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Re: Codecs for <video> and <audio>

From: Doug Schepers <schepers@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 30 Jun 2009 01:40:08 -0400
Message-ID: <4A49A538.3000807@w3.org>
To: public-html@w3.org
Hi, Ian-

Ian Hickson wrote (on 6/30/09 12:50 AM):
> After an inordinate amount of discussions, both in public and privately,
> on the situation regarding codecs for <video> and <audio> in HTML5, I have
> reluctantly come to the conclusion that we have no way to get consensus on
> this issue. In particular, I am not aware of any codec that every browser
> vendor is willing to implement and that video publishers are interested in
> using to publish their videos.

This is unfortunate.

The absence of a mandated video codec significantly decreases 
interoperability and ease of authoring.  I'm disappointed that something 
couldn't be worked out among the different browser vendors and patent 
holders.  It's a shame that MPEG doesn't operate on a Royalty-Free 
license basis like W3C, and that companies nevertheless operate within 
that constraint, reinforcing it by shipping it in products (e.g. the 
widespread deployment of H.264 on recording and playback devices).

> I have therefore removed the two subsections in the HTML5 spec in which
> codecs would have been required, and have instead left the matter
> undefined, as has in the past been done with other features like <img> and
> image formats, <embed> and plugin APIs, or Web fonts and font formats.

It's not clear to me why you also had to remove the audio codecs (last I 
check, WAV was in there... has there been some change in the IP claims 

Also, are you really not able to get agreement on image formats, such as 
PNG?  Who is unwilling to implement GIF and PNG (and maybe APNG and 
MNG)?  As far as I know, those are all Royalty-Free, with open-source 
libraries readily available, and at least GIF and PNG are in widespread 
use on the Web, so there should be no barriers and strong incentives to 
mandating support for those formats.  Why are these not mandated?

Mandated formats increase the consistency and value of the open Web 
platform, which is centered around HTML, and HTML5 should express and 
reinforce that.

> If anyone knows of another way to get consensus on this issue, please do
> let the working group know.

Within W3C, we continue to try to find a solution to this problem, not 
only for the decoding, but the encoding as well.  If we make progress, 
you can be sure that we will let the HTML WG know right away.

-Doug Schepers
W3C Team Contact, SVG and WebApps WGs
Received on Tuesday, 30 June 2009 05:40:19 UTC

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