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FLOSS Codecs Emerge Victorious In Wikimedia Vote 235

Posted by Soulskill
from the quest-for-internal-consistency dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Michael Maggs from the Wikimedia Foundation's multimedia team has given a final summary of the discussion and vote about whether to support MP4 video or not. Twice as many people voted against adding MP4 to Wikimedia than voted for full support. Now they can get back to their mission of advocating openness. 'Those opposing MP4 adoption believe that in order for what we create to be truly free, the format that it is in also needs to be free, (else everyone viewing it would need to obtain a patent license in some form to be able to view it). ... From that viewpoint, any software infrastructure in Wikimedia projects must adhere to community norms regarding intellectual property, patent status, licensing or encoding methods. Current community requirements are that free/open standards should be used at all times to encode and store video files on the servers that house our data, so that both our content and software can be redistributed without any restrictions. Proprietary video containers or codecs such as MP4 are not allowed on Wikimedia projects because they are patent-encumbered and their software cannot be re-licensed freely (though MP4 content can be freely re-licensed).'"
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FLOSS Codecs Emerge Victorious In Wikimedia Vote

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  • by Dwedit (232252) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @07:13PM (#46256765) Homepage

    Mobile devices have efficient hardware support for codecs like H.264, and using something else takes a toll on battery life.

  • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @07:16PM (#46256773) Homepage

    There was an initial surge of pro-mpeg votes by people connected to the WikiMedia Foundation and the technical team which would have been implementing it, then there were many days of mostly anti-mpeg voting when normal Wikipedia contributors heard about this idea.

    As someone who has been campaigning for many years against software patents, it was very encouraging to see that the general Wikipedia populous (i.e. after the initial pro-mpeg surge from employees and pre-briefed technicians) was two-thirds against the use of patented formats.

  • by msobkow (48369) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @07:20PM (#46256797) Homepage Journal

    The whole issue is about idealism, not practicality. In practice, MP4s are available on pretty much any device.

    Unfortunately, that idealism is shooting wikimedia in the foot, because there are platforms that don't have open source codecs installed by default, leaving the "average" user unable to view the videos.

    So in their zeal to pursue "openness", they've closed the doors on the people who matter most: the users.

  • by amiga3D (567632) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @07:23PM (#46256811)

    Freedom isn't free.

  • by amiga3D (567632) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @07:26PM (#46256827)

    That availability comes at a price. It's almost impossible for a truly open piece of hardware to compete so we get locked down hardware in return for using proprietary codecs. You are right, it does come down to ideology and as I often say most people don't really want to be free as long as they can live in a golden cage.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15, 2014 @07:26PM (#46256831)
    To be fair, you cannot freely re-license any open source codecs either - at least not without contacting all of the folks who contributed to the project and getting their OK on a different license. If the license is currently GPL3 and you want to re-license to Apache - good luck with that.
  • Re:But... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 15, 2014 @07:45PM (#46256937)

    Some people have priorities beyond people being able to read their website, too.

    I thought a website was a way to communicate with people -- a service provided to them. Turns out I'm wrong. Turns out a website is a way of attempting to browbeat people into using hardware that some shadowy collection of self-appointed watchmen have judged pure enough for their tastes.

  • by Immerman (2627577) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @07:46PM (#46256949)

    And?

    Wikimedia is concerned (IIRC) with building a library of content that freely accessible and sharable in perpetuity, I'd say that mission trumps catering to current-gen device users. How many hours per day did you say you spent watching wikimedia videos on your phone? The device manufacturers are after all free to implement hardware decoders for open codecs as well, and unlike H.264 they don't even need to pay any royalty fees to do so.

  • by Guspaz (556486) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @09:18PM (#46257333)

    What makes you think the terribly performing FLOSS codec of the day will be more likely to be supported in the future than today? You'll probably find the FLOSS codecs are just as poorly supported in the future as they are now.

    There are a few exceptions, where the FLOSS codecs are really quite good; Xiph has done some great things with speech codecs, for example. But Theora and VP8 are terrible, and VP9 doesn't even match h.264, let alone h.265...

  • by Vanders (110092) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @09:24PM (#46257359) Homepage

    the terribly performing FLOSS codec of the day

    I'm not sure which codec you're referring too, so I can't answer you there.

    I guess my optimism is based on WebM being an open format, thus allowing anyone to implement it on any future platform. Unlike various proprietary formats, that won't. I mean, does your 'phone support Intel Indeo or RealPlayer G2?

    VP9 doesn't even match h.264, let alone h.265

    That's really odd, because the benchmarks I've seen show VP8 & h264 to be evenly matched, and no one has produced a finished h.265 or VP9 codec, so I do wonder how you think you've seen those two codecs fairly benchmarked?

  • Re:But... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by epyT-R (613989) on Saturday February 15, 2014 @11:10PM (#46257725)

    Turns out a website is a way of attempting to browbeat people into using hardware that some shadowy collection of self-appointed watchmen have judged pure enough for their tastes.

    The same could be said of closed source licensors and their behavior towards users who desire some control over their hardware.

  • by symbolset (646467) * on Sunday February 16, 2014 @12:12AM (#46257933) Journal
    I am puzzled why you think that a free, charitably supported, nonprofit, publicly edited encyclopedia wouldn't have idealism as one of its core principles.
  • by Kazoo the Clown (644526) on Sunday February 16, 2014 @01:09AM (#46258083)
    Even Archive.org supports MP4, among other formats. YouTube does both Flash and MP4 for the most part, or at least most of the third party downloaders will give it to you in MP4. Clearly the solution is to provide the content in a couple of formats, enough to serve THE USERS. Unless that is, you don't give a shit about users, in which case I don't see why you need a web presence at all...

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