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

Maciej Stachowiak mjs at apple.com
Tue Apr 3 09:10:43 PDT 2007

Hey Gerv,

On Apr 3, 2007, at 5:51 AM, Gervase Markham wrote:

> Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
>> What I mean is that unlike the case for other browser vendors, it  
>> won't cost us anything in patent license fees.
> Ah, right. So you want MPEG because it gives Apple (and Microsoft,  
> I guess) a financial competitive advantage over other browsers.

Why do you have to spin everything in such an inflammatory way? If  
you are actually trying to make an argument and not just  
grandstanding you might want to assume some minimum of good faith on  
our part.

Most of your post illustrates reasons why you think Mozilla couldn't  
implement MPEG-4 codecs. Mostly these are based on speculation about  
what the actual patent license might say. That might be a reason  
against having an MPEG-4 requirement, but no one has suggested that,  
so I won't reply to the parts of your message that argue against  
doing so. There are some remaining parts to comment on:

>>> - 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.
> What is it about the distribution model of Safari that is  
> incompatible with shipping Ogg?

Is "distribution model" the only kind of reason you consider valid?

> Of all of the points you put forward, lots were "why MPEG4 is good  
> for us", but only one could be construed as saying "Ogg does not  
> work for us" - and that was the submarine patent point. Is this  
> what you are referring to, or is there another reason specifying  
> Ogg "doesn't work" for Safari?

Patent risk and unsuitability for limited processing power devices.  
(Which I'm tired of repeating.) Opportunity cost of putting  
engineering work into a less useful codec vs more useful ones.

>>> So, just to be clear: you believe interoperability is best  
>>> promoted by having no codec specified in the spec?
>> I think if the spec mandates a single codec, that part of the spec  
>> will be ignored by at least some parties.
> The current proposal is for a SHOULD, not a MUST. Do you object to  
> SHOULD as well as to MUST?

We're fine with the current spec language. Saying nothing at all  
would be better, but a SHOULD is fine. I followed up on this thread  
because you seem to be advocating a mandatory requirement.

> Can you please explain how you believe not specifying a codec at  
> all promotes interoperability?

It doesn't do more or less for interoperability than requiring a  
codec that some vendors won't actually support.

>> Isn't this basically admitting that Ogg Theora would fail in the  
>> market if not legislated in the spec?
> You assume that, absent legislation in the spec, all of the world's  
> codecs would be competing on a level playing field. That's clearly  
> not the case.

Maybe not, but legislating a technically inferior codec with less  
market adoption doesn't seem like it would be promoting a more level  
playing field.


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