WebM Legalities

Previously I had written about how Google's WebM and VP8 may provide a free alternative to video formats. Well this legal issue has received a lot of buzz recently. I read some legal discussions and want to talk more about this.

First let's look at the components of WebM. You got the spec. Then you have both an encoder and decoder. These last two are just reference implementations. The idea is that somebody will improve and replace them. They are only what we call building blocks to the technology.

Let's look closely at another legal video case. Microsoft licenses VC1 free of charge. However VC1 comes from MPEG4. Therefore Microsoft actually does pay royalties to MPEG-LA. They just eat the cost for Windows users. On2, the creator of VP8 which got bought by Google, has done their patent due diligence for VP8. They knew about the existing patents. Then they worked around those patents to produce something new and original.