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Re: Mandated Video Format

From: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>
Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2007 02:35:14 +0300
Message-Id: <641D9A46-0A6E-4118-A245-C2B4C53A2246@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 22:22, Chris Wilson wrote:

>>> 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.

H.264, the MPEG-4 family codec proposed by Apple for <video>, is not  
deployed with Windows, either. Deployment on Windows in browsers  
boils down to the deployment of QuickTime for Windows.

> I'm not supportive of providing additional attack surface area  
> without a stronger need than "MPEG-4 isn't widely deployed enough".

It isn't about how widely MPEG-4 is deployed. It is about licensing  
model incompatibilities.

However, H.264 is currently not shipped in Mozilla, not shipped in  
KDE, not shipped in Opera, not shipped in mobile phones and not  
shipped by Microsoft. Apple ships support for, AFAIK, 3 of the 11 H. 
264 profiles.

> I'd much rather make similar statements as we do about <img>  
> formats in HTML 4.01 - we don't mandate any given format.

<img> de facto mandates GIF87a, GIF89a, PNG and Huffman-coded  
Baseline JFIF, which leads to interop.

If Microsoft supports WMV9/VC-1, Apple supports a subset of H.264,  
Opera supports Theora and Mozilla supports Dirac (just illustrating  
the point; no actual Mozilla commitment to Dirac implied), interop  
won't be achieved.

> GIF is (to my knowledge) universally supported, even though it has  
> IP constraints.

It appears that the Welch patent did not enforceably cover decoding.  
Therefore, the GIF story is not at all generalizable to MPEG-4.

In addition, it was feasible to generate byte streams that were not  
compressed and whose creation did not use the Welch method but that  
were properly decoded by an LZW decoder. Some products encoded  
compatible but uncompressed GIFs this way.

Henri Sivonen
Received on Thursday, 5 April 2007 23:35:21 UTC

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