VP8 Safe For Open Source Use

A few weeks ago we put up a critique of Google’s proposed VP8 license. The associated article drew the attention of the Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC), a law firm that provides pro bono support to the open source software community. Dialogue with the SFLC left Simon with a few important clarifications to make with regard to his article.

The key observation to take away is that the VP8 is in no way incompatible with open source licensing. The license is for the benefit of OEMs and patent holders who might otherwise get a bit twitchy. For most open source developers the VP8 license doesn’t need to be used.

Furthermore, the license includes a clause offering “release from past infringement”. This means that developers really don’t need to worry about using the license at all; in the unlikely situation that an MPEG-LA patent holder actually tried an attack on the basis of your VP8 implementation, you could then sign onto the license and cover yourself against those claims retrospectively. Read the full story in today’s InfoWorld article.

Google’s VP8 License Proposal

Google have released a draft agreement designed to help VP8 adoption by licensing a number of relevant patents on a royalty free basis. It sounds good, but the details of the license still need some work. Hopefully we’ll see some changes to this draft before the final license is released.

There are a number of issues with the document as it stands. One key problem is that it’s not sub-licensable; every user wanting to benefit from the agreement would need to make an individual response. Continue reading