[whatwg] The truth about Nokias claims
shannon at arc.net.au
Fri Dec 14 01:26:48 PST 2007
I've been misquoted on this list several times now so I want to make my
position clear. I believe that the current draft, which was changed
without open discussion, gives a green light for the status quo. The
status quo is that Flash, Quicktime and WMV will remain the 'standards'
for web video. I know this because I implement video on websites as a
What concerns me is that the removed OGG recommendation (specified as
SHOULD rather than MUST) was a step forward to the adoption (however
reluctantly) by corporations and governments of a set of formats that
require no royalties to encode, decode, reverse-engineer or distribute.
None of the status quo formats can make that claim.
Several people on this list have claimed that recommending OGG would
have legal implications for vendors. It does not. Those who feel
threatened have the option to not implement it - without affecting
compliance. In nearly all cases the end-user would have been subject to
the minor inconvenience of finding an alternate source of OGG support.
What concerns me most is that the people making contrary claims know
this yet argue anyway. Their motives and affilations, to me, are suspect.
OGG Theora is not the most compressed video format, nor is it the least.
It is however in the public domain and at least equivalent to MP3 and
XVID, which are both popular streaming formats. While submarine patents
may one day undermine this there is no current evidence that OGG
contains patented technology and there is plenty of legal opinion that
it does not. Either way it is not possible to remove this risk
altogether by maintaining the status quo or recommending (or demanding)
any other format.
Supporting OGG now in no way prevents a better option (such as Matroska
and/or Dirac) being added in the future. Nor does it prevent SHOULD
being changed to MUST.
The loudest objectors to OGG are also, in my opinion, the most
encumbered by commercial support for an existing licensed format. This
is not paranoia or fandom, just observation of this list.
There is no evidence that recommending optional OGG support will affect
companies adoption (or not) of the rest of the HTML5 standard. We only
have Ian's word for that and I don't believe it anyway. HTML5 is likely
to be adopted by all major browsers (in full or in part).
MPEG2/3/4 are NOT unencumbered formats. There are too many patent
holders for that to ever be the case. None will give up their rights
while they remain defacto standards.
Some claim that recommending no baseline format is neutral ground. The
amount of outrage this triggered proves that is false. The claim that we
have not reached a decision is true (my opponents use this claim to
support their 'neutrality'). Yet it is clear to me that NOT setting a
standard is as influential in this case as setting one. Indecision with
no reasonable grounds for ending it leads to the status quo as I have
said. Is it not the purpose (and within the powers of) of a standards
body to steer the status quo? Is it not in the public interest that this
HTML4 advocated GIF, JPG and PNG even if the wording made it seem
optional. The result was full support for 2 of these formats and partial
support of the third. There is no reason to believe that putting a
SHOULD recommendation in the text wouldn't result in most browsers
supporting OGG (except IE). This in turn would give public, non-profit
and non-aligned (with MPEG-LA) organizations justification to release
materials in this format rather than Flash, WMV or MOV (all of which
require commercial plugins and restrictive licenses).
Some claim pro-OGG supporters started this debate. It was Nokia who made
this a headline issue.
Objectors claim they are working towards a resolution that defines a
MUST video format and is accepted by 'all parties'. I don't believe that
because they know this is impossible and it WILL affect HTML5 adoption.
There is no format that can satisfy their unreasonable expectations.
There never will be. We live in a world where companies claim patents on
'double-clicking' and 'moving pictures on a screen'. How then can any
format ever meet their demands?
I hope I have made my position clear. I hope my position represents the
public interest. I am not here just to nag (I have been on this list for
over two years and have only intervened once before). I am writing in
the hope that proper discussion takes place and that future decisions of
this magnitude are not made without public consultation - in the
interests of entrenched cabals. I would like to say I believe all those
opposing OGG have our best interests at heart - but that would be a lie.
I am too old to believe companies and their spokespeople are altruistic
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