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MPEG-2 Patents Have Expired (mpegla.com)
435 points by symisc_devel 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 176 comments



I wonder if this will affect the existence of the Raspberry Pi's binary blob ? I remember Liz Upton saying "[MPEG2 licensing] is a reason we have to keep the blob, unfortunately, or we’d be sued into a smoking hole in the ground by the MPEG LA" on this page: https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/a-birthday-present-from-bro...

Also does it mean that the Raspberry Fundation could provide the MPEG2 hardware decoder license key for free ? (currently: http://www.raspberrypi.com/mpeg-2-license-key/)


A comment from reddit where I asked the same question:

No, even if patent expired those companies won't want to surrender their income. And there's nothing preventing them for charging for their decoder if people are willing to pay for it.

And if raspberry would have to provide these keys they would have to break their security scheme which would still be like breaking DRM.

What expired patent means is that anyone else can implement their encoder/decoder legally, so perhaps future raspberry pi will have different implementation of the decoder that doesn't require keys.

This is very much the same thing as with medication, you have brand name medication which is pricy, patent expires and much cheaper versions enter the market, but even then you can still purchase the brand version and pay more. There might still be minor differences.

https://www.reddit.com/r/linux/comments/7xjqy5/mpeg2_patents...


If the only license is involved is the patent license, then they could likely provide it for free. However, it's not implausible the manufacturer of the hardware decoder takes some of the fee.


I'm actually surprised that that hasn't been cracked yet --- or at least, a quick search didn't find anything (do let me know otherwise!); as we all know too well these days, Google isn't particularly neutral in terms of what search results it wants to show anymore.

That said, the RPi being the closed system it is, it's not surprising that no real hacker/cracker types would bother with it and the community remains mainly docile. But given the publicity and popularity, it is a little surprising.



Do you mean that enabling the Pi's hardware decoding of MPEG-2 and VC-1 video files without paying for a license key just requires to patch a single byte with this command ?

cd /boot ; cp start.elf start.elf_backup && perl -pne 's/\x47\xE9362H\x3C\x18/\x47\xE9362H\x3C\x1F/g' < start.elf_backup > start.elf


Yes, it seems to patch a licensing function at 0xEC95FD4 [1] to always return 1, by patching the jump at 0xEC95FE2 (that should be only taken for the always-allowed H263 codec) to always be taken, thus always allowing all codecs.

[1] - https://q3k.org/u/8e3173aef341df726e4f38f30e58417239423250f3...


Don't forget that there are two hardware codec licenses, MPEG-2 and VC-1.


How does a binary blob get around a patent?


You need to buy it, without license it won't load:

http://www.raspberrypi.com/mpeg-2-license-key/


As an aside, MPEG-LA already moved on, forming other patent pools such as for CRISPR (the gene editing technology).

See their website: http://www.mpegla.com/main/default.aspx


Ah yes, the sweet taste of abusing state institutions to hold back scientific progress. First it was efficient video and audio compression, now it will be life saving treatment. Ain't the world such a better place for MPEG-LA existing... (that being said, if MPEG-LA wasn't around, someone else would have formed just as evil a patent tyrant company to act as the arm of big media). MPEG-LA is just a symptom of broken IP law just as much as patent trolls and the Eastern District of Texas getting parks built by global corps are.


Without disagreeing I would encourage you to provide an alternative solution to the current (as you describe) broken system.

The system was put in place to protect us, if it isn't serving its purpose we need to be more objective and declare how it could be better implemented.


Abolish it entirely.

I'm not really kidding. I think that evidence that patents are beneficial in any field is lacking.

Alternatively, a few major reforms would help. For example:

1. Decrease patent terms to just a few years in most fields.

2. Make it clear that math, in any form, is not patentable. Codec patents, for example, should never have been valid.

3. Eliminate submarine patents. Specifically, require patent holders to notify infringers of their infringement in a timely manner. If you know or should know that my specification, technology, or product is covered by your patent, you must tell me what patent covers it and why. If you give me a list of 700 patents that "might" cover it, you get some appropriate penalty. If you fail to notify me, your patent no longer applies. If my infringing technology is public and you fail to publicly disclose your patent, you cannot enforce your patent against anyone who infringes it using my technology or a derivative thereof. By "should know", I mean that, if an attentive participant in whatever market I'm in would have known of whatever details of my technology infringe on your patent, then you "should know". Even if my technology is still under development by a standards body.

#3 is a big deal. It means that owning and maintaining a patent is a bit expensive. It means that, if you patent some incomprehensible detail that might apply to future technologies, then you must tell people that their future technologies would infringe. This, by itself, would likely blow away most codec patents. And AOM would be spared the expense of their patent search. Simply publish AV1, wait the prescribed time, and AV1 is in the clear.

4. Covenants not to sue and blanket licenses do not waive requirements under #3. If an AOM member wants to give a blanket license of their whole portfolio under defensive terms to users of AV1, they still need to disclose how AV1 infringes their patents or they can't use those patents defensively in the future against AV1.


I agree with some of this, and I think most software patents are garbage and should not be legally permitted. But I'm stuck on codecs. Codecs are real, as real as a bag of apples. And they're complicated, extremely specific (and necessarily formally specified), and the result of a lot of work, sometimes brilliant work.

If there's any software that has a chance of convincing me of patent worthiness, it's probably codecs. Or at least the co(d) part. I'm muddled on decoding because it seems like just figuring out how to read something should be treated differently.

Is the term 20 years now? That's too long for any kind of software, even codecs. I think an important principle that should influence the design of patent law is the rough likelihood of the invention being made by others, or qualitatively matched or exceeded by others, in various spans of time. (Of course you have to model this assuming certain patent laws in place, as well as no patent system at all, to really do it right.)

I despise patent predators, née trolls. But MPEG-LA isn't a good example for me to work with because I think they're actual companies that do stuff – make movies, Blu-ray players, TVs, etc. Some of them invented DVD and Blu-ray probably, and evidently they invented MPEG-2, which I remember was viewed as pretty slick and technically awesome when it came out (as were DVDs – I remember VCRs and boy did they suck).

But 20 years? Yeah, no, this stuff should be 10 at most. I mean, would it hurt us to have 10 year terms on codecs? Would we get lesser quality codecs? I doubt it. HEVC is pretty amazing though, and it's clearly better than VP9, so it looks like the proprietary stuff beats open source in this field (tiny sample, yes, but there are many more examples available). Daala seemed to be going nowhere. Mozilla didn't seem to be able to finish it. Now some companies have teamed up for AV1, FOSS. I guess we'll see how good it is compared to HEVC.


> HEVC is pretty amazing though, and it's clearly better than VP9, so it looks like the proprietary stuff beats open source in this field

This is just a restatement of the fact that codec patents exist.

When the state of the art advances because of improvements A to Z and A to W are in the public domain, the proprietary codecs are still "better" because they use A to W plus X, Y and Z which the open source codecs can't use because of the patents.

The real question is whether the patented things would have been invented without the patents. But the answer is probably yes, because the industry is full of huge companies like Google and Netflix that directly benefit from improving compression regardless of whether they can sell it to anyone else.


AV1 is better than HEVC, is not patented, and was invented by companies interested in conserving bandwidth out of need. So yes, things get invented without patents.


AV1 is better than HEVC? I've never heard this claim. Does AV1 even exist in final form yet?

Is it going to use more battery than HEVC? VP9 uses much more battery than H.264. Even when both have hardware decoders, VP9 uses a bit more juice. It's the computational complexity difference. Of course HEVC probably uses more juice than h.264 as well, but VP9 is notoriously inefficient and it would suck if AV1 was less energy efficient than HEVC.


>AV1 is better than HEVC, is not patented,

Being royalty free does not mean it is not patented.


IIRC they did patent it to use as a threat against trolls, but promise never to enforce it against fair users.


Very good points, AnthonyMouse.


> Now some companies have teamed up for AV1, FOSS. I guess we'll see how good it is compared to HEVC.

Here are some comparisons between AV1, VP9, HEVC, and H.264:

http://www.streamingmedia.com/Articles/News/Online-Video-New...

Whether or not VP9 beats HEVC, its advantages are that it beats H.264, can be used without the licensing headaches of HEVC (or H.264), and has double the decoder base of HEVC:

https://ngcodec.com/news/2017/10/21/why-we-are-supporting-vp...

You can use VP9 and Opus for video today with a view to using AV1 and Opus in the future.


That second link is remarkably hard to read. I hate this hipster web design trend of using faint text that barely contrasts with the background. That's so the opposite of what a reading experience should be.

Anyway, on VP9... its disadvantage is that it's very computationally taxing compared to H.264 (and presumably VP8). MS Edge won't use VP9 on laptops that don't have hardware decoding for it, because decoding VP9 with software kills battery life. Are other browsers following similar policies on laptops? (this is only applies when the laptop is running on battery, and Edge will let you force VP9 even on battery in its flags).

H.264 is quite elegant and efficient from a computational perspective. Note that even when laptops have and use hardware decoding for VP9, they still use more battery than hardware decoding H.264 (which will be in any computer that has hardware for VP9). Though there must be a threshold where a difference in bitrate would equalize them.

I guess the days of H.264 computational efficiency are over if we want better compression. I'll read your links to see what to expect from AV1.


It is in the interests of media companies to produce better codecs to drive the efficiency and effectiveness of their primary revenue stream. I mean, look at Netflix - they have a huge driven reason to invest in codec development.

The fact that all these businesses have vested interest and need for the best possible codecs, they have plenty of reason to invest in making new ones for self-serving purposes. No patent revenue potential required.

Look at AOM - an organization formed entirely to circumvent the patent system to produce a royalty free good codec everyone can actually use. When companies look at the patent encumbered codec of the day and reject it because of the patents you have a demonstrable show of how detrimental patents are to innovation.


OK lets say we abolish patents tomorrow, and companies do what they did before - start using trade sicrets and copyrigt law. Netflix/Google/Apple/Amazon team up to create a great new codec that can only be used as a binary blob, because its compiled obfuscated etc. - something like what the game industry uses right now to protect games.

People start poking around to figure out how it works, because hackers are curious folks like that, some code gets leaked at some point, and someone starts doing codecs as open source, for fun and fame. Said companies use that os and improve on it, crating the next generation.

Now iterate this a few dosen times and what I think companies would figure out its easier to just team up and outsource this kind of stuff. Or maybe we’ll see what happened in the game engine world - with only copyright protecting the code - devs would not be able to use “the exact same code” but could incorporate new techniques at will, limited only by their brilliance.

And then there will be paid and OS ones, but the paid ones will have reasonable terms because of strong competition from other paid or OS codecs. In any case I think it would be an improvement to the current situation.


> Netflix/Google/Apple/Amazon team up to create a great new codec that can only be used as a binary blob

But the practical reality is that these companies are doing the exact opposite with AV1:

http://aomedia.org/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AV1

The Alliance for Open Media was formed because royalty-free audio and video formats save everyone time and money, particularly in the context of the complicated licensing terms for HEVC.

Netflix, Google, Apple, and Amazon all do business on the web and the W3C's royalty-free patent policy benefits everyone:

https://www.w3.org/Consortium/Patent-Policy-20170801/


It's worth mentioning that when MPEG-LA was born, the way multimedia was moved around was quite different to how it is today. Back then it was generally transferred via physical mediums so the cost of both the codec royalties as well as the storage medium could easily be passed onto the customers ("customers" in this context doesn't necessarily mean end users). Whereas these days it's more commonly provided as a service with a fee and where the supplier has to pay for the bandwidth used. This means they have an added incentive now to improve codecs in a way that wasn't there 20 years ago because by improving codecs they can now reduce their costs while charging the same amount to their customers.


> I despise patent predators, née trolls. But MPEG-LA isn't a good example for me to work with because I think they're actual companies that do stuff – make movies, Blu-ray players, TVs, etc. Some of them invented DVD and Blu-ray probably, and evidently they invented MPEG-2, which I remember was viewed as pretty slick and technically awesome when it came out (as were DVDs – I remember VCRs and boy did they suck).

To a certain extent, I agree. If license fees for MPEG codecs have kept codec researchers in jobs, then that's a good thing.

But take a look at the MPEG-LA HEVC patent list [1], keeping in mind that includes but a small portion of the HEVC-related patents. From what little I know about codec development, I expect that HEVC's advantage over AVC is from a few large changes and many small changes. However, it's difficult for me to believe that there are literally thousands of substantial patentable improvements over the state of the art in HEVC. How many of those companies are paying for cutting-edge research and how many just got a patent that mentioned coding so they could get a part of the royalties?

I have neither the time nor the expertise to go through that list and tell you which are "worthy" and which are "trollish", but its farcical to suggest that all of them are so valuable that the owners deserve to rent-seek the entire video industry.

1: http://www.mpegla.com/main/programs/HEVC/Pages/PatentList.as...


> evidence that patents are beneficial in any field is lacking

Pharma?

It's trendy to pretend that pharma patents are the Devil incarnate because they enable exploitative pricepoints by the patent-holder, but the fact is that's what enables the profit motive for the research in the first place. (At least, I've never seen a serious argument against this, only righteous blustering.)

(The fact that US pharma companies spend more on advertising than on research, has no bearing here.)


Much of the research is done in non-commercial settings. Then companies pick the most promising stuff, patent it and run clinical trials. The real cost is the clinical trials, not the basic research. Read the wording, they often talk about the "cost of bringing a drug to market" which isn't so much the discovery phase as the "prove it" phase.

As an example of exploitation see the statin drugs used to lower cholesterol. These were originally isolated from an ancient Chinese herbal "red yeast rice" and found to be effective. So some company patented the molecule, did clinical trials, and profit! I chose this one because I have personal experience getting dramatic reduction in my cholesterol from taking red-yeast-rice. It's also a nice example of how the system is broken. We all could have benefited from trials proving that red-yeast-rice reduces cholesterol, but that's not what happened. The company would not have funded the trials if they couldn't patent the molecule.

IMHO if clinical trials were cheaper there would be no need for granting monopolies (via patents) to cover the costs. I also don't see why trials are so expensive. There are plenty of doctors treating plenty of patients that are willing to try things. All we really need is a set of rules to protect people from irresponsible trials, and formal study procedures to document results and determine efficacy. It doesn't seem too complicated right?


No IP protection would destroy the pharma industry. Like you said, the cost is not in basic research, it’s in making sure that new compounds do what they are claimed to do and don’t kill people along the way. But why would anyone go through that process if a generic maker could piggy-back off of that work once it’s completed? There would have to be a redesign of the entire institution as we know it. Maybe that’s a good idea, but just eliminating patents alone would be disasterous without a lot of other changes


Researcher: "I've found that this rhinovirus is devastating to certain kinds of tumors when injected into them... in mice. We need to do more testing, and in humans."

Company: "But that's a naturally occurring virus, we can't patent that so we're not interested. Do something else, or find a way to 'make it better' so we we can patent it and make money."

True story. Now imagine this:

Researcher: "I've found that this rhinovirus is devastating to certain kinds of tumors when injected into them... in mice. We need to do more testing, and in humans."

Oncologist at major center: "We've seen a number of terminal patients with that type of cancer, current treatments don't work especially at stage 4. We could test that virus on a number of people if they were willing to try it."

Cancer Patient "Sign me up!"

There has to be a way to make this work, and it should cost far less than the current approach. I'd argue that it would cost the government less to fund the studies than to pay medicaid costs for the patented treatments. Sure, change would need to happen but it would happen fast, and in the mean time nobody would eliminate current treatments - they're already established and profitable.


> Pharma?

There was a paper from one of the Fed branch offices about this. It turns out that the US has two independent mechanisms to help pharma companies make money: patents and FDA-granted exclusivity. It's unclear that patents are needed.


> patents and FDA-granted exclusivity. It's unclear that patents are needed.

I admit I don't know much about the latter, but what about international markets?


An observation without any kind of control is not really good evidence. Of course that means it's not evidence of the contrary either.

However I do agree that profit is a very powerful motivator, and I see no easy way to make sure the money is better spent otherwise (although there's no reason for all research to be profit driven, publicly funded research can definitely be good thing even if only as competition).

However I get the impression that we're at the point where there are so many things that can be cured if money is no objection that money is starting to become an objection, and nobody seems to be prepared to do what is essentially putting a price on human life.


> Abolish it entirely.

The original argument for patents was to avoid secret sauces that die with their companies.

The reality is that companies that would use secret sauces still do, and those whose technology would be trivially reverse-engineerable patent it.

And a plethora of secret-sauce companies give up and publish to attract talent: see Apple’s move to publish about ML.


>Make it clear that math, in any form, is not patentable.

Ok but CRISPR isn't math. And the distinction between designing an algorithm and designing a machine is kind of arbitrary. If you are going to get rid of one you should get rid of the other and abolish patents entirely.


CRISPR was discovered, not invented. At least the core concepts should not be patentable under any system. And then any inventions around it done at publicly funded institutions should probably not be patentable under any system.

Companies don't really invent very much, they usually find things or take existing things and try to monopolize them with patents.


> And the distinction between designing an algorithm and designing a machine is kind of arbitrary.

The distinction isn't arbitrary. If you can do something entirely in math/software then you can also hard code it into a physical machine, but the reverse obviously isn't true. There is no calculation you can perform on an abstract Turing machine that will cause it to generate electricity or thrust or refine steel or physically prevent someone from accidentally sticking their hand in a saw blade.


I don't see the difference. The process of designing a thing is the same whether it's an algorithm or a pile of gears. Sure real world inventions can involve new scientific discoveries. But most don't, and scientific discoveries shouldn't be patentable anyway.


That won't work.

Already today many companies don't even patent stuff anymore, but claim their technologies to be trade secrets, and still manage to prosecute anyone trying to share them.

From Waymks Lidar to SpaceX tech to Google's TPUs, both is even patented anymore, it's not even published in any way.


Certain subjects should not be patentable. Let me put it this way: the existince of a CRISPR patent will literally kill people. Medical research should be funded by the government and the results should be in the public domain.


The lives not lost because of the drive to discover patentable research would need to be measured against that. (I assume you do not believe there is such a drive, but I think that researchers can have multiple, co-existing motivations.)


Maybe we can still keep the patent tag, but devoid of any other conditions except that this one tech was created by the patent holder. In this case, the "patentable" motivation will still be valid.


Out of interest, what of the research that the government inevitably declines to fund, for whatever reason? Should a private entity be allowed to do the research and monetise the results? I ask because, you know, its an obvious question and lawyers would be asking in the courts.


> The system was put in place to protect us

That's a little bit overly generous.

It was put in place to incentivize invention and creation. But I think clear with examples like this that it's holding us back. There are so many people, and there is so much innovation, and so much ability to understand how something new works that these laws do nothing to help the public.

And even if they started with the public good in mind, we are now far from it.

As other responders are suggesting: scrap it completely, and see where things end up.

And even though we are discussing patents, the benefit to the public is ten times larger for copyright.

Copyright maximalists had a stroke of genius when they started calling it "intellectual property" and "IP rights". This allows you to make it a moral issue, rather than a public policy issue (which is what it really is).


Heres a question - is there any evidence we need patents to protect us? Are they actually protecting us? And if so, are the costs (abuse of patents by trolls and global corps) worth the price paid?

Remember that patents were originally just meant to compel inventors to disclose the means by which their inventions work, so that after a finite time they could be publicly used. Do we need public disclosure of "inventions" anymore?


I think the public disclosure of inventions is still valuable and that, although the cost is perhaps higher than it should be, does not mean that patents are useless or should be removed.

Technology makes the world move faster, and patents haven’t quite adjusted yet.


Wouldn't a clause being added that required some form of obvious progress that your company plans to directly use the IP they are holding or lose it to the public be sufficient to prevent companies like MPEG LA from just using it to sue others? These things were meant to protect innovation, so require copyright/patent holders to be innovating or lose it so someone else can. I know "innovation" is vague but as someone else just noted on HN recently, the legal system is good at making rules even on abstract concepts.


Thanks for this response.

How about requiring patent-holders to show progress on their invention every X years, so that inventors can't just sit on an old and important patent they own?

Or, a more ground-up restructuring: what if owning a patent didn't give you full ownership of the technology, but just X% of profit made from it for X years after filing?

With this setup, you could further incentivize progress by granting an additional X% to the first one able to bring the technology to market.


Why should patent holders have to show "progress"? Isn't the invention enough? Would they have to invent more or advance it further? Or do you mean commercial progress, making money, building it, etc.?

The latter is called "working the patent", which is the opposite of what patent predators, née trolls do. Apparently some countries require holders to work the patent, and I'm a big supporter of fundamental patent reform in the US that would require people/corporations to produce and sell the invention in order to maintain a patent. That would almost vaporize all the patent predators out there.

Right now we have a system where you can just think shit up and write it down. Boom, you've got a patent (with the help of a lawyer usually). That's a ridiculous legal system. The system should be designed around actual market activity – the introduction of innovative products. I think it's an important right that someone who invents something should have exclusive commercial rights to it for a while, but not a right to just sit back and stop other people from using their brains too.

Your percentage of profits idea is something I liked for a while when I was thinking a lot about reform, but I now think that it would be way too hard to enforce. It would be such a mess to carve out exactly what the profit or revenue was that could be attributed purely to some part of a product that hinged on some dude's patent, along with all the other encumbered parts and features. It would be worse than the mess that is the income tax and corporate income tax.


> Your percentage of profits idea is something I liked for a while when I was thinking a lot about reform, but I now think that it would be way too hard to enforce.

You could just do a general per industry tax, which I proposed here a few years ago: https://groups.google.com/d/msg/openmanufacturing/vS4ju1VqXb...


If I understand correctly, you propose a tax that everybody in the industry pays, that is shared with all relevant "inventors". I don't think it's a workable sistem since it removes the free market from the distribution and replace it with a committee driven disbursal of fees, offering little incentive to disclose valuable ideas.

I would much rather see a large patent fee with annual inflation indexing for the patent holder. If it costs you 1 million USD each year to hold a patent, then you only acquire one for major, truly revolutionary ideas that will easily recoup that money. It's a sum that can easily be fitted in the budget of any significant research and development program, yet prohibitive for most submarine, defensive, or warchest IP operations.

A large anual fee forces you to "work" the patent, either directly or by licensing it. If you are not sure if your "idea" is valuable, then you don't deserve a patent.


> it removes the free market from the distribution and replace it with a committee driven disbursal of fees

In a (strained) sense, that's already what the USPTO is doing. Except it's also associated with all this technology innovation stuff, which we would like them to stay away from.

> If you are not sure if your "idea" is valuable, then you don't deserve a patent.

I'll have to play around with that idea.


>so that inventors can't just sit on an old and important patent they own? //

Compulsory licenses fill this gap preventing patents from being used to inhibit development.


One approach would be to have a technology-challenge period.

Everyone who wants to file a patent should first post a challenge. Other parties then have, say, 1 year to come up with a solution. If none is found, the patent is granted.

This would, of course, not solve all patent problems, but it could be a first step to solve the most obvious ones.


Just to be clear, it wasn't put in place to protect us, it was put in place to encourage innovation.


Quibbles aside, that's essentially analogous to "protecting the public good" (aka us).


Ah, sure. I read "protecting us" as "protecting creators" (as opposed to consumers).


Add an expiry to the patent like it is done for copyright. If a patent holder has not hsed or shown significant effort towards commercialization of the product, the patent should expire


Make software patents last 5 years instead of 17.


broken IP law

Unfortunately I think they are working as intended.


You know, when I first heard about this about a year ago my jaw dropped because I was finally vindicated.

I was a stoner teenager during the whole DMCA/Napster era and between copious bong hits amongst friends I would ramble about how I thought that the whole music/movies thing was just a front for establishing a regulatory framework to control the inevitable rise of digital fabrication.

It really sucks to be right about this. :(


My god, that website is dreadful, not just poor / dated design but no TLS/HTTPS with a login form!

It's Sharepoint... and it looks to be proudly developed by https://sharepointexperience.com


This is a striking example of the need to shorten software patents; if we really must have them at all.


I'd rather the patent system be abolished than have the current patent system. Same applies to Copyright.

The entire state of IP with the DMCA is just abysmal.


Be careful, you just might get what you wish for.

There definitely are major problems with the patent system and with copyright but without them there would be other problems taking the place of the ones that we have now.

Reform is the way to go, and reform - good reform anyway - is hard to get right.


Is there any evidence that claims of innovation and creativity shutting down without patent and copyright protection are, in fact, correct?

It seems like the purpose of these supposed protections is bent so far out of share that the threat of "getting what you wish for" carries no weight.

Some media might shrink, but other media would grow to take it's place. Neither patent now copyright "ownership" are natural rights like real property ownership. In both philosophical and practical terms, dialing them down to zero and then seeing how much we really need of them might be the best way to find the optimal level.


Realize that for instance the GPL is based in ... tadaa ... copyright. And there are a lot more examples like that.

If you start throwing rocks that large you have to be very careful about unintended consequences and I'm not sure that I oversee the complexity of it all to the point that I think that a 'let's get rid of it all' solution won't create it's own particular kinds of problems and until we have feel for the kind and magnitude of those problems being careful sounds like a good idea to me.

For copyright I would propose slowly rolling back the length bit by bit until we hit some kind of lower limit of practicality, for patents I would start with abolishing software patents and replacing them with copyright, then reduce the time limit on the remainder.

And there would have to be something a bit more drastic with respect to patent trolls. It would be a reasonable start and it leaves the door open to eventual total abolishment if that turns out to be feasible and desirable.


"If you start throwing rocks that large" is a terrible argument. It is the same as arguments about keeping treatments for which there is no clinical evidence just because money, reputation, and public morality might at stake in varying degrees. If overreach in patent and copyright law is a drag on the economy, which it very likely is, it's costing not just freedom, but it amounts to the theft of wider prosperity for the benefit of the connected. Just how much worse than that do you think what are here completely vague and unspecified "unintended consequence" going to get? Be specific.


If you read the first sentence of the comment you replied to you will see that I gave a very specific example.

Copyright and patent law are cornerstones of the economy, removing them outright without due consideration of the consequences is simply irresponsible.

A measured approach is advisable and doing this step-by-step would seem to be the wiser course of action. If you feel that radically dropping both copyright and patent law from one day to the next is the way to go then the onus is on you to show that this will not have unintended consequences, not on me.

So: be specific.


We can deduce from the math that drug companies would not spend nearly as much money on R&D without being able to earn it back. Without patents, they would need a new business model that involved much less cost upfront. We could choose to live with more risk as far as new drugs are concerned, less testing, etc. That might not be a net negative.

No one would make big expensive movies and GoT type shows without copyright. Copyright has the strongest defense, since the creative work is so obvious, concrete, and unique.

I for one wouldn't give away my work in a society without copyright – I'd likely try to found a society with IP protection and then release my work on my terms, which others would hopefully find agreeable.


Those are not macro-scale arguments, and both have strong counter-arguments: Pharma can still make money manufacturing, distributing, and selling, and it does for out-of-patent products. Their patented products are often born in government and university research labs, and are privatized in what amounts to rent-seeking based on a public good.

Anyone who has written books about specific kinds of software development knows that business is perhaps 10% as big as it used to be because manuals and experiential knowledge are freely available. Things change. So should patent and copyright protection. See you at the local stage production of GoT.


I don't think reform's actually that hard - with unbiased intentions (whose lobbyist is that?). To be honest, it would be hard to fuck things up any worse than they already are.

Technically competent people (in the field of the patent) should be performing the reviews, they should be given the time that they need to do so.

I believe there is a shared commercial justification for both patents and copyright: protection against your work being co-opted as soon as it's produced provides a period in which production costs can be recuperated and profits made. This is a significant motivating factor in the production of works.

I do not believe that the law currently provides adequate coverage against the production of similar works. Look at the situation with Facebook or Blizzard (WOW), rapidly copying novel new features from smaller competitors to prevent them from ever getting any hold in the market. Or with Zynga, et al wholescale copying games with total impunity.

(If a period of even 3 years protection was provided for simple yet novel mechanics, there would be a far greater potential for successful titles from non-major development houses.)

I would put protection for all forms of work under a single unifying law. The period of coverage should given consideration to the quality and the novelty of the work in question, and provide the justification behind the decision (if this justification is proven to be unreasonable or incorrect the protection should be voided).

Exemptions must be provided for breaches demonstrably in the public good.


But doing all this is hard. Saying "with unbiased intentions", "given the time that they need to do so", and others is like assuming a spherical cow.


> other problems taking the place of the ones that we have now.

Such as? I know I've benefited immensely from works out of copyright, and works in Copyleft etc.

I've bought no books because of copyright - but some under open licenses (not many to chose from though...).

I'm not clear on how hw patents have played out in my life - I'd love to see some numbers indicating a net benefit for the world population from copyright and patents. Especially considering systematic subversion seems as old as enforcement (from bootleg music to cloned hw).


Reform would be best, but Abolishing them would be better than the status quo.


Reform is also achievable, abolishing not really.


Wouldn't abolishing them create an out of control copycat shovelware economy worse than the app stores? I mean, if you can blatantly rip off other people's IP


The ripoffs would have to compete. Some would compete on price, which might benefit the public by making things more available. Others might compete on quality, which might benefit the public by having alternatives to the cheapest crap someone can produce. Neither of those things happen automatically with patents.


The ripoffs would have to compete.

...which of course means that they have to do something more than just copy IP --- in other words, make some sort of improvement. I'd argue that this sort of unrestricted sharing and competition will benefit the public more than the restricted form of competition that IP laws bring, because now everyone is free to remix and improve.

In fact, that sort of thing has been going on in China for a long time now:

https://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?p=284


That was my point, without patents they compete on price or quality. With patents there is no incentive for the sole provider of a product to improve it in either way.


There is a fundamental difference between copyright and patents: the field of content creators if infinite and no works will ever by identical, writing a great symphony or game does not prevent anybody in the future do write another; in stark contrast inventors deal with the limitations of the real world, with physics and technology, there are a limited number of good solutions to a given problem and a patent on an obvious and straightforward solution is a major hindrance to everybody else.

Further more, copyright is self funded, it's an ideal public policy choice if we want to promote positive externalities: the creator takes all the risk and costs of production, and monetizes his work on the free market, where it's bought only if it's any good, or ignored otherwise with no ill effect on anybody else. Someone else can freely create a cheaper work fulfilling the same human need, ensuring perfect competition.

Patents are not self funded, inventors are not required to put the invention to work and demonstrate it in the market, rather, the patent is issued by merely presenting a description of the invention to the government, without proving any investment or development effort. If such patents with zero creative investment are issued, they are a major negative externality to everybody working in the same field, who now have to work around or pay rent for a solution that would be obvious or result after basic R&D activities. In effect, the combined rent they extract from society is a tax that funds "inventors" to "disclose" more and more such ideas of limited value that block technological progress.

I do agree copyright terms are absurdly long, way past the point where there is zero practical benefit for society: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16361159


>and a patent on an obvious and straightforward solution is a major hindrance to everybody else.//

Which is why every patent act has the requirements of novelty and non-obviousness.


...that's almost always irrelevant in practice, and courts have upheld an a very low inovation bar. The root problem is that development effort has little relation to the licensing price, the licensing fee is often a monopoly rent.


Copyright is the foundation of all FLOSS licenses, from GPL to MIT. You might know that already, but that's a sharp double-edged sword you're swinging.


Without copyright, you don't need a license for content to be Free. There may be another edge to the sword, but it ain't the one you are pointing at.


With the GPL at least, its major clauses are aimed at restricting software from being incorporated into closed systems. I don't know if eliminating that control was what the GP had in mind, but it would be one of the perhaps-unexpected effects.

See also: Licenses that prohibit use for military purposes or other things the authors consider undesirable.


Without copyright there wouldn't really be "closed systems" any more --- sure, you might not have the original source, but it also becomes legal to decompile and publish the results --- and as the cracker/hacker/security community has shown, source isn't mandatory for doing interesting things with software.

If anything, the loss of copyright would cause a great advance in reverse-engineering technology --- and also attempts at defending from it. IMHO not such a bad thing after all.


Thats simply wrong, educate yourself young man!


Flipside: copyright is a human construct. So is the GPL and concept of copyleft. It is possible to eliminate one thing (say, overbearing copyright) and protect another. Rather than creating a class of works under license which cannot be constrained, it might be possible to create a set of works under law which may be designated with equivalent protections.

Or find other means to the same ends as the GPL: protecting the three freedoms laid out by RMS.


Did GPL or MIT ever actually go to court to enforce the license?


Yes, for example, VMware got sued in Germany a couple years ago: https://sfconservancy.org/news/2015/mar/05/vmware-lawsuit/

But most proprietary vendors these days do comply with the GPL.


-


I'm having a hard time figuring out how that's relevant.


For good reason - a made a factual error. Too late to delete. I will email a mod to do so when I get home


Conflating the copyright parts of the DMCA with the non-copyright parts for some reason?


No, the DMCA safe harbor is copyright-specific; the upthread comment is conflating the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (specifically, § 230) with the DMCA, not conflating copyright and non-copyright provisions of the DMCA.


Software patents are really an aberration crafted by decades of questionable court rulings.

As best i recall they started out as production process patents that involved computers to monitor and time.

Before that, specific instances of code were protected by copyright. And is what allowed Compaq to produce one of the first proper clean room IBM PC clones (because they could defend in court that they had not copied any of the IBM BIOS code), and thus leading to where we sit today.


An obsolete movie format, but a large amount of stored media exists in this format so ultimately a win.

I would like to say something to the effect of there being just a tiny bit less rent-seeking in the world today, but I'm sure by tomorrow the seeds will be planted for millions more rent-seeking opportunities in the future.


DVDs are still created and purchased all over the world, I don't think it's quite obsolete yet?


So I probably should have put this in my original comment as I've gotten a few replies in the same vein. What I mean by MPEG-2 being obsolete is that whilst DVDs are still created and purchased all over the world, and DVDs do make use of MPEG-2, we have superior video compression formats available that are mostly, patent encumbered, but also technically superior to MPEG-2 in just about every way other than availability, and now, the lack of patent encumbrance (outside the Philippines and Malaysia at least).

Or put another way, it isn't yet commercially obsolete, but it is technically obsolete.


And likely never will be.

Newer codecs basically exist because video resolutions outpace storage space (for questionable benefits).

MPEG2, much like MP3, are "good enough" for most common usage.


And people completely gloss over the "good enough" part, and head straight to arguing bitrates and resolutions.

Pop quiz hotshots, why did the CD become a big hit, but the DVD-A died a quiet death?

Answer, because there was no convenience to be had with upgrading!

The CD was a massive improvement of convenience over the cassette tape or LP record. Now you could instantly find the one song you wanted, and skip between them with the push of a button.

Similarly there is no convenience upgrade to go from MP3 to FLAC or some other audio format.

And the same pattern plays out with video.

DVD video was a smash hit because no more having to rewind that VHS, and they took up a whole lot less space on the shelf (buying a TV series season on VHS was downright crazy for the physical space it would require).

BR and similar is simply not enough of a convenience upgrade.


> Answer, because there was no convenience to be had with upgrading!

If anything, DVD-A was a convenience _downgrade_. People already had CD players (and upgrading to DVD-A would provide little-to-no audible upgrade anyway), plus you have copy-protection controlling acceptable output formats and preventing ripping.


A megabyte saved is still a megabyte saved. An mp3 sourced from a FLAC at 320kbps is ususally indistinguishable from 128kbps Opus to me, but I can often tell the difference between that and a 128kbps mp3. I encode all my music in 128kbps Opus on my storage constrained devices for that reason.


The value of that MP3 vs FLAC is like 90% less than it was 20 years ago.


MPEG2 good enough? It's horrible! Anything from before H.264 is potato quality.


Streaming 4K videos (or fitting them onto a 50GB physical disc) requires better video codecs. MPEG2 wouldn't be enough.

Personally, I see the benefit in 4K having a setup to take advantage of it.


Most of MPEG2 was focused on interlaced formats. MPEG1 can already handle 4k by 4k video. MPEG1 and 2 can already handle HD on bluray media. Even at the max bitrate (100Mbps), a bluray can store 1.4Hrs of video.

One could definitely take parts of MPEG1 and MPEG2 to create a new good enough codec for many use cases.


> One could definitely take parts of MPEG1 and MPEG2 to create a new good enough codec for many use cases.

Well people did exactly that - and they named it:

  - MPEG-4 Part 2 (also known under names like DivX, Xvid, ...)
  - MPEG-4 Part 11 (also known as AVC, H.264, ...)
  - VP8
  - VP9
  - AV1
  - MPEG-H Part 2 (also known as HEVC, H.265)
Those are all codecs that build on and extend what MPEG-2 is.


Bandwidth and storage have been slowing down and stagnating for some time now. My internet isn't much faster than 10 years ago. The difference between video codecs makes a huge difference in the quality of video I get to see.


My internet is way faster compared to 2008. Probably had something like 10Mbps back then, paying less for 1Gbps fiber-to-the-home now.


You're lucky. I have 100mbps Spectrum, but I've visited a number of slightly more rural areas and been shocked by how truly horrible the network was. 5-6 mbps.


Yeah, I get about 7Mb/s with a downhill moon, a following slope, and a full wind. About 100m away the street-side box is emblazoned with a declaration that "super-fast broadband is here", by which they mean ADSL2+, which is 24Mb/s (again, with a following moon, full slope, and downhill wind). But it somehow hasn't made it to this house.


Most digital TV broadcasts use MPEG-2, don't they?


DVB-T2 can use a variety of codecs.

From 2022 some European countries (Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Slovakia) will pass their broadcasting system to DVB-T2 with H.265. Since January 2017 new TVs must support HEVC decoding.

Sadly, no AV1...


we will see how good DVB-T2 will be... I don't think it will get critical mass and it will end up being used for LTE/next gen. I mean it's mostly a paid service, at least in germany and it will not have any benefits over next gen mobile network. at some point it's easier to merge terrestial over IP, especially if you can have IPv6 only networks, which makes some stuff simpler (multicast + mcast routing).

Also LTE next can already do everything DVB-T2 is capable of, so I doubt that without any full free plans that DVB-T2 will gain traction.

There is also a standard for mobile television called MBMS which will probably kill of any dvb-t stuff in the long term.

Edit: since we talked about a codedc. most of these services currently use H.264 and I do not think that they will migrate to H.265. Guess as soon as mobile devices ship with hardware AV1, there will be Mobile TV with AV1.


And some other countries (e.g. Slovenia, Sweden, UK) use H.264 as well.


Do wonder how many will be left hanging high and dry with that transition.


In the US transition to digital transmission, nobody was left high and dry. Perhaps mildly confused or inconvenienced by the need to get and setup a government subsidized converter box. Doubtful this would go any different for the above.


Hopefully they'll do something similar to what the US did during the analog->digital switch: provide external tuner hardware to people who can or won't upgrade their televisions either free or subsidized.


Yes, ATSC in North America generally uses MPEG-2 video, in an MPEG-2 transport stream (often with AC-3 as the audio codec).

There are provisions to use h.264 within that transport stream, but I'm not sure if any stations actually broadcast with that.


Some cable systems (Comcast has been migrating I believe) do use H.264, but I don’t know of any OTA usage. There is “Mobile DTV” AKA ATSC-M/H which uses H264 and is designed for mobile reception, but stations are rare and commercial adoption is nonexistent.


I posted a longer reply to someone else, but to clarify, when I say obsolete, I mean technically obsolete rather than commercially obsolete.


MPEG-2 TS as a container, something more modern for the video/audio codecs.


Still used in the audio world to this day, because it has a short coding delay. This patent expiry will be good news to many.


My understanding from a long time ago was that the formats were actually competitive if you consider computation requirements. Size of the data was larger, but not by so much that it was scary.

There a good modern comparison of the formats?


This isn't far off especially if you count on-CPU decoding. MPEG2 is sensible for the time, but can't scale to larger pixel resolutions or lower bitrates well.

The generation after MPEG2 (VP7, MPEG4 ASP, Theora) though, pretty much sucked universally and there was no good reason for it… second-system effect?


This makes me realize how behind I am. The generation you mention as being bad is what I think of as latest generation. :)


For those wondering about MPEG-2's applications (compared to, e.g., MPEG-1 and MPEG-4), it's the primary standard used for DVD-Video. Blu-ray makes some use of MPEG-2, especially for the FBI warnings, but it's not too popular for the actual features. It's also used in ATSC and DVB broadcast video, but I'm not sure how popular it is compared to MPEG-4.


On reading the title, I was kind of hoping that it meant that all DVD player creators would be free to stop imposing the artificial restrictions present on many DVDs, like region locks, "unskippable" tracks, etc. But it looks like the primary driver of those restrictions is actually the DVD Copy Control Association, which I'm guessing holds a different set of IP and legal agreements than MPEGLA does.


Software patents shouldn't exist to begin with.


I'm inclined to agree with you, but why?


Patents were designed so that companies would contribute to public knowledge instead of keeping everything as a trade secret. The idea was that they would be afforded increased security for a few years, in exchange for the idea becoming public afterwards. The time range was set to be practical for the industry.

The problem is, over the past few years software has been moving way too fast for the standard patent timeframe. Patents on software last longer than it would take for a competitor to re-invent a trade secret: the result being that they actually slow down progression.

Ideally, we would adjust the term of every patent grant to match (or scale with) the difficulty that a competitor would have to go through to re-invent it. An approximation to that is having different patent durations for different fields (shorter for software), and an approximation to that is not having software patents at all.


The existence of patents also was meant to create an industry for selling ideas rather than physical goods.

How often are people really inventing novel things, patenting them, and then licensing them out to other parties or selling the rights? By far the most applied use case of patents is to fabricate or buy bullshit IP to sue anyone even remotely close to your product or service into bankruptcy.

In some ways, yes, patents have created jobs. Except the job is not to be innovative or discover new things, but to manipulate and optimize your language in a patent filing to cover as much existing IP as possible that you can then harass with your patents.

It is only most obvious with software patents because of how insane it is to restrict math like that.

The question always has to be do the benefits outweigh the costs. Are the few and far between actively able to use the patent system as a means to come up with legitimately novel inventions worth all the innovation lost to corporations using patents as weapons to shut down competition and prevent innovation.


> The problem is, over the past few years software has been moving way too fast for the standard patent timeframe.

Two thoughts:

- Why does this mean that they should be eliminated entirely? Why not revise the timeframe?

- Isn't this argument applicable to almost all modern patents, whether software, technological, or otherwise?


Not the parent poster, but personally I just don't see the value (to the public) with this model.

Most A/V codec development these days is done at least somewhat out in the open, and there are collaborators between different organizations. The nature of the beast is that you can't release codecs to the public without inherently giving away how it works. Even if you lock things down with NDAs and such, people will reverse-engineer it before too long.

That alone isn't an indictment of patents here (note that drug development suffers from similar issues, at least wrt disclosure), but:

This sort of work will happen regardless of whether or not there are patents covering them (the fact that we have/had things like Vorbis, FLAC, VP8/9, Tarkin, Theora, AV1, etc. is proof of that), so in the end patenting these sorts of things doesn't actually "promote the progress of science and useful arts"; it just encourages rent-seeking behavior. Patent-encumbered codecs out there are not meaningfully better performance-wise than the patent-unencumbered ones (certainly not enough to justify the licensing fees); the patent-encumbered ones are merely better at marketing, so everyone who wants to do anything with video ends up paying a tax for no real benefit.


I favor the elimination of software patents but if we must have them then things like MPEG are one of the few examples of software that probably should qualify for patent protection. The idea that no one would research new video codecs without patent protection is laughable - OS vendors, network operators, et al are highly motivated to do so regardless of patents.

Unfortunately making software non-patentable isn't likely to happen anytime soon. Perhaps we should fight for some key changes like reducing the length of software patents to something reasonable like 5 years.

I'd also like to see an "industry standards" exception to patents: Any implementation of an industry standard created by an international standards organization, working group, or similar authority is exempt from patent suits. Royalties are fixed at some rate determined by the board (but no more than x% of sales price or flat $y per item indexed to inflation) and go into a pool. All patents in the pool are paid out of it. If you think your patent covers something in the standard your only option is to submit your patent to the pool, then you get a cut of the royalties corresponding to your contribution (again as determined by an impartial board). Any fights over standards-related patents would be confined to the board of experts, the royalty rate they determine, and the allocation to each patent. The law would specify that changes to royalties (even court-ordered) can only go into effect once per year and only apply to products manufactured after that date.

Such a scheme would encourage everyone to contribute to open standards because it would be the only way to ensure you can avoid patent lawsuits.

The one wrinkle is open-source software. I was trying to come up with a workable system. All I landed on was no royalties required for open-source software or end-users of such software, but if a manufacturer uses such software in a product they sell then they would still be subject to royalties.


This all just sounds too complicated. Why not just require that any technology developed for an industry standard, ratified by an international standards body, be given away, with patent rights disclaimed? I honestly don't see why we should allow people to make money off of foundational things like this. It creates perverse incentives.

As you point out, the lack of patent revenue here isn't going to hurt innovation; I agree that it's laughable that the lack of patent protection would stop or even slow down research here.


But one could argue it‘s always better to re-invent something superior and the timeframe might as well be nonexistent


Because patents are not intended for mathematical principles or business processes, and that's essentially all software really is. Applying mathematical principles to the implementation of business processes and calling it "business logic" shouldn't magically create a new legal status.


> patents are not intended for [...] business processes

Says who?

> that's essentially all software really is

The implementation of MPEG2 is "business logic"? I wouldn't call it that.


The software implementation of mpeg2 is covered under copyright.

The math/algorithms/whatever are covered by patents.

I could write a totally distinct implementation of mpeg2 called "myvideoencoder" which used the same math, and the patent would make that a violation of their rights.

Math isn't patentable per numerous rulings in the past, but somehow once a computer is doing math really fast it becomes patentable.


What's being patented isn't the math, it's the implementation of that math.

As a counterpoint that argues why software patents should exist, I'll point out this. If you build a mechanical feedback mechanism that acts as a controller for some chemical process, no one doubts that said controller meets the patentability criteria. So why should we penalize inventors for emulating that controller in software instead of doing it in hardware? (Note: this scenario is effectively the one that established the patentability of software).

The real problem is that the bar for novelty and obviousness in software ought to be much, much higher, and software, having shorter development cadence, needs shorter patent protection times. The most useful change to patent law would be to have patent times adjust to reflect typical development cadences, as opposed to being fixed across all fields.


>What's being patented isn't the math, it's the implementation of that math.

That makes absolutely zero sense as an argument.

It is absolutely the mathematical principles being patented otherwise how can you possibly prosecute anyone of an independently implemented implementation of the maths?


I think the backlash against existing software patents and how they're used is why people take such a hard line against software patents.

I don't have anything against software patents per se, and your example, I think, is a good one, but 20 years in a field moving as fast as software is ridiculous (I'd push for 5 years at most), and the ability to be issued a patent on trivial bullshit is insane.


I was thinking 3 years, but the USPTO would probably have a tough time actually granting the patent that quickly.

But, yes: the current system is undoubtedly broken. Terms are way to long (for software, at least), and too many patents are clearly violating the novelty bar.


That's a bit of a jump. You go from "mechanical systems are patentable" + "some software emulates mechanical systems (which are patentable)" to "all software, regardless of whether it is related to a real mechanical system, is patentable".

Does that not seem like a huge leap? mpeg2 sure isn't encoding a mechanical mechanism. Hardly any software these days really is. Software now is mostly focussed on dealing with ætherial information, not physical machines.


Well, the physical universe is turing complete, so it is obviously at least possible to build a mechanical mpeg2 encoder. Should it be patentable?


Hasn’t this been discussed to death? Since most algorithms are more or less pure math, there’s mostly only one way to do things efficiently. You also get quasi-standards that are copyrighted, which is not healthy for competition. Also MPEG2 at least has some work put into it, many software patents are ridiculous. Wasn’t there one for queuing printing jobs?


> Since most algorithms are more or less pure math, there’s mostly only one way to do things efficiently.

If that were true, there'd be no competition in the codec space. Besides, why can't the same argument be applied to machinery? There's "mostly only one way" to poke a thread through a sheet of fabric, so why should the sewing machine be patentable?


The core problem of software patents is usually functional claiming and their thickets.


This is more algorithm than software isn’t it? and I suspect MPEG2 has had hardware implementations since day one - so I’m not sure it’s that clear cut. And frankly, at the time it was state of the art and I imagine requires significant investment. The patent duration is far too long though.


Algorithm is more abstract than software which implements it.


> This is more algorithm than software isn’t it?

What do you believe the difference is? To me, software and algorithms are the same thing.


> To me, software and algorithms are the same thing

Algorithms exist outside of software.

Algorithms are formulas or functions for solving a problem.

Software is usually the implementation of one or more algorithms on a computer.


Why not think of your algorithms as software for a machine that doesn't yet exist?


The algorithm is the abstract class, or possibly the spec, and software is one possible implementation. They’re at different levels of abstraction.


Both software and algorithms are an emergent property of the rules of the systems we create. They are essentially akin to prime numbers, in a direct and provable sense.

(1) All computable programs can be expressed as a Universal Turing machine.

(2) There are countably many Universal Turing machines

(3) In an abstract sense, we can thus assign a unique identifier to each possible computer program. I can tell you "run program 383439343" and that will tell you everything you need to run that function.

Most of these programs are of course not correct in the sense that they produce a useful output, or even necessarily terminate. But then, most numbers aren't useful either, it's only because of the emergent properties of our mathematical rules that something like a "prime number" even has a conceptual meaning, and it's only because of our contextual needs that, say, sorting an array would be a useful output.

Distinguishing between algorithms and software is a distinction without a difference. If the two implementations produce a different output, then by definition they must be following a different algorithm. And if they are the same algorithm, then they can be reduced to the same Universal Turing machine.


First, Shor's algorithm (as an example) cannot be expressed as a Universal Turing Machine. You are thinking much too small, software implementations on Turing Machines are possible for a strict subset of possible algorithms.

Second, even for algorithms which can be expressed as Turing Machines, you are giving the computer science equivalent of saying that a house and it's architecture drawing are the same. One is a thing which exists, one is a description of the thing. You cannot run an unimplemented algorithm without first doing the work of implementing it.


If we lose all of our compilers, processors, etc., would the source code to Windows stop being software?


Algorithms are not dependent on being implemented in software or run on a machine.


I'd say software is typically built up with algorithms and static data. So an algorithm is more of a building block or raw material


An algorithm is not patentable. Inventions may use algorithm but the invention cannot be just an algorithm.



Software is the implementation of an algorithm using a specific language and tools.


Every algorithm is in some language, which means it's software.


An English prose algorithm for bubble sort written in chalk is most assuredly not software.


I think software patents are unfair because companies claim monopoly or a license fee. Patented software will be built on previous software work so they are not unique pieces of inventions that stand on their own shoulders.

Shortly software patents wants sole right use while building on others software work. Claiming fees for previous inventions.

Software should compete on skill of implementation and not legal departments. Thus patents can also be viewed as anti competitive. Whereas big companies with legal departments/ patent trolls can go after smaller competitors.


Does this mean that Electron issues with MPEG codecs are non-issues now? I mean the discussion here https://github.com/electron/electron/issues/633 and https://github.com/electron/libchromiumcontent/issues/174


The page wasn't very clear, is it Mpeg-2 Video ( H.262 )? Or All Mpeg-2 ? Because AAC is part of Mpeg-2 as well.

And just wondering, is it possible to extend H.262 to support 4K resolution, different size Microblock, call it something else rather then Mpeg-2 without hitting any patents infringement?


The statement: "patents remain active in Philippines and Malaysia after that date" worries me...


Except in Philippines and Malaysia?


I looked at the page count on the PDF and thought; 25 pages of patent references for MPEG2, that's insane. Then I looked at the list of patents for HEVC(H.265)...


Why doesn't the "original title" rule apply here?




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