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RE: Mandated Video Format (was: Microsoft has now joined the HTML Working Group)

From: Chris Wilson <Chris.Wilson@microsoft.com>
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2007 12:22:32 -0700
To: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
CC: Doug Schepers <doug.schepers@vectoreal.com>, "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <5C276AFCCD083E4F94BD5C2DA883F05A27946E7420@tk5-exmlt-w600.wingroup.windeploy.ntdev.microsoft.com>

[hat still off]

>Theora is the only modern (or near-modern) codec that is ready for
>deployment and can be shipped Free as in GNU in the United States
>(considering the current knowledge about patent enforcement attempts).

Indeed, point taken.

>I know you know, but just for those who didn't follow the WHATWG
>discussion:
>Using formats with a RAND (which, of course, is neither reasonable
>nor non-discriminatory) licensing arrangement for *known* patents
>doesn't protect against submarines any more than Theora/Vorbis as
>demonstrated by the recent MP3 suit against Microsoft. (IANAL,
>either, and TINLA.)

Absolutely true.  I would characterize my point of view as "the devil you know over the devil you don't."  There is no more protection against submarine patents.  Of course, it is likely that any submarine would have surfaced by now to attack the rich set of targets out there, e.g. MPEG-4.

>> Is it really the case that anyone DOESN'T have an MPG decoder on
>> their system?
>
>No Free Software distribution whose distributor has business in the
>United States comes an MPEG-4 decoder. In addition, and I am not
>speaking for the Mozilla Foundation here, it is pretty obvious that
>MPEG-4 patent licensing is incompatible with the licensing model of
>Open Source browsers.

That's true.  It's not a direct answer to my question - I asked about systems in place, not distributions.  Flash isn't deployed with Windows, but it is present on nearly 100% of systems.

Look, I'm supportive of free content; I'm not supportive of providing additional attack surface area without a stronger need than "MPEG-4 isn't widely deployed enough".  I'd much rather make similar statements as we do about <img> formats in HTML 4.01 - we don't mandate any given format.  GIF is (to my knowledge) universally supported, even though it has IP constraints.

[hat on]
-Chris
Received on Thursday, 5 April 2007 19:22:56 GMT

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