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FSF Announces Support For WebM 333

An anonymous reader writes "The Free Software Foundation has signed up as a supporter of the WebM Project. They write, 'Last week, Google announced that it plans to remove support for the H.264 video codec from its browsers, in favor of the WebM codec that they recently made free. Since then, there's been a lot of discussion about how this change will affect the Web going forward, as HTML5 standards like the video tag mature. We applaud Google for this change; it's a positive step for free software, its users, and everyone who uses the Web.' The FSF's PlayOgg campaign will be revamped to become PlayFreedom."
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FSF Announces Support For WebM

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    It doesn't matter how this free / not free debate goes. One is a formal ISO standard, the other is whatever Google decides. How that makes H.264 somehow not open escapes me, but...

      If I'm engineering a hardware codec, I want the standard that's set down in stone, just like my design is going to be (well, silicon, but you know what I mean).

    • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )

      Considering a large part of Google's strategy relies on Android, they will make sure your hardware codec works. Mobile phones would be far less viable for web video if they didn't have hardware support for video codecs.

      Also, OOXML is a ISO standard. Being an ISO standard apparently doesn't mean much nowadays.

    • If it's patent encumbered, then it's not open.
      • by jo_ham ( 604554 )

        Yes it is. You can't redefine the term "open standard" just because you don't think it should mean what it means.

        Open source =/= open standard

    • It doesn't matter how this free / not free debate goes. One is a formal ISO standard, the other is whatever Google decides. How that makes H.264 somehow not open escapes me, but...

      Here's my personal view on the issue. Abstract words without a proper definition mean nothing. What I find essential from a video format for the web is to be a "Free and Open Standard" based on this definition [digistan.org] (main points: vendor neutral, freely available, no-patents). Ideally I would like such a standard to be published by W3C and included in the HTML5 spec (which currently does not specify a video format, so the "video" tag is essentially useless).

      H.264 is clearly not a free and open standard. WebM is cl

  • Motherfucker! Mine is more open; no MINE is; no they BOTH are; no NEITHER one is; take THAT; BIFF, BANG, POW, SLAP. I have never seen so much bickering since the last time Democrats and Republicans were in the same room together. The world will end not with a bang, nor with a whimper - it will end with everybody savagely attacking each other over every single issue.

  • H264 decoding is a one time payment. If google decides to start fucking with webm licesning then we are fucked if we go to webm.

    Otoh. The h264 codec is so encumbered with everyone else fighting it that open source developers are going to skate by and only hardware vendors are going to pay h264 costs. Software other than big names like adobe and apple are going to pay.

  • Please realize some of you are talking about open STANDARD and others are talking about open CONTENT !!

    No more discussion about wich is more "open", I can't take it anymore !

  • I'd be keeping quite about support from the idealistic FSF cos its sort of a kiss of death. I mean lets not forget the roaring success their other golden boy, .ogg!

  • by TheNetAvenger ( 624455 ) on Friday January 21, 2011 @06:34AM (#34950274)

    What stops Google from total control?

    This is a serious question.

    Google owns both WebM and VP8 - their only licensing obligation is to keep some of the source viewable.
    Google now defines how VP8 encoded and decoding works and the quality, etc.
    Google defines what specific features and version of WebM and VP8 that Chrome will support.

    No matter how 'open' WebM and VP8 are now, what Google says and what Google supports is now the 'standard' and will be the single controlling voice for all video on the web.

    This is more power than any other company has tried to obtain.

    What prevents Google from changing WebM so that in two years, it breaks compatibility with previous versions, rendering hardware absolete?
    What prevents Google from defining the quality of the codecs used for their own purposes?
    What prevents Google from getting this accepted by the world, and then adding in advertising data and decoders that report information back to Google?

    I understand that WebM and VP8 are 'open', but if Google only supports what they want, they are the sole voice in the format and standard, as anything outside their 'supported' guidelines will fail to work in Chrome/Android/etc.

    Right now, this looks like another Google project that uses the work of others and then takes control and sells it at a good thing because it was based in open software.

    Even Microsoft with WMV turned it over to a standards body to oversee the format that ensures compatibility and consistency - something I don't see Google doing, and WMV is a closed format 'standard' aka VC1. At least we are assured that a VC1 encoded BluRay Disc will always play, as Microsoft can't monkey with VC1 and destroy compatibility or mess up quality, etc.

    I am seriously looking for some good answers, as this has me a bit scared to the level of control Google is getting if people blindly accept this.

    • by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Friday January 21, 2011 @09:48AM (#34951554) Homepage

      Google owns both WebM and VP8 - their only licensing obligation is to keep some of the source viewable.

      Do you understand what 'open source' means?

      You don't have the VP8 source 'viewable', you have an irrevocable license to edit it and distribute it. If Google starts screwing up and adding advertisements or reporting information to them*, a VP8 fork will appear. Google only has control over VP8 if while people like it.

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Friday January 21, 2011 @11:01AM (#34952452)

    It seems necessarty here to insert a reminder about what H.264 is and where it comes from:

    H.264/MPEG-4 AVC is a block-oriented motion-compensation-based codec standard developed by the ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) together with the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG). It was the product of a partnership effort known as the Joint Video Team (JVT).

    H.264 is perhaps best known as being one of the codec standards for Blu-ray Discs; all Blu-ray players must be able to decode H.264. It is also widely used by streaming internet sources, such as videos from Vimeo, YouTube and the iTunes Store, web software such as the Adobe Flash Player and Microsoft Silverlight, broadcast services for DVB and SBTVD, direct-broadcast satellite television services, cable television services, and real-time videoconferencing.

    The H.264 video format has a very broad application range that covers all forms of digital compressed video from low bit-rate Internet streaming applications to HDTV broadcast and Digital Cinema applications with nearly lossless coding. With the use of H.264, bit rate savings of 50% or more are reported. For example, H.264 has been reported to give the same Digital Satellite TV quality as current MPEG-2 implementations with less than half the bitrate, with current MPEG-2 implementations working at around 3.5 Mbit/s and H.264 at only 1.5 Mbit/s.

    The Digital Video Broadcast project (DVB) approved the use of H.264/AVC for broadcast television in late 2004.

    The Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) standards body in the United States approved the use of H.264/AVC for broadcast television in July 2008, although the standard is not yet used for fixed ATSC broadcasts within the United States. It has also been approved for use with the more recent ATSC-M/H (Mobile/Handheld) standard, using the AVC and SVC portions of H.264.

    The CCTV (Close Circuit TV) or Video Surveillance market has included the technology in many products. The introduction of H.264 to the video surveillance industry has meant the ability to stream high resolution at lower bit rates has substantially improved. H.264/MPEG-4 AVC [wikipedia.org], List of video services using H.264/MPEF-4_AVC [wikipedia.org]

    The implications for the global hardware manufactuer - the OEM - are clear:

    Whatever the fate of WebM, you will be licensing H.264 and HVEC/H.265 across your entire product line. This is not a problem for companies the size of Mitsubishi Electric, Panasonic, Philips, JVC, Sony, or Samsung.

    Not a problem for AMD, ARM, Apple, Intel, NVIDIA or Microsoft.

    Google is the new kid on the block. HVEC should be final in about two or three years.

    HEVC aims to substantially improve coding efficiency compared to AVC High Profile, i.e. reduce bitrate requirements by half with comparable image quality, probably at the expense of increased computational complexity. Depending on the application requirements, HEVC should be able to trade off computational complexity, compression rate, robustness to errors and processing delay time.

    HEVC is targeted at next-generation HDTV displays and content capture systems which feature progressive scanned frame rates and display resolutions from QVGA (320x240) up to 1080p and Ultra HDTV (7680x4320), as well as improved picture quality in terms of noise level, color gamut and dynamic range.
    High Efficiency Video Coding [wikipedia.org]

    The implications for the content provider are also clear.

    WebM is not a theatrical production codec.

    It is not a theatrical, broadcast, cable or sattelite distribution codec. It does not support content protection.

    The H.264 base Netflix client is baked into every HDTV set, video player and video game console sold in the U.S.

    There are clients for th

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