On2 vs libvp62 (was: Re: [Ffmpeg-devel] When is planned to add ogg Theora output in ffmpeg?)

Diego Biurrun diego
Sat Apr 15 15:48:28 CEST 2006

On Fri, Apr 14, 2006 at 11:00:07PM -0400, jkoleszar at on2.com wrote:
> > On Fri, Apr 07, 2006 at 04:13:29PM -0400, John Koleszar wrote:
> >> Rich Felker wrote:
> >> >
> >> > It's not. This is yet another one of On2's lies. If you don't already
> >> > know On2 is a very VERY bad company.
> >>
> >> Nonsense. There are plenty of "very VERY bad" companies out there, and
> >> On2 isn't one of them.
> >
> > Then please tell us what you call a company that threatens free software
> > developers when they implement their proprietary formats and has their
> > lawyers send out nastygrams to me for putting libvp62 in my homedir?
> >
> > I'm very curious to hear your position on this...
> We don't believe that any free software developer implemented our
> proprietary format.

And what, pray tell, would you do if a free software developer were to
implement your proprietary format in a provably independent fashion?

> We believe that a free software developer published our implementation
> of our proprietary format. As a public company, we need to take all
> possible measures to protect our intellectual property. We need to
> take action to prevent the distribution of our code that we believe
> was illegally obtained or in the very least obtained in contravention
> of our license.

Do you have proof for that?  It doesn't look that way to me.

I'll help you jog your short memory a little bit: Your company had Java
applets on its website to demonstrate VP5/VP6.  They obviously came
without any sort of license agreement and they were not stolen by
hacking into your company network, they were pushed out to the visitors
of said website.

> Similarly, the open source community takes every possible measure to
> protect its intellectual property when it finds that a commercial
> company has violated the community's chosen licensing terms.

First and foremost the free software community dislikes the term
"intellectual property" and for good reasons.  I always get very
suspicious when people talk about IP.  Only in rare cases do insightful
comments follow these two words.  But let us focus on the topic at

> The difference between the two, is that we used lawyers to send the
> message to the people we felt to be in violation. Now nobody loves to be
> on the recieving end of anything from a lawyer,

Indeed.  I can assure you that I did not enjoy it *at all*.

> but we're a company of engineers, and we should be spending our day
> doing engineering things, not chasing our code around the net. As
> self-appointed liason to this particular open source community, maybe
> I should have sent something informally to give a heads up and clarify
> what was going on. I appologize for that.

That opportunity has been missed, but hey, you're now right in the
middle of explaining your companies actions to me/us, so let's make the
best of it.

You could call this behavior bullying tactics, one could also say it's
just cold business logic, but I think we will all agree that it's not
friendly behavior in any way.  If you act that way, don't expect a warm
welcome in return.

> I know that the opensource community deeply respects copyright issues, and
> I don't think that anyone here wants to knowingly use stolen code. We
> respect the hard work of the opensource community by honoring
> contributors' copyrights and chosen licensing terms, and in return we
> expect the community to show us that same respect. I know that there's
> been a call for us to prove that the code is ours and that we're not just
> upset that someone cracked the nut so to speak. We're evaluating the best
> way to do that.

So you're only mad because (you suspect) somebody took your code, not
because a free implementation of your proprietary format appeared in the
wild?  Somehow I don't believe you ...

> But I also think that the person who published this, if it
> were in fact legit, would share an equal or even greater burden to prove
> that this is a legitimate implementation. Where are his notes? The code
> doesn't even have comments. (save {return; //RETURN!!!!})

No comments?  WTH are you talking about:

cerebus:~/src/libvp62/VP62$ cat VP62.cpp VP62.h | grep '//' | wc -l
cerebus:~/src/libvp62/VP62$ cat VP62.cpp VP62.h | wc -l

The code is 10% comments.  Just from looking at that number, I'd call
that fairly well-commented.  And don't come back at me with the
//RETURN!!! example, we have both seen the code.  It *is* fairly

> Does it not strike you as suspicious that a basically flawless
> implementaion of a fairly complex library shows up from an otherwise
> unknown developer overnight with no evidence of engineering work
> whatsoever?

What kind of reasoning is this?  How do you know how long Ztoon has been
working on libvp62?  How do you know he is otherwise unknown?  He might
be a seasoned and well-known developer, he is anonymous after all.  The
fact that he has produced solid code indicates some experience.  Do you
expect him to publish his notes alongside his code?

So far there is no evidence that On2 has facts to back up their

And anyway, what is fairly complex to you? As seen above libvp62 is
around 3000 lines of code.  Writing (and debugging) that much code can
take some time depending on your skill and experience, but we're not
talking about man-years here.

> As a longtime member of the OSS community myself, I feel like the company
> is trying to go about resolving this in the best way possible.

If you're serious about this then I'm afraid you are seriously
misguided.  For me personally the worst part is seeing On2 label
themselves as "friends of open source".  You're no friends of mine, the
word that crosses my mind is another one: hypocrites.


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