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/)
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.
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.
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
 - https://q3k.org/u/8e3173aef341df726e4f38f30e58417239423250f3...
See their website: http://www.mpegla.com/main/default.aspx
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Being royalty free does not mean it is not patented.
Here are some comparisons between AV1, VP9, HEVC, and H.264:
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:
You can use VP9 and Opus for video today with a view to using AV1 and Opus in the future.
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.
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.
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.
But the practical reality is that these companies are doing the exact opposite with 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:
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 , 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.
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.)
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?
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.
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.
I admit I don't know much about the latter, but what about international markets?
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.
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.
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.
Companies don't really invent very much, they usually find things or take existing things and try to monopolize them with patents.
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.
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.
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).
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?
Technology makes the world move faster, and patents haven’t quite adjusted yet.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
Compulsory licenses fill this gap preventing patents from being used to inhibit development.
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.
Unfortunately I think they are working as intended.
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. :(
It's Sharepoint... and it looks to be proudly developed by https://sharepointexperience.com
The entire state of IP with the DMCA is just abysmal.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
...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:
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
Which is why every patent act has the requirements of novelty and non-obviousness.
See also: Licenses that prohibit use for military purposes or other things the authors consider undesirable.
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.
Or find other means to the same ends as the GPL: protecting the three freedoms laid out by RMS.
But most proprietary vendors these days do comply with the GPL.
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.
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.
Or put another way, it isn't yet commercially obsolete, but it is technically obsolete.
Newer codecs basically exist because video resolutions outpace storage space (for questionable benefits).
MPEG2, much like MP3, are "good enough" for most common usage.
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.
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.
Personally, I see the benefit in 4K having a setup to take advantage of it.
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, ...)
- MPEG-H Part 2 (also known as HEVC, H.265)
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...
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.
There are provisions to use h.264 within that transport stream, but I'm not sure if any stations actually broadcast with that.
There a good modern comparison of the formats?
The generation after MPEG2 (VP7, MPEG4 ASP, Theora) though, pretty much sucked universally and there was no good reason for it… second-system effect?
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.
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.
- 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?
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.
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.
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.
> that's essentially all software really is
The implementation of MPEG2 is "business logic"? I wouldn't call it that.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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?
What do you believe the difference is? 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.
(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.
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.
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.
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?