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Wikipedia's Assault On Patent-Encumbered Codecs 428

An anonymous reader writes "The Open Video Alliance is launching a campaign today called Let's Get Video on Wikipedia, asking people to create and post videos to Wikipedia articles. (Good, encyclopedia-style videos only!) Because all video must be in patent-free codecs (theora for now), this will make Wikipedia by far the most likely site for an average internet user to have a truly free and open video experience. The campaign seeks to 'strike a blow for freedom' against a wave of h.264 adoption in otherwise open HTML5 video implementations."
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Wikipedia's Assault On Patent-Encumbered Codecs

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  • Re:HTML5 Video (Score:3, Interesting)

    by linhares ( 1241614 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @04:54PM (#31515084)

    It's all nice and all, but if open video technology really wants to win, they have to be technically better.

    New [] here []?

  • Re:HTML5 Video (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:01PM (#31515210)

    What I'm more worried about is that I cannot watch Wikipedia videos with any other device than my PC. Want to see a video clip of a place you're traveling on your phone? Not possible. Want to see videos from Wikipedia with your PS3/360? Not possible. It will create some serious problems, and I don't think Wikipedia is big enough to push the change alone.

    In general I find the "must have hardware support now" argument a bit short sighted. By that reasoning there would never be any change in video codecs. In any case, the PS3 and 360 even combined represent a very small percentage of internet connected devices. And the 360's larger problem is not having a web browser so Wikipedia video would be streamed from your PC anyway and if needs must you can transcode on the fly.

    As mobile phones go, my Nokia N900 plays Theora. It also runs Firefox. Fennec [] is on Maemo 5 (the N900's OS) and will soon be available for Android, Windows Mobile, and future MeeGo devices []. Millions of devices in the field already have the capability to play Ogg Theora and it will only become more trivial to do so with Firefox releases for those platforms.

  • Dirac (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:02PM (#31515240)
    I've been playing around with schroedinger 1.0.9 and it's output is nearly indistinguishable from baseline x264. If dirac had even half the resources that have been invested into h.264 encoders, it's possible that quality, compression, and encode/decode speed could be equal.
  • by arose ( 644256 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:04PM (#31515274)
    Market share wise browsers with Theora support are actually ahead right now...
  • Re:HTML5 Video (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slimjim8094 ( 941042 ) <> on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:21PM (#31515548)

    To be fair, the format is entirely open, but patent encumbered. Nobody would argue that MP3 is a closed format, for example.

    IOW the only challenges are legal challenges (regarding software patents and royalties). They're not proprietary at all.

  • Re:And... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:33PM (#31515678) Journal

    Those supporting Theora argue that, unless Theora is the video codec for the Net, some people (e.g. Linux users in U.S. not willing to break the law) will be restricted from large parts of the Net that will go H.264-only.

    It's why Mozilla refuses to just use GStreamer codecs for HTML5 video in mainline builds, for example.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:36PM (#31515712)

    First of all, bad headline. This is not Wikipedia's assault; in fact, this will be seen as an assault on Wikipedia, to unduly promote a new product. Most of these additions will be reverted as spam, and the organization from that website will be seen as illegitimate canvassing. A campaign to get anything on Wikipedia is against Wikipedia's policies on neutrality. Now it's true that Wikipedia has a tendency to bend to other free-as-in-speech interests, but those video files are going to draw more attention and ire than the usual debates.

  • A long lost battle. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted&slashdot,org> on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @05:56PM (#31516012)

    Give us a real codec.
    Linux beats the crap out of Windows.
    Firefox beats the crap out of IE.
    Vorbis beats the crap out of MP3.
    And Theora should beat the crap out of H.264!

    But right now it’s a toothless tiger, slow, bad quality/size ratio, outdated technology...
    Until that changes, well... frankly nobody in the real world cares for evangelical wars.
    And I’m saying that as someone who almost exclusively uses open source software, and is very very happy with it!

    I wish I could write codecs. I’t word night shifts to kick H.264s ass. ^^

    But hey, as previously said: If Firefox just binds to generic facilities/libraries like ffmpeg, DirectMedia and CoreVideo, the whole discussion goes away, since everybody can choose what to use anyway.
    Unfortunately right now they play little dictators, enforcing what they see as “the one true codec” in their holy war.
    Maybe I can at least write a patch that creates these bindings.

  • Re:HTML5 Video (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @06:03PM (#31516112)

    Why? Closed formats don't seem to operate under that constraint. In fact, technical qualities seem to be a non-issue as far as success goes in general.

    "Its the money, stupid!"

    No, not kickbacks, or payola, or licensing fees.

    Lets start at the top. Content providers have been banging their head into the bandwidth wall for a decade, starting when the notion of streaming high quality video really took off. Their cost, primarily, is bandwidth. Their product, primarily, is eyeballs. Their revenue, primarily, is advertisers.

    To make this work, they need to offer competitive quality in order to maximize the number of eyeballs, and they need to do it with the least bandwidth in order to offer competitive pricing to advertisers.

    H.264 was a big improvement over the previous generation of codecs, which finally allowed what might finally be viable online video streaming businesses.

    In this case, technically better still matters... its just about the only thing that matters. These businesses don't have the margin to fuck around. If they drop the ball then they lose their shot at #1.

  • by Alien1024 ( 1742918 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @06:21PM (#31516326)
    I don't think this will make much of a difference as the videos in Wikipedia will probably be of little value. Like almost every Internet user I often get a Wikipedia article when searching for something. The things I find useful in it are the external links and to a lesser extent, the text and images in the articles. But most OGG samples are rarely worth checking out. The same probably goes for their Theora videos. It's just not easy to produce or find informative and encyclopedic audios or videos that can be made available under Creative Commons. The text found in copyrighted sources can be reworded to present only the facts, which can't be copyrighted. But you can't do the same with audiovisual material.
  • Re:HTML5 Video (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Korin43 ( 881732 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @06:36PM (#31516508) Homepage
    This would seem like the obvious choice, and it's actually how Safari works (using Quicktime). There are patches for Firefox, but Mozilla refuses to use them because they want to make this a "Theora or nothing" battle, even though they'll never win. Chrome supports Theora and h264, so it hardly matters what their backend is. I think there are patches to webkit to let it use gstreamer as well though. I assume IE9 will use DirectWhatever.
    The problem is that Quicktime and DirectShow don't support theora or vorbis by default, so hopefully Mozilla/Wikipedia/anyone else who cares can get them popular enough that Microsoft and Apple have to finally support some free codecs.
  • by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 @11:40PM (#31518826)
    but when YouTube--the world's largest video repository--is mostly H.264, unless Google is willing to recode all those YouTube videos in Ogg Theora format, you can forget about Ogg Theora being widely accepted as the HTML 5.0 video standard.


    You could say the same thing about FireFox's challenge to the Microsoft disaster known as Internet Explorer.

    Yet FireFox has driven the web towards standards-based web design, instead of Microsoft-based web design.

    And Google recoding the videos is little more than the mother of all batch jobs.

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. -- Thomas Edison