[whatwg] on codecs in a 'video' tag.

Maik Merten maikmerten at gmx.net
Mon Apr 2 12:46:05 PDT 2007

Maciej Stachowiak schrieb:
>> Mozilla can also be compiled and distributed by third parties. E.g.
>> Debian distributes a slightly modified version of Firefox as "Iceweasel"
>> AFAIK. They wouldn't be covered by a license Mozilla buys.
> This may be the case, but it is not immediately obvious to me.

Well, if the Mozilla source code would receive a MPEG license and would
still remain free someone may be clever enough to download the Mozilla
source code, strip out the browser code and have a perfectly legal MPEG
player. That's naive thinking, but I guess it wouldn't be in the
MPEG-LA's interest to allow this (that'd endanger their decoder
licensing income), thus they'd have to restrict the uses for the Mozilla
source, thus making it non-free. I would love to put a "q.e.d." (that
free software and MPEG licenses are incompatible) on that, but of course
that's nothing but wild speculation.

>>>> - They appreciate that there are a wide variety of distribution models;
>>>>   for browsers, and do not want to choose technologies which work only
>>>>   for some of those;
>>> Unfortunately, Ogg does not work for some browsers either.
>> Well, for text browsers or on platforms that don't have the processing
>> juice to decode it (then they couldn't decode MPEG4 whatever-part
>> either). I'd say that are platforms that usually don't even have feature
>> complete browsers anyway.
> As mentioned many times before, there are widely available hardware
> implementations of MPEG4, making it usable for low power devices. And
> yes, there are mobile devices with feature-complete browsers.

"MPEG" hardware in fact nowadays uses to have reprogrammable DSP cores.
That's e.g. true for the video iPod, which comes with
http://www.broadcom.com/products/technology/mobmm_videocore.php AFAIK. I
don't see any reason why those media DSPs couldn't drive Theora
(Broadcom says "100% Software Programmable" and if they don't lie to
their customers that'd imply their stuff is pretty flexible).

Of course implementing another codec on a DSP is a non trivial thing,
mostly because e.g. the tool chain for those media DSPs may be buggy (or
the silicon is) or poorly documented etc. - so the DSP manufacturer
perhaps would have to do the implementation work.

Usually consumer hardware doesn't receive feature upgrades after it
shipped, so most of the already installed hardware base won't get an
upgrade to whatever the WHATWG specifies anyway. New products shipping
WHATWG enabled products would be engineered for whatever codecs would
have to be supported. Ogg Theora decodes on ARM processor cores even
without touching the special multimedia features of that platform (as
shown on the Nokia N800 - which wasn't designed with a special codec in

> Well, the official EULA for the Firefox download already prevents
> certain forms of modification, but granted the logo, name and so forth
> are not core features.

The EULA applies to the binary thing, not the source code, which is free
(and contains a different branding set IIRC) as far as I know.


Maik Merten

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