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

From: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Date: Thu, 5 Apr 2007 21:37:35 +0300
Message-Id: <BFBA45D1-2B25-4673-BB47-B0BDB3994A06@iki.fi>
Cc: Doug Schepers <doug.schepers@vectoreal.com>, "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>
To: Chris Wilson <Chris.Wilson@microsoft.com>

On Apr 5, 2007, at 19:27, Chris Wilson wrote:

> Does someone have a pointer to why Wikipedia chose Theora as its  
> format?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Media_help specifically points  
out the patent point of view. I don't have a pointer to discussions  
that lead to the Wikipedia policy, but it is pretty obvious that  
Wikipedia wants their content to be Free as in GNU, so they want to  
use formats that can be decoded in software that is Free as in GNU.  
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).

> Secondly, I'm not a lawyer, and I want to be clear that if you take  
> what I say here as legal advice, I take no responsibilities for the  
> consequences to you or your company.  Someone could perform an  
> exhaustive patent search on Theora, and it still might not turn  
> anything up.  Or (more likely) it would turn up a lot of "possible"  
> hits.

I know you know, but just for those who didn't follow the WHATWG  
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.)

> 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.

Henri Sivonen
Received on Thursday, 5 April 2007 18:37:50 UTC

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