Nokia battles Google to kill open video

Nokia has made explicit its antipathy toward Google's open video format VP8, but the community can outflank Nokia's patent maneuvers

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Finally, there's mounting evidence that software patents are at last being considered with much more skepticism. Just last week, we heard that Red Hat and Rackspace had definitively beaten a patent troll. Even more impressive, victory was achieved in the country's most patent-friendly court, and it was achieved not by extensive argument but with the judge simply accepting Red Hat's motion that the case should be dismissed because the patents were invalid.

Perhaps this challenge from Nokia is more of a diversion than a roadblock. The value of VP8 extends further than the Web browser; it's a format for which open source design tools can be created and distribution can be performed without first seeking permission, so it's highly desirable in a market increasingly populated with smaller producers, both commercial and noncommercial. VP8 support is already present in many browsers and provides a useful target format for these smaller producers.

I am hopeful that Nokia's patents thicket can be cleared with easily available tools in many hands. If so, we can expect the use of VP8 to spread and grow across the Internet.

Which leaves one unanswered question: Why is Nokia trying to block VP8? Clearly, it understands the needs of the open source community to have an open format that can be used without seeking permission from patent holders. It doesn't appear to want to collect royalties on vP8 usage. Why then would Nokia try to block VP8 and shoo developers back into the unsavory clutches of rent-seeking patent holders?

Whatever the reason, Nokia burned a great deal of its remaining credibility in the open source community. I hope it was worth it for the company and its shareholders.

This article, "Nokia battles Google to kill open video," was originally published at Read more of the Open Sources blog and follow the latest developments in open source at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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