Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 31st Jan 2010 14:20 UTC, submitted by lemur2
Internet & Networking Despite the recent interest in adopting HTML5's video tag, there is still one major problem: there is no mandated standard video codec for the video tag. The two main contestants are the proprietary and patended h264, and the open and free Theora. In a comment on an article about this problematic situation, LWN reader Trelane posted an email exchange he had with MPEG-LA, which should further cement Theora as the obvious choice.
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RE[2]: Theora
by lemur2 on Tue 2nd Feb 2010 10:06 UTC in reply to "RE: Theora"
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"Theora is the obvious choice

No, it's not. Dirac is the obvious choice when you want patent-freeness. Its quality per datarate is much better at higher resolutions than Theora.

It's completely illogical that Mozilla refuses to add Dirac support. It doesn't need to be Dirac exclusively -- it could be Theora and Dirac.

That's another reason why Mozilla should've opted for a GStreamer-based solution right from the start. Even if you have no interest in supporting the MPEG-4 codec family, you also don't need to maintain your own set of patent-free codecs yourself. Dirac, just as Theora, has it's own set of GStreamer codecs already and since Songbird (Firefox-based media player) uses GStreamer anyway, Mozilla could also share the workload in maintaining the GStreamer integration.

Instead Mozilla decided to use OggPlay -- software that wasn't even maintained when Mozilla picked it up. I don't know if OggPlay is currently maintained.
It's almost as if Mozilla has some hidden anti-Dirac agenda....

The design quality/performance of Dirac at high resolutions is not the problem:

Performance of Dirac at low resolutions is perhaps a problem.

However, a much bigger problem with Dirac is that it is not patented at all. It has no apparent "patent cover". It is also newer than other proprietary, heavily patented codecs such as h264 and VC1.

Dirac is a sitting duck as far as attack by patent trolls goes.

What you need (in this day and age of patent trolls) is a codec which you are allowed/licensed to use in open source that is itself covered by patents so old that there are none likely to be older.

PS: As far as practicality for web video goes, the Wikipedia page for Theora has an example small video:

but the Wikipedia page for Dirac doesn't.

This page also notes the following:
A study on the performances of the Dirac codec, dated from August 2009, finds that the quality obtained on SDTV is inferior to the H.264 output.

When we look at the whole controversy:
HTML5 turns neutral

On December 10, 2007, the HTML 5 specification was updated, replacing the reference to concrete formats:

User agents should support Ogg Theora video and Ogg Vorbis audio, as well as the Ogg container format.

with a placeholder:

It would be helpful for interoperability if all browsers could support the same codecs. However, there are no known codecs that satisfy all the current players: we need a codec that is known to not require per-unit or per-distributor licensing, that is compatible with the open source development model, that is of sufficient quality as to be usable, and that is not an additional submarine patent risk for large companies. This is an ongoing issue and this section will be updated once more information is available.

At this time, Theora is far closer to satisfying all of the W3C requirements for the HTML5 codec than Dirac is, in particular the part about risk of exposure to submarine patents.

Edited 2010-02-02 10:23 UTC

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