Jobs never argued they were any different; he argued that Adobe isn’t.

  20. I *seriously* have to study, so I’ll make it short:

    The problem with software patents is not only a risk on Theora. Even an EULA or license from a proprietary solution does not guarantee you won’t get sued for patent violation from a _third_ party. It only makes sure you’re granted those rights from the licensor.

    Even shorter:
    e.g. if there’s a patent on moving pictures both H.264 and Theora can be infringing and you can be in serious cacky if you use either (or any other video format).

  21. Most of the codec issues will become null and voice once VP8 is open-sourced as it appears Google is planning to do next month. That codec is 5 versions better than Ogg (VP3) and some say better than H.264 as well (if not equal)

  22. Funny he missed the apostrophe in “others’”, maybe iPads don’t support that.

  23. If someone decided to sue over H.264 patents, they’d have to sue MPEG LA. If someone decided to sue over Theoria patents, they’d sue the company’s that implemented it. Right now the only big-money company that’s a potential Theoria patent target is Google. No coincidence they’re working on their own codec.

    Also, the mobile device performance is a huge issue for Apple, and any major tech company that’s going to still be in business five years from now. If Theoria continues to have bad performance and power consumption, it’s simply a dead format.

  24. Funny how Jobs failes to mention that Apple is on board of H.264 rights and would profit from licensing fees everytime H.264 is used. Along with Microsoft, btw!

  25. May I ask why the FSF Europe concerns itself with that? This is not about patents, but about software patents. These are void (or illegal) in Europe anyway. And as a private non-commercial users we are protected from litigation in such matters.
    So if Jobs assertion was true, what would be the problem here?

  26. I don’t Steve was saying that apple is more open than flash. He was only saying that flash was not open, but proprietary. Futher heh was arguing that Apple had a lot of proprietary too, but the web should be open. H.264 is not open in the sense that is free (of license), but you van make your own implementation. In other words apple is not dependent on the mercy of another vendor for stability, security, performance and progress..

  27. @mario: note that this is a personal blog, not any statement by the FSFE.
    Plus I would say that even in Europe, software patents are a reality we can not ignore and in our globalized world we can not ignore how US legislation shapes markets outside.

    Especially for Free software, which distribution doesn’t stop at borders.

  28. yeah! it will not last long till you communist scumbags will be exterminated! go steve!

  29. To state “All video codecs are covered by patents” Would infer that the idea of compressing video through software is patented..

    So I imagine every open source product that implemented Video compression would be subject to fines for infringing on the patent? For instance every Open Source OS (Fedora) that doesn’t pay someone for its codecs?

    I may be leaping over a few things here.. but it seems like the path where going down is the elimination of open source in general…

    I have to respect Apple for the impressive products they have created but at the same time I would love to see that company go away.

  30. I think that “…you keep all the openness for yourself and don’t give it to your customers, nor to the developers whose works have been very useful to you.”
    is not correct.
    Apple has been contributing back into GCC for a very long time. They’ve also provided WebKit (originally based on Konqueror and now containing significant work from Apple). There are others, if you but look for them.

  31. @Matthew: that’ true. But I was talking about Mac OS here, based on much Free Software like FreeBSD etc. Anyway, that’s not the subject :)

  32. H.264 is an open standard by the definition of the International Telecommunication Union, the standards body that created it. You can read that definition for yourself on Wikipedia’s “Open Standard” article. The relevant difference is that ITU only insists on RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory) licensing (incompatible with your #3), and does not require royalty-free or no-cost licensing.

    This is probably the definition that Steve is using. I understand that you want to promote the FSF’s definition, but you really should understand where the other guy is coming from before declaring your interpretation of a term to be the only one.

    Answer by Hugo: the definition of Open standards for telecommunications technologies and for software is not the same. The definition we are using at the FSFE is the official definition of open standards for software, as defined by the European Commission’s Interoperability Framework (2004).

  33. Also please note that Jobs does not say that Apple is going after Theoria. He may well know of some other party that has a patent claim and is doing the dirty work. It may well even be MPEG-LA.

  34. Steve conveniently ignored the first point in your open letter: that Mac OS X was built upon open source software. Open source is good enough for Apple when it serves their interests.

  35. “All video codecs are covered by patents”

    What a scary world we live in when the patent office can issue such broad patents that it becomes impossible to imagine of a future video codec being written that didn’t infringe on existing patents. How does that “promote innovation”?

    Perhaps it is also now inconceivable that any company could produce, say, a tablet computer, that doesn’t infringe so many existing patents that it would be a liability to actually go into production with it.

  36. You write: “Plus I would say that even in Europe, software patents are a reality we can not ignore and in our globalized world we can not ignore how US legislation shapes markets outside.”
    I am afraid this is chemically pure drivel, and utter legal nonsense.
    Software patents are in Europe unenforceable, and that is that. Nothing more to say.
    Attempt to pattern EU legislation on the US model have regularly failed.
    As to Jobs, he is as much of a businessman as the bandit of O’Leary (he of RyanAir fame, who lives of subsidies). His business model is: take hip yuppies, handcuff them into a shiny locked product, as the iPhone, and milk them ’till you can…
    Really at the forefront of progress…

  37. For god’s sake, Apple has been contributing A LOT to Open Source. Just by adopting it as a standard on Mac OS it helps a lot! LOTS of Mac users jumping into Ruby, Python, Apache, PHP, Perl, Emacs, Vim, Bash… GCC comes in the installation disk, and they’ve been contributing a lot to it. Objective-C was added to the GCC pool thanks to Apple.

    Their Kernel is open source, LLVM is open source, WebKit is open source, they started the whole HTML5 revolution. Just because they haven’t done a lot compared to the likes of IBM and Novell, doesn’t mean they haven’t done nothing or “not enough”.

    By the way, most people would answer to that claim by saying that Objective-C is an useless language, that’s only good for Apple’s stuff, that nobody else wants it, same with the Kernel…. So, WHY THE FUCK should apple give back if everyone’s complaining about what they have given in the past??????

  38. hm. Funny how they’ve turned on OSS/FS after they essentially ripped all of it off. There’s more OSS/FS running in that ipad of yours Commandant Jobs than code written in cupertino.

  39. Dammit! I can’t turn around without someone pulling another lawsuit on open source out of their ass! These are ALL disproven, but they keep hoping they can hit one. Apple does not like Theora because it goes against their interests. It’s a competitor. They know it. You don’t have to pay for Open Source, so of course it hurts them. I am seriously worried that someone DID patent compressed video. It’s ridiculous. Software patents SHOULD be illegal. Copyrights are fine and very needed, patents, not so much.

  40. So I guess we can call Red Hat and Suse (Novell) evil companies too, since they also protect their source code.

    Evil Red Hat and Suse.

  41. I’m curious about Steve’s statement “All video codecs are covered by patents. A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other “open source” codecs now.” In *some* ways it’s true – theora is On2′s VP3, which there are patent for. However, On2 released VP3 into the public domain… sooo…. yes the patents *exist* but it would be curious to base a lawsuit on them, no? Especially since On2 was bought by google. IANAL, but… this just doesn’t even make sense. Maybe he meant something else by “go after”?

  42. Hi everyone, fyi a good explanation of the root of the patent problem is here:
    mises.org/rothbard/newlibertywhole.asp

    Without this it’s difficult to think clearly about much of what goes on. Once you know this, you can understand the rest.

  43. fine wrote:
    -
    “The evolution from HTML4 to HTML5 was by large an impulse from Apple. And most of its important features (, transition, storage…) are born from Apple’s team”
    -
    Not true. From an interview with HTML 5 coordinator, Ian Hickson:
    -
    “[...] if we wanted to do something like HTML 5, we should go elsewhere. So we announced a mailing list, and did it there. At the time I was working for Opera Software, but “we” in this case was Opera and Mozilla acting together (with Apple cheering us from the sidelines).”
    -
    http://www.webstandards.org/2009/05/13/interview-with-ian-hickson-editor-of-the-html-5-specification/
    -
    This seems like another fanboy attempt to rewrite history, same as the usual comments about how “Apple created WebKit”. Apple renamed it WebKit, but it was originally developed as part of KDE, and is currently developed by a large community, of which Apple is only a small fraction.
    -
    The only reason why Apple pretends to “support HTML 5″ is that they know it’s years away from being a viable application platform.
    -
    Compared to the way Apple treats its users and its developers, H.264 smells of roses.

  44. I can clarify some of the HTML5 history on this issue. I was involved in the debate. Initially the draft spec suggested HTML5 implementations support ogg theora. This SHOULD clause was then removed apparently at the request of Apple and Nokia.

    When concern was raised about this Apple representatives weighed in by throwing around unspecified patent concerns. At the same time Nokia (another h264 consortium member) released an open letter claiming, basically, that theora was crap and h.264 was better. However, at no point did either company disclose their private stakes in the h264 portfolio. The nokia claims have been directly disputed. There are examples on the Xiph site of streaming Theora with the same or better quality / compression levels as h264.

    In short the people arguing loudest against Theora have been exposed for both their deceptions AND their affiliations and Steve Jobs has now joined them by making claims that are both vague and unconvincing. If such a threat exists and is credible then why doesn’t he provide details? Where in anything he said is a specific infringement? If it’s a secret why mention it at all?

    The truth of the matter is that on this issue Apple can’t be trusted and people should look elsewhere for information on this topic.

    To see proof Theora is suitable for the web (directly refuting Nokia’s claims) you can see a comparison here.

  45. Pingback: Steve Jobs responde al uso de H.264 vs Theora

  46. The company now driving web video is Google. They paid $100m to liberate V8 by buying ON2 and open sourcing the intellectual property.

  47. You do realize that h264 fits the definition of open you posted to the letter … right?

    Answer by Hugo: It does not fits the definition. I have been working on Open Standards and the FSFE is raisong consensus on them since 2004… we know what we are talking about. Read again.

  48. Two things:
    1) The comments seem to have become a little lost. Doesn’t Mr. Roy, in effect, ask the question about comparing the Apple App store to Adobe’s FLASH? How is this comparing apples to apples? Mr. Jobs make the comparison between web applications for the iPhone/iPad/etc. to FLASH applications and contends that web applications using HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript use open STANDARDS while Adobe’s FLASH using closed STANDARDS. The only time Mr. Jobs mentions “open source” is to refer to WebKit; not to FLASH.

    Mr. Jobs asserts six things:
    – Adobe plays fast and loose when describing FLASH as an “open standard” development platform
    – Adobe’s claim that the web is 75% FLASH video is an exaggeration
    – there are some questions regarding “security” when using a FLASH plug-in
    – Apple has asked Adobe to demonstrate responsible power use by FLASH and Adobe has failed to deliver…. so far
    – most FLASH “on the web” does not handle a touch interface well and needs to be rewritten
    – Apple is wary of tying the progress of innovation within applications running on their products to any party unwilling to innovate in a timely manner; hence the reference to the 10 year wait for Adobe to release a version of their CS which is fully native to OS X.

    Why is this discussion mired in talk of “open source”? None of Mr. Jobs points about Adobe or FLASH talk of “open source” only “open standards”. They are not the same thing.

    2) when did “available in multiple complete implementations by competing vendors” become part of open source? Why must there be a component of competition for an open source project to be called “open source”?

    Answer by Hugo: Well, it’s not me who got lost… I am not talking about Open Source but about Open Standards, which Jobs claimed he likes against Flash. So I wanted to say: beautiful, you like open standards. But H264 is not an open standard.

  49. Nice of him to reply.

    I think if the web takes something as an open standard, patents go out of the window really, i.e. jpg

  50. Hugo said, “I have no idea what he is talking about when he says “an open standard is different from open source.”

    Really? It’s not difficult to understand. For the former, you can get it from a multitude of vendors and various price points and it’s widely used. For the latter, you can get it potentially from anyone for any price, even free, and it’s not widely used.

    ************************************************

    Jobs’ mistake however, was in characterizing the H.264 codec as “format,” to be compared against Flash, i.e. in common parlance a container like AVI or FLV. But given that you can create a Flash video with H.264, H.264 was irrelevant to his argument. Better to trumpet MP4′s strengths vs. FLV if that’s what he meant to do.

    Answer by Hugo: Software & standards are two completely different things. I mean, it’s like comparing bananas to cars. Does it make sense if I say “Banans are different from cars”?

  51. “Why is this discussion mired in talk of “open source”? None of Mr. Jobs points about Adobe or FLASH talk of “open source” only “open standards”. They are not the same thing.

    2) when did “available in multiple complete implementations by competing vendors” become part of open source? Why must there be a component of competition for an open source project to be called “open source”?”

    Bingo. The open source community felt left out, and confusing open standard with open source, that’s why. Defensive without even being targeted. Lack of self esteem? Needing validation?

  52. @Dave, etc.: Why are you confusing the term “open standard” with the term “standard”?

    Possibly because these terms don’t have a definite meaning until we’re feeling frisky enough to give them one.

  53. Err, you do realize that Flash has been open for the past 2 years, right? Take a look at the Open Screen Project. You can now find 3rd party flash players.

    People really need to stop listening to Jobs and start thinking for themselves.

  54. I see free software advocators make this mistake all the time, and it’s not even funny anymore. Pay close attention to the next line :

    OPEN STANDARD ≠ NON-POPRIETARY

    Answer by Hugo: What do you mean by “non properietary”. It’s not about software here. Open standards are not “non proprietary” or whatever, they are open standards. See the definition

    In fact, it should strike you that H.264 does indeed match the FSF definition of open standard given in this open letter. An open standard means that it is non-discrimatively offered to anyone who matches the criteria of attribution. In fact, a large number of open standards are proprietary. DVD and Blu-ray are both open and proprietary, because any vendor is welcome to build their own player, as long as they pay the fee to their respective owners.

    So while H.264 is an open standard, Flash, on the other hand isn’t, since Adobe, and Adobe only, can distribute a Flash Player.

    Answer by Hugo: H.264 is not an open standard because commercial users and vendors have to pay a patent tax on each copy of their implementation. That is not compatible with the definition of an open standard. Again, “RAND” terms are not open standards, they are “RAND terms” standards. Read the definition.

  55. @ OpenFlash : that simply isn’t true. Please look at the FAQ of the Open Screen Project:

    Does this mean that it is possible for companies or developers to distribute Flash Player within their product offerings?<br/
    Adobe has removed the restrictions on the SWF and FLV/F4V specifications, not on Flash Player itself. Future versions starting with the next major versions of Flash Player and AIR for devices are royalty free as part of the Open Screen Project. However, a license (contract) still needs to be in place between Adobe and the licensee.

  56. Answer by Hugo: What do you mean by “non properietary”. It’s not about software here. Open standards are not “non proprietary” or whatever, they are open standards. See the definition

    By non-proprietary, I mean… non-proprietary. Property has nothing to do with software or hardware, it only means that someone owns it. Again, read the definition yourself, and see how it never mentions that it should be “free” (as in free speech) or that no one should own it. An open standard can, and often is, proprietary. You really need to wrap your mind around that notion. So, again :
    OPEN STANDARD ≠ NON-PROPRIETARY

    Answer by Hugo: H.264 is not an open standard because commercial users and vendors have to pay a patent tax on each copy of their implementation. That is not compatible with the definition of an open standard. Again, “RAND” terms are not open standards, they are “RAND terms” standards. Read the definition.

    where exactly do you see in the definition that open standards shouldn’t be submitted to patent taxes on each of their implementations, exactly?? Do you even understand the definition?

  57. By non-proprietary, I mean… non-proprietary. Property has nothing to do with software or hardware, it only means that someone owns it. Again, read the definition yourself, and see how it never mentions that it should be “free” (as in free speech) or that no one should own it. An open standard can, and often is, proprietary. You really need to wrap your mind around that notion. So, again :
    OPEN STANDARD ≠ NON-PROPRIETARY

    > 4. managed and further developed independently of any single vendor in a process open to the equal participation of competitors and third parties

    No one “owns” the standard. Take ODF as an example: it is managed by OASIS.

    where exactly do you see in the definition that open standards shouldn’t be submitted to patent taxes on each of their implementations, exactly?? Do you even understand the definition?

    Can you read?!

    An Open Standard refers to a format or protocol that is

    1. subject to full public assessment and use without constraints in a manner equally available to all parties;
    2. without any components or extensions that have dependencies on formats or protocols that do not meet the definition of an Open Standard themselves;
    3. free from legal or technical clauses that limit its utilisation by any party or in any business model;
    4. managed and further developed independently of any single vendor in a process open to the equal participation of competitors and third parties;
    5. available in multiple complete implementations by competing vendors, or as a complete implementation equally available to all parties.

    1. “use without constraints”
    3. “free from legal… clauses that limit its utilisation by any party”

    For more information, http://fsfe.org/projects/os/os.en.html

    Note that FSFE is recognized as a relevant organisation on the matter. Our founding president got the German cross of merit for his work on Free Software and open standards. The definition of open standards has been given by the European Commission in its EIF (2003).

  58. Answer by Hugo : Note that I never said open standards are necessarily royalty-free. Moreover, I have no idea what he is talking about when he says “an open standard is different from open source.” Standards aren’t software.

    So you do acknowledge that open standards can be bound with royalty fees.

    answer by hugo: No I never said that. I said that open standards are not necessarily royalty-free, because you can have a one-time nominal fee (like with the Samba PFIF agreement with Microsoft) — this is not the same licensing scheme as in H.264 which is a “fee per copy” scheme > that’s not open standard compliant. Otherwise all open standards are royalty-free.

    Which is the case of DVD, Blu-ray, and H.264. So what is there in these open standards that make you deem them not worthy of the open standard title exactly? Also, you seem to misunderstand terms, when you said “standards aren’t software” as a reply to “an open standard is different from open source”. Do you realize there is open source hardware too? What Jobs meant is that there are proprietary open standards just as there are non-proprietary open standards. The main argument against H.264 that both the FSF and the Mozilla Foundation have is that it’s proprietary, not that it’s not an open standard.

    answer by hugo: No. Read what Mozilla says about it. It’s because it’s not an open standard.

  59. > 4. managed and further developed independently of any single vendor in a process open to the equal participation of competitors and third parties
    No one “owns” the standard. Take ODF as an example: it is managed by OASIS.

    er, yes, someone owns the standard… it only means that the open standard can’t be managed and developed independently of a single vendor. So it can be managed and developed by SEVERAL vendors. As in… A CONSORTIUM… as in… the organisms that regulate, manage and develop open standards such as DVD (DVD Forum), Blu-ray (Blu-ray Disc Association), or H.264 (MPEG-LA). Anyone who’s willing to participate in the open standard is welcome to do so, because that’s what open standards are about.

    answer by hugo: your definition of “own” and “proprietary” is funny.

    1. “use without constraints”
    3. “free from legal… clauses that limit its utilisation by any party”

    Without constraints ≠  without compensation. Once you get the license of an open standard, you are free to use it as you see fit without constraints. Free from legal clauses that limit its utilisation : likewise, this doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be a license.

    answer by hugo: Where did I say there should not be a license? Of course there is a license. I said there should not be a patent fee license. Because that is a “constraint”. (That’s not my opinion. I work on that subject. I know what I am talking about, the definition I am using is the same used in the European Commission, in the W3C and other bodies who have to deal with standards.)

    You acknowledged yourself that an open standard could be bound to royalty fees, anyway. I don’t quite get how that makes H.264 any different.

    answer by hugo: No I never said that. I said that open standards are not necessarily royalty-free, because you can have a one-time nominal fee (like with the Samba PFIF agreement with Microsoft) but otherwise all open standards are royalty-free.

  60. Why is it so hard to understand that a companies like Apple don’t give a ratsass about if the tech is within your interpretation of the term “open standard”? if they sell it as open standard it will fit their interpretation. On top of that, the tech that you call “open standard” ogg in this case, will have to face future patent claims. It really doesn’t matter if these are rightful claims or not, there mere fact that it now already is discussed is reason enough to be very skeptical on wether on not to use the tech. For a company to hang it’s Billion dollar business model, it will need securities. A big association like MPEG-LA will and can help, defending against patent claims where as ogg will be just a big bag of hurt..

    answer by hugo: That’s not “my interpretation” of an open standard. It is the widely recognized definition of open standards for software, as used by Mozilla, the W3C, the European Commission, etc etc etc

  61. To sum up this vocabulary battle : Jobs never said that H.264 wasn’t proprietary. It clearly is. You are free to have issues with proprietary standards (as it is the case of the FSF and Mozilla foundation when it comes to internet standards). But the point of Jobs here is : Flash is BOTH proprietary AND a CLOSED standard. H.264 is proprietary AND an open standard. The latter sounds better. You’re making it a case for H.264 vs. Ogg Theora, let me remind you that, beyond the patents, there are industrial issues with Ogg Theora which make it impossible to endorse for Apple. So you’re using Jobs’ argument in something that has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

    answer by hugo: See all my answers. Please stop repeating the arguments I already answered to. If you want, write a blog entry and make a trackback link.

  62. answer by hugo: your definition of “own” and “proprietary” is funny.

    And your argument is short.

    answer by hugo: Where did I say there should not be a license? Of course there is a license. I said there should not be a patent fee license. Because that is a “constraint”. (That’s not my opinion. I work on that subject. I know what I am talking about, the definition I am using is the same used in the European Commission, in the W3C and other bodies who have to deal with standards.)

    The royalty is a constraint to access the licence, not to use the standard once you got the licence. And I find it frightening that you would work on the subject, seeing how bad you understand these notions… You might want to take counseling from a lawyer specialized in intellectual property.

    answer by hugo: No I never said that. I said that open standards are not necessarily royalty-free, because you can have a one-time nominal fee (like with the Samba PFIF agreement with Microsoft) but otherwise all open standards are royalty-free.

    Again, how can you pay a royalty fee if no one owns the standard? Royalties are exclusively meant for intellectual property. As in property. As in someone owns it. Dude, seriously, if you “work” on the subject (professionally) you ought to document yourself better.

  63. answer by hugo: No. Read what Mozilla says about it. It’s because it’s not an open standard.

    That simply isn’t true. Please back up your claim with a quote.

    Answer by Hugo: Use your favourite search engine, you will find more than a quote.

  64. The royalty is a constraint to access the licence, not to use the standard once you got the licence

    In other words, a constraint on who can use the standard.

    Again, how can you pay a royalty fee if no one owns the standard?

    Because having an openly defined standard is different from companies and groups that claim to have patents that cover said standard and demand you pay a fee.

  65. In other words, a constraint on who can use the standard.

    Yes, and not on HOW you can use it, as the wording of the definition specifies it.

    Because having an openly defined standard is different from companies and groups that claim to have patents that cover said standard and demand you pay a fee.

    This is clearly a gratuitous assertion. That isn’t specified anywhere in the definition.

  66. If you cannot grasp the difference between definition and interpretation that there is no use having this argument, since my interpretation is clearly different than that of yours although we are reading the same piece ;-)

    Answer by Hugo: I am not making any interpretation of the definition.

    I do have to second Nonoche in that at best you clearly seem to be suffering from some serious case of tunnel-vision, and at worst just don’t grasp the concept of an open standard..

    Answer by Hugo: Yes sure. And the whole Free Software Foundation Europe don’t get it either. This is just why this happened: http://fsfe.org/news/2010/news-20100428-01.en.html

    Just hypothetical, if one of the patent claims against Ogg will stick, will you be ready to drop it in favor of the next thing?, as at that time it will not fit your narrow view of what is an open standard anymore right?

    Answer by Hugo: No. Legal threats and lawsuits are another subject. And if other standards for videos fit the definition of open standards, I would be ready to adopt them as well.

  67. Yes, and not on HOW you can use it, as the wording of the definition specifies it.

    This is clearly a gratuitous assertion. That isn’t specified anywhere in the definition.

    Once again: The royalty is in itself a restriction on whether any party can use it.

    Both cases are clearly covered

    subject to full public assessment and use without constraints in a manner equally available to all parties;

    free from legal or technical clauses that limit its utilisation by any party or in any business model;

    I honestly do not see how you can possibly argue otherwise.

  68. Answer by Hugo: Use your favourite search engine, you will find more than a quote.

    This is way too easy young man. I cannot prove the inexistance of something, but you can prove me wrong easily. Please come up with a quote and a link (since it apparently only takes a seach in your favorite search engine) and bring it forward for us to contemplate, otherwise admit that your claim is just frivolous.

    Answer by Hugo: Yesterday: http://news.cnet.com/8301-30684_3-20003895-265.html Updated 2:33 p.m.: Mozilla issued the following statement: “We believe that it is in the public interest for HTML5 video to be backed by multiple, open and royalty-free codecs available in a way that is consistent with the W3C license standards. We would absolutely consider H.264 if MPEG LA would make it available under open web terms as defined by the W3C standards. We stand by our position on Theora.” W3C license standards are open standards : not H.264. Clear?!

  69. @RyanT : the royalty is equally applied to all parties who wish to use the standard. That matches the definition. Also, Hugo himself admitted that open standards could be bound to royalties (and has failed so far to answer the incoherence there is between non-proprietary standards and royalties). You might want to take into account full sentences here :

    subject to full public assessment and use without constraints in a manner equally available to all parties;
    free from legal or technical clauses that limit its utilisation by any party or in any business model;

    That only means that you cannot discriminate a party wishing to use the software just because you don’t want them to use it. Open standards, proprietary or not, are meant to be used by anyone who wants to, as long as they match the admission criteria that are fairly and equally applied to any licensee.

  70. Nonoche, your basic problem is that you don’t understand the words in the sentances. So here is another definition, the one in the EIF — that says basically the same thing but maybe this one you will understand.

    To attain interoperability in the context of
    pan-European eGovernment services, guidance
    needs to focus on open standards17.
    The following are the minimal characteristics
    that a specification and its attendant documents
    must have in order to be considered an open
    standard:
    - The standard is adopted and will be
    maintained by a not-for-profit organisation,
    and its ongoing development occurs on the
    basis of an open decision-making procedure
    available to all interested parties (consensus
    or majority decision etc.).
    - The standard has been published and the
    standard specification document is available
    either freely or at a nominal charge. It must
    be permissible to all to copy, distribute and
    use it for no fee or at a nominal fee.
    - The intellectual property – i.e. patents
    possibly present – of (parts of) the standard
    is made irrevocably available on a royalty-
    free basis.

    Note that when I say royalty, I am talking nominal one-time royalty like in Samba & Microsoft PFIF Agreement.

  71. @Nonoche
    I believe the idea is that the royalties can not effectively prevent a differing business or development model, such as FOSS. The PFIF agreement mentioned does seem rather complex, but I think the important issue is that it allowed FOSS redistribution to occur.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, Hugo, but I think I have an explanation for this. If Mozilla were to pay a flat fee that not only allowed Mozilla to distribute it, but also allowed individuals, distros, and whatever other relevant groups to redistribute Firefox without having to license with MPEG-LA themselves, then it could be considered an open standard.

    Answer by hugo: Basically yes.

    Also, I must say I find it amusing that the definition of an open standard is not that well standardized.

    Answer by Hugo: That is part of the effort of what we are doing at the FSFE. But of course, that’s not in the interest of Apple, which is why they like to spread this non-sense about open standards.

  72. Would SJ make such a stupid grammar mistake “others patents”? Ttttttt!

  73. some key words here and there. From your EIF definition :

    - The intellectual property – i.e. patents possibly present – of (parts of) the standard is made irrevocably available on a royalty-free basis.

    I believe this demonstrates that open standards can indeed be proprietary, complete with intellectual property and patents. So once again, and altogether now : OPEN STANDARDS ≠ NON-PROPRIETARY.

    Answer by Hugo: Do you understand “made irrevocably available” and “royalty-free basis”? If you give up your “property” on the standard: then how can the standard by proprietary?!

    Now, from the wikipedia definition :

    The terms “open” and “standard” have a wide range of meanings associated with their usage. There are number of definitions of open standards which emphasise different aspects of openness, including of the resulting specification, the openness of the drafting process, and the ownership of rights in the standard. The term “standard” is sometimes restricted to technologies approved by formalized committees that are open to participation by all interested parties and operate on a consensus basis.

    Answer by Hugo Again, we’re talking software standards here. Not telecommunications stanards (as in the ITU) or all the standards defined by ISO. If you look at software standards, you have varios licensing bodies. Theses licensing bodies (e.g. W3C) have a definition of standard that they qualify has being “open standard” it does not mean it is the definition of open standard, it just means that it fits in the category of open standards (which definition is given by us, or also by the European Commission’s EIF).

    To make it simple: [Open Standards [W3C standards]]

    It should be noted that various embodiments have differing definitions of open standards. While you’re free to give your preference to such or such definition and hand pick the one that suits you the best,

    Answer by Hugo Again, it is widely accepted in the context of software that the definition of open standard is the one I am refering to. And in this definition, H264 is not an open standard. What the hell do you not understand there? Please find me an example where the people behind MPEG LA or H264 claim H264 to be an open standard — then compare the definitions.

    it doesn’t make other ones wrong for all that. By industry standards (no pun intended), open standards can be, and often are, not only proprietary, but also bound to various fees and conditions. The emphasis that Steve Jobs puts on open standards is by opposition to Flash, which isn’t open at all by any definition (only Adobe can make a Flash Player and decide who gets to distribute it, as it is stated in the Open Screen Project FAQ).

    Answer by Hugo Yes. And I say, HTML5 may be an open standard, but H264 is not. So Steve Jobs post is pure manipulation.

    Answer by Hugo: Yesterday: http://news.cnet.com/8301-30684_3-20003895-265.html Updated 2:33 p.m.: Mozilla issued the following statement: “We believe that it is in the public interest for HTML5 video to be backed by multiple, open and royalty-free codecs available in a way that is consistent with the W3C license standards. We would absolutely consider H.264 if MPEG LA would make it available under open web terms as defined by the W3C standards. We stand by our position on Theora.” W3C license standards are open standards : not H.264. Clear?!

    I fail to see where the Mozilla foundation states that H.264 isn’t an open standard. What they say is that it’s not compliant with the W3C standards, which YOU label as the definition for open standards.

    Answer by Hugo No. It’s the W3C that says it is open standards : http://www.w3.org/2005/09/dd-osd.html

  74. Answer by Hugo: Do you understand “made irrevocably available” and “royalty-free basis”? If you give up your “property” on the standard: then how can the standard by proprietary?!

    That’s where you fail to understand intellectual property. Giving away a perpetual license does not equal abandoning your intellectual rights and property (particularly not in France, by the way).

    Answer by Hugo We are talking property over the standard, not over the patent. If there is “giving away a perpetual license” on the standard, then it means you don’t own the standard, no matter how much you own the patent covered by the standard.

    You really should document yourself on the matter.

    Answer by Hugo Yes sure. Now considering what you wrote on http://www.macgeneration.com/news/voir/140991/mozilla-face-au-probleme-h.264 it is easy to see you fail to understand completely how it works. I quote

    des algorithmes très pointus, qui sont en général en dehors de portée du logiciel libre.

    Hugo: which is completely bullshit and just shows your complete lack of understanding of how free software works anyway.

    Answer by Hugo Again, we’re talking software standards here. Not telecommunications stanards (as in the ITU) or all the standards defined by ISO. If you look at software standards, you have varios licensing bodies. Theses licensing bodies (e.g. W3C) have a definition of standard that they qualify has being “open standard” it does not mean it is the definition of open standard, it just means that it fits in the category of open standards (which definition is given by us, or also by the European Commission’s EIF).

    We’re not talking about software standards at all. We’re talking about format standards. You ought to know that there are hardware decoders for H.264 (hardware decoders which, by the way, Ogg Theora cruelly lacks). We can agree that your definition of open standards differs from what the industry at large calls open standards.

    Hugo: Not in the software industry.

    I wonder how you would differ standards that are open to competitors (like H.264 is) from standards that simply aren’t (like Flash is).

    Hugo: Flash is just a de facto standard. H264 is a RAND-terms patented standard.

  75. @Nonoche: I can only assume you either don’t understand the English in the links that well or you’re trolling. Because if anyone was confused like you and just read all the previous comments and links then they’d understand what Hugo was trying to say.

  76. After reading the letters and the back and forth on the replies, I think it would be a great idea for the FSF and Groklaw to join forces and start the documentation process for Ogg Vorbis and Theora in anticipation of the eventual lawsuit. They are entities which are great at this and have the requisite expertise..

    Tom

  77. Wow hugo, you are a real dick. I won’t be returning to your blog again.

  78. Nice blog post! I like that you take the time to comment on everyone’s thoughts. Many times I’ll read an article and simply get blown away by comments. There is a ridiculous amount of utter crap posted by uninformed and malicious bastards. Your article and comments rock, keep the rabble in line. Thanks!

  79. The FSFE’s fight for free access to open standards is laudable but I’m wondering whether some of its past efforts were more focused on action against a particular vendor than on tackling the actual problem. The FSFE was a complainant in the European Commission’s antitrust investigation against Microsoft. Now there is, theoretically, a Windows version without the Media Player. No one buys it because its price is the same as that of the version that includes the Media Player; Microsoft just has to offer it for formal reasons. Even if the Media Player were separated more effectively (for which there’s no initiative going on and it might not even be legally possible), the real problem for multimedia codecs are patents on formats/standards. That antitrust case also had another component (network protocols), but at least the part related to the Media Player seems to have been waste of time, money and energy because there really isn’t any additional competition in multimedia now than if the antitrust investigation had never taken place.

  80. Hugo,

    Please keep up the good work. We need more people and more websites to educate people on these issues. I think the FSF groups should gather together an start an initiative to document and inform the public of these topics.

  81. So Steve Jobs was seduced by the dark side after all. Now Apple is not different from Microsoft.

  82. It would be worthwhile if all those corresponding in favour of Steve job’s definition to check with authorities like the Software Freedom Law Center, in NYC who can answer – technically, and legally what would constitute a coherent, layman-ese definition of “Open Standards”, which I am confident will correspond quite closely with that of this blog.

    Rabid defense or support of anything Apple (or Microsoft for that matter) without any accredited expertise in technology or technology law makes fools of fan boys.

    W. Anderson

  83. @Hugo

    The problem is that there is no official and validated definition of Open Standard and there is no consensus on that definition between the existing definitions.

    Answer by Hugo there is a growing consensus in software, sthrenghtened by the European Commission’s EIF and by W3C standards.

    So whether if the definition of Open Standard you use contains a term stating that OPen Standard has to be royalty free, or not, H.264 can be an Open Standard or not. There is no definitive answer on that.

    Answer by Hugo Anyway for a web technology, look at the W3C defintion. H264 cannot be an open standard (otherwise it would have been chosen for HTML5 by Mozilla, Opera, etc.).

    The only thing we can say is that H.264 is a standard, being open or not, that’s another question that has no definitive answer.

  84. The issue that is being missed is here is the way Jobs is “A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other \“open source\” codecs now. This patent pool will never be published, but will be used as a tool that will generate FUD amongst vendors using open products like Theora. MS and Apple will then extract license fees from vendors who implement these…history repeats itself

  85. “An open standard means that it is non-discrimatively offered to anyone who matches the criteria of attribution.”

    No, that is a proprietary standard licensed under RAND terms. An open standard is generally understood to be a standard that can be implemented freely by anybody, without the need for any legal agreements.

    Regardless of what you call it, standardizing h.264 is incompatible with open source distribution. So, standardizing on h.264 basically means giving a huge advantage to Apple and Microsoft over Linux, BSD, and all the systems connected with that.

    Steve Jobs is attacking Linux every way he can, because he knows he can’t compete with it in the long term.

  86. Pretty lame argumentation by HR if he has to strike out at nearly each and every comment. Some people write code. Others write silly letters. PS. Your site cert is out of date.

  87. “but at least the part related to the Media Player seems to have been waste of time”

    Ha. But nobody at the FSFE minds wasting time, so what’s the point?

  88. “Steve Jobs is known to write his emails himself. Below is provided the source of the email for those who doubt its authenticity.”

    OMG. WTF. So it’s in Apple’s IP range and Steve’s known to write his emails himself? Who says that? How is it known? The fact is you don’t know jacksh*t about it. You’re only trying to spam your own importance. It’s rather pathetic.

  89. I’m glad this popped up in my Google Reader. Aside from the topic of standards and intellectual property being so important right now, the fact that you take such a priority in focusing on posted replies as much as the article itself really makes this more of a discourse than a “cat ./hugos_thoughts” =) I will definitely be returning here to read (and hopefully give) with interest!

  90. @Quelque Chose It seems as if you haven’t been reading any recent news on Apple. If you had, you would know Apple has been using a very personal method in responding to recent events, where Jobs (or at the very least we can assume a company employee he is dictating to) has been emailing his “attackers” directly.

  91. ITU H.264/MPEG AVC is an open standard: You can buy the specification from ISO an implement it. That’s all you need for being an open standard. Please do not confuse this fact with being “not patented”: All audio/video standards are currently encumbered by patents. Neither Vorbis nor Theora is not infringing other companies intellectual properties. They were simply not commercially successful enough to get a closer examination by an US court…

    Answer by Hugo: How is ITU relevant for software? It’s not. And I am sure ISO is very credible for defining open standards (see the OOXML fiasco).

  92. P.S. You fail to even implement such simple things as correct certificates…

  93. If you try to shut down the flow of ideas or information with LAW suits, it will work for a short time, but people who desire to be free will always come up with better “FREE” unencumbered ideas any your closed ideas will go the way of the GIF file standard!

  94. All audio/video standards are currently encumbered by patents.
    That’s a rather bold claim. If you know something we don’t, please share. If you don’t know anything, I would ask you to quit spreading unsubstantiated rumors. If you know something, but are under an NDA, raise your hand and touch your nose. We can arrange a meetup later on.

    Neither Vorbis nor Theora is not infringing other companies intellectual properties. They were simply not commercially successful enough to get a closer examination by an US court…

    The accusations on Vorbis in particular are interesting, as it has fairly wide usage in games and embedded systems, and has not yet triggered legal action. I know at least Garmin uses Vorbis, and that TomTom was big enough for MS to pursue. Also, I doubt patent holders want to bring things to a court if they can get an agreement, since patents can be invalidated through a court.

    Nevermind the choice of the term ‘intellectual property’ to describe something that is covered under a different section of law in the US and most other places. It doesn’t even make that much sense other than trying to justify the idea, as patents are briefer term and nothing besides patents could be infringed here.

  95. Correction of link from previous post.

    SJ: “An open standard is different from being royalty free or open source.”

    How is different from what Andy Rubin (Google VP of Engineering, Android) told Newyork times interview http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/27/googles-andy-rubin-on-everything-android/

    Andy Rubin: being open “means not being militant about the things consumers are actually enjoying.” regarding Flash, and flash format is actually open, and anyone can build a flash player.

  96. Pingback: H.264 ascendant: why Apple’s no-Flash, no-Theora gamble is paying off | Apple News

  97. I’m not sure how anyone can take the criticism of Jobs vs. Adobe, criticising Adobe for not being “open”, with any seriousness. Should the CEO of Sony start talking about how other companies are not doing enough to loosen the restrictions of DRM the way SONY is? When has Apple done anything to actually make content cheap and/or free? When? Content providers love Apple because Apple makes things proprietary and then charges a premium. Is tech journalism completely naive about these things, or are they bound by contract to just blindly follow wherever Apple Co. chooses leads the media?

    Answer by hugo The criticism is that Steve Jobs claims to be open, which is not true. That’s all.

  98. I might just not get this but I think the point here is that Flash relies on a plug-in completely controlled by Adobe to work.
    On the other hand H264 or Theora don’t need third party applications to be played by users.
    More practically, if Adobe goes bankrupt the websites using Flash will be screwed but the ones using HTML5 and whatever video codec they like will survive no matter what, in fact they will continue to do well even if Apple goes bankrupt.

  99. “I will not complain either that you like Openness so much that when you use “Open Source” Software to build your Mac operating system, you keep all the openness for yourself and don’t give it to your customers, nor to the developers whose works have been very useful to you.”

    That’s just not true Apple has enhanced many open source project. For example WebKit (the most famous I think), gcc or llvm just to mention a few.

  100. I will not complain either that you like Openness so much that when you use “Open Source” Software to build your Mac operating system, you keep all the openness for yourself and don’t give it to your customers, nor to the developers whose works have been very useful to you.

    This is actually pretty false. Apple’s actually rigorously releasing sources of many of its operating system’s components:

    http://www.opensource.apple.com/release/mac-os-x-1063/

    Compared to miserable track record of some “real” open software players (such as Ubuntu) this is a biggie. And compared to what companies like Oracle are doing this is almost a miracle. Apple is now the only F500 company actually doing something for the community – not just biting on it as it pleases.

  101. Apple has enhanced many open source project. For example WebKit (the most famous I think), gcc or llvm just to mention a few.

    By now everyone in the software industry contributes to Free and Open Source Software in some way. Latest example: Microsoft contributes to Joomla project (and this is by far not the first thing Microsoft does) At the same time, IBM brings patents into position against the free Hercules mainframe emulator. So it’s not all black-and-white in terms of how companies position themselves vis-a-vis FOSS. Mega patent holders are a big problem and ultimately they’ll just do the math and decide where it’s most profitable to use patents against FOSS. It’s sad but true.

  102. All audio/video standards are currently encumbered by patents.

    And Linux infringes on 235 M$ patents.

  103. Jesus Christ, Steve replied to you personally? You are a celebrity now. May I have your authograph? Please!

  104. Pingback: H.264 ascendant: why Apple’s no-Flash, no-Theora gamble is paying off | Ipad & Iphone Tech | Ipad & Iphone Technology Blog | Ipad & Iphone Tech

  105. SJ is correct. There isn’t a video codec out there which isn’t encumbered by patents, hell there is virtually no space anywhere which isn’t encumbered by patents anymore. You would be naive to think that just because you can write software and share it with your pals that it is “open” by your definition. Open the source may be but it is meaningless if it violates patents which demand royalties be paid, and especially in the case of video, they must.

    OGG will be terminated and you’ll be left with no choice but to pay for a licensed video codec for your open source browser if you want to watch video with it (pick your flavor, it’s all vanilla). Commercial browsers will come license paid as they are now.

  106. What Erik writes may indeed be how things ultimately evolve (no free codec, due to the relevant patent thicket). But Hugo didn’t challenge Steve Jobs on the accuracy of any such prediction. The question is whether Apple can credibly be a self-proclaimed advocate of openness. Apple is probably the most closed-technology company in the entire industry, and some others such as IBM only want openness in markets where it benefits them and/or hurts competitors while strictly opposing interoperability, including the use of patents against FOSS, where they want to protect a lucrative turf.

  107. knb, Yes Vorbis is used everywhere commercially and very successful. Besides game engines such as Unreal Engine, id Tech engine games, Unity which builds a large number of iPhone games and etc, also commercial services such as one I use regularly – Spotify uses Vorbis, there is Vorbis support in Android phones etc. Especially commercial game engines is all about intellectual property.

    Erik, please everybody knows Ogg Theora uses patents, it’s still unencumbered by them as they have been given the rights to use the intellectual property which On2 donated. They didn’t just drop source code. OGG itself is just a container. Theora don’t infringe on any AVC/H.264 patents. It precedes it. It’s not a copy and it’s exactly not the infringing ffmpeg implementations of unlicensed codecs they want to use.

    Open standards by FSF’s definition has nothing to do with open source. Your free to close the source of Theora, improve it, create your own version etc.

    Don’t put everything in the same bag.

    Opera releases commercial browsers and as it stands won’t support H.264. Mozilla should be regarded as a commercial player too. Nobody is going after Theora. Unspecified FUD is unspecified FUD. Terminate your FUD instead. Separating the issues aren’t hard.

    Nils, even NeXT did that. This is just an example of open source with a much better standing, quality and being better then the commercial players which mostly has been bankrupt or made unimportant. Writing compilers by yourself is hard. Which is why much of it is done in academic environments same as much of the software. If they where to hinder such projects by patents hundreds of millions of devices a year would be unhappy. Discouraging the academic community benefits nobody. Jobs shouldn’t do it here (video) either. Theora and patent unencumbered should be clearly separated from any other effort of implementing encumbered standards. Most core technologies in OS X is from an academic effort (BSD, Mach etc) or even reverse engineering proprietary technology such as Samba (SMB/CIFS).

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  109. That’s where you fail to understand intellectual property. Giving away a perpetual license does not equal abandoning your intellectual rights and property (particularly not in France, by the way).

    Talk about napping at the back of the classroom! You’re only telling this to a bunch of people who do Free Software, which is all about licensing your own work while retaining the copyright, contrary to the myths propagated by apologists and lobbyists for proprietary software.

    And Free Software, along with the rise of the Web, has exposed the notion of an “open standard” to a great deal more scrutiny than it had in previous decades. Back in the 1980s it may have been acceptable for one corporation to claim “openness” if it lets another corporation use its technology under some kind of mutual agreement – witness stuff like OpenLook and Motif – but as genuinely open software solutions have become widely available, people have come to demand similarly open standards, genuinely open and implementable by anyone without hindrance (and, as Mike notes, without even having to ask if you’re allowed to). And such standards have been delivered by organisations like the World Wide Web Consortium.

    Now that the landscape has changed, it is dishonest to pitch “RAND” licensing, usually as part of the operation of a patent cartel, as some kind of criteria or prerequisite for an “open” standard. Indeed, particularly with the assertion of patents, “RAND” licensing is yet another tool to lock Free Software out of competitive situations when such software – genuinely open software – is seen as a competitive threat.

    Free Software demands real open standards so that those standards and genuine competition can be transparently upheld. In contrast, people and organisations who push patent-encumbered technologies into public standards seem to have some serious problems with things like competition and transparency.

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  111. I think the litmus test is this: if I implement code holding to some standard, can I legally distribute that code to someone who can in turn distribute that code to someone else without having to re-license the original standard?

    If that code cannot be infinitely legally shared with anyone and everyone regardless of purpose, the standard used shouldn’t be considered “open”.

  112. Steve Jobs is deuchebaggery. I’d “open”ly pop him in the jaw to shut him the fu for a couple days. Anyone supporting SJ position on this or anything even remotely involving openness = FANBOY, get a life.

  113. Smartphones have a really small generation lifecycle….bring on Android.

  114. Duh?!

    Who among the people here is living in a Communist or Socialist State?

    “Laissez-faire” or “let it be” and let the world go round by itself. That is the guiding principle of any Democratic Capitalist state. I am not exactly inferring that it is BAD. There can never be a PERFECT SYSTEM born out of the creation of any IMPERFECT being! Whether it be in POLITICS, ECONOMICS, or TECHNICAL STANDARDS, or the interplay of any of those mentioned.

    To borrow the line of a scientist whom I forgot the name (my apology), “The BEAUTY of STANDARDS, is that there are a LOT to choose from.”

    Any company growing in size and market domination, and relative to the position they take inherent to their BUSINESS MODEL, will definitely be PROTECTIVE of the Intellectual Property Rights(IPR). Moreover, these companies will have a lot of double-speak, especially in the senior executive levels. Thus, don’t boggle your minds arguing the nomenclature and definition of “open standard” viz-a-vis “open source” because the ULTIMATE INTENT of each camp are pretty much DISJOINT. It is akin to drawing TWO PARALLEL LINES, they would seem to meet at the HORIZON. But it is ONLY true when you are OBSERVING the lines from afar! This is NOT only true in the ICT industries. Try to observe petroleum companies, and what they muster in terms of PR for their quest for ALTERNATIVE ENERGY RESOURCES while at THE SAME TIME messing-up with the ENVIRONMENT. This industry has been pretty much older than ICT. Moguls, tycoons, scientists, engineers, politicians, and state policy makers, live and die. But the Nature of Man and the Philosophy of His Life hardly changed over time.

    Charles Darwin’s concept of “survival” will give anyone a far greater insight of how such biological concepts are deeply-entrenched in the corporate world, even as if the companies themselves will NEVER admit them. PROFIT is the LIFE BLOOD of every business there is! If you are NOT making PROFIT, you don’t call that BUSINESS, it is called CHARITY or FOUNDATION! Oh, before I forget, every BIG CORPORATIONS has created their our FOUNDATION – another example of ‘double-speak!’

    Try to become like Steve Jobs, a CEO of Apple Inc., a publicly-traded company. And then, when you get to be in front of the Stockholder’s Meeting discussing last year’s financial report, you begin by saying:

    “This is AMAZING, our products sell like HOT CAKES. But our EPS is virtually nil, and you people who have invested millions of dollars will never get a dime of dividends for how many years. This is so because a Sino-Hindu tech giant has created a better version than our iPad. We cannot sue them for IPR infringement. But just the same, we are very gratified for your continued confidence and reliance over how I effectively managed this company, enabling our employees to reach productive and creative heights not only seen in our products but also replicated by other companies for the benefit of ALL HUMANITY!”

    If there is ONE COMPANY right NOW, which does NOT directly MAKE PROFIT from its PRODUCE (PRODUCTS or SERVICES), it is GOOGLE! Google is able to do just that because it has a very UNCONVENTIONAL BUSINESS MODEL, not many COMPANIES could DUPLICATE. Most of its PRODUCTS or SERVICES are just VEHICLE through which USERS get the FREE RIDE, in exchange to surrendering some INFORMATION of YOU and be BLASTED with an ARRAY of INFORMATION. There is NO PROBLEM with that for as long as you WILLINGLY INTENDED to do the same, and the SETUP (i.e. DISCLOSURE) is NOT MADE as a DEFAULT in any SYSTEM, lest legal encroachment to PRIVACY INFRINGEMENT is at hand.

    CHOICE is a PRICELESS POSSESSION in all of DEMOCRATIC WORLDS!

    To ALL the PEOPLE who cried foul over Apple’s bullying and bias view against Adobe or or Ogg or Theora, let this be a CALL beyond MERE PETITION or PLEA, but for ACTION TO BOYCOTT their PRODUCTS!

    The harsh fact to admit is that PEOPLE WHO are COMPLAINING of APPLE’s BULLYING moves are THE SAME PEOPLE that REALLY LOVE APPLE Products/Services. They have the sulked spirit because their “LOVE” is NOT acting CONGRUENT to their EXPECTATIONS. How sad! :-(

    But Life is a Choice! And all the more when it comes to products or services!

    Remember that an ACTION can “kick a thousand asses” than WORDS will ever will.

    Google supports both sides of the Camp! So Anyone can download Google’s Chrome. And there is Android! And there Ubuntu! and countless of free software…

    If you are insisting of buying and iPhone or an iPad for whatever heck of a reason, even as IF YOU ALREADY KNOW SO OPENLY the STAND of the COMPANY over these ISSUES, then you are GLADLY SUBMITTING yourself to the RESTRICTIVE CHOICES you can MAKE. So, please don’t whine like a kid! It is a fault of your own making!

  115. @lex_teQnika
    If I’m understanding you right, you are basically advocating laissez faire capitalism. However, you are also supporting of software patents and ‘intellectual property’ in general, which is the central issue here. However, patents and copyright are very much not laissez faire. They are limited, government backed monopolies on abstract concepts. The laissez faire approach would be to dominate by producing a better product, not by having a legal team pursue overly broad patents.

    Yes, for-profit corporations are driven by profit, but they also need to maintain an image and a relationship with the public. In Steve Job’s open letter, he criticized Adobe because they harm the open web. Hugo replies by saying that Apple’s choice of H.264 harms the open web as well.

    As for loving Apple products but being disappointed by Apple, I don’t think that is inherently true. You can care about what Apple does without caring about Apple. They are a large player in certain markets, and what they do affects consumers and competitors.

  116. lex_teQnika, most of us here live in representative liberal democracies. Most of us live in democracies considered free by US organizations like freedom house.

    Lassiez-faire is not a way of governance, it’s just something that have influenced economic policy, I think you more likely mean a night-watcher state if you want be be left alone almost altogether. On one hand it’s not far off what socialist ideology or anarchists ultimately want, but it’s just as much of a crazy ideology as sovjet-communism and is a utopia. But. That’s an neoliberal idea. It’s something no country has ever been or been close to achieving.

    Many off us live in democracies considered extensively more free-er then the united states. Even though we have universal health care, public schools, local governments etc and just as you a mixed economy.

    So don’t be offensive. Ranting and screaming on top of that might not help. In many ways to add US is a bad market economy and in many senses works worse then old east european former communist states. A market needs regulation (rules) and an informed consumer. It’s rules that is markets. Rules doesn’t mean it’s a commando economy (like Soviet Union and many of it’s allies was). US had price-fixing/control not long ago though, also pretty high taxes in the past (about the same as my country at that time – though much higher marginal taxes then my country). Also patents applied to software is not the same thing as protecting your products, nobody argues that you should be able to infringe on trademarks or counterfeit products. In fact even Mozilla protects their trademarks. Patents are used to make money on patents. Also if products keep changing (thanks to firmware/software updates) it can be hard to make an informed choice, as you can’t be informed about the future. Something thats the best choice today might not be it tomorrow, but then your already stuck with the product. However people have a right to complain and express their views. Things aren’t perfect no matter what you choose. How would the market pick up on it otherwise. It’s supply and demand, they need to look at the demand side too. Whatever producing consumer products have to do with this open letter…. Consumers see the videos no matter what format it is, this is a technical and business issue not a consumer one for them. Consumers only demand the features. Markets are more then just consumers and producers though.

  117. You are right, Hugo. No matter how much PR effort they put behind all this campaign. If something starts as a proprietary software that produces royalties for you, it is obvious to perceive your economic interests.

    And, on the other hand, I’d rather pick something that is currently open source (and that really starts like open source, like Theora) rather than something which now is patented, demands money for several usages, and could demand even more money in the future (Apple’s H.264).

    And the chain of interests just goes on. These infographics about Apple, Adobe and video codecs helps to understand the big picture: a high success of Apple, and a clear movement towards non-open-source approaches.

  118. If On2′s OGG really does pre-date H.264 in any meaningful sense, then could it have been argued in court that H.264 violates patents once held by On2?

  119. Joe wrote..

    ‘And Linux infringes on 235 M$ patents.’

    Would you care to enlighten us as to which patents these are that Linux infringes on, because Microsoft can’t seem to.

  120. Honestly I could care less about the technology and p****** contest going on between Adobe and Apple right now. However, as a consumer I will say this, Apple is screwing up something very important right now – that is when I buy a product I expect to be able to do with it what I want. I bought it, it is mine, it is my choice what I do with it.

    Regardless of the merits of Flash vs. H.264, the fact remains there is a lot of Flash out there right now, and will be in the future, Afobe is not going to just lie down and let it die. That being said, Apple’s arrogance in not supporting it is just plain stupid in the eyes of a consumer who just wants to surf the web and expects things on an iPad to work like a computer.

    Unfortunately, the current behaviors are all to remeniscent of Jobs first tenure with Apple. He wants to control everything and this is what led to their decline the first time.

    Regardless, as a consumer, the iPad doesn’t support Flash while much of the web has it. Since I would use an iPad primarily for web surfing, it means it isn’t equipped to handle my PERSONAL needs – I could give two bits about Apple’s needs. That said, as I consumer I am a lot more cautious about Apple products now and I can tell you a few iPads Jobs won’t be selling because of this.

  121. Steve. Dude.

    This is a bad idea thats coming from bad lawyers not smart apple tech geeks.

    Please. Some of us mac nuts still like to think your a “good guy” in the scheme of things and this just don’t feel right, and in fact it isnt.

    Apple is very capable of winning a war of ideas because it has smart people and creativity.

    But don’t confuse a war OF ideas for a war AGAINST ideas. That does nobody no good at all.

    Its always been competition that motivates apple to make better stuff for us all to use. Being the underdog made apple lean, cunning and smart, it made apple make more beautiful computers with a more beautiful operating system. It made apple remain lazer focused on user experience and continue to come up with amazing new toys that microsoft or the handset makers never could have envisioned.

    But using overly broad patents against obvious ideas is lazy and anti-competitive. From a user perspective, it feels like the greys are winning over the rainbows.

    And a lazy apple is an apple that has lost its edge. We don’t want that , and apple should not want that.

    Please reconsider. Share that patent so it becomes a real standard and freedom loving folks will embrace it, hoard it and you’ll just sour the faith techies have in you guys.

    - A waveringly loyal ObjC developer.

  122. LOL keep digging that hole Steve.. not long now till you hit China!

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  124. Apple gambled and they won. They decided not to go with flash and they’re on top of the tablet pc market. We shall see if tablets like the Blackberry Playbook, the Xoom or the HTC Flyer can get closer to the iPad in sales by the end of the year. I highly doubt it but I guess we shall see. The consumer has shown great loyalty to Apple products.

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  126. Blackberry Playbook, Xoom, HTC Flyer?… no one talks about them any more… it is as simple as that THERE ARE NO APPS for these devices…!!! They cost even more money and… there are not faster… so whats the point of buying one of them?

    I think no one expected such an improvement in the iPad 2… I think people seems not to bother much the Flash issue… and yes, what I see is that most people will make IPad and iPhones compatilble websites.

    I agree… Flash sucks big time and someone should said that… Steve said it, and I’m with him on this…!

    And by the way… Flash websites suck your battery life as crazy. See the tests on MacBook Pro Air battery life tests on the web… with Flash on it last from 10h to 3 h. 1/3 of battery time…

    So… no one talks about it, but for mobile devices battery life, Flash is just not good…!

    Cheers

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