[whatwg] several messages regarding Ogg in HTML5

Ian Hickson ian at hixie.ch
Wed Dec 12 03:28:35 PST 2007

On Wed, 12 Dec 2007, Jeff McAdams wrote:
> And this is exactly the way that Apple, Nokia, et al are hijacking this 
> process.  They throw out some nebulous business reason for why they 
> don't want to use Ogg et al, and it gets bought, hook line and sinker.
> Maybe there is some legitimacy to that argument, even, but, I really 
> don't care.

Indeed, the actual argument doesn't really matter. The key take-away is 
that Apple and Nokia don't want to implement Ogg Theora, so, since our 
goal is full interoperability between all browsers, we can't use Ogg 
Theora as our common codec. The change in the spec is merely to reflect 

> The w3c should be about making the best free and open standard they can, 
> and right now that means Ogg...if Apple and Nokia don't want to 
> implement that, then that's their problem.

It actually is our problem too, as it would lead to HTML5's <video> 
element being a failure.

> If HTML5 doesn't get traction as a result, then you point at Apple and 
> friends and point out that they refuse to implement a perfectly good and 
> easily implementable spec and let the marketplace figure it out.

The marketplace is likely to "figure it out" by doing what they've been 
doing all this time, namely, use Flash (which is moving to H.264). This is 
a losing proposition if you desire the Web to be based on royalty free 
standards as I do.

> > There's no point putting a MUST in the spec if we _know_ that it won't 
> > be followed. We're not writing specs to satisfy a theoretical need, 
> > we're trying to get actual interoperability across all browsers.
> Then you've decided to allow any big company to torpedo this process 
> based on some nebulous claims of "business risk".

That is indeed the case, just like we allow small companies to torpedo the 
process based on some nebulous claims of "excessive license fees". That's 
how standards development works.

> So much for the w3c being relevant.  I thought the w3c stood for more 
> than this.

This is the WHATWG, not the W3C.

> >> If you want a baseline that everyone can implement without being 
> >> encumbered, then the answer is Theora.
> > 
> > We have been told that Theora is not something everyone can implement.
> And that's a bald faced lie.  Everyone *can* implement it, though they 
> may choose not to.

Ok, we have been told that Theora is not something everyone will 
implement. The net result is the same.

> >>> Small companies aren't targetted by patent trolls. Only big (really 
> >>> big) companies are. It's a big-company concern, just like "no 
> >>> per-user licensing" is a small-company concern. That's just the 
> >>> reality of the situation, it's not intended to be a bias.
> >>
> >> Except that it very clearly is biasing the decision making process so 
> >> far.  The language was changed because the big companies weren't 
> >> comfortable with it, moving in the direction of screwing the little 
> >> guy. That is bias.
> > 
> > I'm sorry you believe that. It really isn't supposed to be. We're 
> > trying to find a solution that works for everyone.
> Then revert the text, even if only as a show of good faith.

Reverting the text doesn't find a solution that works for everyone -- it 
merely puts forward a solution that we _know_ isn't acceptable to everyone 
as a fait accompli, which is, as you so finely put it, a bald-faced lie.

> > Actually, all browsers are in scope to the WHATWG work. It would be 
> > short sighted in the extreme, for instance, to ignore IE, since they 
> > have a controlling position in the market.
> That just doesn't make any sense.  If a browser decides that its not 
> going to be standards compliant, then there's nothing that the standards 
> body can do to affect what that browser does.

If the vendor decides to not be standards compliant on principle, then 
yes, I agree. And such vendors would be ignored. However, Apple has 
repeatedly shown a true desire to follow standards (e.g. they were the 
first browser vendor to fix the bugs that the Acid2 test exposed in their 
rendering engine), and we owe it to them to address their concerns so that 
they _can_ be compliant.

> > Whatever solution we find will be one that is royalty free and open. 
> > That is not in any doubt.
> Then as a show of good faith, revert the text until the discussion 
> happens.

I don't understand how my statement leads to yours. They seem to be 
non-sequitur. How does having the spec recommend something that we know 
isn't acceptable to everyone, a show of good faith?

> > As the person who would make that decision, I assure you that no 
> > decision has in fact been made. That is, in fact, the entire crux of 
> > the issue.
> But the fact is that the text was changed away from specifying free and 
> open codecs, even if as a default position.  And that's offensive.

The text went away from specifying a _particular_ free and open codec 
without the consensus of the group as a whole, to specifying that we need 
a free and open codec that _does_ have consensus. I do not understand why 
that would be offensive.

> > Because the SHOULD-level requirement on Ogg did not represent the 
> > actual status of the spec and of the current consensus. The spec 
> > should reflect reality -- that, if anything, is an underpinning 
> > principle of the WHATWG.
> But the spec, as it currently exists, is a working document, why change 
> the text to something that you know will have to be changed again.  If 
> that's an underpinning principle of the WHATWG, then that's just nuts.

The previous text was known to be incorrect (we can't recommend Ogg Theora 
if we want everyone to implement it). I try to keep the spec from having 
knowingly-incorrect text in it.

Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'

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