[whatwg] Codecs (was Re: Apple Proposal for Timed Media Elements)

Maciej Stachowiak mjs at apple.com
Wed Mar 21 22:56:13 PDT 2007

On Mar 21, 2007, at 9:14 PM, Robert O'Callahan wrote:

> - As mentioned above, some devices may have a much harder time
> implementing Ogg than other codecs. Although a SHOULD-level
> requirement would excuse them, I'm not sure it's appropriate to have
> it if it might be invoked often.
> OK, let's assume Theora is a bad format for some devices. If  
> someone wants to target those devices with a better codec, they can  
> do so, and use Theora as the fallback. If they don't care, they use  
> Theora and at least the content is still playable on the devices.  
> What's the problem here? It's still a net win over the no-standard- 
> codec alternative.

There are devices that have a hardware video decoder but not enough  
CPU power for even relatively simple video. These could justifiably  
omit Ogg under the SHOULD clause. Others would simply burn battery at  
an unacceptable rate while doing software video decoding. Would these  
too be justified in omitting Ogg support under the SHOULD clause? If  
so, then not much interoperability is being gained, ultimately.
>  So, ironically, for a large company that has no problem the patent  
> fees, Ogg may carry
> more patent risk than MPEG.
> Just because no patents have appeared against MPEG doesn't mean  
> there aren't any outside the MPEG-LA pool. Submarines can surface  
> at any time. See Forgent.

While it's hard to have certainty, I am pointing out that the  
relative risk assessment can look different depending on one's position.

> - Placing requirements on format support would be unprecedented for
> HTML specifications, which generally leave this up to the UA, with de
> facto baseline support being decided by the market.
> Just because previous HTML specifications have been deficient in  
> this regard doesn't mean we have to repeat the mistake.
> I think having a single baseline codec will make <video> immensely  
> more attractive to authors than it otherwise would be. I also  
> believe from the point of view of Mozilla (or any other open source  
> project) Theora is vastly more attractive than MPEG. If we don't  
> ship MPEG and other vendors don't ship Theora, then the <video>  
> element will be hobbled from the start.

I agree that a baseline set of codecs would be good. I'm just not  
sure it is possible to reach consensus on what that set should be.  
 From Apple's point of view, MPEG is significantly more attractive  
than Ogg.


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