Mozilla vice president of engineering Mike Shaver has reiterated that the open source outfit has no intention of rolling the H.264 video codec into its Firefox browser, even though the likes of YouTube and Vimeo are using the patented codec with early versions of their plug-in-free HTML5 video players. Firefox supports the HTML …
Agree with this one
Honestly, I cannot think it can be a good idea to have to pay for producing content. I believe the only people who disagree are big content producers, all too willing to place a barrier on the competition by the general population.
Not that Web 2.0 is all that it is cracked up to be, but I want to believe that it is best than coming back to pre-Internet era, with the flow of information controlled by a few.
And this is why Mozilla rock
Because in a world where the dollar and the pound has made us all their servants, there are some people that have principles and stick to them.
Or is it 'Here here' - whatever.
The sooner we all stop embracing proprietary formats on the Internet the better - much of the time proprietary does not mean better, and when these are adopted as standards we all suffer. Whether it be from shoddy plugins that only support the platforms they want to support, bad quality audio, bad quality visuals or simple greed in licensing, we all suffer as users...
Proprietary also doesn't always mean closed. H.264 is an open standard, it's just not free to use (I'm guessing you know that, but just chose to ignore it). Also, there are a whole slew of chips that do H.264 decoding and very few, if not none, that do Ogg decoding. Since hardware decoding will always be faster and require less power, I fail to see how H.264 is the "bad quality" option (that's "bad quality" as in the consumer experience, not necessarily in terms of the video).
However, I believe all browsers, etc should be able to play both H.264 and Ogg content, either themselves or by leveraging the media-playing components of the underlying OS (a la Safari on OS X).
Look, I would like to admire Mozilla for "sticking to their guns", but Mozilla also doesn't like MP3 and have been pushing Ogg for that, to no avail. The world is H.264, get with the program. Cable is going that way, satellite is going that way, Blu-Ray has it, DVDs are being released with digital versions that are H.264, and on and on and on.
I've been running the YouTube beta, and in my nonscientific testing, the CPU load of an embedded video from YouTube using Flash takes 75% CPU resources between Adobe's flash and the browser (number totals to 200% since it is dual core), and strict HTML5 of the same video natively on the YouTube site yields 17% utilization.
Shaver's comments sound a lot to me like that scene from "The Naked Gun" where the cop is standing in front of the fireworks factory that is blowing up behind him and saying "nothing to see here, move along".
But Everyone Is Doing It
OK, maybe "everyone" is going H.264, but that does not mean it should be part of a standard. In any (stupid, backwards, corporate-centric, capitalistic dog of a) country with software patents, this means that anyone who would wish to comply with the standard would have to fork out shed loads of money. This is not the way to go.
Yes, H.264 is a nice codec, with many advantages, but it is not right for a web standard. Nor is Flash. Ogg Theora may not be the right way either. But we need to find something, and restricting content production to those who can afford it (or are willing to break the licenseing terms) is unacceptable
think of the future....
As I understand it, the .mp3 encoding standard is patented by the Fraunhofer institute who are happy for anyone to play (decode) .mp3 files but you have to pay a license fee to encode .mp3 files on a 'large scale' or commercial basis. My own audio editor did not come with an .mp3 encoder, I was given a nod and a wink to download the plugin from a 'grey' website, that is how tight the control of .mp3 encoding is.
Fair enough, good luck to them, they made a good product that is easy to use and became popular and for all I know, their license fees and terms may be very 'reasonable'.
However, that was way back in the past when the only people who encoded .mp3 files were techie enthusiasts and serious commercial concerns. Now, we have a situation where every web-surfer in the world wants and needs a common encoding standard and such a common standard should and must be agreed on by all major organisations.
The question I would ask is, which pillock (or pillocks) accepted and agreed a standard that was covered by a patent ?! (....and i wonder what inducements were offered by the patent holders, because I'm a cynical old devil).
If the world (and several dogs) could only agree to use a payment free, open source encoder then it really would be free of control and influence (and arm twisting) by vested interests.
I do realise there is the question of maintenance of standards, wild forking etc, but that could be built into the license conditions perhaps....? Any comments?
You're missing the point
You are missing my point. It isn't like the whole world is "leaning" that way, and gosh darnit, somebody just needs to take a stand. The point is, the train is loaded with passengers, has left the station, and isn't even in the same town anymore, yet Mozilla is complaining that the tickets cost too much.
They lost this battle, and need to get over it, or their browser share, which (thank god) woke Microsoft up to doing SOMETHING better (even if IE7 and IE8 are still pretty bad), will diminish. Mozilla has done a really good thing with Firefox, yet they risk their credibility on this issue. It's OVER.
If you want decent video playback, you have to have hardware acceleration, and no silicon company in their right mind (and yes, I design silicon for a living) is going to spend any hardware real estate on Ogg-Theora acceleration.
Shaver sounds like Don Quixote.
The ultimate winner here will not be dictated by the browser makers or even the standards bodies, it'll be what the majority of content is served in. Here are two possible scenarios.
1) The content owners look at what's going on and say: "Gosh, Mozilla are absolutely right, we'll transcode everything to OGG immediately, hold two copies of everything for now and look to ceasing support for H.264 in the future. How wrong we were and we're only too happy to spend the time, effort and additional storage in doing this. We apologise."
2) The content owners look at what's going on and say: "Dear Mozilla. Fuck off."
Now, which one do you think is more likely?
Obviously the wrong mind
Gosh, another of those "I design silicon for a living" engineers that know how the whole world works. I know of one silicon company that is looking at Ogg-Theora acceleration so they must be out of their minds. Any silicon company that wants to make money will look at any technology that lets them do that. If the take up of Ogg-Theora is sufficient then silicon companies will adopt it. If not they won't. Simple as. It's called "market forces".
Please tell me it's nVidia
I freakin' love their cards; it's a deciding factor when buying a laptop (although the newer Intel chipsets are meant to be good too). Never have an ATI card though - not until they get with the program.
Only way forward
If everybody just accepted that IE was the winner, and it was "over", Firefox never would have happened.
Exactly, and that's why it's over
If the uptake for Ogg-Theora is sufficient, then yes, it will get hardware acceleration. And since Mozilla isn't in the content creation business, they won't be the ones to do it, no matter how much they stamp their foot about it.
Maybe they could influence by throwing some money around to get people to implement in hardware and to get content providers to provide "yet another" format on their servers. But maybe that would cost more than just paying the licensing fee.
And it is possible that the H.264 guys are rolling around in piles of money, lighting cigars with $100 bills. But maybe that licensing fee does things like, oh, evangelizing, enabling, marketing, engineering development, etc. and that's why it is everywhere.
It isn't like H.264 is controlled in some evil way by a single company like "WMV", "WMA", "AAC". Or did I miss the news articles of H.264 "executives" flying around in private jets? USB has a licensing fee, you know. As does PCI. Is Mozilla going to call for some new standard there?
I'm glad Mozilla is saying f*** off to H.264, the license fees are unreasonable.
Nice to see them taking a stand
Because there is absolutely no justification for proprietary codecs. There's little benefit to the user (youtube videos being so low quality anyhow) and no benefit to the net community. The only benefit is to the MPEG licensing authority who for my money can go p*ss up a rope.
Software codecs shouldn't be patentable anyway.
Proper usage of already existing programs
And still, don't we have the embed tag which a actual player can play the video? And ffs, Flash is not a video player.
Oh wait! The web 2.0 people are on crack!
I'm sorry, I'm no fan of Flash and I'll be glad to see it die out as a video platform, but the alternatives at the time Flash video first appeared were dreadful. If you didn't notice how much nicer video on the web suddenly became, you must have been living on another planet. Or running Linux. Yeah, that's below the belt. Sorry.
What's all the fuss about?
There's no problem playing any of the Ogg codecs or H.264 with a suitable browser plugin (and I don't mean Flash) on Linux…
No problem in Windows either
Took me, ooh, ten minutes to get media Center to accept them. And that includes the download time.
Just a shame I can't add the functionality to the GF's iPod...
Good news, for a change.
We need more people like Mike Shaver to say no to exploitative software patent cartels.
No Chromium support either
Even Google is caught out by this debacle. While Chrome supports H.264, Chromium cannot without a non-free patch (ffmpeg). This sadly means that Chrome is no longer free-as-in-freedom. They're paying a patent license for your download.
Mozilla's (.org) mission is a free-as-in-freedom browser. You can't just ask them to kick aside their ethics because you selfishly want their browser to support H.264. You can't just ask a non-profit (yes, the .com could afford it) to PAY YOUR LICENSE FEE INSTEAD OF YOU. You can't expect a free-as-in-freedom software project to suddenly turn around and start paying patent licenses because you think it's OK just this once. You can't even expect them to give you the option to pay a license fee. If you don't understand how this is directly in conflict with their mission, then you don't understand the whole point of Mozilla and the larger free software movement.
It's a sad reflection on people that they think Firefox is just another browser competing in some weird capitalist way and it should just pay for every feature it needs.
Get the open source code. Put it in. Don't pay fees. Why is this so hard.
Not that easy
This is **patented**. The patent covers the format of the data. Just rewriting the software to eat the same data does not get you past the patent.
If the patent world-wide?
If not - release browsers that can cope in areas not covered.
Does the patent cover compiled code or source? Is a "workaround" for individuals to compile the source themselves? (not hard on a Linux platform)
The best answer is, of course, to adopt a fully-open standard. But as the open types can rarely flash the wonga, that won't happen (no bungs to the top brass). Still - it would take just one manufacturer (let's say nVidia for the sake of argument; they're pretty open source friendly anyway, unlike ATI et al) to do it to show off some kind of "extensible video acceleration architecture" or something and...well...blammo. There you go.
An open source standard would stimulate innovation, competition and lower prices to consumers. Sure there are problems with the various Ogg formats; the great thing is if Apple (say) don't like something it does, they can simply proffer the fix, job done.
I use Ogg wherever I can as it (generally) gives equals (usually better) fidelity for a smaller file size when compare to MP3; important when you want to cram as much onto your player as possible.
I feel most sorry for the iPod users out there. The iPod is lovely to look at, well made but jeez - so locked down it is untrue.
"I feel most sorry for the iPod users out there. The iPod is lovely to look at, well made but jeez - so locked down it is untrue."
I take exception to your comments about the iPod. I recently bought my first iPod (Classic) and I can say with some confidence that it's definitely not well-made. Also, being such a scratch and fingerprint magnet means that within about a minute of opening the box, it's no longer lovely to look at either.
You want a "bestskinever" you do. Got one on my Sansa e280.
what about vlc?
VLC media player is open source but yet plays H.264 encoded vidoes, does that mean they pay the license fee for it or is it that because they are based outside the US they dont have to pay?
Surely someone can write a firefox add on that gives it H.264 decoding as long as they are based outside the US?
VLC (and ffmpeg and so on) get by because a) they're based outside the US and b) they're too small to be worth suing. Actually, overall, small non-professional projects provide a net *benefit* to owners of codec patents.
Suing VLC or ffmpeg would be entirely pointless. Any codec patent holder could sue either project into oblivion in a wet weekend, but they choose not to. Do the cost/benefit analysis yourself. Benefit? Basically zero. The project stops existing. Perhaps, oh, three people who formerly used it actually have the money and inclination to pay you the codec licensing fee. All the rest just go use Theora or wait for the next grey encoder to pop up, which it inevitably will.
Costs? Many and significant. First, giant piles of terrible publicity: you're the big bad wolf attacking the plucky little guy. Second, boring practical costs - paying lawyers ain't cheap, and the authors of VLC and ffmpeg are not exactly hitting it rich at the low, low price of $0 per copy: you may get award seventy gazillion dollars in damages, but you will not see a single one of those dollars.
Third and finally, you actually do net damage to your customer pool. The existence of amateur-hour projects for casual users gives your product a boost. MP3 benefited (and benefits) enormously from casual private use for which MPEG-LA chose not to charge. When big rich operators go into MP3 encoding or decoding - because of the big ready-made user base - MPEG-LA bloody well *does* choose to charge, and charges lots of moolah. MPEG-LA don't come knocking on your door when you encode some songs with a grey-market application, but they charge commercial encoder makers, decoding implementations, MP3 player manufacturers and every other significant commercial operation a ton of money.
h.264 has benefited from much the same effect; a large amount of enthusiast video - ripped TV shows, fansubs and so on - is in h.264 format, meaning many people are set up to play the format and many tinkerers who will grow up to have real jobs are familiar with encoding using it. Both of those things help the format grow into areas where it is used by operators sufficiently big and rich to be required to pay for it.
Mozilla is certainly big enough and significant enough that it'd be worth suing, if it decided to just implement patented codecs and hang the consequences. It's too big to benefit much from the 'plucky little guy' effect in the court of public opinion, it's big enough to have enough money to at least break even on the legal costs, and it's big enough that there's actual strategic value in stopping it from using the codec without a license.
Money makes a good incentive
Perhaps if people did have to pay to make videos, there'd be a lot less shite clogging up YouTube and the backbone pipes that have to pump it.
Besides, people are happy to pay to send text messages to Twitter or MMS their snow videos to the BBC so why not have them pay a few pence to upload a video to YouTube? If it's worth watching, it's worth paying for.
H.264 is popular because vid cards are being shipped with on-board decoding for the codec. Once Ogg is in the same boat (or On2 if the Google rumor is accurate), then the we'll have a level playing field. Until then, why does anyone care that their system is somewhat bogged down while watching a YouTube video? Do you normally troll over YouTube while waiting for your computer to crunch Maya or AutoCAD renderings? I thought not.... Then again, I just read The Reg while waiting for programs to install or M$ updates to patch on new systems...
I don't care.
I don't care what codec everybody uses, can we all just settle on the same one please? No? Didn't think so.
HTML5 fails to unify the web as it was meant to. Whoever would've seen that coming, huh?
This needs to be said and it can be said - as long as some fuck hasn't gone and patented English, or something.
Can we have an anti-standard
Maybe I'm out of tune with the whole web 2.0 meme, but do we need this? The interwebs are already clogged with excessive and unnecessary media presentations, usually to advertise some shite I neither need or want. Nothing turns me away from a website faster than a flash presentation on the front page.
If anyone wants me I'll be in my shed.
Good on them
Hopefully with Firefox having the market share it does it'll have the power to stick up 2 fingers at YouTube/Google and then the subsequent pressure to make content deliverers switch. With Chrome supporting both codecs (and Chromium only ogg) Safari is the only reason to go with H.264. And if Google Docs are happy to not support Opera then YouTube can not support Safari.
On the larger issue that, as mentioned above, "HTML5 fails to unify the web as it was meant to", perhaps this is why the W3C moves at a glacial pace, as the WHATWG originally bitched about. When the decisions you make affect arguably the most important communications medium of our generation, things take time to work out, and to ensure that you dont fuck up the web. Maybe the WHATWG should've thought that before trying to fragment the W3C.
Anyone who comes near me is going to get hurt
Just "type" attribute the damn tag
The HTML <script> tag has a "type" attribute that tells you what language the script is (or more specifically, it's MIME type). Either your browser runs the script it or it doesn't. There is no reason why the <video> tag can't have a similar mechanism. If a video tag calls for H.264 and your browser doesn't support non-free formats, it won't play, and you can get a plug-in or different browser. If a video tag calls for Ogg and your browser is made by a company that won't support anything other than H.264; again, you can get a different browser.
Mine is the one with the browser that can be enhanced via add-in or plug-in.
HTML 5 Video spec isn't even finalized
I think that the fact that Google only enabled h.264 HTML5 video on youtube has more to do with the fact that all their videos were already encoded in that format (at 3 different resolutions), for iPhone and Android support. Therefore, it was relatively easy to just turn on the switch for beta HTML5 embedding.
Transcoding all those videos to Ogg Theora (with multiple copies for SD, HQ and HD) would require a major computing effort and storage space availability, that, sadly, just isn’t worth it at this point. Just transcoding videos from the FLV format to H.264 took MONTHS in 2007, and that was before 720p and 1080p HD content.
Also, Apple should be blamed for being the only browser vendor refusing to feature Theora support for its video tag support.
if you honestly think no-one at Google was aware of the political implications of the decision, and some anonymous engineer just said 'yeah, it'll take weeks to transcode all the content, let's just flip the switch on h264 now - I'm sure no-one will mind!', you're living in a dream world.
"Just transcoding videos from the FLV format to H.264 took MONTHS in 2007, and that was before 720p and 1080p HD content."
Also before the last two years of processor development, and the gigantic expansions to Google's available computing resources that have been going on the whole time.
Proprietary is not the problem
I entirely agree with Mozilla's position on this issue. The problem is not whether a particular technology is open or proprietary but what the conditions of licensing are upon that technology. Mozilla's position is that it could not have entered the market if fees were attributed to common standards and will not condone or support such fees as they would limit future competition from entering the market like wise.
I completely support the idea of proprietary standards as technology standards on the internet so long as fees are not a condition of adoption, distribution, processing, or other associated open use. Open standards are slow to form and slow to adapt to a rapidly moving market, where proprietary technologies are not so burdened.
Additionally, the second part of this problem is that HTML5 is attempting to bind media codecs into its markup language standard for no other reason than to benefit content distributors at everybody else's cost. There are various different video and audio codecs that are preferred by different people. In an open environment people have choice. Since the Internet and the World Wide Web are about openness then it must be media agnostic to not interfere with such media processing choice.
The only appropriate consideration with regard to media codecs is to treat them like how browsers treat fonts. There is not a standard font for the web and I do not see HTML5 pushing a standard font that everybody must use. Instead users are burdened to download and maintain fonts on their own. When a user does not have a certain font that is requested to present online content then the concerned content fails to render as expected. Media codecs should be treated no differently.
Since HTML5 wishes to propose media processing barriers in opposition to openness I cannot conclude that it is an open technology dispite its claims to the contrary.
Cost of development...?
If it H.264 cost $5,000,000 for browser implementation, and there's now 5 major browsers (IE, FF, Opera, Chrome, Safari), that's 25 million dollars.
If we assume that they're going to make the same amount of money from consumer digital video devices, that's another 25 million, totalling 50 million dollars.
Then we take the assumption that they're planning to make more from commercial encoding (broadcast, DVD distribution, VoD sites) we're looking at least another 50 million.
So it would appear that they want over $100,000,000 for a video codec.
Did the spend an inordinate number of man-hours working on this, or are they taking just the pi[NO CARRIER]
Keep the codecs separate
What prevents Mozilla from using the same trick as chrome/chromium and link to a library which can be delivered with different codecs depending on the market?
Google Chrome is linked statically, but chromium demonstrates how it can be done by packaging the decoding library (ffmpeg) separate from the browser itself. Ffmpeg with H.264 can thus be delivered to the parts of the world which don't accept software patents, while the stripped-down version works for countries under US-domination.
Maybe mozilla.org needs to leave the US.
Quit missing the point.
bojennett: "The point is, the train is loaded with passengers, has left the station, and isn't even in the same town anymore, yet Mozilla is complaining that the tickets cost too much."
You say that and cite TV distribution and Blu-Ray to support your argument, but they're not at all relevant. The first (and current, for most people) generation of digital TV, DVD, and most Blu-Ray discs use MPEG-2; did that mean that MPEG-2 got used for internet video? No, it didn't. There's no necessary overlap between the areas, they're different and have different requirements. For a closed television network, the openness or otherwise of the video format makes no difference. For the internet, it's essential.
"and no silicon company in their right mind (and yes, I design silicon for a living) is going to spend any hardware real estate on Ogg-Theora acceleration."
Unless some really popular video site - I wonder which one I'm thinking of! - were to start using Theora. In which case they'd want it done yesterday, and hang the expense. Why did they develop hardware acceleration for h264? Because it's used for major video sites, i.e., their customers expect it to work. If a major video player starts using Theora, you can bet people will start expecting their devices to bloody well play it properly.
It's also funny that you say Vorbis got 'nowhere' - what do you think Spotify runs on? Not to mention a huge amount of games (which use it because, yes, they don't have to pay a license fee - unlike if they'd used MP3, or AAC).
Let me sit on the fence
"And in the long term, Shaver and company hope to engender a web that works the same for everyone. "We want to make sure that the Web experience is good for all users, present and future," he continues."
Well just how inclusive does he want to be with this quest to allow everyone to have the same experience? Will they stop supporting Flash, after all that is not a standard as such and the content providers are forced to pay. No more Silverlight (I'm sure some people will shed a tear) because while that is essentially free to develop it is not supported on all platforms. Actually if you take it to extremes you have to serve to the lowest common denominator and that would be mobile devices (and then not the flashy ones like the iPhone).
I see absolutely no reason why H.264 should be put into Firefox but what is stopping someone creating a paid for codec that extends Firefox to support the format and allow the browser user to make the choice. Who knows, if Google are so passionate about the standard then perhaps they could write the plugin :-). Why should Mozilla have any more say over the direction of the internet than say Microsoft with their attempts to introduce non standard stuff into their browser.
Google could give back some?
Since they use so much open source software and arguably contribute the least code back to Linux of any of the big users, perhaps they could put the money in to make an open source codec, so hopefully the On2 stuff is true and google might be a little less evil for a day or two.
If the CODEC is proprietary ...
... and Google want us to to watch their content with it, then they should produce a plugin. That doesn't advance the open standards situation, but at least it means no flash on youtube.
But I agree with nephersir7, they are setup for H.264 already, their test with it would have been a simple change.
Not Just YouTube
The people using only YouTube as an example need to wake up - there are more videos out there than ones showing people falling over or recordings of World of Warcraft sessions.
I find the amount and variation of video codecs quite infuriating, it's about time a universal standard was chosen and everyone stuck to it. h264 has always impressed me with it's quality and file size, messing about with Ogg seems like a step backwards, but I can see Mozillas argument.
One more thing...
All this freedom of software, stick it to the man horse shit is nauseating. Fact is most people are tight fucks that don't want to pay their way in life or contribute to the development process. Not saying I'm any different, but at least I'm honest with myself.
And queue thumbs down...
US is not the problem
Actually the US is not the problem here. All major codecs (MPEG-2, MPEG-4 VISUAL, AVC/H264, VC1) are even patented in Sweden with the Swedish patent office, then there's european patents, patents in other european nations, patents in Taiwan, Japan, Korea and so on. The notion of, that software patents not existing outside of the US is just wrong and any physical product can get a ban from being sold/imported to the US. So it's doesn't help just because you don't have US's retarded lawyers in your own country. Homebrew projects get by because they are homebrew.
I agree that H264 is what is needed for mobile devices now, but hey they are not gonna run the same bitrate and resolution as the desktop usage. They already has a licensed internal player/decoder that they should be able to use. You can accelerate Theora, you can accelerate Dirac, you can implement them in hardware and so on. Just begin to include it now and now phone will be without it in one or two years.
Hi, Mozilla here,
You've probably heard that Google is using you on their youtube page, rather than Flash and we were wondering, since our browser is free to the end user, whether you would give us permission to use your decoding for free, rather like Adobe does with Flash, then you would continue making money on people and companies encoding - we're more in the market for content delivery than creation. Many thanks for considering our request and we look forward to hearing from you.
Or am I just being stupid? Like, the Mozilla Foundation is non profit, but the Mozilla corporation is a taxable entity (Techcrunch reports for 2007: Revenues for the organization behind the open-source Firefox browser were up 12 percent to $75 million). But it sounds like a lot of that was from Google (something like 88%), who now have their own browser in direct competition with them, so would love to see them lose market share.
Ah f^*k it, I'll stick with FF anyway, Noscript / Adblock FTW! someone will release a grey plugin that'll work with youtube.
The problem is Tony Paulazzo, that Mozilla isn't just Mozilla Firefox, It's Camino, It's Fennec, It's integrated in Boxee, Miro, It's the Maemo browser, It's the engine for Songbird, it's the engine for Thunderbird/Lightning/Sunbird. Flickr uploader, Lotus Notes and so on.
Even Acrobat reader has mozilla tech integrated. So the problem is that it couldn't be used freely. The whole point is to generate tech which can be implemented by anyone freely. Adobe pays to use their decoders. Of course they can release it separately from source but that won't really solve anything. If Video are gonna be a part of the browser it needs to be freely implementable.
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