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Free Software Foundation Urges Google To Free VP8 315

Posted by timothy
from the windmill-assaulted-my-honor dept.
jamesswift writes "The FSF have written an open letter to Google urging them to free the VP8 codec with an irrevocable royalty-free licence: 'With its purchase of the On2 video compression technology company having been completed on Wednesday February 16, 2010, Google now has the opportunity to make free video formats the standard, freeing the web from both Flash and the proprietary H.264 codec.'" Also from the letter: "The world would have a new free format unencumbered by software patents. Viewers, video creators, free software developers, hardware makers -- everyone -- would have another way to distribute video without patents, fees, and restrictions. The free video format Ogg Theora was already at least as good for web video (see a comparison) as its nonfree competitor H.264, and we never did agree with your objections to using it. But since you made the decision to purchase VP8, presumably you're confident it can meet even those objections, and using it on YouTube is a no-brainer."
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Free Software Foundation Urges Google To Free VP8

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 22, 2010 @07:43AM (#31227822)

    The two issues that prevented YouTube from using the Ogg Theora codec still apply.

    Many hardware devices already have H.264 decoding built into the chip, ranging from set-top boxes to the iPhone. Moving away would mean losing ability to run on these target devices (or run at an unacceptable frame rate).
    The alternative would be to have two versions of the video stored, but they're currently already doing this for Mobile YouTube and regular YouTube, and adding a third wouldn't make much sense.

    The cost of transcoding all the videos again is also another issue. Doing this to all the videos at once is somewhat pointless - currently, if you try and watch a video that isn't already encoded for the mobile device, YouTube will attempt to transcode the video on the fly and send it out directly.

    I guess this could be done, but while storage is relatively inexpensive, it kinda doesn't make much business sense; the patent licensing cost Google about zilch already, so it'd just cost them more for all these extra "features".

    Then again, if they piss off Mozilla, there goes marketshare/traffic/revenue. Put it the other way though, the other browsers (including IE) could just as easily implement H.264 and then gain users from those who can't use FF to play their favourite dancing cat videos.

    • by Tapewolf (1639955) on Monday February 22, 2010 @07:53AM (#31227878)

      The two issues that prevented YouTube from using the Ogg Theora codec still apply.

      Many hardware devices already have H.264 decoding built into the chip, ranging from set-top boxes to the iPhone. Moving away would mean losing ability to run on these target devices (or run at an unacceptable frame rate).

      Yes, but going by that logic there won't be an H.265 either, because the hardware support doesn't exist in current devices.

      The alternative would be to have two versions of the video stored, but they're currently already doing this for Mobile YouTube and regular YouTube, and adding a third wouldn't make much sense.

      Actually there seem to be more than just two, AFAIK there's at least fmt=6, fmt=18, fmt=22...
      A quick googling reveals this list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YouTube#Quality_and_codecs [wikipedia.org]

    • by Stumbles (602007)
      I don't think the lose of hardware compatibility or lose of functionality has ever stopped businesses making stupid decisions. If that were so, then Adobe would have fixed Flash a l o n g time ago from being a big resource hog.
      • I don't think the lose of hardware compatibility or lose of functionality has ever stopped businesses making stupid decisions. If that were so, then Adobe would have fixed Flash a l o n g time ago from being a big resource hog.

        It's not their hardware being hogged...

        You can bet, if Adobe themselves needed to buy more powerful hardware in order to make up for their shitty software, they'd fix it in a moment.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)

      Well Google has an advantage in that they are large and respected. If they open up VP8 and say "Here's the docs to implement hardware decoding, we'll be supporting this standard well in to the future," companies might be interested in it. This is particularly true since VP6 is what most Flash video is.

      Theora has a number of problems that VP8 doesn't:

      1) A stupid name. Sorry, but names matter and Ogg Theora is a bad one. When I've mentioned Ogg before (since I like Vorbis audio files) I get some very "Huh?" r

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Vintermann (400722)

        > Does YOUR company want to be the only one that doesn't support "The Google format?"

        Sad truth: far too many small and medium size companies would jump at the chance to show their loyalty to Microsoft by doing so.

      • by c0d3g33k (102699)

        1) A stupid name. Sorry, but names matter and Ogg Theora is a bad one. When I've mentioned Ogg before (since I like Vorbis audio files) I get some very "Huh?" reactions form non-techies. VP8 is a good name, sounds like a nice tech acronym like MP3.

        Abbreviation is a simple fix for that. Hypothetically: Ogg Theora 8.0 = OT8. Hardly different from your "superior" VP8, so potentially an awesome name.

        Granted, that was only your first argument, so perhaps the weakest. But there's a cascade effect. Since "stupid name" is easy to correct, the path to "not obscure" (point 2) is less rocky, which leads to "greater install base" (point 3). In fact, the more I consider your arguments, the less water they hold. Please rethink and try again.

    • Well, all the hardware / processing requirement are moot given it's freaking Google we're talking about. Given the resources they have at their disposal, adding yet another codec to the bunch of other formats in which the video are available isn't going to be such a demanding task (in worst case if they definitely need to free resources, they could kick out one of the older not-used-anymore formats, like Sorenson or whatever).

      The main problem is the going to be the hardware support. Specially since VP8 is t

    • by gr8_phk (621180)
      You're actually trying to argue that using a new codec on YouTube makes no sense for Google? Then why did they spend a hundred million dollars for it? Please tell us.
    • You'll have to have multiple versions anyway. Say a 1080p version for a large screen and a 360p version for a small screen.

  • by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gs@@@ovi...com> on Monday February 22, 2010 @07:43AM (#31227828) Homepage

    I hope Google does this. A real, free video system for the internet would do incalculable good. Google could once again take the high road, and show it truly is different than the evil Microsoft!

    I hope Google agrees.

  • Not a good letter. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fenix849 (1009013) on Monday February 22, 2010 @07:45AM (#31227836)
    This might make me unpopular here, but the whole letter is poorly worded and written in the wrong spirit. Initially it's ok, but then it all starts sounding a little bit desperate, and by the end it's demanding and almost threatening. Imo.
    • by lyml (1200795) on Monday February 22, 2010 @07:58AM (#31227900)
      I agree, quotes such as:

      If you care about free software and the free web (a movement and medium to which you owe your success) you must take bold action to replace Flash with free standards and free formats.

      don't exactly make you very willing to help a person who is currently begging you for free stuff.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 22, 2010 @08:04AM (#31227938)

      Yeah, I agree. This letter is strange. Google is obviously smart enough to have thought about all that, and the letter seems to make the assumption that Google just bought the thing without a clue as what to do with it.

      My understanding of the situation is that :
      1. Making a video codec patent free is really difficult, since submarine patents are always a threat. Google may be hard working at making sure VP8 can be totally free.
      2. Nobody knows really how good the codec is (since it's not available). Google may be hard working on improving and polishing it before releasing it.
      3. Right now, there is zero hardware support for VP8. Playing a HD VP8 video on an iPad would likely be very difficult, for example. Google may be hard working on hardware chips for Android smartphone.
      4. Other things I don't grasp/didn't thought about.

      In the current market place, freeing a good video codec is one thing. Make people using it is another. We've seen that with Theora. Since Google hold so many cards (YouTube, Android, Chrome) in the game right now, it makes sense that they want to play all of them. I have good hope that Google will be releasing VP8 at some point as a free (as in beer, or more). It just makes sense for them.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by jonadab (583620)
        > Making a video codec patent free is really difficult,
        > since submarine patents are always a threat.

        Which makes me wonder why everyone is always so keen to make new video formats. Why not just use one of the ones that's twenty years old? All the patents would be expired, then. Are the video formats from the late eighties really all deficient in some important way? With all the formats that were floating around back then, competing to cram more video into less space, it's difficult to imagine that
        • by smallfries (601545) on Monday February 22, 2010 @11:04AM (#31229378) Homepage

          A clue?

          Point to a single codec from the 80s that would offer a compression ratio comparable in any sense to a modern codec. It is not hard at all to imagine that codecs (not formats as you mistaken say) have progressed massively in two decades of constant vision research.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Randle_Revar (229304)

          >Why not just use one of the ones that's twenty years old? ... Are the video formats from the late eighties really all deficient in some important way?
          Yes, they suck. Many of the improvements one might make to them to make them not suck would be the same patented techniques used by modern codecs.

      • by Ilgaz (86384) on Monday February 22, 2010 @10:28AM (#31229000) Homepage

        If you check the size of h264/mp4 SP implemented devices, Android, iPad, iPod like "trendy" new stuff is a drop in the ocean.

        Companies who actually broadcasts and sells content looks for the size of the market, the share of the market and yes, in that case non smart phones (billions!) are also mattering with the advent of 3G and even EDGE.

        Lets say, if you invent a codec which will effectively erase h264 in terms of quality&bandwidth, h264/mp4 and even mpeg-2 will still stay since that device in your hand and connected device to your TV has some kind of impossible to replace chip.

        I think FSF and "Free codec" thinks everyone uses the latest device/trendy PC and somehow, Google will magically add VP8 to it. How? They don't even see the real magic thing about H264, it is scalability and compatibility. Most of "Real is spyware" trolls or "MS is dying" people doesn't know it but... H264 and AAC(+) is the first time the entire industry agreed on a single codec. Device manufacturers, software vendors, chip manufacturers, cell phone manufacturers have all said "OK, regardless of our evil World domination plans, there is nothing that can match H264".

        For the first time in media history, Real, MS, Satellite Boxes, Apple, Cell phones, Media devices, Blu Ray are all using the very same codec with little difference which makes it extremely easy and cheap for the actual content creators. When a TV professional hears about Linux, he pictures a Da Vinci box (lovely thing based on Linux), not the 1% Desktop... Thanks to iPhone/iPod and actually rising market share, Apple matters but Apple has already decided back when nobody except media professionals and codec nerds knew about it. It is H264.

      • by Abcd1234 (188840)

        Just on this topic:

        1. Making a video codec patent free is really difficult, since submarine patents are always a threat.

        Highly unlikely. US patent law states that a patent must be disclosed a year (I believe it's a year, anyway) after filing. If you wish to postpone publication, then you give up the right to file the patent overseas, and I *highly* doubt most corporations are willing to pay that price.

        Before the laws were changed, yes, submarine patents were a problem. But these days it's simply not an i

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by alexhs (877055)

      Not to mention that writing that H.264 is proprietary is wrong.

      It's patent-encumbered, yes, and as such non-free, but it is nonetheless a non-proprietary standard as AFAIK the full documentation is available.

      BTW, the JPEG standard is also patent-encumbered, which is why only a subset of the features described in the standard are usually implemented (lossless coding, hierarchical coding, arithmetic coding are usually left out of the implementation).

      • by bit01 (644603) on Monday February 22, 2010 @08:49AM (#31228202)

        Not to mention that writing that H.264 is proprietary is wrong.

        No, it's right actually. Proprietary means of property [wiktionary.org], in particular patents. The fact that a group of companies own it collectively rather than an individual company, and that documentation is available, is irrelevant. People can only use it by paying a non-nominal fee and that makes it proprietary.

        ---

        Who owns the copy?

        • Stop being pedantic (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday February 22, 2010 @10:37AM (#31229060)

          I know geeks love to try and be as overly literal as possible but it doesn't help your case here. H.264 is NOT a proprietary format, because that's not how the word is used. In terms of formats proprietary means a format owned by a single company. VP8 would be a proprietary format. On2, now Google, owns all rights to it. The decide how it can be used and who, if anyone, will get a license.

          This is as opposed to open formats, or open standards if you like, which is what H.264 is. What this means is that the format and all related documentation are open for anyone on equal terms. Anybody who wants the docs can get them for a fixed fee (often free, sometimes not). Also licensing is RAND, reasonable and non-discriminatory. That means that the fees charged are in line with what it does and the sort of thing companies might actually pay. So no "$50,000 per minute of media," sort of thing because that would be an effective ban, even if it was technically licensing. Also they are fixed, the same for everyone, so there's no discrimination where some companies get good terms and some don't.

          There are also of course free formats, where there is no charge or license to use them, either because they were made that way or because all the patents have expired.

          However, open standards are quite common and are quite well understood as opposed to proprietary ones. Hardware makers and such care about open standards because it means they know they can license it and use it, and don't have to worry about the company who own it cutting them off. They know what it'll cost, and that won't change.

          So VP8 is currently proprietary, H.264 is open, Theora is free. See the difference?

          • According to Yahoo! Answers [yahoo.com], H.264 is proprietary.
          • by Rich0 (548339)

            Well, all this is moot, as the FSF doesn't support "open" software, it supports free software. Neither VP8 nor H.264 is free, so their argument stands.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Abcd1234 (188840)

            I know geeks love to try and be as overly literal as possible but it doesn't help your case here. H.264 is NOT a proprietary format, because that's not how the word is used. In terms of formats proprietary means a format owned by a single company.

            Bullshit. In terms of formats, proprietary means I can't implement the spec freely, either because the spec isn't available, or because I have to pay money to implement it. Put another way, if the spec isn't free to acquire and implement, it's proprietary, as the

        • by iluvcapra (782887) on Monday February 22, 2010 @11:17AM (#31229476)

          By that standard wouldn't a lot of GPLd software be proprietary, since the copyright on the code is owned by the licensing party? Only public-domain source code would meet a "non-proprietary" standard in this case.

    • by Viol8 (599362) on Monday February 22, 2010 @08:31AM (#31228108)

      Why write an erudite carefully thought out and well argued letter when they can just bang out one of their usual hysterical Good vs Evil style polemics? I doubt anyone except a few dyed in the wool fanbois or anyone who's worked in the real world for more than 6 months take much notice of what the FSF says anymore, they're just a bunch of single issue reactionaries with little new to say. While I respect the software they've written over the years , their politics is a joke.

      • I doubt anyone except a few dyed in the wool fanbois or anyone who's worked in the real world for more than 6 months take much notice of what the FSF says anymore

        Wait a second there. I agree to some extent with your view on the FSF's poor PR skills, but they are still an extremely important organization to whom a lot of engineers and software developers are indebted to. FYI, I am no FSF fanboi and I have worked in the industry (mostly IT) for the last 15 years.

      • by shaka (13165) on Monday February 22, 2010 @10:29AM (#31229010)

        Please study your history and particularly the state of computing in the early eighties, when Stallman founded the FSF. He looked at the future of computing and he saw a bunch of big companies with a proprietary Unix version each, and new players like Apple and Microsoft. Had the Internet been built on that foundation, not to mention robotics, AI and rapid prototyping, today would be a very different world.

        It's easy for you to point your finger and talk about "the real world", now that GCC, Linux and the free BSDs exist. Now imagine a company like Google, except they have to pay licenses for the OS, compilers and interpreters, databases, video and audio conversion. Imagine yourself using computers and not having any control of what goes on, with corporations controlling everything from the BIOS up.

        Richard Stallman changed the world. "Reactionary", indeed. Do tell, dear Viol8, what you ever accomplished out there in the "real world"?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by rattaroaz (1491445)
          Sorry that I don't have any mod point to mod you up. So I'll go one further. Many people are claiming that Stallman is becoming a irrelevant and out of touch. The reality is that he is becoming less out of touch than he was in the 1980's. He was a MASSIVE radical back then, as the concept of Free software did not even exist. He was really a freak, with regard to his philosophies. As time is going by, he is becoming less radical despite not changing his principles all these years, just because his idea
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      RMS and the FSF has bigger entitlement issues than most pirates. The world doesn't owe you a free implementation of anything, but in his mind you always owe the community and should release everything under the GPL. Even the release groups tend to say if you like it, buy it. When TPB has had some official releases, they've been with a paypal link for those who enjoyed it. FSF? They just insist. Sometimes I find them as annoying as the beggars that shake the cup of coins under your nose to make you give them

      • by FlyingBishop (1293238) on Monday February 22, 2010 @09:59AM (#31228762)

        Say what you like about the "average" GPL zealot, but most sysadmins owe RMS and the FSF a lot. I probably wouldn't be a sysadmin if I didn't have the GNU tools, including Emacs, to use. They make it not so much tedious as interesting, as I change flags and run macros, and the text swims and takes on the form I want in front of my eyes. And I didn't have to implement it. They did it for me. Entitlement and quid pro quo are two very different things.

        • by catseye (96076)

          Sysadmins don't owe them anything, not even quid pro quo. Jesus, what is the desperate nerd desire to perpetually heap praise and assign credit to RMS? It's no different than the cult of personality surrounding Steve Jobs (and just as annoying), but at least Steve Jobs is still actively trying to produce new ideas (for good or for bad), while RMS coasts on work he did 20+ years ago. Talk less, produce more would be my advice for anyone looking to make a difference in Free software. There's way too much talk

      • by shaka (13165) on Monday February 22, 2010 @10:45AM (#31229144)

        Sometimes I find [RMS and the FSF] as annoying as the beggars that shake the cup of coins under your nose to make you give them something. No fucking way.

        Really? Stallman asked you for money? Funny, because I never heard about him asking for anything in return for GCC and GDB. Intel, on the other hand [intel.com]...

        Intel® Compiler Suite Professional Edition for Linux: $1,349

        Whoa!

        As FlyingBishop said here before me [slashdot.org], quid pro quo. A lot of people owe RMS and the FSF a lot.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          Google bought On2 for 106 million dollars, and the FSFs is now asking them to give away one of their core technologies. That sounds like fairly real money to me, don't you think?

  • Why not just buy h.264 outright? What's the market cap for the company that owns it? It's got to be a drop in the bucket compared to licencing fees down the road, plus what they paid (1 billion dollars) for YouTube.

    • by laederkeps (976361) on Monday February 22, 2010 @07:58AM (#31227904) Homepage

      (1 billion dollars)

      Muahahahahahahaaaaaaa!

    • by tepples (727027) <tepples@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Monday February 22, 2010 @08:03AM (#31227934) Homepage Journal
      No one company owns H.264. The patents are spread out across about two dozen companies listed on the licensors page [mpegla.com]. Some of them, like Apple and Microsoft, have market capitalizations close to that of Google.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hadlock (143607)

        So then buy into the video codec cartel by buying a patent off of someone. I'm assuming being part of the cartel entitles you to free use of h.264.

        • by tepples (727027)

          I'm assuming being part of the cartel entitles you to free use of h.264.

          I don't see how this is true. Being part of the video game console cartel does not entitle Microsoft to Nintendo's patents.

          • by Rockoon (1252108) on Monday February 22, 2010 @08:31AM (#31228100)
            It allows them to swap patent rights.

            So if Google goes out and picks up a patent essential to H.264, then they will avoid (or offset) the licensing fees on H.264 forever.

            But this doesnt give what that poster wanted, which was Google picking up all the H.264 patents and freeing them. Thats never going to happen, and as is Google seems very willing to use H.264 anyways.

            I've said it before and I'll say it again, Theora cannot win. H.264 is here to stay and this fact really doesnt effect the end user much, because most end users already have H.264 licenses. Its pretty much just Linux and BSD that have a playback issue as far as end-users are concerned, and with the availability of "illegal" H.264 codecs, that just doesnt matter.

            What Mozilla and Opera are doing is trying to make it an end-user problem when it actually isn't. The end users have the codecs. Use them. Giving users the choice is far superior to steadfastly refusing to give them a choice.
            • by Hadlock (143607)

              What Mozilla and Opera are doing is trying to make it an end-user problem when it actually isn't.

              And I, the end user, gave Mozilla the finger by switching myself and everyone I know to Chrome :)
               
              Actually everyone already switched prior, but being independent of the whole issue, you really have to shake your head and wonder what Mozilla's real beef is. HTML5 video tag works flawlessly in Chrome, btw. Long live h.264(!)

              • by bendodge (998616)

                Firefox is free. That's the beef. They CANNOT release a free browser with parts that cost royalties. That's the real issue here. MS can, because they have per-copy licensing fees for Windows that already include things like MP3 royalties. Mozilla is trying desperately to avoid this landmine, because it could actually kill Firefox.

                Same goes for Opera.

            • by DrXym (126579)
              What Mozilla and Opera are doing is trying to make it an end-user problem when it actually isn't. The end users have the codecs. Use them. Giving users the choice is far superior to steadfastly refusing to give them a choice.

              It's not like Mozilla or Opera even have to include h264 (although they could utilise the codec that ships with some platforms). Both browsers support the NPAPI plugin architecture. It would be reasonably straightforward to say a video plugin must implement the NPAPI and a scripting i

    • by yabos (719499)
      And then Google owns it instead of another company. Not much different. Do you think they'd just pay billions of dollars so they can make it free?
    • by suffe (72090)
      Not to sound rude but how do you actually look at the world? Does it seem like magic to you? Does it not occur to you that the value of a (theoretical) company that owns all the h.265 IP will be pretty much exactly the current value of the future license fees - any debt + any other property and future options?
  • yet another codec implementation trying to push it's way to the top.

    the reasons they oppose h.264 are stupid for a start, it has about the most generous licensing i've ever seen. hence the reason it has been so widely adopted.

    • it has about the most generous licensing i've ever seen.

      But it's the "about" that kills. A software license that includes the H.264 terms will never qualify under Free Software Foundation's definition of free software, the Debian Free Software Guidelines, or Open Source Initiative's Open Source Definition.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      the reasons they oppose h.264 are stupid for a start, it has about the most generous licensing i've ever seen.

      Those are some nice licensing terms you've got there, it would be a shame if something happened to them... in 2016, when you might be forced to re-code all that video if you want to serve it to people without paying what could turn out to be exorbitant licensing fees.

      Fearmongering? Maybe. But I didn't create this situation. And really, in what world is it reasonable to charge anyone but the makers of hardware and perhaps encoders?

  • Video sites are having enough trouble moving away from Flash to H264 streams already... please, please, please (!!!) don't introduce another new video format without ubiquitious hardware decoding support into the fray!

    • by chainsaw1 (89967) on Monday February 22, 2010 @09:13AM (#31228354)

      Probably a naive question, but--If we have so much hardware support for decoding, then why are Linux / BSD playback such a problem? Wouldn't you then be passing the stream to hardware for decoding, thereby avoiding needing a license to process the stream? I figure you would only need the license to decode in software (since then you are actually writing the codecs yourself)...

      • Hmmm, I was thinking more along the lines of iPhone and Android, to tell the truth.

        Can't you just use VLC on Linux? Plays back H264 fine (albeit with relatively high CPU usage, but it works well and doesn't require nearly as much horsepower as Flash-based H264 in a browser)...

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by cduffy (652)

          Plays back H264 fine

          ...if you have a codec installed which isn't legal in the US without a patent license.

          • Interesting. I thought VLC came with all the required codecs, which would lead me to believe that they're licensed somehow or other...

            I highly doubt that VLC is using the same decoder as my other media players (this is on a Windows box), since it uses 30% more CPU than software decoding in the other players. Doesn't this mean it's using its own codec?

            I'm a bit confused :P

      • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Monday February 22, 2010 @12:11PM (#31230090) Homepage

        Probably a naive question, but--If we have so much hardware support for decoding, then why are Linux / BSD playback such a problem?

        Well, my understanding of technologies like VDPAU is that they accelerate specific parts of the decoding pipeline that are otherwise expensive to do on a general purpose CPU. As such, you still have to implement large parts of the decoder... you just get to use hardware to accelerate the hard parts (IIRC, in the past, this included things like the motion compensation and IDCT operations).

  • Theora vs h264 (Score:5, Informative)

    by qbast (1265706) on Monday February 22, 2010 @08:10AM (#31227988)
    Theora as good as h264? Yeah, sure. Sorry, VP3 (which Theora is based on) is previous generation codec, comparable to h263. There is no way for it to be as good as h264 unless you use crappy encoder or wrong settings. I like it how Theora apologists compare YouTube videos encoded to achieve balance between size, quality and decoding speed to Theora on maxed out settings and twist it into "they are comparable". Here is more realistic comparison: http://www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~nick/theora-soccer/ [stanford.edu] which shows that Theora requires 60% more bandwidth than h264 for similar quality.
  • It seems to me they are just summing up all the discussions happened on Slashdot after the acquisition, and what almost everyone hoped for/believed.

    Do they really have a chance at influencing Google's decision? Plus Google is already known to open source the technologies it wants to push, if only because adopters would be scared of Google's control. So even if they do open V8, was this useful at all?

    Or maybe they just want to put their signature in case Google follows their expectation: "See, we made them d

  • by Rick Richardson (87058) on Monday February 22, 2010 @08:34AM (#31228124) Homepage

    "On2 Technologies' VP3 codec is the basis for Ogg Theora. In 2001, On2 open-sourced VP3 under an irrevocable free license. But in the years since, the company has continued to improve its codecs, releasing five subsequent generations."

  • Pedant point (Score:3, Interesting)

    by itsdapead (734413) on Monday February 22, 2010 @08:57AM (#31228248)

    freeing the web from both Flash and the proprietary H.264 codec.'

    Point of order: Flash is not a video codec - it is a rich internet application platform which includes streaming video capability. Flash video is a "container" format which can use a variety of (proprietary) codecs including On2 VP6 and H.264.

    So, whatever the other arguments against Flash, on the issue of potential future H.264 patent problems its no better or worse than HTML5+H.264.

    • by gaspyy (514539)

      Mod parent up. I wanted to express the same thing.

      Flash is not video. Flash can play video in a consistent manner across platforms and browsers. Flash supports H264. Freeing VP8 has no direct impact on Flash (unless you think all browsers will embrace VP8 overnight and Flash won't be used for anything else).

  • by H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) on Monday February 22, 2010 @09:26AM (#31228474) Homepage Journal

    This sort of campaign can never fully solve the swpat problem, but patents on media formats are probably the biggest pain, so this is very worthwhile. The H.264 Mpeg format that Google currently uses is covered by over 900 patents in 29 countries!

    Here's info I've gathered about these topics:

    swpat.org is a publicly editable wiki, help welcome.

  • by jonwil (467024) on Monday February 22, 2010 @10:13AM (#31228872)

    If Google opens up VP8, the same thing that happened to Microsoft when they opened up Windows Media as VC-1 will happen.

    When MS opened up Windows Media as VC-1 a bunch of companies claimed patents on it (including some that claim they have patents on MPEG4/H.264) and everyone had to join the patent pool and/or buy a license.

  • Wouldn't this be what Google have in mind anyway? They're better at openness than most (relatively)...
  • by gig (78408) on Monday February 22, 2010 @11:11AM (#31229414)

    Could you replace the CD with something else in 1995? That was when the CD was as old and entrenched as H.264 is now. It's way too late. You should be lobbying MPEG-LA to keep H.264 free after 2016 (like Apple does) not lobbying Google to get a Blu-Ray/HD-DVD thing started. (BTW Blu-Ray is H.264.) Content publishers are even warier of multiple formats than users because it kills media buying.

    Further, it's only PC's that have a choice of software codec, and even there it comes at the expense of battery life, decoding a non-standard codec on your CPU instead of H.264 on your GPU with more efficiency. On mobiles you have a built-in H.264 decoder only, that's it. The PC as the center of the digital universe is as passé as the CD. Video is what plays on iPods (H.264) and smartphones (H.264) and set-tops (H.264). It is actually pathetic to think that the Web is going to come late to the video game and rewrite history when you consider how Microsoft does not even support the video tag yet.

    Start thinking about the successor to H.264, and better yet, start building it, write some code.

    Google is firmly behind H.264 because in YouTube they have a video business. YouTube is H.264 in the back end. There's no alternative to ISO standard H.264 if you want people to actually see your content, same as in 1995 there was no alternative to CD.

  • by ryanw (131814) on Monday February 22, 2010 @02:00PM (#31232286)

    I checked out the website and watched the comparisons of their test video vs H.264. I'm sorry but H.264 looks much richer, has more depth, has better contrast and recovers quicker when skipping through the video. OGV looks blown out out, slightly blurry, missing some richness and seems easily susceptible to blocky video.

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