[whatwg] Video

Silvia Pfeiffer silviapfeiffer1 at gmail.com
Mon Mar 31 22:00:04 PDT 2008

On Tue, Apr 1, 2008 at 2:58 PM, Robert J Crisler <rcrisler1 at unl.edu> wrote:
> The issue of a small licensing fee didn't stop MPEG 1 Part 3 from becoming
> the ubiquitous world standard for audio.

MP3 because an ISO/IEC standard in 1991, but patent enforcement did
not happen until 1998, until which time most people regarded MP3 as a
basically free codec. This and it's high compression quality were the
main reasons it became a de-facto standard. This uptake model cannot
be repeated in modern times.

> It isn't going to stop MPEG-4 AAC
> from supplanting it, and it hasn't stopped MPEG-2 and AVC from being the
> standard for HD codecs. Insisting on purity in these matters while the world
> moves on strikes me as just a bit quixotic.

The current standard for publishing media on the Web, in particular
consumer media, is Adobe Flash. This is the case not because of the
codecs inside Adobe Flash but because sites such as YouTube enable
consumers to publish media without having to worry about license fees
and patents, as well as technical issues. The enabler here is the
embed tag.

This situation is however unsatisfactory in multiple ways: it
restricts innovation around media and it restricts the common consumer
from working freely with their own media content in a Web environment.
Just imagine how restricted you would be if ascii attracted license
fees and you had to pay for any text you are trying to publish.

Also, your assumption that free codecs are now and always will be of
inferior quality to codecs which attract license fees is uninformed.
The codecs are not of inferior quality. The currently available
implementations may be. But even there I would argue that the recently
released dirac codec from the BBC is at the front of codec R&D and is
in many respects superior to the codecs you mention.

The issue with is simply that not enough research has been
undertaken to make an informed decision for a baseline codec for the
HTML5 video element. Let's not make any uninformed decisions at this
time, but rather give this issue the time it requires to be assessed
by the experts.


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