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Free Software Foundation Urges Google To Free VP8

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the windmill-assaulted-my-honor dept.

Google 315

jamesswift writes "The FSF have written an open letter to Google urging them to free the VP8 codec with an irrevocable royalty-free licence: 'With its purchase of the On2 video compression technology company having been completed on Wednesday February 16, 2010, Google now has the opportunity to make free video formats the standard, freeing the web from both Flash and the proprietary H.264 codec.'" Also from the letter: "The world would have a new free format unencumbered by software patents. Viewers, video creators, free software developers, hardware makers -- everyone -- would have another way to distribute video without patents, fees, and restrictions. The free video format Ogg Theora was already at least as good for web video (see a comparison) as its nonfree competitor H.264, and we never did agree with your objections to using it. But since you made the decision to purchase VP8, presumably you're confident it can meet even those objections, and using it on YouTube is a no-brainer."

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Free Urges (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31227790)

Google [goatse.fr]

A new type of license... (1)

spammeister (586331) | more than 4 years ago | (#31227808)

...a "Free as in Beer" license would be probably sound better.

N.264/MPEG-4 is no more proprietary than MPEG2 (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228224)

We use MPEG2 everywhere without problems (including our ATSC television) - we can certainly do the same with H.264/MPEG4. In fact it's the same standard used in European TV and they seem to be making-out okay.

These two codecs are more akin to V.34 or V.92 modem standards - licensed by their respective committees but essentially liberated (free).

Re:N.264/MPEG-4 is no more proprietary than MPEG2 (4, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228782)

We use MPEG2 everywhere without problems (including our ATSC television) - we can certainly do the same with H.264/MPEG4. In fact it's the same standard used in European TV and they seem to be making-out okay.

It shuts out free software. Where there are royalties there can be no freedom. I don't pay for air and I don't buy bottled water, I'm not going to pay for codecs.

Re:H.264/MPEG-4 is no more proprietary than MPEG2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228886)

Patent laws are different in Europe, but aside from that, MPEG2 is quite old and most of the patents are expired.

H.264 is much newer so there is a real risk of patent claims.

Re:N.264/MPEG-4 is no more proprietary than MPEG2 (4, Informative)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229002)

You know that people are going to have to start paying for licenses for h.264 once the current grace period ends right?

Problem still remains (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31227822)

The two issues that prevented YouTube from using the Ogg Theora codec still apply.

Many hardware devices already have H.264 decoding built into the chip, ranging from set-top boxes to the iPhone. Moving away would mean losing ability to run on these target devices (or run at an unacceptable frame rate).
The alternative would be to have two versions of the video stored, but they're currently already doing this for Mobile YouTube and regular YouTube, and adding a third wouldn't make much sense.

The cost of transcoding all the videos again is also another issue. Doing this to all the videos at once is somewhat pointless - currently, if you try and watch a video that isn't already encoded for the mobile device, YouTube will attempt to transcode the video on the fly and send it out directly.

I guess this could be done, but while storage is relatively inexpensive, it kinda doesn't make much business sense; the patent licensing cost Google about zilch already, so it'd just cost them more for all these extra "features".

Then again, if they piss off Mozilla, there goes marketshare/traffic/revenue. Put it the other way though, the other browsers (including IE) could just as easily implement H.264 and then gain users from those who can't use FF to play their favourite dancing cat videos.

Re:Problem still remains (4, Informative)

Tapewolf (1639955) | more than 4 years ago | (#31227878)

The two issues that prevented YouTube from using the Ogg Theora codec still apply.

Many hardware devices already have H.264 decoding built into the chip, ranging from set-top boxes to the iPhone. Moving away would mean losing ability to run on these target devices (or run at an unacceptable frame rate).

Yes, but going by that logic there won't be an H.265 either, because the hardware support doesn't exist in current devices.

The alternative would be to have two versions of the video stored, but they're currently already doing this for Mobile YouTube and regular YouTube, and adding a third wouldn't make much sense.

Actually there seem to be more than just two, AFAIK there's at least fmt=6, fmt=18, fmt=22...
A quick googling reveals this list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YouTube#Quality_and_codecs [wikipedia.org]

Re:Problem still remains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228026)

Um just take a look at who owns the patents in the H.264 pool... I'm sure those same companies will be pushing H.265 when it will help them sell more hardware.

Re:Problem still remains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31227884)

What prevent youtube from using multiple codec? It not like they are runing out of space. They could guess the best fit from browser strings and allow to change in preference option.

Re:Problem still remains (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228022)

The more codecs they use, the more times they have to run ffmpeg to encode each video, and the more servers they have to buy and devote to running ffmpeg.

Re:Problem still remains (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228714)

So? They arent short on cpu time either. They already re-encode what ever format get uploaded in 4 down scale resolution.

Eight is more than four (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228918)

They want to reencode in four down scale resolutions, not eight Cartesian product of downscale resolutions and codecs.

Re:Problem still remains (1)

Stumbles (602007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31227906)

I don't think the lose of hardware compatibility or lose of functionality has ever stopped businesses making stupid decisions. If that were so, then Adobe would have fixed Flash a l o n g time ago from being a big resource hog.

Re:Problem still remains (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228118)

I don't think the lose of hardware compatibility or lose of functionality has ever stopped businesses making stupid decisions. If that were so, then Adobe would have fixed Flash a l o n g time ago from being a big resource hog.

It's not their hardware being hogged...

You can bet, if Adobe themselves needed to buy more powerful hardware in order to make up for their shitty software, they'd fix it in a moment.

Re:Problem still remains (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228192)

Well Google has an advantage in that they are large and respected. If they open up VP8 and say "Here's the docs to implement hardware decoding, we'll be supporting this standard well in to the future," companies might be interested in it. This is particularly true since VP6 is what most Flash video is.

Theora has a number of problems that VP8 doesn't:

1) A stupid name. Sorry, but names matter and Ogg Theora is a bad one. When I've mentioned Ogg before (since I like Vorbis audio files) I get some very "Huh?" reactions form non-techies. VP8 is a good name, sounds like a nice tech acronym like MP3.

2) Obscurity. Xiph is something of a nobody. Tech people are aware of them, and if you've done game development you may have seen their stuff in an engine, but most people know nothing of them. Google is a major household name, hell 'google' has become a verb. As such if Google pushes something, there's a lot of force that comes with that. Does YOUR company want to be the only one that doesn't support "The Google format?"

3) Installed base. As I said, Flash uses VP6 heavily. Supposing VP8 is related (I'd bet it is) and supposing they open up a decoder spec that can handle both, this makes it of a whole lot of interest. I'm sure nVidia and ATi would jump on making a video card that "Accelerated HD Flash video," as they already do that with other video. The benefit to a consumer could be realized now, whereas the Theora benefit is theoretical in the future. You implement hardware support hoping it picks up, whereas with the VP codecs, you've got stuff in that format NOW.

So I think Google would likely have success if they opened the codec up and pushed it out as the Next Big Thing(tm) for the web.

Re:Problem still remains (1, Insightful)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228344)

> Does YOUR company want to be the only one that doesn't support "The Google format?"

Sad truth: far too many small and medium size companies would jump at the chance to show their loyalty to Microsoft by doing so.

This ! Is ! GOO-GLE ! (1)

DrYak (748999) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228242)

Well, all the hardware / processing requirement are moot given it's freaking Google we're talking about. Given the resources they have at their disposal, adding yet another codec to the bunch of other formats in which the video are available isn't going to be such a demanding task (in worst case if they definitely need to free resources, they could kick out one of the older not-used-anymore formats, like Sorenson or whatever).

The main problem is the going to be the hardware support. Specially since VP8 is touted as having potential to be better quality as h264 : consequently it could also be more computationally complex (unlike Theora). But mobile hardware is also making progress in term of advanced programmability : the latest most popular ARM platform include a GPU (PowerVR) whose makers (Imagination Technology) are members of the OpenCL board. And it's not like if Google didn't have the resources to tackle that problem too.
In addtion to that (and unlike Xiph), Google has enough popularity and market significance to leverage in order to persuade manufacturer to consider including a VP8-decoding core to their packages.

I would half-expect that the 2010 edition of Google Summer of Code includes a couple of projects to port the latest Google's VP8 variation onto OpenCL and onto VHDL/Verilog on Opencores.
With late 2010 / early 2011 android phones featuring GPGPU+DSP accelerated VP8 on their OMAPs after updating to the latest version.
And late 2011 with the dedicated hardware VP8 implementation finding its way into CPU packages with ARM Cortex 9 or 10 in the next crop of Google ChromOS Netbooks.

That is all pure speculation, but isn't that much un-realistic and could pretty much happen (though GPGPU-accelerated Theora and dedicated hardware Theora have in fact already happened. But it's just not a popular enough format and there's not a big enough demand to have package manufacturer include such a core in their current crop of OMAPs, Tegras, etc.)

Re:Problem still remains (0)

jonadab (583620) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228464)

You appear to be making pragmatic arguments. Obviously you don't live in the same universe as the FSF. If you did, you'd understand that practical concerns such as backward-compatibility are far less important than abstract ideological purity.

Re:Problem still remains (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228828)

You're actually trying to argue that using a new codec on YouTube makes no sense for Google? Then why did they spend a hundred million dollars for it? Please tell us.

Re:Problem still remains (1)

randallman (605329) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228962)

You'll have to have multiple versions anyway. Say a 1080p version for a large screen and a 360p version for a small screen.

Google could do real good with this. (4, Interesting)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 4 years ago | (#31227828)

I hope Google does this. A real, free video system for the internet would do incalculable good. Google could once again take the high road, and show it truly is different than the evil Microsoft!

I hope Google agrees.

Re:Google could do real good with this. (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228228)

We have this already. We've had it for years. Here's how it works:

1) Install a good media player like VLC or MPlayer. They are free, open source, run everywhere Flash does (and the on many more platforms), and support just about every video format known to mankind. Plus they're real applications, not browser-embedded shit nuggets.
2) A site like YouTube, instead of embedding a shitty Flash player, just provides a direct link to the video. The protocol doesn't really matter, as VLC and MPlayer support the common ones like HTTP and RTMP.
3) A user of that site clicks on the link, it opens the video in VLC or MPlayer, and they watch it without Flash fucking up, or their browser crashes.

It's a much more enjoyable experience.

Re:Google could do real good with this. (1, Funny)

LinuxAndLube (1526389) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228356)

LOL Obviously, you're not a business planner.

Not a good letter. (5, Insightful)

fenix849 (1009013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31227836)

This might make me unpopular here, but the whole letter is poorly worded and written in the wrong spirit. Initially it's ok, but then it all starts sounding a little bit desperate, and by the end it's demanding and almost threatening. Imo.

Re:Not a good letter. (1)

skywatcher2501 (1608209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31227888)

This might make me unpopular here...

[OT] Slashdot is a nice place to learn about rhetoric, methinks. [/OT]

Re:Not a good letter. (4, Insightful)

lyml (1200795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31227900)

I agree, quotes such as:

If you care about free software and the free web (a movement and medium to which you owe your success) you must take bold action to replace Flash with free standards and free formats.

don't exactly make you very willing to help a person who is currently begging you for free stuff.

Re:Not a good letter. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31227910)

That's exactly what I thought... bring on the flames

Re:Not a good letter. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31227938)

Yeah, I agree. This letter is strange. Google is obviously smart enough to have thought about all that, and the letter seems to make the assumption that Google just bought the thing without a clue as what to do with it.

My understanding of the situation is that :
1. Making a video codec patent free is really difficult, since submarine patents are always a threat. Google may be hard working at making sure VP8 can be totally free.
2. Nobody knows really how good the codec is (since it's not available). Google may be hard working on improving and polishing it before releasing it.
3. Right now, there is zero hardware support for VP8. Playing a HD VP8 video on an iPad would likely be very difficult, for example. Google may be hard working on hardware chips for Android smartphone.
4. Other things I don't grasp/didn't thought about.

In the current market place, freeing a good video codec is one thing. Make people using it is another. We've seen that with Theora. Since Google hold so many cards (YouTube, Android, Chrome) in the game right now, it makes sense that they want to play all of them. I have good hope that Google will be releasing VP8 at some point as a free (as in beer, or more). It just makes sense for them.

Re:Not a good letter. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228106)

Why would you play HD video on an iPad? Or own an iPad for that matter?

Re:Not a good letter. (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228536)

If you get an HD movie off iTunes and normally play it on your main box, but decide to also watch it on your iPad now and again, even if the screen resolution isn't there. It's unlikely you're going to want to keep player-targeted encodes of everything you own. The ability of some theoretical software player on a mobile device being able to downsize on the fly/play back a scaled down HD video on a smaller screen from the source file does have its advantages.

And people might own an iPad because they had a use for the features it offers. That's generally why you buy a product.

Re:Not a good letter. (2, Interesting)

jonadab (583620) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228982)

> Making a video codec patent free is really difficult,
> since submarine patents are always a threat.

Which makes me wonder why everyone is always so keen to make new video formats. Why not just use one of the ones that's twenty years old? All the patents would be expired, then. Are the video formats from the late eighties really all deficient in some important way? With all the formats that were floating around back then, competing to cram more video into less space, it's difficult to imagine that NONE of them can meet our needs in this decadent era of cheap storage, extravagant bandwidth, and powerful multi-core CPUs. What am I missing?

Even Google can't implement VP8 (5, Interesting)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229000)

If you check the size of h264/mp4 SP implemented devices, Android, iPad, iPod like "trendy" new stuff is a drop in the ocean.

Companies who actually broadcasts and sells content looks for the size of the market, the share of the market and yes, in that case non smart phones (billions!) are also mattering with the advent of 3G and even EDGE.

Lets say, if you invent a codec which will effectively erase h264 in terms of quality&bandwidth, h264/mp4 and even mpeg-2 will still stay since that device in your hand and connected device to your TV has some kind of impossible to replace chip.

I think FSF and "Free codec" thinks everyone uses the latest device/trendy PC and somehow, Google will magically add VP8 to it. How? They don't even see the real magic thing about H264, it is scalability and compatibility. Most of "Real is spyware" trolls or "MS is dying" people doesn't know it but... H264 and AAC(+) is the first time the entire industry agreed on a single codec. Device manufacturers, software vendors, chip manufacturers, cell phone manufacturers have all said "OK, regardless of our evil World domination plans, there is nothing that can match H264".

For the first time in media history, Real, MS, Satellite Boxes, Apple, Cell phones, Media devices, Blu Ray are all using the very same codec with little difference which makes it extremely easy and cheap for the actual content creators. When a TV professional hears about Linux, he pictures a Da Vinci box (lovely thing based on Linux), not the 1% Desktop... Thanks to iPhone/iPod and actually rising market share, Apple matters but Apple has already decided back when nobody except media professionals and codec nerds knew about it. It is H264.

...and it smelled of pot and patchouli (1, Funny)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 4 years ago | (#31227984)

I'm just sayin'...

Re:...and it smelled of pot and patchouli (3, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228358)

Nothing wrong with either of those.

Re:Not a good letter. (1, Informative)

alexhs (877055) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228074)

Not to mention that writing that H.264 is proprietary is wrong.

It's patent-encumbered, yes, and as such non-free, but it is nonetheless a non-proprietary standard as AFAIK the full documentation is available.

BTW, the JPEG standard is also patent-encumbered, which is why only a subset of the features described in the standard are usually implemented (lossless coding, hierarchical coding, arithmetic coding are usually left out of the implementation).

Re:Not a good letter. (4, Insightful)

bit01 (644603) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228202)

Not to mention that writing that H.264 is proprietary is wrong.

No, it's right actually. Proprietary means of property [wiktionary.org] , in particular patents. The fact that a group of companies own it collectively rather than an individual company, and that documentation is available, is irrelevant. People can only use it by paying a non-nominal fee and that makes it proprietary.

---

Who owns the copy?

Well thats the FSF for you (4, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228108)

Why write an erudite carefully thought out and well argued letter when they can just bang out one of their usual hysterical Good vs Evil style polemics? I doubt anyone except a few dyed in the wool fanbois or anyone who's worked in the real world for more than 6 months take much notice of what the FSF says anymore, they're just a bunch of single issue reactionaries with little new to say. While I respect the software they've written over the years , their politics is a joke.

Re:Well thats the FSF for you (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228204)

I doubt anyone except a few dyed in the wool fanbois or anyone who's worked in the real world for more than 6 months take much notice of what the FSF says anymore

There's enough with mod points that won't tolerate the violation of slashgroupthink. Enjoy your downvote.

Re:Well thats the FSF for you (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228418)

I doubt anyone except a few dyed in the wool fanbois or anyone who's worked in the real world for more than 6 months take much notice of what the FSF says anymore

Wait a second there. I agree to some extent with your view on the FSF's poor PR skills, but they are still an extremely important organization to whom a lot of engineers and software developers are indebted to. FYI, I am no FSF fanboi and I have worked in the industry (mostly IT) for the last 15 years.

Re:Well thats the FSF for you (5, Insightful)

shaka (13165) | more than 4 years ago | (#31229010)

Please study your history and particularly the state of computing in the early eighties, when Stallman founded the FSF. He looked at the future of computing and he saw a bunch of big companies with a proprietary Unix version each, and new players like Apple and Microsoft. Had the Internet been built on that foundation, not to mention robotics, AI and rapid prototyping, today would be a very different world.

It's easy for you to point your finger and talk about "the real world", now that GCC, Linux and the free BSDs exist. Now imagine a company like Google, except they have to pay licenses for the OS, compilers and interpreters, databases, video and audio conversion. Imagine yourself using computers and not having any control of what goes on, with corporations controlling everything from the BIOS up.

Richard Stallman changed the world. "Reactionary", indeed. Do tell, dear Viol8, what you ever accomplished out there in the "real world"?

Re:Not a good letter. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228238)

RMS and the FSF has bigger entitlement issues than most pirates. The world doesn't owe you a free implementation of anything, but in his mind you always owe the community and should release everything under the GPL. Even the release groups tend to say if you like it, buy it. When TPB has had some official releases, they've been with a paypal link for those who enjoyed it. FSF? They just insist. Sometimes I find them as annoying as the beggars that shake the cup of coins under your nose to make you give them something. No fucking way.

Re:Not a good letter. (5, Insightful)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228762)

Say what you like about the "average" GPL zealot, but most sysadmins owe RMS and the FSF a lot. I probably wouldn't be a sysadmin if I didn't have the GNU tools, including Emacs, to use. They make it not so much tedious as interesting, as I change flags and run macros, and the text swims and takes on the form I want in front of my eyes. And I didn't have to implement it. They did it for me. Entitlement and quid pro quo are two very different things.

What about Dirac? (1)

Cigaes (714444) | more than 4 years ago | (#31227860)

What about Dirac, the HD codec developed by the BBC? It has at least two Free implementations, and there are probably no patents?
Does anyone here have a pointer to a comparison taking Dirac into account, both for low and high bitrates?

Re:What about Dirac? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31227972)

I evaluated it for some IPTV software I was working on about 2-3 years ago and it was nowhere near good enough compared to H.264... I suppose it could have improved some since that point but I doubt its competitive.

One other thing is that anything that is competitive with H.264 almost certainly has patent issues... with MPEG patent trolls will have to cut a deal with the MPEG-LA but with a codec that doesn't have an established patent pool (e.g. theora or VP8) they can come after implementers directly.

Better solution (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31227880)

Why not just buy h.264 outright? What's the market cap for the company that owns it? It's got to be a drop in the bucket compared to licencing fees down the road, plus what they paid (1 billion dollars) for YouTube.

Re:Better solution (4, Funny)

laederkeps (976361) | more than 4 years ago | (#31227904)

(1 billion dollars)

Muahahahahahahaaaaaaa!

Re:Better solution (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228152)

Wow, that was a fucking constructive comment. Thanks for your contribution, asshole.

No one company owns H.264 (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31227934)

No one company owns H.264. The patents are spread out across about two dozen companies listed on the licensors page [mpegla.com] . Some of them, like Apple and Microsoft, have market capitalizations close to that of Google.

Re:No one company owns H.264 (2, Interesting)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31227980)

So then buy into the video codec cartel by buying a patent off of someone. I'm assuming being part of the cartel entitles you to free use of h.264.

Re:No one company owns H.264 (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228004)

I'm assuming being part of the cartel entitles you to free use of h.264.

I don't see how this is true. Being part of the video game console cartel does not entitle Microsoft to Nintendo's patents.

Re:No one company owns H.264 (5, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228100)

It allows them to swap patent rights.

So if Google goes out and picks up a patent essential to H.264, then they will avoid (or offset) the licensing fees on H.264 forever.

But this doesnt give what that poster wanted, which was Google picking up all the H.264 patents and freeing them. Thats never going to happen, and as is Google seems very willing to use H.264 anyways.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Theora cannot win. H.264 is here to stay and this fact really doesnt effect the end user much, because most end users already have H.264 licenses. Its pretty much just Linux and BSD that have a playback issue as far as end-users are concerned, and with the availability of "illegal" H.264 codecs, that just doesnt matter.

What Mozilla and Opera are doing is trying to make it an end-user problem when it actually isn't. The end users have the codecs. Use them. Giving users the choice is far superior to steadfastly refusing to give them a choice.

Re:No one company owns H.264 (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228532)

What Mozilla and Opera are doing is trying to make it an end-user problem when it actually isn't.

And I, the end user, gave Mozilla the finger by switching myself and everyone I know to Chrome :)
 
Actually everyone already switched prior, but being independent of the whole issue, you really have to shake your head and wonder what Mozilla's real beef is. HTML5 video tag works flawlessly in Chrome, btw. Long live h.264(!)

Re:No one company owns H.264 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228970)

> you really have to shake your head and wonder what Mozilla's real beef is
How about the ability to operate freely without being a target of video software patent racketeering.

Re:Better solution (1)

yabos (719499) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228738)

And then Google owns it instead of another company. Not much different. Do you think they'd just pay billions of dollars so they can make it free?

Do no evil..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31227912)

mhhh well now is the time where we can see if Google is here to make the world a better place or just another caitalist company.

Do no evil != Help make the World a better place

BTW, any Slashdot devs online? This website is a fucking pain to use on tiny computers suchas the N900. This is supposed to be a site for nerds .... you know, for people who like to us gadgets.
Slashdot sucks a little more each day, I think it is time to say good bye and never come back.
This nerd is getting of the Slashdot ride, next stop Chandot.org

Re:Do no evil..... (2, Insightful)

mrpacmanjel (38218) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228060)

If you are the nerd you claim to be it would be easy enough to write your own script or apply a css to reformat the page.

You have perl and python available to you they are both on your n900.

Re:Do no evil..... (1)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228788)

There is an easier way that that.

Go into "help & preferences" and then "Classic Design". Check "Use Classic Index", "Simple Design", "Low Bandwidth" and "No Icons". You also have the option to "Turn Off Tags". It makes things a lot faster and easy on small-screen devices. It also helps on normal systems. Lots of the cruft just goes away.

I'm posting this from my new N900 now.

Re:Do no evil..... (1)

ProfMobius (1313701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228764)

Slashdot sucks a little more each day, I think it is time to say good bye and never come back.

Since Slashdot is not changing, the sucking augmentation must be on your side. Ho, and Obvious Troll is Obvious.

yay just what the world needs (1, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31227920)

yet another codec implementation trying to push it's way to the top.

the reasons they oppose h.264 are stupid for a start, it has about the most generous licensing i've ever seen. hence the reason it has been so widely adopted.

Re:yay just what the world needs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31227946)

No it's because the free x264-codec.

x264 is warez (0)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228038)

In the United States, x264 is considered warez because distribution thereof infringes a third party's right.

Re:x264 is warez (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228188)

In the United States, x264 is considered warez because distribution thereof infringes a third party's right.

Who cares? Just distribute from a European country then.

Re:x264 is warez (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228296)

In that case, downloading a compiled x264 in the United States is still importation, and that's warez too.

Re:x264 is warez (2, Informative)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228384)

In that case, downloading a compiled x264 in the United States is still importation, and that's warez too.

And who the hell cares? Does your police really come and bust down your door and shove machine guns into your face if you download "unapproved" software?

Re:x264 is warez (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228410)

Does your police really come and bust down your door and shove machine guns into your face if you download "unapproved" software?

Not yet. Give it time.

Re:x264 is warez (3, Insightful)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228540)

Only for downloading music and video

No, because ACTA is not yet law (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228542)

Does your police really come and bust down your door and shove machine guns into your face if you download "unapproved" software?

No. But this is true only because ACTA is not yet law.

Re:x264 is warez (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228644)

What a mind-boggingly bad argument. And you actually seem to buy it, yourself.

Re:x264 is warez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228940)

No honestly, no one gives a flying fuck about warezing a codec.

Re:x264 is warez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228190)

In the United States, x264 is considered warez because distribution thereof infringes a third party's right.

Really? You should tell Youtube [ycombinator.com] , Facebook [ycombinator.com] , Avail Media and all the other US companies currently using x264 that they are using warez. If you pay the licensing fees you can use x264 however you want. Companies are regularly sponsoring the development of features the want implemented, for instance low latency encoding [multimedia.cx] or streaming improvements [videolan.org] . Most private use is probably covered by the less than 100k = free clause in the MPEG licensing agreement and it's not like the MPEG-LA really cares what you use to rip your DVDs.

Re:x264 is warez (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228194)

I think the proper way to express it is that "In the United States, a distributed x264 binary is considered warez...".
From what I understand the source code is legal, and it might even be legal to compile and use the resulting binary for personal purposes.

- Peder

It's the "about" that kills (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31227978)

it has about the most generous licensing i've ever seen.

But it's the "about" that kills. A software license that includes the H.264 terms will never qualify under Free Software Foundation's definition of free software, the Debian Free Software Guidelines, or Open Source Initiative's Open Source Definition.

Re:It's the "about" that kills (0, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228278)

umm, so in other words no one is going to give a fuck just like they don't now?!

Re:It's the "about" that kills (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228316)

umm, so in other words no one is going to give a fuck just like they don't now?!

The thing about patents is that a patent holder can start giving a fuck at any moment. Remember GIF-gate of the late 1990s and early 2000s?

Re:It's the "about" that kills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228616)

Remember how much trouble this caused the average consumer? .... How you could not see gif in your browser unless you paid up? All that content you could not see? The tremendous licensing fee you paid? Oh that's right... it didn't happen. The folks who make the development tools paid that fee and the end user went about life exactly as they had before. Same thing here. The average end user will not care. Folks running Windows and OSx will have no trouble as the manufacturers will have paid to license the technologies, and the linux geeks will have to deal with it. Face it. You use an OS that is such a niche OS, you live with the consequences of being on the fringe. It does not matter what is technically superior or what is "free".... It matters what is easy and does not interfere with the end user. That is all they care about.

Re:It's the "about" that kills (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228398)

the GPL isn't free software either.

Re:It's the "about" that kills (4, Informative)

monkeythug (875071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228746)

Neither is the US a free country, since you aren't free to pick up a machete and go on a killing spree.

Most people accept some restrictions on "free" if they benefit society (and hence benefit you indirectly - I assume you don't have to dodge machete wielding morons when you walk down the street)

Re:yay just what the world needs (1, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228090)

the reasons they oppose h.264 are stupid for a start, it has about the most generous licensing i've ever seen.

Those are some nice licensing terms you've got there, it would be a shame if something happened to them... in 2016, when you might be forced to re-code all that video if you want to serve it to people without paying what could turn out to be exorbitant licensing fees.

Fearmongering? Maybe. But I didn't create this situation. And really, in what world is it reasonable to charge anyone but the makers of hardware and perhaps encoders?

Re:yay just what the world needs (0, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228728)

name one point in history where mpeg-la charged "exorbitant" licensing fees?

they profit from having a good technology at a cheap price. it sounds like the kind of misdirected crap RMS spouts.

Oh God, please no! (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 4 years ago | (#31227936)

Video sites are having enough trouble moving away from Flash to H264 streams already... please, please, please (!!!) don't introduce another new video format without ubiquitious hardware decoding support into the fray!

Re:Oh God, please no! (5, Interesting)

chainsaw1 (89967) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228354)

Probably a naive question, but--If we have so much hardware support for decoding, then why are Linux / BSD playback such a problem? Wouldn't you then be passing the stream to hardware for decoding, thereby avoiding needing a license to process the stream? I figure you would only need the license to decode in software (since then you are actually writing the codecs yourself)...

Re:Oh God, please no! (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228402)

Hmmm, I was thinking more along the lines of iPhone and Android, to tell the truth.

Can't you just use VLC on Linux? Plays back H264 fine (albeit with relatively high CPU usage, but it works well and doesn't require nearly as much horsepower as Flash-based H264 in a browser)...

Bad comparison linked (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31227952)

That comparison is known to be flawed, for example, it does not list the instantaneous bitrates and frame types for the respective frames.

Re:Bad comparison linked (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31227994)

It doesn't have to. The still frames are just a representative sample to get you to download and watch the respective videos. Have you yet?

Theora vs h264 (5, Informative)

qbast (1265706) | more than 4 years ago | (#31227988)

Theora as good as h264? Yeah, sure. Sorry, VP3 (which Theora is based on) is previous generation codec, comparable to h263. There is no way for it to be as good as h264 unless you use crappy encoder or wrong settings. I like it how Theora apologists compare YouTube videos encoded to achieve balance between size, quality and decoding speed to Theora on maxed out settings and twist it into "they are comparable". Here is more realistic comparison: http://www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~nick/theora-soccer/ [stanford.edu] which shows that Theora requires 60% more bandwidth than h264 for similar quality.

Re:Theora vs h264 (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228088)

Theory is way better than H.263. It may not match current H.264 encoders but is certainly good enough for web streamed video. Check out the clips at wikipedia for example.

Re:Theora vs h264 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228268)

>Here is more realistic comparison: http://www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~nick/theora-soccer/ [stanford.edu] which shows that Theora requires 60% more bandwidth than h264 for similar quality.

Your comparison is from June, 2009, which is an old version of Theora, it is version 1.0 or earlier.

Current version is from the Thusnelda project, which Mozilla funded at the start of 2009.

http://arstechnica.com/open-source/news/2009/01/mozilla-contributes-100000-to-fund-ogg-development.ars

The Thusnelda project came up with Theora version 1.1 in about October, 2009 timeframe. That version is far better than the 1.0 version, and almost as good as h264. Most people cannot tell the difference in quality for the same filesize and bitrate.

See for yourself:
http://people.xiph.org/~greg/video/ytcompare/comparison.html

That is the current version comparison. Imperceptible difference, virtually the same quality.

Re:Theora vs h264 (5, Informative)

qbast (1265706) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228684)

Please, read again what I said about YouTube videos being intentionally encoded with lower settings for better decoding speed. Or if you don't believe me, download that YT clip from comparison you refer to, open it in MediaInfo and see codec parameters. This is freaking Baseline profile! It does not even use B-frames not to mention more advanced features like CABAC, new modes of motion prediction or B-pyramid. All this 'comparison' proves is that you really need to cripple h264 for newest and greatest version of Theora to match.

Now let's see what Theora supports: http://wiki.xiph.org/Theora [xiph.org] . Oh my, not even B-frames are supported. Hello guys, 90s called and want their codec back.

Theora is dead end. No matter how much tweaking they have done in Thusnelda it simply cannot change the fact that h264 is at least generation ahead.

What for? (1)

DMiax (915735) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228028)

It seems to me they are just summing up all the discussions happened on Slashdot after the acquisition, and what almost everyone hoped for/believed.

Do they really have a chance at influencing Google's decision? Plus Google is already known to open source the technologies it wants to push, if only because adopters would be scared of Google's control. So even if they do open V8, was this useful at all?

Or maybe they just want to put their signature in case Google follows their expectation: "See, we made them do it"...

On the other hand it seems that some one at Google follows suggestions from XKCD [xkcd.com] , so the FSF could be in luck too.

Probably were going to anyways (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228068)

I admit that I don't know a lot about the topic, but it seems like this is something that Google probably already has plans to do anyways. I mean, the acquisition was just completed last week for fucks sake. It takes time for people to go through this stuff to make sure they're fully in the clear before they can do it. Don't be surprised if you see this happening within a month or two. And also the FSF should make sure they don't go patting themselves on the back for something they likely had nothing to do with.

VP3 is the basis for Ogg Theora... (3, Informative)

Rick Richardson (87058) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228124)

"On2 Technologies' VP3 codec is the basis for Ogg Theora. In 2001, On2 open-sourced VP3 under an irrevocable free license. But in the years since, the company has continued to improve its codecs, releasing five subsequent generations."

out of *1000's of possible degrees +/- 0... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228158)

as a group, we can only operate in a range of about 150 degrees, & most of that must be above 0.

no better time to learn to count... (on some things that we have no concrete understanding of)?

Of codecs and commerce (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228208)

First on the ogg vorbis vs h.264. You cannot compare ogg vorbis to h.264 using youtube as a guide using the methods in the article, it was a very bad test from the start. The youtube encoding engine is not designed for quality of output, it is based on high volume, acceptable quality, non-professional technology as the goal of youtube has never been the ultimate in video quality. Using the youtube encoding engine as the benchmark for encoding to current web standards and then trying to extrapolate that to justification to use ogg vorbis is not only a bad idea (IMHO), it is bad test methodology. Not only is aiming at current web quality for a future requirements a bad idea, there is the bigger question of commercialization at stake here.

On h.264. We are still in the infancy of h.264, there are still lots of improvements that can and will be made in the coming years. The difference between an ogg vorbis, or even vp8, and the work that has been put into and will continue to be put into h.264 should not be underestimated. This is not about the compression syntax, this is about the fundamental algorithms that drive the psycho visual experience and trust me, that takes years of study by rooms of scientists all competing to come up with the best solution. In the past 6 months alone we have seen 10-150% improvement in the best h.264 codecs across all bitrates. This is technology that will commercialized in the next few months. Besides the amount of research being put into improving h.264 (by many commercial interests, universities, and individuals) there is the work being done at the system level with advanced streaming and distribution being a major part of our future viewing experience. These are optimizations that typically happen at a combination of codec,wrapper, and distrubtion engines (servers) that allow large scale or targeted device distribution to happen very efficiently. Smooth streaming (MS) and adaptive bitrate (adobe) are just the tip of the iceberg. h.264 has a lot of legs left and there is a huge amount of ongoing work happening to support it. To get to this level with VPx (or any other codec) is a HUGE undertaking across the board as all of this work would have to be re-invented and the standard itself would have to be re-adapted to fit.

On VPx. It is a decent codec but there are a lot of questions about it's status as non-infringing. Having looked extensively at hundreds of hours of content produced by various versions of vpx, having had a number of discussions with developers, it is not clear to me that there is no risk there of infringement. You simply cannot say that it is not infringing, you can only take the word of on2 at face value and google is probably going through the exercise of digging deeper than that now. If it is infringing then there is the question of commercialization of that patent portfolio and all that entails (getting the patent holders who have a huge stake in h.264 to go along with it).

Having said that, I am all for having a free codec standard but it is not as simple as simply making vpx a free and open alternative. Making it free and open could happen overnight, google could do that, but bringing it to the same level of both engineering and commercial momentum that we have with h.264 today will not happen overnight and it will slow down the momentum and uptake of video over the internet in general. It will force people, companies, and professional interests to take sides and that is not a good thing. It would be far better to reach out to the companies that own the patents on h.264 to try to convince them to continue the 'free for free' use of h.264 in perpetuity.

Pedant point (2, Interesting)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228248)

freeing the web from both Flash and the proprietary H.264 codec.'

Point of order: Flash is not a video codec - it is a rich internet application platform which includes streaming video capability. Flash video is a "container" format which can use a variety of (proprietary) codecs including On2 VP6 and H.264.

So, whatever the other arguments against Flash, on the issue of potential future H.264 patent problems its no better or worse than HTML5+H.264.

Not a full solution, but a great help (3, Informative)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228474)

This sort of campaign can never fully solve the swpat problem, but patents on media formats are probably the biggest pain, so this is very worthwhile. The H.264 Mpeg format that Google currently uses is covered by over 900 patents in 29 countries!

Here's info I've gathered about these topics:

swpat.org is a publicly editable wiki, help welcome.

Is this a joke? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228752)

Making VP8 patent-free won't magically add VP8 hardware acceleration to the millions of iPhone, iPod, iPad, Blackberries, PSP and other devices out there.

H.264 is the current standard, get over it already.

VP8 needs to be at least equal or better than the upcoming H.265 to have any chance of becoming a standard.

solution? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31228804)

Cant google just buy all the rights to h264 en set it free?

Not likely to be Free regardless (3, Interesting)

jonwil (467024) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228872)

If Google opens up VP8, the same thing that happened to Microsoft when they opened up Windows Media as VC-1 will happen.

When MS opened up Windows Media as VC-1 a bunch of companies claimed patents on it (including some that claim they have patents on MPEG4/H.264) and everyone had to join the patent pool and/or buy a license.

Preaching to the converted? (1)

kiwioddBall (646813) | more than 4 years ago | (#31228878)

Wouldn't this be what Google have in mind anyway? They're better at openness than most (relatively)...
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