Open video for an open web

Time to re-open this can of worms...

The video codec issue have been debated in a thousand mail and blog 
posts and the two camps seem more firmly entrenched than ever. However, 
the recent debate spurred by Google and Vimeo starting to offer "HTML5 
video" makes it imperative that W3C steps up to the plate.

It is by now 100 % proven that H.264 is and never will be an option for 
free and interoperable video on the web. I suppose you've all seen this, 
which is the final nail in the coffin - debate is over!

Now it comes down to a matter of PRIORITIES!

A. Is hardware acceleration, a fixable problem, worth more than 
openness, an unfixable problem for H.264.

H.264 is is only fixable if:

1. The USA, Germany and a few more countries change their stupid laws 
that allow software patents. (Not going to happen.)

2. MPEG-LA releases H.264 to the public, like Linus Torvalds has done 
with a few software patents he holds on behalf of Linux. (Patents 
received in order to make sure no troll gets them and forbids usage in 
Linux.) Once again - this is not going to happen.

For the web and the W3C there simply can not be any value that takes 
precedence over openness. I say that it is a violation of the entire 
reason the W3C exists!

To add further to that thought: One of the points about HTML5 has always 
been that the spec should include everything necessary for anyone to 
write a NEW browser from scratch. It has been a guiding principle that 
the spec should NOT be written in such a way as to make the current 
browser vendors keep their positions. It should ensure that browsers 
compete on quality alone. I.e. it should ensure free and open 
competition and nothing else.

If some vendors disagree, well, tough luck!

B. Is submarine patent FUD worth more than ACTUAL EXISTING patent 
realities? And isn't it one of W3C's points that if a spec is published 
as CR all patent holders are obliged to protest at that moment - or 
forever hold their breath!

If the spec mandates Theora I think e.g. Apple will be held accountable 
by an army of bloggers that calls them out every time they say a product 
does "HTML5 video", but only using H.264. Eventually this will tricke 
down to tech journalists and finally to the public.

Every time someone looks at a support chart like 
there will NOT be a check mark next to Safari and in a while they will 
feel the pressure to add it.

The same is true for Microsoft, should that discussion really come up in 

HTML5 has gotten enough traction and mindshare by now to that I firmly 
believe that the "paper spec" argument no longer is valid. There will be 
pressure on vendors just by having something in the spec!

And, BTW, Nokia has decided to support all ogg-formats in their next 
release of Maemo. I suppose they have softened up a bit...

Bottom line:

I propose that Theora should be re-instated in the spec as a required 
baseline codec, to be supported by all browsers. And the time to do it 
is now.

Lars Gunther

Received on Wednesday, 3 February 2010 13:51:49 UTC