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Wikipedia's Assault On Patent-Encumbered Codecs

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the because-they-hate-the-march-of-progress dept.

Media 428

An anonymous reader writes "The Open Video Alliance is launching a campaign today called Let's Get Video on Wikipedia, asking people to create and post videos to Wikipedia articles. (Good, encyclopedia-style videos only!) Because all video must be in patent-free codecs (theora for now), this will make Wikipedia by far the most likely site for an average internet user to have a truly free and open video experience. The campaign seeks to 'strike a blow for freedom' against a wave of h.264 adoption in otherwise open HTML5 video implementations."

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HTML5 Video (4, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31514922)

It's all nice and all, but if open video technology really wants to win, they have to be technically better. There is no other way.

However it's nice to see Open Video Alliance trying to partner with Wikipedia. In addition to being technically better, that's another aspect you need to take care of. You need to make sure websites, TV, phone, computer and so on manufacturers support your technology. You have to work with them to get it supported - not just put it out there and hope it catches up because its "open", because that's not going to happen. Personally I would also hate to see technically inferior solution being used, as it would eat huge amount of bandwidth. Theora just isn't on the same table with H.264 for Internet video. Theora is based on VP5 from On2 and now that Google acquired them, they're going at VP8.

As far as having a single standard for HTML5 video goes, Theora lost. H.264 is and has been already everywhere and on every device. I also suspect majority of sites will use H.264, as that's what is being used with Flash already.

However, what I see happening (and hope) is HTML5 Video tag being released without requiring support for a single codec, just like img tag is. Then browsers can either implement their own support, use third party tool like gstreamer (like Opera does) or just depend on OS (what I suspect IE and Safari will do). Firefox is still having their ideological problems, but I'm pretty sure they will start using gstreamer too.

What I'm more worried about is that I cannot watch Wikipedia videos with any other device than my PC. Want to see a video clip of a place you're traveling on your phone? Not possible. Want to see videos from Wikipedia with your PS3/360? Not possible. It will create some serious problems, and I don't think Wikipedia is big enough to push the change alone.

Re:HTML5 Video (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515058)

Open video bitstream formats, like Theora, are simply not capable of being better than H.264 (yet). The best bet in that regard is Dirac by the BBC, but even that does not fare too well against H.264 as encoded by x264.

However, open video formats simply do not need to be better than the proprietary formats, they simply need to be "good-enough" and be ubiquitous on the web, and pretty soon all browsers (except IE, probably) will support them out of the box. Wikipedia going with theora is a good move in that direction.

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515156)

As much as I hate it, Direc is also inferior to H.264. Not only technically, but support of it sucks and it has seeking problems (at least with the currently available players, where it sometimes takes many seconds after a seek to playback again).

What is most interesting though is what Google will do with On2 - they're the only ones that could completely change the game.

Re:HTML5 Video (4, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515256)

But why should the average user be quite in some stupid ideological fight when they are never going to be paying for the H.264 royalties that Microsoft, Apple and Google will be shelling out to include H.264 support in their browser?

Oh, they WILL be paying. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515428)

They just won't know it. (Oh, and a more idealistic person might even say that they'll not only be paying money, but paying in a more metaphorical sense with lock-in, etc.)

Re:Oh, they WILL be paying. (4, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515498)

They just won't know it.

Know what? People pay 0 dollars for a browser. Exactly what costs are they bearing due to Apple or Google or Microsoft including H.264 support in the browser?

Oh, and a more idealistic person might even say that they'll not only be paying money

Paying money where? Browsers have all been free for quite some time now.

but paying in a more metaphorical sense with lock-in, etc.

What lock-in? What exactly am I "locked-in" to when I watch H.264 HTML 5 movies on youtube? And how would those movie being encoded in theora make me less "locked-in"?

Re:HTML5 Video (4, Insightful)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515480)

The cost is still paid by the average user, it's just tacked onto the cost of the O/S or whatever you buy from Apple, MS, etc. As for "why", various consumers value different things. Some value cheap, some value fast, some value open source, some value high quality, etc. Ideally, customers who want choice can get it with a plugin, and the rest will get it easily without a plugin. But there will always be this creative edge. Most people will just say with safe, reasonably fast and easy.

Re:HTML5 Video (3, Informative)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515558)

The cost is still paid by the average user, it's just tacked onto the cost of the O/S or whatever you buy from Apple, MS, etc

Assuming the latest amount of 1.9 billion internet users (and not even accounting those not using internet), the $5 million cap per license, and Windows market share of 98%:

$0.002 per user.

I just don't see so many people caring.

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515666)

Hell, tell me where to send my 0.01$ to end all this non-sense and force HTML5 video to standardize on H.264

They'll even make five times the profit by doing so.

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515684)

Depends, are you the guy signing the cheque?

Re:HTML5 Video (1, Flamebait)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515662)

The cost is still paid by the average user, it's just tacked onto the cost of the O/S or whatever you buy from Apple, MS, etc.

So they pay a fraction of a penny more? Oh noes! That's gonna break the bank!

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515500)

Even that is questionable. No reason why the browsers can not just use the OS's installed codec system. In Windows DirectShow/X/Video or what ever they call it. Gstreamer in Linux, and Quicktime on the Mac.
The browser will not have to pay diddley

Re:HTML5 Video (2, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515748)

Gstreamer in Linux

Illegal in the US...

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

camcorder (759720) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515582)

Both Apple and Microsoft have patents in MPEG-LA AVC patent pool, so they don't pay royalties.

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515682)

Both Apple and Microsoft have patents in MPEG-LA AVC patent pool, so they don't pay royalties.

Being in the patent pool doesn't give you free access to all the other patents in the pool. They pay royalties just like anyone else though the bulk of the cost is usually covered by cross-licensing of patents.

Re:HTML5 Video (0, Troll)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515494)

Open video bitstream formats, like Theora, are simply not capable of being better than H.264 (yet). The best bet in that regard is Dirac by the BBC, but even that does not fare too well against H.264 as encoded by x264.

However, open video formats simply do not need to be better than the proprietary formats, they simply need to be "good-enough" and be ubiquitous on the web, and pretty soon all browsers (except IE, probably) will support them out of the box. Wikipedia going with theora is a good move in that direction.

Except H.264 isn't better. It's slow, unwieldy, CPU intensive, and tends to fall over and shit itself with even the tiniest bit of corruption. There's a reason I avoid the H264 files on animesuki nowadays and go for the (technically lower quality) XVID files -- at least XVID works.

This is a moot point anyway. It's just compression, how hard could it be? Lets get a sourceforge project going to make something better.

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515738)

It's slow, unwieldy, CPU intensive

One can play 720@24p videos on an old AMD XP series chip with ffmpeg and it's not even really the fastest H.264 decoder around.

and tends to fall over and shit itself with even the tiniest bit of corruption.

And your answer to this is something like XviD which is far worse at bitstream corruption? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

This is a moot point anyway. It's just compression, how hard could it be? Lets get a sourceforge project going to make something better.

Oh yes, it's just soooo simple. Sure, if you ignore all the complex things that go into actually building a audio/video codec with good compression efficiency. Is this ignoring the fact that it took codecs like DivX, XviD, x264 years and years to reach their current states of quality and efficiency?

Re:HTML5 Video (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515752)

You're an anime fag, so I'd assume that all the viruses and malware you've gotten while trying to watch pedo hentai is probably the true cause of your issues. h264 has none of these problems.

Re:HTML5 Video (2, Interesting)

linhares (1241614) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515084)

It's all nice and all, but if open video technology really wants to win, they have to be technically better.

New [wikipedia.org] here [microsoft.com] ?

Re:HTML5 Video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515318)

You have to be one hell of an ideologue to not recognize how much better IE5 was than Netscape 4. Technical superiority isn't all it takes, once you're on top you can stay there by other means, but it's near-vital making your run up.

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515092)

As far as having a single standard for HTML5 video goes, Theora lost.

As far as I can see there's only one website I care about that relies on HTML5 video, and it uses Theora.

Actually, I'd challenge you to point to any website that only offers H.264 served via the video tag. Yeah, they're all running Flash (which is closer to H.264) but saying that Theora has 'lost' when hardly anyone supports H.264 is just bullshit.

Re:HTML5 Video (2, Informative)

kickme_hax0r (968593) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515114)

YouTube [youtube.com]

Re:HTML5 Video (2, Informative)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515116)

Yeah, they're all running Flash (which is closer to H.264)

What do you mean "closer to"? Flash has been using H.264 in MP4 for quite some time now.

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515206)

YouTube uses only H.264 with HTML5 video tag, and Flash directly uses H.264 as it's HD codec. I really doubt YouTube will change from H.264 anyway, as it's currently serving both Flash and HTML5 users and is easier on bandwidth.

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515242)

I wouldn't call YouTube "hardly anyone".

Re:HTML5 Video (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515360)

What? Flash Video is a CONTAINER format, not a video format. Most sites that use flv containers do so with h.264 video streams.

Everything supports h.264 video. All of the modern mp3 players, phones and video game consoles do. Most software media players and video editors also support h.264 right out of the box.

To be honest, it doesn't sound like you know what you are talking about.

Re:HTML5 Video (5, Insightful)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515144)

It's all nice and all, but if open video technology really wants to win, they have to be technically better. There is no other way.

Why? Closed formats don't seem to operate under that constraint. In fact, technical qualities seem to be a non-issue as far as success goes in general. The backing of big players seems to be what counts, and that's exactly what we have here. Whether Wikipedia + Firefox + RedHat + other open players is big enough remains to be seen (and I admit I have my doubts), but if "technically better" becomes an issue, I think it'll be the first time ever.

What I'm more worried about is that I cannot watch Wikipedia videos with any other device than my PC

Ah, now your real concern appears, I suspect. If Theora starts to get momentum, it'll appear on phones and similar devices quickly enough. My phone already supports Ogg Vorbis. (It may even support Theora; I haven't tried.) If yours doesn't, then perhaps you went with the wrong vendor. I didn't look for Vorbis support for my phone, but I did look for openness; if that wasn't a factor in your choice of phone, then my sympathy for you is nil. Especially if you want to connect with Wikipedia, whose commitment to openness is legendary.

If you want Wikipedia to go with your proprietary, encumbered format(s), your best be is to lobby the patent holders to donate the patents to the public domain. Good luck with that. :)

Which video game console supports Theora? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515394)

Ah, now your real concern appears, I suspect. If Theora starts to get momentum, it'll appear on phones and similar devices quickly enough. My phone already supports Ogg Vorbis. (It may even support Theora; I haven't tried.) If yours doesn't, then perhaps you went with the wrong vendor.

I want to go with the right vendor. But which video game console supports Theora? None of the big three do. Or should people buy one box for Theora video and one box for games?

If you want Wikipedia to go with your proprietary, encumbered format(s), your best be is to lobby the patent holders to donate the patents to the public domain. Good luck with that. :)

That depends on what Google decides to do with VP8.

Re:Which video game console supports Theora? (1)

JackDW (904211) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515676)

A hacked one? :)

If you want a machine to play video files in any format, then may I suggest an old PC? A powerful machine isn't needed, so whenever you upgrade, you get a new "free" media player. (I was amazed at how quiet my old desktop became, once I'd replaced the hard disk with a USB stick and downgraded the graphics card.)

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515410)

I do agree with the first point. It takes both backing of big players (hence support, as I addressed in the first post) and being technically capable.

As far as technical qualities come, closed formats do have competition there too. DivX (and it's open companion XviD) really did challenge MPEG-2. They were technically better and did gain momentum at least on the internet and even beyond that.

But as this is about online video, it makes more sense to have the more-bandwidth-friendly H.264 than more-cpu-friendly Theora.

Re:HTML5 Video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515680)

DivX (and it's open companion XviD) really did challenge MPEG-2.

unsurprising, seeing as how XviD and DivX were implementations of MPEG-4 Part 2, the successor to MPEG-2...

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515756)

Yeah, that's what I meant.

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515746)

As far as technical qualities go, MP3 is still king of audio, despite being the worst supported format out there, proprietary or otherwise. Also, VHS beat Betamax. If history teaches us anything, it's that technical qualities are, at best, a very minor factor in success.

it makes more sense to have the more-bandwidth-friendly H.264

Not for Wikipedia. Their license won't allow it, so for Wikipedia, the choices are between Theora, maybe Dirac, and no video at all.

Re:HTML5 Video (4, Interesting)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515548)

To be fair, the format is entirely open, but patent encumbered. Nobody would argue that MP3 is a closed format, for example.

IOW the only challenges are legal challenges (regarding software patents and royalties). They're not proprietary at all.

Re:HTML5 Video (3, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515710)

It's all nice and all, but if open video technology really wants to win, they have to be technically better. There is no other way.

Why? Closed formats don't seem to operate under that constraint.

Because closed formats have a company or companies willing to push it for reasons other than technical superiority. Open source relies on a lot of people getting excited about something and pushing it in a more organic way, and for that to happen in a big way then the thing they're pushing has to be technically superior. Linux has gained momentum in its areas by being superior for developers and sysadmins who know what they're doing. Firefox gained momentum the same way. I can't think of an open source product that gained mainstream popularity without being technically superior.

I didn't look for Vorbis support for my phone, but I did look for openness; if that wasn't a factor in your choice of phone, then my sympathy for you is nil

So, only people who spend their valuable time and money getting an open phone instead of the iPhone are worthy of consideration in this debate? Like it or not, the iPhone's dominance isn't because of any media blitz or cult of Apple, it's because it came out in a market where it was by far the best choice and is still superior to any other smartphone I've seen.

So, if you want to prioritize openness in your purchasing, that's fine. But this is about Wikipedia trying to influence the culture as a whole and the emerging standard, and to suggest that this process ignore the vast majority of people is at best naive and at worst extremely damaging to your own position.

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515776)

Right, because a software update can create a hardware Theora decoder *rolls his eyes*.

A lot of people just don't get the problem and constraints on mobile devices here - it isn't just that the codec is technically inferior, meaning that it requires more processing and decoding than h.264, it is the availability of hardware decoders. H.264, even though it takes less power to decode, is ALREADY hard to do in software, most portable devices and even some non-portable rely on a hardware co-processor that just decodes h.264. AppleTV does this. As someone who has worked on video codecs and in writing video decoding and playback systems, I can tell you, the availability of hardware decoders cannot be understated.

H.264 decoders are already everywhere, and so it isn't as simple as: Oh, well, we just send a software update and we can do decoding of Theora on it! For most equipment, this isn't possible, it would require a new revision of the hardware, and all previous revisions wouldn't have access to the Theora content. There's your problem. H.264 is already everywhere in hardware decoders, so do you think the industry is going to abandon a huge userbase on the HOPE that they'll make it up with new devices?

Yeah, me neither.

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515162)

better technology is not the measure if it will succeed. All you have to do is to look at the wreckage of all the better standards that fell by the way side over the years to understand that.

Re:HTML5 Video (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515210)

What I'm more worried about is that I cannot watch Wikipedia videos with any other device than my PC. Want to see a video clip of a place you're traveling on your phone? Not possible. Want to see videos from Wikipedia with your PS3/360? Not possible. It will create some serious problems, and I don't think Wikipedia is big enough to push the change alone.

In general I find the "must have hardware support now" argument a bit short sighted. By that reasoning there would never be any change in video codecs. In any case, the PS3 and 360 even combined represent a very small percentage of internet connected devices. And the 360's larger problem is not having a web browser so Wikipedia video would be streamed from your PC anyway and if needs must you can transcode on the fly.

As mobile phones go, my Nokia N900 plays Theora. It also runs Firefox. Fennec [mozilla.com] is on Maemo 5 (the N900's OS) and will soon be available for Android, Windows Mobile, and future MeeGo devices [mozilla.org] . Millions of devices in the field already have the capability to play Ogg Theora and it will only become more trivial to do so with Firefox releases for those platforms.

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515286)

You would be surprised how many actually use their PS3 to watch videos online. It's far from very small percentage (and I understand why, it's really convenient).

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515528)

it is a very small percentage of the internet users (1%)

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

magus_melchior (262681) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515590)

1. "Significant percentage of PS3 users" != "significant percentage of internet-connected device users". Even if all of the PS3 users in the world use their console to watch online videos, they're still dwarfed by the number of people using PCs for the same purpose.

2. You're missing the point that you can't judge a contender for a standard based on how many people use it. If that were the case, then the W3C would standardize on IE6 behavior for HTML5, CSS3, and Javascript, and ECMA/ISO would standardize on Microsoft Office (non-Open XML) documents. There's also the fact that, should the W3C choose Theora, Dirac, or something else other than H.264, there's nothing stopping Sony from patching PS3s to support the new standard. To suggest otherwise is, as GP mentioned, short-sighted.

3. You mentioned elsewhere that if the W3C kept it codec-neutral, that would be fine. I would agree, except that we'd be back in the days of "this site requires IE 8.x or higher", and that would, in practice, run counter to the W3C's goal of a single standard for all browsers and sites.

Re:HTML5 Video (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515512)

If they don't offer hardware acceleration in a mobile device, your begging for a huge battery drain. The point isn't only that they can play them, but that they are well supported by the device and that the impact isn't overly detrimental.

Re:HTML5 Video (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515312)

It's all nice and all, but if open video technology really wants to win, they have to be technically better. There is no other way.

For any definition of "technically better" where this is not a vacuous tautology (that is, any definition other than "technically better means whatever ends up winning"), this isn't true: solutions that aren't "technically better" by almost any definition you choose will win all the time, because the business model behind selling them allows them to be sold cheaper (even if they aren't any cheaper to produce), because they are imposed by market-dominant players, or for all kinds of other reasons beside technical superiority.

Compatibilty of patent-unencumbered formats with a venue like Wikipedia would be exactly that kind of non-technical factor. (As would, on the other side, the competitive advantage that those who co-own the patents see in the dominance of patent-encumbered formats that they are part of the controlling syndicate for.)

Re:HTML5 Video (3, Insightful)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515334)

It's all nice and all, but if open video technology really wants to win, they have to be technically better. There is no other way.

Try telling that to Microsoft!
Recall that Windows did not become the de facto standard OS by being better - it was definitely not better than the alternatives in the period in which it became dominant. So there is another way: gain sufficient market share through fair means or foul, and you can win. Whether wikipedia would count as critical mass or not is an open question, but if they were sufficiently bloodyminded, then whichever codec they chose to standardize on would ipso facto become a necessary codec, even if it were not used widely elsewhere.

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515364)

Is there any way to specify multiple formats? Ex: that points to H.264, but falls back to H.264 if that isn't supported?

Re:HTML5 Video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515510)

As far as having a single standard for HTML5 video goes, Theora lost. H.264 is and has been already everywhere and on every device. I also suspect majority of sites will use H.264, as that's what is being used with Flash already.

It's not about Theora versus H.264. It's about open, royalty-free video versus closed, proprietary video. The formats and protocols the web is built on are open and royalty-free. With HTML5 there's no need for video to be any different. The arguments against Theora based on quality and bandwidth have been debunked time [xiph.org] and time again [xiph.org] . If YouTube switched to Theora tomorrow for new uploads, no one would notice the difference on the basis of quality or bandwidth.

Re:HTML5 Video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515516)

Wikipedia is much smaller than Apple (Safari, iPhone, iPod touch, iPad in a few weeks) + Google (Chrome, YouTube) + Microsoft (Windows, Xbox360, Zune). So, H.264 has already won over Theora. The Vorbis team woke up way too late to even have a fighting chance.

And even though Google now owns VP8, the total users for Microsoft and Apple is still bigger than Google. If Google wants to replace H.264 with VP8, they have quite a fight on their hands too.

As for the comparison to the img tag, it's different. JPEG and GIF are two formats targeted at different graphical content. The UniSys debacle saw PNG emerge as a replacement for GIF but at the same time added new features that GIF couldn't do: lossless 24-bit and a real alpha channel. Microsoft took forever to implement PNG correctly and it slowed down the adoption of PNG. But today all modern browsers support JPEG, GIF and PNG properly.

What does Theora do that H.264 can't, aside from taking more bandwidth to get the same visual quality? Nothing.

What if both H.264 and Theora become HTML5 video standards? You really think websites will start producing and storing video files in both formats? It takes time to encode a video and the resulting files aren't small by any means.

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

angelwolf71885 (1181671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515538)

Firefox supports ONLY Theora so yah Theora has already won the fight

Re:HTML5 Video (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515586)

I'm not so sure. Maybe "good enough" would be good enough ? Quality is just one feature. Free-ness and Open-ness are 2 other, quite important ones. I'm fairly sure most videos on the web and on PCs in general are not artistic in nature. Slightly lower quality for no cost and freedom to do whatever you want with them may still be a winning proposition.

The main issue is network effects: supporting 1 video format is a no-brainer, supporting 2 of them...

Quit embeding the codec support in the browser (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31514956)

Let the OS handle it, and let the browser interact via plug-ins.

It's really not that complicated.

Re:Quit embeding the codec support in the browser (1)

mattventura (1408229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515006)

Good for technical people, but some people don't know how or don't want to install those plug-ins. If I wanted to watch videos through the use of a plug-in, then flash works perfectly fine for that.

Re:Quit embeding the codec support in the browser (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515044)

If people have the technical chops to install something like flash, why wouldn't they have the technical chops to install something else? Or better yet, just have the browser install it automatically when the browser itself gets installed.

Scareware disguised as codec (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515434)

If people have the technical chops to install something like flash, why wouldn't they have the technical chops to install something else?

Because they trust adobe.com and distrust random codecs downloaded from random sites that infect people with the "Antivirus 2009" scareware.

Re:Quit embeding the codec support in the browser (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515050)

If the OS isn't handling your plugins for you then it is lame and you should drop it for something more sophisticated and less user hostile.

The kind of pseudo-code we're talking about here isn't exactly rocket science (or video compression).

Although having a proper package manager certainly helps.

Re:Quit embeding the codec support in the browser (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515096)

If the OS isn't handling your plugins for you then it is lame and you should drop it for something more sophisticated and less user hostile.

Yes because no one has to install plugins in Linux, right?

Although having a proper package manager certainly helps.

Why do you need a package manager when browsers have been facilitating the easy installation of plugins, such as Flash, for years now?

Re:Quit embeding the codec support in the browser (5, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515448)

Why do you need a package manager when browsers have been facilitating the easy installation of plugins, such as Flash, for years now?

Because the point is the browser shouldn't need *any* codec-specific plugins at all. The browser should simply use the existing mechanisms in the operating system or desktop environment for performing video decoding. On Windows that means DirectShow, and on Linux that means gstreamer. Codec installation is then a task for the operating system or package manager. The result is a better experience for the user, and a simpler implementation for the developers, as they need only to interface to a generic video backend, rather than incorporating a completely codec stack into the browser.

'course, this kind of reasonable design decision would get in the way of pointless political posturing, and who really wants that?

Re:Quit embeding the codec support in the browser (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515458)

If the OS isn't handling your plugins for you then it is lame

What happens when your operating system handles plugins for the user but reminds the user: "If you click Install, and you live in the United States, you are breaking the law." ? Ubuntu does exactly this for the gstreamer-plugins-ugly package.

Re:Quit embeding the codec support in the browser (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515522)

What happens when your operating system handles plugins for the user but reminds the user: "If you click Install, and you live in the United States, you are breaking the law." ? Ubuntu does exactly this for the gstreamer-plugins-ugly package.

Uh, good. That's *precisely* how this should be handled. The user should be warned of the issues with installing the codec, and then given the choice to continue. Eliminating this choice is completely antithetical to the very concept of free software.

Infringement on the repo's part (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515602)

The user should be warned of the issues with installing the codec, and then given the choice to continue.

Some lawyers for MPEG-LA members would try arguing that the maintainer of a repository that doesn't use IP address geotargeting commits infringement.

Re:Quit embeding the codec support in the browser (2, Insightful)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515536)

You pirate a clip of "Beavis and Butt-head" snickering and muttering "heh heh, breaking the law" to listen to while you download it.

Or you support sites that use open standards.

Or you buy a license for each of the proprietary standards that "plugins-ugly" provides. There's a reason it's called "ugly", and it's not just a lack of rugged good looks.

Re:Quit embeding the codec support in the browser (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515060)

So you claim that people don't want or can't figure out how to install a plugin for playing HTML 5 video but are somehow able to install Flash?

Re:Quit embeding the codec support in the browser (1)

mattventura (1408229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515104)

You're misreading my post. I wasn't saying that having plug-ins for the video was better/worse than a flash plugin, I was saying that there is a better way to do that. The flash part was only there to show that having plug-ins for video formats is just as bad as flash.

Re:Quit embeding the codec support in the browser (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515088)

It's not like it's really hard for a browser to provide links to those downloads. Whatever the results will be, we will have at most H.264 and Theora. H.264 is already included in any recent Windows and Mac OS X (Linux users probably can figure out how to install it on their own). Only thing a browser needs to do is provide a download link to Theora, if it ever does catch on.

Existing PCs don't run recent Windows (1, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515504)

H.264 is already included in any recent Windows

At least two-thirds of PCs run Windows XP, Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Business, or Windows 7 Starter. These operating systems do not include an H.264 decoder. Among Windows operating systems, only Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Ultimate, and Windows 7 Home Premium or higher include an H.264 decoder.

Good luck with that (-1, Redundant)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 4 years ago | (#31514964)

The campaign seeks to 'strike a blow for freedom' against a wave of h.264 adoption in otherwise open HTML5 video implementations."

They can dream about unicorns and world peace too but doesn't mean it's gonna happen...

Re:Good luck with that (1)

md65536 (670240) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515056)

They can dream about unicorns and world peace too but doesn't mean it's gonna happen...

Not with that attitude it won't!

Re:Good luck with that (0, Offtopic)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515158)

Has anyone tried to create a unicorn using a horse and a narwhal [wikipedia.org] ? Why isn't there an island of Dr. Morrow anyway? I think that would be cool. Creating hybrid animals is cool. We should do more experiments along these lines.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515304)

Well, I have this half-monkey half-pony [jonathancoulton.com] hybrid, but my girlfriend doesn't like it.

Re:Good luck with that (1)

magus_melchior (262681) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515652)

I believe I told you: Half means half the genetic codebase, not half the mass.

In short, yes, you did use too many monkeys.

Re:Good luck with that (2, Interesting)

arose (644256) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515274)

Market share wise browsers with Theora support are actually ahead right now...

Killer App? (4, Insightful)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515008)

I'm not sure I see Wikipedia as being the "killer app" for video standards. I'm not sure how many articles would be really enhanced by the addition of video, baring in mind that video would need to be licenced under CC or similar, so clips of TV shows / films would probably be out.

To take a random example (today's featured article) . I'm not sure what video you could usefully add to that article? Especially since somebody who died in 1938 probably isn't featured in many video clips. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Killer App? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515346)

I'm not sure I see Wikipedia as being the "killer app" for video standards. I'm not sure how many articles would be really enhanced by the addition of video, baring in mind that video would need to be licenced under CC or similar

This assumption seems flawed. Wikipedia prefers open licensed content for images, but will accept non-open content with a fair use rationale. Presumably, the same would be true of video clips.

Non-free content in a free encyclopedia? (1)

saibot834 (1061528) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515732)

This assumption seems flawed. Wikipedia prefers open licensed content for images, but will accept non-open content with a fair use rationale. Presumably, the same would be true of video clips.

You are referring to the fair use policy [wikipedia.org] on the English Wikipedia. Please note that this is a policy for English only, not all language versions allow non-free content.

IANAL, but I doubt that non-free videos would really be a breakthrough. They'd have to be short and low-resolution (at least that's what Wikipedia demands for non-free images and audio). You couldn't just take any youtube video.

In my opinion, that's a good thing. The original idea behind Wikipedia (or it's predecessor Nupedia) was to create a free-as-in-freedom encyclopedia. Wiki-style editing, a strong community and rejection of ads, all those concepts are nice and good, but they are secondary. The real goal is to create a free encyclopedia. There is a wonderful page that explains why fair use should not be on Wikipedia: Veganism parable [wikipedia.org]

As for the project itself (the summary doesn't mention much about the technical background), this brings some nice usability features with it. Until now, if you wanted to add media (images/audio/video), you would have to register (preferably) on Wikimedia Commons, upload the file there, then remember/copy the exact name of the file and include it in the article. Now you can just go to an article, click on the add media button and a wizard pops up and you can upload your file, while editing.

Re:Killer App? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515386)

I'm not sure how many articles would be really enhanced by the addition of video, baring in mind that video would need to be licenced under CC or similar,

Your [wikipedia.org] Freudian [wikipedia.org] slip [wikipedia.org] gives [wikipedia.org] me [wikipedia.org] an [wikipedia.org] idea. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Killer App? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515408)

Who said "killer app"?

Anyway the same things could be said about images or audio in Wikipedia.

And... (3, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515010)

And Google, Microsoft and Apple give out a collective *yawn*. Youtube has more traffic than Wikipedia so if Google is pushing H.264 through there it will have far more impact than Wikipedia. Not to mention that Facebook, who also has more traffic than wikipedia and also youtube, also uses H.264 for its video.

Re:And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515468)

Why care? Seriously - is the performance *that* greater that you feel the need to support a commercial enterprise leeching your money over a perfectly free way? I guess it's the "wah! I want in NOW! don't make me wait 0.5 seconds longer!" mentality...

Re:And... (2, Insightful)

justinjstark (1645867) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515598)

HTML5 video codec support is not a dichotomous decision. There can be multiple supported video codecs for the video tag just like there are multiple supported image formats for the img tag. Larger sites like Wikipedia supporting only theora will encourage other companies to add support for theora in their browsers...not replace H.264.

Re:And... (2, Interesting)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515678)

Those supporting Theora argue that, unless Theora is the video codec for the Net, some people (e.g. Linux users in U.S. not willing to break the law) will be restricted from large parts of the Net that will go H.264-only.

It's why Mozilla refuses to just use GStreamer codecs for HTML5 video in mainline builds, for example.

Re:And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515722)

And Google, Microsoft and Apple are wrong. HTML5 isn't a proprietary, pay-for-use standard, why should video used by HTML5 be?

It's that simple, logical, non-nonsense concept that somehow goes over the head of these companies and the people who have been conned into supporting them. Use H.264 for your own videos played in your own video player, but on the web, Ogg Theora or shut your goddamn greedy mouth.

the non-free part isn't so bad (3, Insightful)

Protonk (599901) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515016)

WP should just adopt html5 and give up on the FOSS posturing for once. We already relented on the issue of fair use media--limited use for copyrighted material. Patent protected material seems like a better place to compromise more widely because patents don't live forever. After ~14-21 years, the content path is free. If WP does plan to be around "forever", that isn't too long a time to wait.

Re:the non-free part isn't so bad (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515110)

It's really not a problem. The commercial desktop operating systems are supposed to have all sorts of stuff to handle the "scary technical details" here. WP should be able to offer video in any format they like. They could even host some of the relevant bits of system software and web browser glue-ware.

Histrionics over strange data formats is so 90s.

Re:the non-free part isn't so bad (3, Informative)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515472)

They could even host some of the relevant bits of system software and web browser glue-ware.

It does already. Wikipedia uses the OGGHandler extension which tries to determine automagically what method for displaying video the client supports. It supports attempting to use the following clients:

  • Cortado (bundled Java applet)
  • VLC
  • QuickTime with XiphQT
  • Totem
  • Kaffeine
  • KMPlayer
  • (ko)GomAudio

And then some more generic support for other cases [mediawiki.org]

Re:the non-free part isn't so bad (1)

arose (644256) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515170)

They have. HTML5 doesn't specify a codec, so Theora is as valid (as far as W3C is concerned) as any other.

Re:the non-free part isn't so bad (1)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515402)

Question: Do you believe that, if what Wikipedia itself currently says about the subject is correct, various MP3 patents ought to persist into at least 2012 and possibly as late as 2017? If not, when do you believe all patents covering its design and implementation should expire or have expired?

I think that if we are to allow patents on algorithms, not only should obviousness standards be rigorously enforced (including the appropriate appropriations from Congress to make it happen), but that we should be talking about terms of no more than 5-7 years. And even then, I would like there to be less time than that.

Re:the non-free part isn't so bad (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515412)

Except that patent encumbered codecs make it difficult for some users to create or view content *now,* which is the problem. Wikipedia is supposed to be for everyone, including people who cannot obtain patented codecs (such people do exist), both for viewing and for creating the videos. I would certainly not encourage Wikipedia's users to violate patent law in their respective localities -- the last thing Wikipedia needs is a lawsuit to deal with.

It is not a question of compromise, it is a question of the goal of Wikipedia, which is to be as accessible as possible.

Um, no (2, Insightful)

eweu (213081) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515046)

this will make Wikipedia by far the most likely site for an average internet user to have a truly free and open video experience

Yes. An experience of videos that won't play in the average internet user's browser. It's easier to click the "close window" button than it is to care about broken video on a broken web site.

Re:Um, no (2, Informative)

arose (644256) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515258)

They have a Java fallback. I Even without a fallback Theora will play on more machines then HTML5 only H.264 would (supported by Safari, Chrome and Opera, where the user cares to add the codec, as opposed to Firefox, Chrome and Opera).

Re:Um, no (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515654)

Haha. Nobody has Java installed, either... that's the worst "fallback" ever.

Re:Um, no (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515714)

Actually, you'd be surprised. I've seen some market research desktop penetration figures for Java, and they're really impressive. Not 97% like Flash, but way above 50%.

I still wonder where that comes from. Very few sites on the Net actually seem to need JRE these days. On the other hand, both my current desktop and my current laptop (HP and Lenovo, respectively) came with JRE preinstalled. Both were purchased within the last two years.

Oh the irony.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515188)

So why does an organization like openvideoalliance.org use flash for their videos?

Good luck. (2, Insightful)

OrangeCatholic (1495411) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515202)

They're so uptight about what pictures they'll accept (copyright, fair use), what makes anyone think that Wikipedia is going to become a giant video repository?

Dirac (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515240)

I've been playing around with schroedinger 1.0.9 and it's output is nearly indistinguishable from baseline x264. If dirac had even half the resources that have been invested into h.264 encoders, it's possible that quality, compression, and encode/decode speed could be equal.

Go Fuck Yourself Troll (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515788)

Go back to crying over your retarded ideology getting bitch slapped by the real world.

Wikipedia is "open source" all right. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515370)

This is great for web filtering and searching (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515456)

h.264 = Porn and "funny", time wasting, videos

Theora = Actually useful stuff

I've been waiting for this (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515672)

I've been waiting for this - because it's a rare organization that can long resist the desire to go political.

So much for their independence and reliability.

This is counter to Wikipedia (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31515712)

First of all, bad headline. This is not Wikipedia's assault; in fact, this will be seen as an assault on Wikipedia, to unduly promote a new product. Most of these additions will be reverted as spam, and the organization from that website will be seen as illegitimate canvassing. A campaign to get anything on Wikipedia is against Wikipedia's policies on neutrality. Now it's true that Wikipedia has a tendency to bend to other free-as-in-speech interests, but those video files are going to draw more attention and ire than the usual debates.

Wikipedia? (5, Insightful)

TopSpin (753) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515740)

So far the comments are focused on teh 3v1Lz H.264 vs. 'open' codecs, why one is better than the other, etc. What about Wikipedia?

Perhaps Wikipedia doesn't actually need to be riddled with video. Maybe Wikipedia is actually better off without it. Have you ever had to suffer through some lengthy, 99% irrelevant video to get a specific piece of information? How many times have you just not bothered to watch that video because it's frustrating, you can't afford the time, don't have just the right version of some plug-in, etc? Ever tried to copy and paste from a video?

How much of the useful content of Wikipedia is going to end up trapped inside videos when easily indexed and searched, entirely unencumbered US Grade-A ASCII^h^h^h^h^hUTF-8 would have been sufficient? How much more bandwidth is Wikipedia going to have to fund to serve up cell phone footage of Silambarasan Rajendar [wikipedia.org] waving at people?

All this means is competition.... (4, Funny)

avatar_charlie (1633965) | more than 4 years ago | (#31515794)

......just not between corporate entities.

No, the competition will be between various wiki-weirdoes over who can be first to enshrine their peckers forever by putting video of it on the articles for "Penis", "Herpes", and any other genital or sex-related article on that site....of which there are no small number.
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