Royalty-free H.264 may clear way for HTML5 standard


Without getting too detailed about all these licensing and patent objections, the gist is simply that video standards are often patented, and the use of those standards requires a license. The MPEG LA group, which owns the H.264 video codec, had declared that it wouldn't charge any royalty fees until 2016, but Mozilla and Opera were worried about what those future costs might be. Should H.264 video become a de facto Web standard in the meantime, the MPEG LA group would be in a position to charge a healthy fee for browser developers to keep using the format.

While Mozilla and others believed that the Ogg Theora format wasn't encumbered by such patents (and potential licensing fees), Apple and Steve Jobs remained unconvinced. MicrosoftMicrosoft later announced that Internet Explorer 9 would support H.264 video, and not Ogg Theora. Alles zu Microsoft auf

Thus, Hickson wrote, "I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that there is no suitable codec that all vendors are willing to implement and ship."

That unfortunate sequence of events meant that providers of Web video--and, to a certain extent, their consumers--got the short end of the stick. For full HTML5 video support, media providers now must encode their videos in multiple formats to make all browsers and platforms happy--that's time- and resource-consuming for content producers.

Earlier this year, Google acquired On2, the company that initially developed what later became the Ogg Theora format. Back in May, Google made On2's new format, called VP8, royalty-free to use. That would be a third possible HTML5 video format. Chrome, Firefox, and Opera offer varying levels of support for the VP8; Microsoft announced tentative plans to do so by the time Internet Explorer 9 ships, but Apple was silent on the subject.

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