Friday Apr 11, 2008

OMS Video, A Project of Sun's Open Media Commons Initiative

What is OMS Video?

The Web needs royalty-free video and audio codecs.

To quote the World Wide Web Consortium's Jan 22, 2008 working draft for HTML 5:

"It would be helpful for interoperability if all browsers could support the same codecs. However, there are no known codecs that satisfy all the current players: we need a codec that is known to not require per-unit or per-distributor licensing, that is compatible with the open source development model, that is of sufficient quality as to be usable, and that is not an additional submarine patent risk for large companies. This is an ongoing issue and this section will be updated once more information is available.”

It is in this spirit that Sun has launched "OMS" and "OMS Video" as new projects of Sun's Open Media Commons Initiative.

"OMS" is an activity of Sun's Open Media Commons ("OMC") initiative (http://www.openmediacommons.org) to provide a free (open-source and royalty-free) complete media solution, including video, audio, transport, control, and content security -- an "Open Media Stack" or "Open Media System".



About OMS Video


OMS Video seeks to bring an updated royalty-free variant from the h.2.6x video codec lineage to the open source / royalty-free community. With the open source / royalty-free codec community, the OMS Video initiative seeks to collaborate through shared interests and common royalty-free technologies, to unleash innovation, and to update outmoded RAND ("reasonable and nondiscriminatory") standardization processes to Web speed.

OMS Video is a royalty-free codec loosely based on the h.26x codec family, “h.261 + new tools & optimizations”.  OMS Video is being designed with Open Media Commons' IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) methodology and is an element of the “Open Media Stack”.



The development of OMS Video is following the OMC IPR development methodology, and has included IPR analysis and engineering development to:

- Identify the video coding architecture and standard to start development
- Develop a software testbed to perform quality comparisons at fine-grained tool-level
- Track and compare to H.264 quality and capabilities
- Use both objective and subjective measures in an ongoing basis to evaluate performance/picture quality
- Develop a video stream analysis tool to provide better understanding of how each tool behaves



Together, OMS and OMS Video offer an open, royalty-free path to harness BOTH:

- the IPR process rigor of Open Media Commons that meets and exceeds the IPR diligence of legacy RAND standards
- and the creative and collaborative power of open source communities

and offer a way forward to unleash the innovation of open communities to overcome the inadequacies of existing proprietary and patent-bearing codec models.


OMS Video:  Frequently Asked Questions


Why have you started from h.261?
- H.261 was finalized in 1989, outside the (17-year) patent window. Key tool strategies and prior art were already established in that era.

What do you plan to use for an audio format?
- We expect to include Xiph Vorbis.

Why not just use a profile of h.264?
- Sun was a part of the 2003 IMTC alliance of the 20+ companies that urged publicly a royalty-free baseline for h.264, which was ultimately not adopted.

Can you be sure that you are not violating anyone's patents?
- In royalty-free, process equals result.  Open Media Commons' IPR process is based on sound, conservative patent law principles accepted by the legal practitioners and the courts.  Open Media Commons' IPR process has a proven track record & is even more thorough than other open initiatives that have also successfully produced royalty-free results.

Are you planning an open source implementation? Wavelet mode? A file format?
- Yes, maybe, yes.

Would you consider contributing OMS Video for standardizing by ITU or other group?
- Yes, if there is a robust royalty-free IPR process (mutual non-asserts, etc) in place that would assure that the standardized result remains royalty-free.

Would you consider contributing OMS Video for standardizing by MPEG?
- See above, only under processes that would assure a royalty-free outcome.

How do you view other open source / RF codecs like Vorbis, Theora, and Dirac?
- Collaborators in a common community.  We believe we bring particular competencies from Open Media Commons and we seek to bring an updated royalty-free variant from the h.2.6x lineage to the open source / royalty-free community.

How can I get more information / help / test OMS Video?
- Please visit www.openmediacommons.org for more info.

Do I have to sign the contributor agreement in order to contribute?
- Yes, this is for the protection of all.


About Open Media Commons

Sun's Open Media Commons initiative (http://www.openmediacommons.org) was announced in August 2005 as an open source community project to develop royalty-free open solutions for digital content, in particular codecs and digital rights management (DRM) solutions.  Seeks to drive cross-industry growth and prosperity as well as promote both intellectual property protection and user privacy.

OMC's Goals:
- Develop open, royalty-free digital rights management and codec solutions.
- Promote the creation, duplication and distribution of digital content and assure that creators and owners get compensated.
- Collaborate with like-minded open-source communities.
- Influence standards organizations.

OMC's Principles:
- Innovation flourishes through openness - open standards, reference architectures & implementations.
- All creators are users and many users are creators.
- Content creators and holders of copyright should be compensated.
- Respect for users' privacy is essential.
- Code (both laws & technology) should encourage innovation.

OMC's IPR/patent methodology considers a variety of art & initiatives:

- Available art from expired patents, known older methods and product/systems, and art originally in the public domain
-- may provide ‘patent-clear’ paths for technical specifications and architectural aspects
-- may also reveal strategies for appropriately avoiding issues involving patents that may be of questionable novelty or scope
- Thorough review & taxonomy of active patents
-- important for identifying potential ‘patent thickets’ & developing appropriate solutions for avoiding issues they may present
- Leverage off of & cooperate with entities & initiatives having similar royalty-free objectives
-- can establish industry support & momentum for objectives, & provide an opportunity for leveraging existing royalty-free standards & cross-licensing where applicable
- Proactively file patents to defensively protect the specification
- Patent Commons

Projects of Open Media Commons include:

- Project DReaM, including DReaM-MMI and DReaM-CAS, an open-source project in DRM interoperability, whose source code has been released as part of Sun's Open Media Commons initiative,
- OMS, a project to provide a free (open-source and royalty-free) complete media solution, including video, audio, transport, control, and content security -- an "Open Media Stack" or "Open Media System", and
- OMS Video, a royalty-free codec loosely based on the h.26x codec family, “h.261 + new tools & optimizations”.  OMS Video seeks to bring an updated royalty-free variant from the h.2.6x video codec lineage to the Web, open source / royalty-free, and open standards communities.

About

Rob Glidden

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