THAT is the fundamental question of the Internet Video Codec (NETVC) Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) happening at IETF 92 in Dallas today, March 24, 2015, from 9:00-11:30 CDT (UTC-5). You can listen and participate live using the following links:
You also may want to view the presentation that will be used during the session.
The goal of the overall effort is defined as this:
- Development of a video codec that is:
- Optimized for real-time communications over the public Internet
- Competitive with or superior to existing modern codecs
- Viewed as having IPR licensing terms that allow for wide implementation and deployment
- Developed under the IPR rules in BCP 78 (RFC 5378) and BCP 79 (RFCs 3979 and 4879)
- Replicate the success of the CODEC WG in producing the Opus audio codec.
The BOF proposal contains more of a narrative:
The Internet needs a royalty-free (RF) video codec that can become the backbone for universal deployment of video related technologies. Royalty-bearing codecs put constraints on implementors that are unacceptable, but current RF codecs are not yet competitive with royalty-bearing offerings. This dilemma stalls innovation in the space and means large sets of consumers don't have access to the best video technology.
There are efforts underway by several groups to produce a next-generation, royalty-free (RF) video codec, including VP10 by Google and Daala by Mozilla/Xiph.Org. While far from complete, these efforts aim to surpass the royalty-bearing competition. Efforts within other standards organizations like MPEG to create RF video standards have been unsuccessful so far, but have showed that many consumer device manufacturers would support an RF codec.
The success of Opus from the CODEC WG has also shown that collaboration, based on the IETF's principals of open participation, can produce better results than competition between patented technologies. The IPR rules in BCP 78 and 79 are also critical for success. They impose a duty to disclose, and require exact patent or patent application numbers, in addition to basic licensing terms. This allows participants to evaluate the risk of infringement and, if appropriate, design work arounds, in any technology adopted, and assess the cost of adopting such technology. Because it does not force participants to agree to license their patents under RF terms, it helps to encourage participation even by those opposed to such terms (instead of guaranteeing they stay away). In addition to an environment which encourages third-party disclosures, this provides much better chances of success than SDOs which have a "patent-blind" process or which require blanket RF grants.
And the NETVC BOF agenda outlines the plan for the session today.
I do believe that creating this kind of royalty-free codec for Internet video is a critical step to enabling video to be used everywhere across the Internet... not just where people are able to pay to license royalty-bearing codecs. I'd like to see even more developer creativity and innovation unleashed with this action.
I'll be listening and participating remotely. I hope that many of you will join in as well. 9:00am US CDT today (10:00am for me on the US East Coast).
P.S. If you have no idea what the IETF is all about, you may want to skim The Tao of IETF first...