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  • Originally posted by deanjo View Post
    Sure but with at least codecs that do have a patent portfolio the guy using and gets caught in the middle can have some legal recourse to the solution provider. For example, a guy makes a player that utilizes a patented and licensed codec. If that codec is later found to be in infringement on an other technology a deal can be worked out between the licensor and the infringed party (usually done out of court through a settlement) and the end manufacturer of the player can keep on going selling his player with no additional cost placed upon himself or loss of functionality. If a free codec was to be found in violation chances are is that they would have to remove the infringing code and change the spec and maybe to the point of rendering that player manufacturer's product useless because of the change in spec.
    Actually, that's not a foregone conclusion, deanjo.

    Keeping in mind that the following remarks are not of an Lawyer but that of an inventor that has been down the Patent road before several times I will say the following...

    If you're doing something like h.264, you owe royalties up front- and if the rights holders choose to not license to you in a RAND manner (witness the back and forth with Apple and Nokia recently...) you can't implement- and if you do, you're guilty of infringement. If you're found guilty of infringement, you have no recourse whatsoever since it was clearly shown there were patents involved.

    In the case of Dirac, you don't know if there's patent coverage or not- the providers thereof have done a good faith effort to investigate possible infringements and came up with nothing at that time, however. There is a chance that you could be infringing on something. There is, however, some small recourse in the case of infringement if there is one found and the rights holder for the infringing tech chooses to not license in a RAND manner. You can stop implementing the infringing technology and walk away. No damages can be assessed because you did a good faith effort in determining whether you infringed or not and didn't know you were infringing at the time of the implementation. Moreover, depending on the date of the patent and the date of Dirac's release, there may be a bar to enforcement with regards to their patent and Dirac's use thereof by their delay in enforcement. This is a bit different than in the case of h.264. If you infringe with h.264, you KNOW you're doing it and that tidbit detail will be used to it's maximum effect on you in a court when they choose to litigate your actions there.

    In the case of Theora, the known patents have been provided an irrevocable license to it's implementation and it's derivatives that can play that format properly- from the rights holder, On2. While there is risk of overlapping patent coverage from someone else, they would have shown up by now and any attempt to enforce their rights respective to Theora would likely be barred due to an excessive amount of delay by the rights holder (Theora and VP3 have been around for quite a while now...someone, if there's overlapping patent coverage should have stepped up to the plate by now.). If so, there's much, much less risk with using Theora, actually, as a baseline codec, than anything else as it is very unlikely to have issues with regards to patents than anything in the same class right at the moment.

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    • Originally posted by deanjo View Post
      Here is a good little comparison of h264/Schroedinger/theora.

      http://codecism.blogspot.com/2010/01...roedinger.html
      The biggest problem with a comparison like this one is that they're doing objective PSNR comparisons- which is all well and good, but some artifacts are more jarring than others and sometimes the higher artifact generating codec produces better results to viewers because the artifacts in question are not at odds with how your brain and eyes process things.

      I'm not saying that Dirac's better or worse overall to Theora, mind- just that the comparison you linked to doesn't go far enough in comparing things...

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      • Probably dirac does not violate software partens. But if it does (Noone knows, thats the being of softwarpatents) it's easy to write the code 'around' the patents: http://diracvideo.org/wiki/index.php...any_patents.3F

        In the wiki there is also a test dirac video. Just test it if you like.

        I think the point is that dirac is not really ready, yet. And theora is. You cannot really put dirac into mkv containers. Ogg is available longer and "just works" in most cases. And the qualitiy should be good enough in most cases. For general web video at least. JPG has also its disatvanteges and there are better alternatives, but for the general use it is enough. And it just works, so the situation will not change in the near future.
        We need a free video standard for web video now. And dirac can be used in contrary to theora also for HD content. But it's not so well tested and optimised as theora, yet, but promising for the future.

        And that we can decode H.264 till 2016 for free does not solve the fundamentally problem with H.264: http://www.h-online.com/open/news/it...16-921828.html

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        • The reason dirac is relatively "safe" from patent disputes is because it uses some of the oldest and most widely used techniques (which would have expired if patented, but never were) for video encoding. If a patent claim was made against it there are near endless examples of prior use. It's pretty damn safe.

          That said it's focused on high quality at high (sometimes extremely) bitrates. This isn't really suitable for streaming video.

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          • Originally posted by Hoodlum View Post
            That said it's focused on high quality at high (sometimes extremely) bitrates. This isn't really suitable for streaming video.
            Can't find any references on that one.

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            • Originally posted by RealNC View Post
              Can't find any references on that one.
              Nope you're right, that's wrong. It seems that was something I assumed after they began digitising their library with it losslessly (around the time it became known). While reading I found that it was apparently used at the Beijing Olympics.

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              • I dunno where I read it, but I also remember I read something like it's more for HD content and not for streaming. but Wikipedia says something different:
                Dirac format aims to provide high-quality video compression from web video up to ultra HD[2] and beyond, and as such competes with existing formats such as H.264 and VC-1.
                from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirac_%28codec%29


                Maybe you were searching for Dirac in a Matroska (MKV) container, and there you found that the .ogm container is better for streaming with low bit rates than .mkv? http://matroska.org/technical/guides/faq/index.html (last line).

                Maybe apart from the fact that dirac is not widely supported now, it could be the alternative to theora? It has most probably no patent issues and the quality is very good. Actually perfect for a free and high quality web video standard.

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                • Originally posted by bugmenot View Post
                  Maybe apart from the fact that dirac is not widely supported now, it could be the alternative to theora? It has most probably no patent issues and the quality is very good. Actually perfect for a free and high quality web video standard.
                  Is it? I've tried several times to encode video in Dirac/Schroedinger using ffmpeg, but the encoding was either unbearably slow (libdirac) or the quality was mediocre at best (libschroedinger). But maybe I've been doing something wrong.
                  Anyway I guess Apple and Nokia wont accept Dirac for the same reasons they don't accept Theora: Risk of submarine-patents (bullshit, especially in the case of theora) and the lack of dedicated hardware-decoders (if it was chosen as the definite standard that'd probably quickly change, but existing devices like the iPhone/N900 will have to do the decoding in software).

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                  • I converted a few videos with "OggConvert" and it's not that slow and the quality depends on the settings.

                    BBC uses it, so actually it should not be too bad. I will test a bit more

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                    • There are two ways to encode Dirac video.
                      By using Schroedinger or by using dirac.
                      The first one is faster but has uglier results while the second one is much slower but has better results.

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                      • I find the debate about video codecs very interesting, and did some reading because I was basically uninformed. This time, instead of closing the sites after reading them I kept them open so I can share the links. You probably have read most of this, but perhaps someone find it informative.

                        On the issue about Dirac, I think this summary from G. Maxwell, from xiph, put it pretty well. Basically Dirac was designed to achieve high quality (up to lossless), but will have problems at the low bitrates required for streaming applications.

                        It appears that many video codec comparisons that are still lingering out there and being cited used versions of Theora that don't quite reflect its current capabilities. This update, from May last year, is quite telling. The comments in that link about PSNR mearuements are very interesting. Perhaps you remember that Slashdot article reading something like "Theora surpasses H264 for the first time". That was the answer from Theora people to a flawed article (this one) whose comparison pictures I remember seeing somewhere. Too bad that the benchmarks the Slashdot article referred to was also flawed, but to a much lesser extent (from a 20dB difference between H264 and Theora to round about 4dB). All three versions in the link, plus the explanation as to why this happened. It is interesting to note too that due to some bugs in ffmpeg2theora, the differences would indicate a real bad performance of Theora. Following more links it would appear that other benchmarks were done using this tool. So, for instance, this can't be considered representative. Also, nobody is apparently saying that Theora can beat H264 for general usage, only that it could do its job good enough for the web.

                        Also in that site, we are pointed to an article were the validity of PSNR comparisons are valid as long as the material and codec type remain the same. From the abstract, though, it's not clear to me whether it is safe to use it to compare different codecs.

                        WHATWG mailing list. June last year. C. DiBona (Google), says this:

                        Comparing Daily Motion to Youtube is disingenuous. If yt were to switch to theora and maintain even a semblance of the current youtube quality it would take up most available bandwidth across the internet.
                        G. Maxwell's reply became what I guess is the most known 'test' in favour of Theora. Response and comparison.

                        To me, it really seems that at current Youtube quality standards, Theora is perfectly valid. A similar, one-off test followed in the mailing list.

                        From about the same time we have one more comparison. The author stripped the audio to have a more fair comparison, although I don't understand the logic behind this. If Vorbis performance is good and actually helps the encoding to have a lower size and thus leave some bits to Theora, I don't see why that shouldn't be taken into account.

                        From a x264 developer, we have this , on animated content. Theora is basically destroyed there. There are some notes at the end explaining that some bug is making it look worse than what it could be. Others argue that H264 deals particularly well with this kind of content. Problem is that without pictures it's difficult to have an idea of what those numbers really mean.

                        This long thread from LWN is very informative about all this. There are many bits here and there, but perhaps I'd highlight the answer somebody got from the MPEG LA about free and open source implementations of H264. On a similar vain, some funny license restrictions from Final Cut Pro and W7.

                        The ffmpeg developer in the LWN thread has a good point, though. Google and other players in this story are most likely thinking ahead, so it makes sense to bet for the best performant codec given that quality requirements (and bandwidth available) are bound to go up with time. I don't know what are the chances that Theora could stand up in that battle against a much more modern codec, let alone win of course. VP8 perhaps?

                        Oh, I almost left this one out, regarding the patent threat to Theora and Dirac.

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                        • Originally posted by bugmenot View Post
                          I converted a few videos with "OggConvert" and it's not that slow and the quality depends on the settings.

                          BBC uses it, so actually it should not be too bad. I will test a bit more
                          Note that the BBC used Dirac internally during the Beiging Olympics, this is, to compress HD video and send it to themselves. That says a lot about the capabilities of the codec. However, it also says a lot that BBC's iPlayer uses H264 to deliver content to the end user (before that it used VP7 apparently).

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