| Friday August 1st 2014

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Mozilla is sticking to their ideals and shunning H264


I don’t want the web video standard to be patented grounds where anyone who wants to host content or write a tool has to pay to MPEG-LA. Let’s just think in the potential chilling effect of selectively enforcing H264 patents. If we allow H264 to be a “de facto standard,” then all our bases will belong to MPEG-LA and their interests.

Firefox girlIn my opinion, Mozilla has chosen to pick the right fight. H264 is even worse than Flash. Even if Flash has it’s own set of flaws and warts, Adobe won’t sue you for implementing or using it.

The problem is that there’s no standard codec for HTML5. The main contestants are H264 and Theora, and so far, it seems like on the browser side of things, Theora is winning out; with a Theora video you can cover Firefox, Chrome, and Opera users – whereas with H264 you miss out on Firefox and Opera users. Since Firefox is by far the largest HTML5 browser, encoding your video in H264 alone is shooting yourself in the foot.

There’s a clear reason why Mozilla is taking a stand against H264: the codec is heavily patent encumbered. This means that in parts of the world, you may not work with the codec without paying royalties to MPEG-LA which oversees the patents for H264 (among other things). And yes, the MPEG-LA has clearly stated that end-users are vulnerable to patent litigation. At the end of January this year, MPEG-LA made that quite clear.

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