Eyes Above The Waves

Robert O'Callahan. Christian. Repatriate Kiwi. Hacker.

Wednesday 12 January 2011

A Big Day For Free Video

Everyone's already seen this, but let me just say: THANKS GOOGLE! This is a very good day for software freedom and Web standards. I am surprised and delighted that Google is doing this.

Incidentally, it's also a good day for us at Mozilla: the pressure that was building on us to support H.264 should ease off considerably.


I assume that this means that their HTML5 audio support will be for vorbis rather than mp3?
"But if Mozilla’s^H^H^H Google's position were really about idealism — tough love for the good of the web in the name of free, open file formats — then in addition to not supporting H.264, they’d drop support^H^H^H bundling plugins like Flash Player." -- Mark Pilgrim
Mike Ratcliffe
Excellent, but realistically I don't think any open source browser has a choice. We and they can't pay a license fee to use a codec in an open source browser, it just does not make sense.
Congratulations to you and Mozilla for not giving in when so many said that Firefox would be as good as dead without H.264. Thank you.
So instead of serving H.264 directly to Chrome (as I do now) I'll serve it wrapped in Flash, like I do with Firefox. How does this help web developers and users again?
Flash, will "soon" support WebM too, so you'll be able to serve WebM videos to Safari through Flash , and through for all other HTML5 browsers (including IE9 if I'm not mistaken) ...
There is still progress to be made (iPhone/iPad ; better video edition/transcoding support ; encoding speed), but this is definitely a step in the right direction.
that's all well and good. And what ahppens to those of us with hundreds of hours of legacy content in h264?
Nice way of saying screw you?
Robert O'Callahan
If you want to publish it to lots of people, transcode it into a free format.
If you don't, keep on playing it with Flash or whatever you do now.
I really don't want to be snarky, but if I want to publish to a lot of people, why not use the most popular format, and the one that is supported by all the latest mobile devices and the browsers that ship with the (2) most popular desktop operating systems?
How have format wars ever helped users or publishers? You can make an analogy to beta and VHS, but in this case, WebM is Betamax because it is controlled by a single vendor (Google). H.264 is VHS.
Robert O'Callahan
Google doesn't own WebM. Anyone can use WebM without paying money to Google or anyone else. So this is not at all like the usual format war where the winner(s) get money and power --- except of course if H.264 wins.
Pavol Vaskovic
Robert, in the light of your "Play the Game" article, can you see a better Battlefield for the game then video codecs? ;-) But I fail to foresee a scenario where the potential patent infringement lawsuit of WebM's VP8 could help to reform the system. I'd guess that Google would be first target in such case, as they are not NPE... I'm confused. Do you see light here?
Robert O'Callahan
The video codec space is already quite patent-saturated. It probably can't get a lot worse in terms of patents required to implement specs.
Juha Seppänen
This was actually a very sad day to HTML5 video and Mozilla's religious approach to "free" technologies got surprising backing from Google. Guess the right people in MtView are talking and got their way. Now we just need to hope that Apple and Microsoft will join in, otherwise the HTML5 video will be divided into two camps and this will eventually hurt web.
Robert O'Callahan
By "religious" do you mean "principled"? I'd take that as a compliment.
Pavol Vaskovic
There is very nice (and long) explanation of the situation at http://antimatter15.com/wp/2011/01/the-ambiguity-of-open-and-vp8-vs-h-264/