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Mozilla Debates Supporting H.264 In Firefox Via System Codecs 320

An anonymous reader writes "Adoption of the HTML5 video element has been hampered by the lack of a universal video format that is supported in all browsers. Mozilla previously rejected the popular H.264 video codec because it is patent-encumbered and would require implementors to pay royalty fees. The organization is now rethinking its position and is preparing to add support for H.264 video decoding in mobile Firefox via codecs that are provided by the underlying operating system or hardware. The controversial proposal has attracted a lot of criticism from Firefox contributors, including some employed by Mozilla."
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Mozilla Debates Supporting H.264 In Firefox Via System Codecs

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  • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @05:19PM (#39344285)

    I don't see any reason to avoid H.264 (MPEG4) and standardize on an inferior-quality open source codec that is little better than MPEG2. That would be like voluntarily choosing inferior NTSC-video instead of HD-video (and then being stuck with that choice for years and years).

    In just a few years the royalty fees will expire and H.264 will be just as open as any other codec. Plus it's not as if Mozilla is supporting some evil corporation, but instead a standards organization. I say pick the Best even if that means a few years of payments.

  • Re:WebM (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @05:40PM (#39344593) Homepage

    "Adoption of the HTML5 video element has been hampered by the lack of (software vendors like Microsoft and Apple implementing WebM)" is closer to reality

    Companies that won't support H.264: Mozilla
    Companies that won't support WebM: Many...

    Not to mention that for mobile devices, in many cases the hardware support for WebM is missing. H.264 is what almost all cameras record in now. H.264 is what professionals use in BluRays etc. H.264 is what pirates tend to use. Almost everybody, everywhere is using H.264, apart from the WebM beta on YouTube I haven't seen it used anywhere. Firefox represents one web browser, zero devices and a microscopic share of the whole video format ecosystem but think the whole world will bend to their will for WebM. The rest of the world will continue to work with H.264, while Firefox is worked around with Flash/H.264 until Mozilla either changes their mind or becomes irrelevant. Which I suppose is the case on mobile [], I can't even find them on the mobile browser stats.

  • by hhedeshian ( 1343143 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @05:44PM (#39344641)
    Giving up mod powers for this:
    How few? In 2027.
    Summary: []
    Patent break-down: []
    To quote the summary

    H.264 is a newer video codec. The standard first came out in 2003, but continues to evolve. An automatically generated patent expiration list is available at H.264 Patent List based on the MPEG-LA patent list. The last expiration is US 7826532 on 29 nov 2027 ( note that 7835443 is divisional, but the automated program missed that). US 7826532 was first filed in 05 sep 2003 and has an impressive 1546 day extension. It will be a while before H.264 is patent free.

  • Re:WebM (Score:3, Informative)

    by CharlyFoxtrot ( 1607527 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @06:04PM (#39344889)

    List of H.264 licensors :
    Apple Inc., Cisco Systems Canada IP Holdings Company, Cisco Technology, Inc., DAEWOO Electronics Corporation, Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation, Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, France Télécom, société anonyme*, Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Foerderung der angewandten Forschung e.V. , Fujitsu Limited, Hewlett-Packard Company, Hitachi Consumer Electronics Co., Ltd., JVC KENWOOD Corporation*, Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V., LG Electronics Inc., Microsoft Corporation, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, NTT DOCOMO, INC., Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation, Panasonic Corporation, Polycom, Inc., Robert Bosch GmbH, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., Sedna Patent Services, LLC, Sharp Corporation, Siemens AG, Sony Corporation, Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson, The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, Toshiba Corporation

    List of companies supporting WebM:
    Google, Mozilla

    All the above companies can make use of H.264 knowing they won't get screwed because they are on the inside. What guarantee do they have they won't get screwed by some patent covering some of WebM ? A lot are competing directly or indirectly with Google, what guarantee do they have Google won't screw them ? A lot of those companies are developing hardware right now that has existing H.264 hardware decode and/or encode support (already an industry standard), what would they gain by throwing that away and starting from scratch and coming to market god knows when ? Face it: WebM hasn't got, and never had, a shot. Either it's a cheap viral marketing campaign for Google or someone up there is pretty deluded about their clout in the tech world.

  • by Snowlock45 ( 613911 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @06:11PM (#39344971)
    In this case, I would be willing to be that the reason is that the pirate groups have now made x264 the defacto standard for standard definition TV. AVI is falling by the wayside, and therefore Mozilla is just keeping up with the tech savvy of the interwebs. []
  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @06:33PM (#39345259)

    Maybe Google could buy MPEG-LA and end this nonsense once and for all?

    MPEG LA [] manages patent pools.

    The AVC/H.264 pool alone represents 29 licensors ---

    most of them global industrial giants with no compelling reason to dance to Google's tune.

    Here is a small sampling:


  • Re:WebM (Score:5, Informative)

    by mrnobo1024 ( 464702 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @06:33PM (#39345263)

    WebM supporters: [] Free Software Foundation, Participatory Culture Foundation, Xiph, Android, Codecian, Collabora, CoreCodec, Digital Rapids, FFmpeg, Adobe Flash Player, Flumotion Services, Google Chrome, Grab Networks, iLink, Inlet Technologies, Oracle Java, Matroska, Moovida, Mozilla, ooVoo, Opera, Oracle, Harmonic Rhozet, Skype, SightSpeed, Sorenson, Telestream, Tixeo, Ucentrik, VideoLAN, Wildform, Winamp Media Player, Wowza Media Server, XBMC Media Center, Allwinner Tech, AMD, Anyka, ARM, Broadcom, Chinachip, Chips&Media, C2 Microsystems, DSP Group, Freescale, GeneralPlus, Hisilicon, Hydra Control Freak, Imagination Technologies, Shanghai InfoTM Microelectronics, Leadcore Technology, Logitech, Marvell, MIPS, MStar Semiconductor, nVidia, Qualcomm, Rockchip Microelectronics, RayComm Group, SEUIC, Socle Technology Corp., ST-Ericsson, Texas Instruments, Verisilicon, Videantis, ViewCast, ZiiLABS, ZTE Corporation, Anevia, Brightcove, Delve Networks,, EntropyWave, Flumotion Services, HD Cloud,, Kaltura, Media Core, MetaCDN, ooyala, Panda, Panvidea, Sorenson 360, thePlatform,, VMIX, YouTube, Zencoder

  • Re:WebM (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @06:41PM (#39345381) Homepage

    And Opera

    Actually, according to Opera itself []:

    Opera Mobile's support of particular video codecs is device-dependent: WebM and H.264 are supported, if available on the platform.

    So Opera is not refusing to use the system codecs on mobile, like Firefox is.

    Which? Microsoft and Apple? So to on each side then.. And guess what; Microsoft don't support h264 in IE, they just support plugins. Blah blah everybody blah blah.

    Opera is practically insignificant on the desktop and they support H.264 on the mobile. And yes IE does support H.264 it's everything else they only support via plugins.

    Yeh google should remove all support for h264 in android. Oh thats 60% of smart phones. woops. And remove flash and h264 from youtube. Should make webM relevant then. How many sites do you use which have videos?

    And here's really the clue, there's no indication Google is actually doing any of these things. Chrome still ships with H.264 support, every Android phone ships with H.264 support, YouTube's WebM is in eternal beta while everything is standardizing [] on H.264. Mozilla has been standing on the other side waiting for Google to join them but they're not coming, it's like threatening to migrate from MS Office to LibreOffice to get a better price but in the end you're staying on MS Office anyway. And Mozilla is now standing there dumbfounded saying "but but but you said you were migrating". It's not Firefox and Google, it's just Firefox and wishful thinking.

  • Re:WebM (Score:5, Informative)

    by theweatherelectric ( 2007596 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @06:51PM (#39345521)

    So to on each side then.. And guess what; Microsoft don't support h264 in IE, they just support plugins.

    Internet Explorer 9 supports two, and only two, codecs in the HTML5 video element. IE9 supports H.264 and it supports WebM if the codec has been installed. No other codecs are supported, not even, for example, Windows Media Video.

  • by theweatherelectric ( 2007596 ) on Tuesday March 13, 2012 @06:58PM (#39345599)

    Now that Mozilla has decided to have Firefox look and behave almost exactly like Chrome, but without being as fast or memory-efficient as Chrome

    This is correct. Firefox isn't as memory-efficient as Chrome. In fact, Firefox is more memory efficient than Chrome:,3129-14.html []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 14, 2012 @03:46AM (#39349773)

    H.264 is not proprietary.

    Give it a rest. Can you use it freely without permission? No? Then it's proprietary. End of story.

    The fact that it owned by a cartel rather than a single company is irrelevant.

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