Linked by Moochman on Mon 10th May 2010 22:54 UTC
Internet & Networking A lot of articles lately have been focused on why Apple and Microsoft are the bad guys by supporting H.264 and not Theora. Well, yes, they are bad guys, but there really is not much point whining to them. It will in all likelihood fall on deaf ears, simply because they are acting in their own best interests--as MPEG stakeholders and commercial, DRM-encouraging, royalty-loving, proprietary-operating-system-hawking corporations. But that could all change--if the HTML5 spec didn't allow H.264.
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Erm...
by matto1990 on Tue 11th May 2010 00:46 UTC
matto1990
Member since:
2009-04-18

Wasn't the need for certain codecs taken out of the specification deliberately because there was no point in putting things into the spec which were not true in the real world. I'm sure I read something like that from the editor of the spec (Ian?) a few months ago.

Just so you know, there was never any mention on how images should be encoded on the web but in the end that all sorted itself out eventually.

I don't agree with the H.264 codec being in use but at the same time putting OGG Theora in the spec will make no deference because the vendors who want H.264 will just ignore that bit of the spec - simple as that.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Erm...
by lemur2 on Tue 11th May 2010 04:10 in reply to "Erm..."
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Wasn't the need for certain codecs taken out of the specification deliberately because there was no point in putting things into the spec which were not true in the real world. I'm sure I read something like that from the editor of the spec (Ian?) a few months ago. Just so you know, there was never any mention on how images should be encoded on the web but in the end that all sorted itself out eventually. I don't agree with the H.264 codec being in use but at the same time putting OGG Theora in the spec will make no deference because the vendors who want H.264 will just ignore that bit of the spec - simple as that.


My take: I kind of agree with this. Big business is just going to use H.264 regardless of what W3C specifies and regardless of what is best for most of the people on the planet.

So, how should those who have the best interests of people at heart respond to this? Is railing at W3C going to be any more effective than railing at Microsoft and Apple? I regretfully conclude that maybe it won't.

The best we might be able to hope for is to get browsers to play video via HTML5 via any codec. This way, people who want to provide royalty-free Theora (and maybe VP8 later on) video can do so, and those who want to succumb to MPEG LA control and pay up MPEG LA rip-off demands for money-for-jam can also do so.

So, in such a scenario, as seems likely to eventuate, what is the best way forward for FOSS software, and in the best interests of the vast majority of people?

It seems to me the best approach may be to adopt "if you can't beat them, join them" and to provide FOSS users a legal way to run FOSS yet still participate in video delivered via HTML5/H264.

Fortunately, because H264 video decoding imposes high demands for the resources of client machines, most hardware that runs FOSS software today includes a GPU with video acceleration hardware built in.

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=ODIzNA

Open-Source GStreamer VA-API Plug-In Support

The gstreamer-vaapi package provides a collection of plug-ins so that this media framework can take advantage of this video acceleration API that's exposed either directly or via one of Splitted's back-ends to most Linux graphics hardware. These plug-ins are fully open-source and support MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264, VC-1, and WMV formats.


My bold.

Most graphics hardware also supports Gallium3D, and Linux drivers supporting this are just becoming available. g3dvl is a Gallium3D-based driver providing Generic GPU-Accelerated Video Decoding . g3dvl will bring hardware acceleration of video to Theora, and possibly VP8 as well.

Having paid for the hardware, any owner of a video card with a GPU with embedded H.264 decoder has an implied license to use that decoder, no matter what device they have bought and what OS their machine is running, and no matter what MPEG LA thinks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implied_license
Implied licenses often arise where the licensee has purchased a physical embodiment of some intellectual property belonging to the licensor.


This all means that even if they are successful in pushing H264 for web video, Microsoft and Apple still will not have a lock-in such that people will have to run their OSes in order to enjoy web video.

IMO, this may turn out to be the best possible outcome that we can hope for.

Edited 2010-05-11 04:20 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Erm...
by r_a_trip on Tue 11th May 2010 11:09 in reply to "RE: Erm..."
r_a_trip Member since:
2005-07-06

So, in such a scenario, as seems likely to eventuate, what is the best way forward for FOSS software, and in the best interests of the vast majority of people?

Deliver H.264 like all the other codecs have been delivered. Grey area and hosted oversees. Only to guarrantee access to H.264 for end users.

On top of that, people who support free(dom) codecs should try as much as possible to use Theora on the web. If Theora has enough mass, vendors will have to make some accomodations to make Theora viewable.

We don't need 100% domination, we just need enough presence to make Theora (or another suitable free codec) non-neglectible. Having choice is preferable to a mono-culture.

Reply Parent Score: 2