MPEG is a rent-seeking organization that doesn't actually contribute anything useful to society. It just tries to lock up technology and standards behind patents, and then extorts money for use of those standards.
MPEG is the rent-seeking arm of several organizations, some of which actually do excellent technical work that is arguably beneficial to society. They don't have a monopoly on doing excellent technical work, even the kind that is beneficial to society, and back when you could count on MPEG LA being the only contact you needed to license a set of patents, it wasn't the worst state of affairs in the world. Not ideal, but definitely not the worst that an army of lawyers could come up with.
You're thinking about MPEG-LA, and even then your description is debatable.
MPEG itself is a standardisation organisms (technically a joint subgroup of ISO and IEC), defining standards out of technologies both patented and not.
MPEG-LA is a separate and completely unaffiliated entity which licenses patent pools: MPEG-LA does not create or hold patents itself, they get agreements from patent holders and sell "bundled" licenses for all patents essential to implement a relevant technology (or so they claim e.g. MPEG-LA created a patent pool for DisplayPort independently from VESA, which disputes this necessity and asserts the standard is completely royalty-free).
> You're thinking about MPEG-LA, and even then your description is debatable.
As we say in Germany: "Wer mit den Hunden schläft, braucht sich nicht zu wundern, wenn er am nächsten Tag mit Flöhen aufwacht." ("Who sleeps with dogs should not wonder if next days he wakes up with fleas").
In other words: if the MPEG does not clearly distance itself against the business conduct of the MPEG-LA, it should not wonder if the MPEG gets the same hate as the MPEG-LA.
Guessing you wanted "standards organisation" and technically MPEG is a Working Group of a Subcommittee of the Joint Technical Committee between ISO and IEC.
Patents are sad because they create an incentive to argue for a technically inferior choice that you "own" over a superior choice that you don't own.
CA/B Forum (which isn't an SDO but bear with me) ran into trouble when setting up the Ten Blessed Methods (our name, not theirs) for validating control over an FQDN because it turns out some ways to implement these methods were patented by members. Although CA/B isn't an SDO, the effect of it making rules about how things are done is to set a standard, since all significant vendors in this space are members of CA/B, and all major trust stores require you to obey CA/B rules even if you're not a member.
The patents didn't cover any of the good ways to implement the Ten Blessed Methods. Literally in every case the patent described the most unsatisfactory half-arsed way to achieve something you could imagine, the existence of these patents was causing vendors to prefer to do something bad (which they'd patented) rather than something good (which they had not). But there was a reluctance to just say "OK, we patented all this stinking garbage, but forget about that" and get on with it, this stalled things for many months. After all patents aren't free, who wants to admit they bought something worthless? Ugh.
As it's constructed and the different patent pools involved, I'm not sure that a patent holder could benefit more than others by having MPEG use their patent.
That being said, patents are still annoying when you bump in to them. MPEG is remarkable in terms of the amount of interop though, you can watch video on your phone, laptop or your 4k TV all made by different vendors with different parts.
However, MPEG enables the rent-seeking behavior by MPEG-LA, quite deliberately. I don't think it is unreasonable to say that MPEG are complicit and a big part of the problem. People are always making excuses for MPEG.
Secondly: in the case of MPEG-G (the genomics 'standard' that is being developed by MPEG), the very same people who are working on MPEG-G, as part of the MPEG working group, are the people who are filing the patents. See the hackernews thread on MPEG-G that I linked above.
That means the rent-seeking behavior is not only the domain of the 'separate and completely unaffiliated entity' MPEG-LA. MPEG is just as bad as MPEG-LA.
Unfortunately, the (software) patent system does not distinguish between people actually innovating and rent-seekers. Patents very explicitly give their owners broad rights to shut down any use of their patented inventions through injunctions.
If you think that the MPEG-G patents are not going to be enforced in case someone was already doing what they were doing before the patent was granted, well, have I got a bridge to sell you...
As for MPEG-G creating value, I think that is highly debatable. See this post: https://datageekdom.blogspot.com/2018/09/, which summarizes the MPEG-G situation as "Patents + extensive high profile marketing + lack of evidence for benefit".
That's not a valuable contribution to society. It's simply a tax on the bio-informatics community.
That's sometimes the case for software patents in general, but not for patents tied to a standard like MPEG-G, where the point is to get people to pay for being compatible. I've looked at a couple of the MPEG-G patents, and if you're infringing the MPEG-G patent it's probably because you're actually using MPEG-G without paying for it, not because you happened to independently recreate the same thing.
One could argue that the MPEG could take a stronger stance by requiring a RF grant from its participants like some other SDOs do.
It’s not “extortion” to charge money for people to use technology you developed, and its a better business model for society than bankrolling that technology through advertising (which is the FB/Google alternative to R&D).
MPEG-LA is not locking up technology that already existed or other people developed. Its members are the folks who originally developed this technology. It’s notable that no open-source entity developed something like h.264 first.
They aren't charging for use of their technology, they're charging for use of their algorithms/patents.
The extortion part comes from making it an industry standard, we should never allow proprietary protocols to become (official or de-facto) standards.
 802.11fb, now with opposition research acquisition at the MAC layer!
If this means abolishing patents: then yes.
By the way: video codecs have a lot more applications than entertainment. I just want to mention teleconferencing.
Today, purchasing Windows doesn't guarantee you ad- and data mininig free system, and soon it will be difficult to purchase Office at all, you will be renting. In this regard, I'm happy that there are different business models, not just one that would slowly pick the worst traits of everything else.
To add on this argument: another huge problem is that the license terms made open source development/distribution really hard (i.e. a patent minefield). Similarly it could lead to legal trouble for people who just hosted their videos.
The biggest problem is those companies within the group don't agree on the percentage spilt between them. Basically they are just being bloody greedy. And the reason why we have MPEG-LA, HEVC Advance, Velos Group and others.
The good things is that most companies realise how much of a poor job MPEG-LA did ( My guess is that they only cares about their commission any way ), they started MC-IF , which includes most of the original HEVC MPEG-LA Group members, HEVC Advance Members and one Velos members as well. They are basically most of the Japanese players... and ...... Qualcomm.
I really wish VVC succeed, and push the technical limits of Video Compression as well as replacement of JPEG, without all the dramas and patents problems.
At least MP3 was created partially with taxpayer money as a cooperation between the the Fraunhofer Institute and the Friedrich Alexander University at Nuremberg. The Fraunhofer Institute is largely funded by commercial research, but ~30% of its funding come from the German federal state and the individual German states.
There's the heart of the issue, the belief that everything can and should have a monetization model. The fact that we had to invent a whole new artificial class of property to handle the existing model should set off some alarm bells here.
A lot of organisations make a lot of money from these algorithms, is having them chip into a non-profit to develop free and open standards too much? How about having some of that research from universities and government standards bodies chip in too?
I agree that inventors should be compensated, but this 20y patented-standard model looks too one-sided to me.
Worth noting that the patent conditions still apply. It may be a problem for some free software distribution, and as a result software like VLC isn't always available by default.
The problem is that "bundling with hardware" is very vague. For example, if some OEM sells their PCs/laptops with preinstalled GNU/Linux (containing VLC), does this count as bundling. Or let us consider, say, a singleboard computer that can be both used as a PC and a set-top box just by installing a different firmware (think GNU/Linux distribution) that is provided for free (as beer) at the vendor's website - what is bundling then?
Worth noting that the license is less than a dollar per device and the manufacturer is only required to pay if he sells like 100k devices per year.
Note that its claims are not necessarily founded on anything e.g. MPEG-LA created a patent pool for DisplayPort, VESA claims the tech is completely royalty-free.
And that’s okay in my book. I much preferred the old days when everyone just paid Sony and Panasonic for a license than the current model where “free” codecs are bankrolled by spying on everyone’s email and helping Russians fix elections.
I think you missed the whole FUD campaign against VPx, where they tried to persuade the public that VPx does infringe patents in their pool.
Classic cases in point are IBM's patent on arithmetic encoding, which rendered that entire class of algorithms radioactive in the 1980s-1990s era, and the original Lempel-Ziv patent claims dating back to 1978.
We are most certainly not better off as a society because we granted decade+ monopolies on those claims, and I see no reason to think any differently of MPEG.
Know your enemy. :-)