Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 16th May 2010 12:52 UTC, submitted by mrsteveman1
Internet & Networking Mozilla, sticking to its ideals of the open web, decided long ago that support for the patent-encumbered H264 codec would not be included in any of its products. Not only is H264 wholly incompatible with the open web and Free software, it is also incredibly expensive. Mozilla could use one of the open source implementations, but those are not licensed, and the MPEG-LA has been quite clear in that it will sue those who encode or decode H264 content without a license. Software patents, however, are only valid in some parts of the world, so an enterprising developer has started a project that was sure to come eventually: Firefox builds with H264 support.
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"Easier then (in Linux land, at least) to use the decoder embedded into the video card.
As far as I know there *is* no 'video decoder' embedded in video cards. There is dedicated signal processing hardware that does things video codecs need to do quickly (like DFTs, colour conversion etc.). But there's nothing that takes H.264 as an input and gives you raw video as an output. "

Here are the specs for my video card:
ATI Avivo™ HD Video and Display Platform
2nd generation Unified Video Decoder (UVD 2)
Enabling hardware decode acceleration of H.264, VC-1 and MPEG-2

There is also quite a long list of other functions related to hardware video acceleration, although these are not specific to h.624 I would think.

In any event, the video card hardware covers the patented functions of H.264. There can be no patents applicable to getting the video data stream in to and out from these hardware functions, because those processes are in no way novel or inventive.

Since I paid for the video card, I have an implied license to use all of the functions of the card listed in the specifications (link above), even if the OS that I run happens to be Linux.

Therefore, I am licensed to use UVD 2 (which is described as a 2nd generation Unified Video Decoder enabling hardware decode acceleration of H.264, VC-1 and MPEG-2) on my ATI card (even if I run Linux as my OS). Therefore, also, it is legal for Mozilla to ship an open source browser that used UVD 2 (if it was present) to decode h.264 videos.

Edited 2010-05-16 23:24 UTC

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