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Topic: After the patent pool thing, is Opus still the best choice for personal use? (Read 2239 times) previous topic - next topic
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After the patent pool thing, is Opus still the best choice for personal use?

I know that this question might sound dumb, because it probably is--I'm not knowledgeable about software patents and stuff so I just wanted to ask for people's opinions regarding this matter.

I've been using WavPack hybrid for my collection, only transferring the lossy WavPack to my phone for portable listening. However, I recently just switched to non-hybrid lossless WavPack so I will have to use lossy codecs such as Opus, Vorbis, or AAC for portable listening.

Since it was released, I have always preferred Opus whenever I need to compress audio. As a heavy supporter of open-source and open patent software, before Opus got released, I even refused to use AAC and used Vorbis instead. However, hearing about this patent pool regarding Opus left a bad taste in my mouth and while I do understand that they only plan to enforce the patent on hardware products implementing Opus, I don't see why they suddenly won't apply that to software implementing Opus.

(Note: I know that it's not Xiph.org enforcing the patent but Vectis or something. I understand that Xiph.org made Opus while trying to avoid any restricting patents of any kind, and I am deeply grateful for all the developers who worked on Opus, which is why I have doubts on whether the patent pool is actually valid and applies to Opus. I kinda feel like it's just Dolby trying to keep their relevance by bullying an open source audio codec so that they can keep their AC3 codec relevant or whatever--I'm not very updated about proprietary codecs)

What is the current state of the patent pool? Is someone going to sue them for this? Or is the patent pool indeed valid and does actually apply to Opus? Even though patents might not concern me financially (e.g. I won't have to pay for anything as an Opus user--only device manufacturers need to pay), I still would rather not support codecs that are riddled with patents like MP3 (or at least MP3 used to be before the patents expired), AAC, H.265...

Apologies for the dumb question. I'd really be glad to get corrected.

Re: After the patent pool thing, is Opus still the best choice for personal use?

Reply #1
There has been no news (that I can find) since the most recent post in the other thread.

It's hard to say for sure without an official statement from Xiph, but the patents in the pool don't really look like they apply to Opus. Even if some of them do apply, no one will want to enforce them because doing so would automatically terminate their license to use Xiph/Broadcom/Microsoft patents to implement Opus. That makes joining the patent pool a tough sell, too.

Re: After the patent pool thing, is Opus still the best choice for personal use?

Reply #2
I still would rather not support codecs that are riddled with patents like MP3 (or at least MP3 used to be before the patents expired), AAC, H.265...
If you want a proper answer, perhaps it is a good idea to further clarify what you want.

What is it that makes you feel uncomfortable about using Opus with the knowledge of this patent pool? Specifically, what is the mean reason you want patent-free codecs?

The codecs you mention have specifically opted to use patented techniques as core parts of their algorithms. Opus has specifically chosen to sidestep those algorithms, and now some pissed off tech companies have taken a creative read of some patents they have (some even dated after Opus was created!) which might touch upon optional codec parts. Quite a difference I'd say.

If you have a very strict non-patent policy, there is little usable left. There might even be companies that have patents on FLAC, which technically shouldn't even be possible because FLAC already is more than 20 years old. However, the system of examining patents isn't perfect. I feel like Opus is a victim of the imperfection of the patent system, really.
Music: sounds arranged such that they construct feelings.

Re: After the patent pool thing, is Opus still the best choice for personal use?

Reply #3
It can also depend where you live! Brazil, for instance does not recognise patents unless they are registered in Brazil and written in Brazilian Portuguese!! Contrary to its original intent, the whole area has become a cess-pool of self interest and seems to be pursued to stifle creativity!

(My personal views, I hasten to add. Others may have a different view. ;) )

Re: After the patent pool thing, is Opus still the best choice for personal use?

Reply #4
I still would rather not support codecs that are riddled with patents like MP3 (or at least MP3 used to be before the patents expired), AAC, H.265...
I believe that at least AAC-LC became patent-free about the same time as MP3 in 2017.

It wouldn't surprise me if the patents at best are questionably applicable to Opus and if they actually sued and someone took it to court it wouldn't end well for them.

Re: After the patent pool thing, is Opus still the best choice for personal use?

Reply #5
It can also depend where you live!
Big time. Some jurisdictions would consider algorithms like these to be just an implementation of some mathematical formula, meaning it is no more patentable than an algorithm to calculate pi.

 

Re: After the patent pool thing, is Opus still the best choice for personal use?

Reply #6
From the patent pool website:
Quote
The Opus program will not be directed toward open source Software, Apps, or Contents, that are distributed by developers or providers independently from a hardware device.

They're targeting hardware devices.