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BRM Resolution 23: Thou Shalt Use Patent-Encumbered MP3 with OOXML
Monday, March 10 2008 @ 04:16 PM EDT

There are two more documents from the BRM meeting available now on Alex Brown's blog:
http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc34/ open/0989_reference_docs.zip

http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/ sc34/open/09891.pdf [PDF]

If you open the zip file and look at the document titled PT-62A2.doc and put it next to the Resolutions document [text], specifically Resolution 23, I think you'll find that they say, put together, that any applications wishing interoperability with OOXML in sound must use MP3. This is non-free, being patent-encumbered. If you go to Audiopeg.com, it tells us, "Audio MPEG is protected by a portfolio of patents covering a large number of countries." Therefore, by my reading, the proposed spec can't be implemented in free software and in a backhanded way, the GPL has just been exiled again. What kind of standard is OOXML if the GPL, which is what Linux is licensed under, can't freely interoperate? FOSS is a new factor that standards bodies simply must consider. It's not like the old, proprietary days, when it was like a club, and everybody had similar business plans.

If you are thinking it's only a problem in the US, you've not been reading the news about the police raids at CeBIT. Here's a snip from AP:

German police raided 51 booths at the CeBIT computing show this week because of breaches of audio compression (MP3) patents....

Italian firm Sisvel, which itself has a booth at CeBIT in Hall 19, filed patent complaints in Hanover on behalf of big companies including Philips and France Telecom. The company says that through its agreements it can demand a licensing fee for consumer electronics devices sold in Europe.

So ECMA proposes a "resolution" that makes it impossible for FOSS to interoperate? That requires paying patent licenses on pain of criminal charges and jail time? Is this an open standard the whole world can use? What is wrong with this picture?

Here's more of what you find at audiomeg.com:

The technology licensed by Audio MPEG is protected by a portfolio of patents covering a large number of countries.

Audio MPEG has an exclusive right to grant licenses under the US patents in the portfolio. Audio MPEG’s parent company, Sisvel, S.p.A., has an exclusive right to grant licenses under the patents in the portfolio covering countries other than the US.

Products licensed by Audio MPEG and Sisvel include:

MP3 players, MPEG 2 compliant set-top boxes and satellite receivers, DVD players with MP3 capabilities, computers, PDAs, sound boards for computers, software for encoding and/or decoding audio signals and in general any technology conforming to the ISO/IEC 11172-3 or ISO/IEC 13818-3 Standards (MPEG 1 and 2, Layer I, II, and III).

Products not currently licensed by Audio MPEG and Sisvel include CD, Video-CD and DVD players not able to encode or decode MP3 files, DAB (Digital Audio Broadcast) products, and "Grand Alliance" standard high definition televisions.

Please contact us if you need further details on products currently licensed.

And here's Resolution 23:

PT-60 (R 98):

Resolution 23: The BRM accepts the editing instructions contained in http://www.itscj.ipsj.or.jp/sc34/def/BRM/PT-60A2.doc as modifications to R 93, R 98, R 78, R 80, R 82 and R 100, which are otherwise accepted except as modified in other Resolutions; with the following changes: the MIME type of text shall be given as “text/plain” and the MIME type of HTML shall be given as “text/html”; and “Open XML Math” shall be replaced with a reference to the appropriate part of this specification — so resolved.

CA and CZ objected to Resolution 23.

Thank you, CA and CZ, but where are the rest of you? Don't you realize the GPL can't mix with patent licenses, especially GPLv3? So if you require a patent-encumbered sound solution for interoperability with OOXML, you've exiled Linux and the GPL, again. Now, a private company is free to do whatever it feels like. Privately. But this is not acceptable in a standard, because it's a "standard" on a few can use.

Because the PT-60A2 document is written as a .doc file, natch, here it is as text:

**************************

Goal: Enable producers to generate content that can be handled by any consumer.

Context:

There are several areas in the specification where components such as images, text, equations or audio may be included as part of an OOXML file.

We anticipate a wide range of consumers, many of which will not need to handle these sorts of components. For example, a slide-sorter will not need to touch in any of the images that appear on the slides; an audio reader application will not need to render any image.

Proposed resolution:

1. Add a table with a minimal number of reference standard formats.

  • Images: png, jpg

  • Text: UTF-16, HTML

  • Audio: mpeg audio

  • Video: mpeg video

  • Math, Equations: MathML 2.0, OpenXML Math

  • Annotations: InkML


2. A producer that wants interoperability should use a reference standard format....


PT-104 - R78

5.1.3.2 AudioFile (Audio from File)

ContentType

A producer that wants interoperability should use the following standard format:

  • audio/mpeg ISO/IEC 11172-3


15.2.16 Video Part

A producer that wants interoperability should use the following standard format:

  • video/mpeg ISO/IEC 13818



  


BRM Resolution 23: Thou Shalt Use Patent-Encumbered MP3 with OOXML | 232 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections here please, if required
Authored by: tiger99 on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 04:20 PM EDT
To assist PJ in maintaining the accuracy for which Groklaw is famous

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off-topic here please
Authored by: tiger99 on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 04:22 PM EDT
Interesting stuff, but not on-topic as per the main article. If you post
on-topic stuff in this thread, yoy may be shot!

And please remember the clickies, where possible.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Newspicks discussions here please
Authored by: tiger99 on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 04:25 PM EDT
This is the best place for discussion about Groklaw Newspicks. Please indicate
which Newspick item you are referring to in the title of your post.

[ Reply to This | # ]

CeBIT police raids?
Authored by: tiger99 on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 04:31 PM EDT
Why? Software Patents are not legal in the EU, and last time I looked, Germany was part of the EU.

Something seems a bit fishy here.....

[ Reply to This | # ]

NB bylaws, principles, guidlines for standards evaluation and voting criteria?
Authored by: tce on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 04:37 PM EDT
For any of the National Bodies responsible for voting, on behalf of their Nation
(for their citizens), for ISO/IEC DIS 29500 AKA OOXML, has anyone dug up formal
bylaws, guidelines, or assessment criteria that their voting membership are
expected to follow?

[ Reply to This | # ]

BRM Resolution 23: Thou Shalt Use Patent-Encumbered MP3 with OOXML
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 04:47 PM EDT
I might be missing something here, but it seems Resolution 23 suggest the use of
two ISO standards for video and audio encoding. Both happens to be patent
encumbered which is unfortunate, however, to suggest that an ISO standard should
reference non-ISO video and audio formats seems a bit odd to me.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Fraunenhofer Institute supports this resolution
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 04:48 PM EDT
Last Tuesday, the German standards group DIN voted to approve recommendation of OOXML to the ISO, again so long as Microsoft addresses members' many comments. Adding a noteworthy note of support was the Fraunhofer Institute for Open Communications Systems, which is connected with the laboratory that developed the MP3 standard, and that licenses its use worldwide to Apple and Microsoft, among others.

I don't think this is an accident. The Germans appear to be very happy to approve a standard that guarantees them a source of revenue.

[ Reply to This | # ]

It just gets worse and worse
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 04:49 PM EDT

Well, we all knew that MSOOXML was a poor attempt at a standard. But every additional thing that comes out of analysis of it looks worse and worse. There seems to be absolutely no case at all for "blessing" this thing as an international standard. The excuses given by the delegates who voted in favor of it should be called to account, made to explain why they are supporting it.

[ Reply to This | # ]

BRM Resolution 23: Thou Shalt Use Patent-Encumbered MP3 with OOXML
Authored by: TemporalBeing on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 04:49 PM EDT
If you open the zip file and look at the document titled PT-62A2.doc and put it next to the Resolutions document [text], specifically Resolution 23, I think you'll find that they say, put together, that any applications wishing interoperability with OOXML in sound must use MP3. This is non-free, being patent-encumbered. If you go to Audiopeg.com, it tells us, "Audio MPEG is protected by a portfolio of patents covering a large number of countries." Therefore, by my reading, the proposed spec can't be implemented in free software and in a backhanded way, the GPL has just been exiled again. What kind of standard is OOXML if the GPL, which is what Linux is licensed under, can't freely interoperate? FOSS is a new factor that standards bodies simply must consider. It's not like the old, proprietary days, when it was like a club, and everybody had similar business plans.
Wouldn't this prohibit MS/ECMA from being able to submit OOXML for ISO standardization? Or prohibit ISO from accepting it as a standard? Doesn't ISO require that any submissions be granted full royalty free licenses to the world? (I.e. by submitting you guarantee you have the rights to say no one has to pay anything to use the standard, and therefore grant such a perpetual license.) So, don't we therefore have any automatic disqualification for the OOXML as a standard? Or am I missing something?

[ Reply to This | # ]

BRM Resolution 23: Thou Shalt Use Patent-Encumbered MP3 with OOXML
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 04:58 PM EDT
[Q1] "...wishing interoperability with OOXML in sound ..." Exactly
what does this mean? If it relates to embedded sound files, then presumably any
file could be embedded in a proprietary MS Office Word document. If it's not
about embedding, what is it about?

[Q2] What's the position for audio content in the Open Document Standard
(ISO/IEC 26300 OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications) used by
OpenOffice and others?

[ Reply to This | # ]

BRM Resolution 23: Thou Shalt Use Patent-Encumbered MP3 with OOXML
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 05:55 PM EDT
What kind of standard is OOXML if the GPL, which is what Linux is licensed under, can't freely interoperate?

It's a proposed ISO standard, which requires (at a minimum) RAND terms for patents. Believe it or not, not everyone in the world believes that something has to be easily implemented in GPL licensed software.

[ Reply to This | # ]

BRM Resolution 23: Thou Shalt Use Patent-Encumbered MP3 with OOXML
Authored by: billposer on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 06:01 PM EDT

Patent considerations aside, mpeg is a peculiar choice of reference standard for audio since it is a lossy encoding. Surely the reference standard should be either straight linear PCM (that is, uncompressed) in a nice, simple container such as au/snd, or a lossless compressed format, such as FLAC.

UTF-16 is also an inferior choice for text. UTF-8 is the format of choice for storage and transmission. Microsoft probably wants UTF-16 because that is the internal representation of Unicode in MS Windows. Both UTF-16 and UTF-8 are part of the Unicode standard, which is an ISO standard, so the issue of non-ISO standards doesn't arise here.

[ Reply to This | # ]

audio and viseo mpeg are already ISO/IEC standards.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 06:14 PM EDT
As the documentation that PJ provided points out, audio and video mpeg are both already ISO/IEC standards.
PT-104 - R78

5.1.3.2 AudioFile (Audio from File)

ContentType

A producer that wants interoperability should use the following standard format:

audio/mpeg ISO/IEC 11172-3

15.2.16 Video Part

A producer that wants interoperability should use the following standard format:

video/mpeg ISO/IEC 13818
Why shouldn't a new proposed ISO standard for documents reference an already existing ISO standard for the format of audio information stored within those documents?

Everyone took offense when MS didn't use standards based MathML in the original proposed OOXML standard, and one of the ECMA changes introduced at the BRM was to add the standards based MathML as an alternative to OpenXML Math.

What should they change the audio and video formats to, something that is not an international standard?

I'm assuming that, at least in that US, the patent owners of the mpeg technology were participants in making their own mpeg format an ISO standard, and are therefore barred from seeking exhorbitant patent fees for anyone implementing the standard.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What is wrong with this picture?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 06:15 PM EDT

Personally, I think the easier question to ask is:

    What is right with this picture?
The answer is a much smaller list.

RAS

[ Reply to This | # ]

MP3 with OOXML to Something Else
Authored by: rsteinmetz70112 on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 06:59 PM EDT
If I get a file in MP3 format, I own the file and can subject it to all sorts of
precessing. What exactly is patented? The compression and/or the playback of
audio or video signals.

If someone were to write a filter to transform an MP3 file into some other
format, would that violate the patents if the file were never decoded into sound
or video?

I'm just asking.

---
Rsteinmetz - IANAL therefore my opinions are illegal.

"I could be wrong now, but I don't think so."
Randy Newman - The Title Theme from Monk

[ Reply to This | # ]

Not Just Audio
Authored by: Steve Martin on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 07:35 PM EDT

A producer that wants interoperability should use the following standard format:
  • video/mpeg ISO/IEC 13818

Well, here's strike two: IEC 13818-1 contains the following language:

The user's attention is called to the possibility that - for some of the processes specified in this Recommendation | International Standard conformance with this Recommendation | International Standard may require use of an invention covered by patent rights. By publication of this part of Recommendation | International Standard, no position is taken with respect to the validity of this claim or of any patent rights in connection therewith. However, each company listed in this annex has undertaken to file with the Information Technology Task Force (ITTF) a statement of willingness to grant a license under such rights that they hold on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms and conditions to applicants desiring to obtain such a license.
So not only is there patent encumbrance on the audio interop portion of OOXML, there also appears to be encumbrance of the recommended video portion as well.

---
"When I say something, I put my name next to it." -- Isaac Jaffe, "Sports Night"

[ Reply to This | # ]

BRM Resolution 23: Thou Shalt Use Patent-Encumbered MP3 with OOXML
Authored by: davidf on Monday, March 10 2008 @ 10:30 PM EDT
If I'm not mistaken, MPEG2 layer 3 (audio) has been replaced by a newer and (to
my ears) better standard. Its capability for DRM(issmanagement) not
withstanding, MPEG4 is superior in all other ways.

You can easily hear the difference between an MP3 and a properly encoded aac
(Advanced Audio Codec) file and MP3 is the looser.

Its not surprising that OOXML has chosen to use an inferior audio codec to use
with its inferior document and text handling capabilities. La Cage aux Folle
(sp?) --- Birds of a feather ...

BTW, when are these MP3 patents due to run out? Soon I think.

Cheers
davidf

[ Reply to This | # ]

BRM Resolution 23: Thou Shalt Use Patent-Encumbered MP3 with OOXML
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 11 2008 @ 12:06 AM EDT
Huh, not true! There is no patent danger in OOXML or anti GPL poison! Because
Miguel Icaza said it is a superb standard and Novell voted yes on the US ballot!
So, everybody else is wrong! We must welcome OOXML!

[ Reply to This | # ]

"Should" not "shall"
Authored by: Inigo on Tuesday, March 11 2008 @ 05:32 AM EDT
I'm glad that people are reading through the dispositions and looking for
problems with them. In my opinion, this is the best way that Groklaw readers can
influence their national bodies for the vote.

But: the interpretation of this one is flawed.

The text is "A producer that wants interoperability *should* use the
following standard format"

"Should" and "Shall" are precisely defined in ISO
specifications (similar to the way that they are used in RFC 2119 and other
specifications), and mean different things. "Should" essentially means
"it is recommended". "Shall" essentially means
"must".

So, the intention of the text is that multiple independent implementations of
OOXML are recommended to use the same formats for interoperability. For example,
rather than MS Office storing audio in WMA format in OOXML files, and OpenOffice
storing Ogg Vorbis in OOXML files, it is recommended that both use the same
standard ISO audio format to promote interoperability.

This is recommended rather than enforced, and individual implementors can choose
to support whatever formats they want to.

Inigo

[ Reply to This | # ]

Main problem: ISO/IEC 11172-3 and 13818
Authored by: ak on Tuesday, March 11 2008 @ 05:59 AM EDT
The main problem is that ISO/IEC 11172-3 and 13818 seem to be unusable without
paying for patents.

Also: None of these standard documents is available for free.

[ Reply to This | # ]

BRM Resolution 23: Thou Shalt Use Patent-Encumbered MP3 with OOXML
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 11 2008 @ 08:52 AM EDT
I am kind of glad they are bringing this up

maybe it is time that the iso address a standard music file format now.

ogg comes to mind

but it definitely cannot be mp3 or mpeg.

it is time the IT industry gets it's act together and start doing things for the
consumers instead of letting all these "business partners" run a muck.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Contributory infringement?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 11 2008 @ 11:34 AM EDT
Because the standard says you MUST use MP3, isn't that demand either

a) a grant of license for this purpose
b) contributory infringement because you are being told to break the law

[ Reply to This | # ]

100% commit to purity of ISO standards - Freedom to innovate by ALL, even the poorest amongst us
Authored by: clark_kent on Tuesday, March 11 2008 @ 12:19 PM EDT
One way people get away from that 100% purity commitment is by being paid to
look the other way. Microsoft has proven itself good at doing that. This is the
civil sin they are accused of committing. The ISO standard requires method
unencumbered by patents right? Easy to d, right? Of course, unless there is a
force trying to push it otherwise.

So each and every political power has to ask themselves, "whom do you
serve?" Do you serve the interest of freedom of information, for which the
purpose of the ISO was established, or do you serve a special or specific
interest contrary to the purpose of the ISO, namely someone who would benefit
financially in an unfair manner?

Think about where we have been? Before Microsoft became prominent, we had many
different platforms, office suites, word processors, spreadsheets, etc, etc, all
using different standards of file types, methods, and constructs. There was a
thriving computer cometitive business before Microsoft came onto the scene. When
Microsoft appeared in prominence, all those things "disappeared". And
as long as Microsoft was prominent, it looked as if they created the standards
of office automation. No, in the the overall picture, they "stole" it
(and as it is said, the "Devil" is in the details.) And just because a
government could not hold them down and hold them accountable for the stealing,
for the bullying, for the backstabbing, does not make their actions any more
non-sinful, non-lawbreaking. It just showed they had the money, power, and
wealth, to overthrow that part of government that would have put the screws to
them. They did not innovate and triumph over technological hurdles. They
innovated and overthrew the law of the land.

Looking at it in this light, it would seem that Microsoft is acting like an IT
terrorist amongst the IT standards governing authority.

Sin is sin, in my book. Rape is rape. Blackmail is blackmail. Terrorism is
terrorism. The basis of modern law is that judgment is rendered across the board
with the same standards, not different ones. And it is in this interpretation of
law and justice that we find freedom for all people. In the rule of Julius
Caesar, it was the first time laws were the basis of policies enforced, granting
rights to all citizens, regardless of social status, income, race, etc. This is
the foundation of modern Democracy. Right after this new found democracy, we
went into Feudalism, and the rights were taken away from the people, and given
to specific people who had money, status, wealth, etc.

Each day, each minute, in everything, you my choose which rule you want to live
under. Are you serving a Democratic system, or are you serving a Feudal one? And
if someone, like Steve Ballmer, is doing something against freedom, call him a
terrorist, not a business man. Call him and Microsoft on their action, not on
their propaganda.

You want an ISO standard for a reason. So that companies like Microsoft, like
companies in the past, can not own the standard so that everyone can innovate
freely. Like TCPIP, like PNG. Like .txt. Like .ogg, like .ODF, these are things
people can build upon, and not owe anyone. If TCPIP was owned by Microsoft, you
would not have the World Wide Web like you have it now. It may have never
existed. What you do allowing OOXML as an ISO standard is giving Microsoft the
power over a standard like they never should have had in the first place. That
is why the .doc format is not an ISO standard. Black and White. When you
entertain "Grey", you jeopardize freedom that much more. Is it worth
it? To Steve Ballmer, sure it is. But not to someone poorer than him and his
company. The classic struggle. Let's have government that works for ALL people
of ALL walks of life, not just a select few. Who do you want owning your
document formats and file constructs and computing methods? No one! That is the
answer! It was that way when computers were first created, and to that we must
return!

[ Reply to This | # ]

O Canada!
Authored by: Rudisaurus on Tuesday, March 11 2008 @ 07:50 PM EDT
Wow! Canada (CA) actually raised a significant objection at the BRM? Alright!
Way to go, Canucks!

RS (Calgary, AB)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Aren't there already FOSS MP3 libs?
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 11 2008 @ 07:51 PM EDT
I'm a bit confused. . . while it's true that there are patents on the MP3
standard, it is also my understanding that people have figured out how to
'work-around' those patents, to implement encoding and decoding software which
does not infringe the patents? For example, the LAME encoder, which creates
files compatible with MP3, but which does not violate the patent?

If that is the case (I may just be confused, but that was my understanding),
then I do not see a massive problem with the standard using MP3.

However, that said. . . I don't think a document standard should mandate a
single data format for any type of data. It's ok if it mandates that
implementations must support *at least* X, Y, and Z formats, but it should allow
for other formats to be used at the user's discretion (for example, ebedding
wav, ogg, or aac file). I would imagine the OOXML standard has such provisions?
(I'm not a fan of OOXML - I think it's stupid for the ISO to waste time on this
when ODF has already been approved and is suitable for the task, but I'm just
curious about this aspect of PJ's objections).

Anyhow, in point of fact, MP3 is ubiquitously supported (I can think of at least
a half dozen FOSS media players and libraries which can encode/decode MP3 files,
so I'm not really too worried about this).

[ Reply to This | # ]

When do the mp3 patents expire
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 12 2008 @ 10:34 AM EDT

These patents have to be getting long in the tooth. And I do not believe it is
possible to patent the same process again more than 20 years after its release
in the prior patent.

My recollection is that they run out in about 3 years. At that point, mp3
becomes free.

IMHO, patents should be reduced in time to something like 3 to 5 years, which is
more than enough time for the creator to be repaid for his/her investment in
creation. This increases the "clock rate" for invention to once every
3 to 5 years from current (stupid) once every 20 years. The current 20 year
patents slow down the clock rate and give outsized monopoly rents. Stupid
policy. Better to eliminate patents than to have patent life > 5 years for
software.

[ Reply to This | # ]

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