[whatwg] Removal of Ogg is *preposterous*

Elliotte Rusty Harold elharo at metalab.unc.edu
Wed Dec 12 04:38:29 PST 2007

David Hyatt wrote:

> Fear of submarine patents is only one reason Apple is not interested in 
> Theora.  There are several other reasons.  H.264 is a technically 
> superior solution to Theora.  Ignoring IP issues, there would be no 
> reason to pick Theora over H.264.  Everyone wants an open freely 
> implementable codec, but it doesn't follow that Theora should 
> automatically be that codec.  About the only argument I've heard in 
> favor of Theora is that "it's open", but that is an argument based 
> purely on IP and not on technical merits.

Openness is a prerequisite. Technical adequacy is a prerequisite. The 
technically best solution is not a prerequisite. In case it isn't 
obvious yet, an open, adequate format is preferred over a better 
proprietary one.

> If you consider mobile devices that want to browse the Web, then 
> depending on the constraints of the device, a hardware solution may be 
> required to view video with any kind of reasonable performance.  A 
> mandate of Theora is effectively dictating to those mobile vendors that 
> they have to create custom hardware that can play back Theora video.  
> Given that such devices may already need a hardware solution for 
> existing video like H.264, it seems unreasonable for HTML5 to mandate 
> what hardware a vendor has to develop just to browse Web video on a 
> mobile device.

Thanks. I wasn't previously convinced we needed to mandate *any* 
particular format, but you just convinced me. If hardware is support is 
required for some devices, then it does indeed sound like a good idea to 
mandate some minimum level of conformance. It is far better that this 
minimum level of conformance be an open, freely implementable standard 
such as Ogg/Theora than a known patent encumbered format such as H.264.

> Or put another way, imagine that GIF was an open format but PNG was 
> IP-encumbered.  Would you really want to limit the Web to displaying 
> only GIFs just because it was the only open image format available?  

Please stop attacking straw men. No one has suggested that. Under those 
circumstances, I absolutely would support requiring all browsers to 
display GIFs. This would not prohibit them from also displaying PNGs if 
they chose to license the relevant patents.

> Technical arguments are relevant here, so take some time to consider 
> them before accusing people of having shady ulterior motives.

Technical arguments are relevant, but do not control. They are neither 
the only nor the most important consideration. Furthermore, when 
apparently intelligent people persist in making simple logical and 
rhetorical errors, it is difficult not to infer that an ulterior motive 
may be present.

Elliotte Rusty Harold  elharo at metalab.unc.edu
Java I/O 2nd Edition Just Published!

More information about the whatwg mailing list