×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

The Ambiguity of "Open" and VP8 Vs. H.264

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the devil-in-the-details dept.

Google 493

An anonymous reader writes "With all the talk about WebM and H.264, how the move might be a step backwards for openness, and Google's intention to add 'plugins' for IE9 and Safari to support WebM, this article attempts to clear misconceptions about the VP8 and H.264 codecs and how browsers render video. Firefox, Opera and Google rely on their own media frameworks to decode video, whereas IE9 and Safari will hand over video processing to the operating system (Windows Media Player or QuickTime), the need for the web to establish a baseline codec for encoding videos, and how the Flash player is proprietary, but implementation and usage remain royalty free."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

493 comments

Wow this is a bit onesided. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906258)

H.264s development was open? I mean really that is just a bit of a reach.

So I disagree with everything in this but one thing.

The correct way to implement video is to used the OS provided framework. Support EVERYTHING the OS can support as far as formats goes. It really is the the correct and most flexible way to do things. While I support the idea of WebM it will cause no end to problems if Apple, RIM, Nokia, and Palm/HP do not support it.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (4, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906330)

H.264s development was open? I mean really that is just a bit of a reach.

Far more so than VP8's development was until last May. At least with H.264 it was being developed between different companies and industry groups whereas VP8 was a closed-source, proprietary codec developed by a two-bit company that almost no consumer before Google's buy out had every heard of.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906500)

Really? Can you contribute code to H.264? Can you use the spec in your own software and publish it with out a large amount of jumping through hoops?
Really H.264 may have been public but I would not call it open. WebM is now what I would consider to be open as is Theora and Dirac http://diracvideo.org/ [diracvideo.org] .
So no I do not feel that H.254 meets the definition of open as far as development goes.
So yes it really is a bit of a reach IMHO.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (4, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906578)

Really?

Yes, really. Before Google opened the code in May of last year, On2 was developing VP8 as a closed-source proprietary codec since 2008. H.264 on the other hand was developed by the ISO standards board and a whole host of companies in it's development. Like all ISO standards one could get access to the full spec. Such a thing was impossible for the first 2.5 years of VP8's life.

Really H.264 may have been public but I would not call it open.

Can you use the spec in your own software and publish it with out a large amount of jumping through hoops?

Sure, x264 developers have been doing so for the better part of 6 years.

It's no less open than most of the other standards which are called "open".

So no I do not feel that H.254 meets the definition of open as far as development goes.

And neither was VP8 until 7 months ago when it was a completely closed-source codec.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (5, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906646)

"And neither was VP8 until 7 months ago when it was a completely closed-source codec."
Well then this post would have been right 7 months ago. But that was seven months ago and this is now.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (3, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906698)

And that's why I said:

Far more so than VP8's development was until last May

Secondly, H.264 is no more "closed" than the supposed "open" standards such as ISO C++ with statements like:

Can you contribute code to H.264?

To turn it around, can YOU contribute to the C++ ISO standard? Highly unlikely just like it's highly unlikely that most people could contribute to the H.264 ISO standard. So by this logic C++ is also a "closed" standard, no?

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34906780)

Any standard is a "closed" standard - otherwise you'd have hackers hired by corporations with opposing interests working to degrade the code far more effectively than any two-bit open-source developers could maintain. Censorship is more or less what makes a standard a standard - in its design and use.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34907040)

The C++ standard I can make a compiler for without paying anyone. It is not a burden to entry like h.264 is.

The ISO stopped meaning anything the minute they approved the MS "open" formats.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (3, Informative)

m50d (797211) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906968)

Even if you had a time machine, you still couldn't contribute anything to the VP8 "standard" - it was developed entirely by that single company, and now the bitstream has been fixed and google are not accepting improvements or even obvious bugfixes. Wheras h264 was a real ISO standard - everyone was welcome to speak (though of course not necessarily be listened to) in the standardization discussions, and every country got to vote.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906700)

H.264 - I think you could use the word "transparent" in relation to its development process, or "consensus" in regards to the attitudes from different companies regarding it (at least, until VP8 came to town), but "open"? I don't think it stands up to any of the FOSS definitions of "open".
VP8 - maybe it wasn't open 7 months ago, but it is now.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (4, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906760)

I don't think it stands up to any of the FOSS definitions of "open".

And the same could be said about the C++ and ODF standards yet those are called "open" standards by the same people talking about how H.264 is "closed".

VP8 - maybe it wasn't open 7 months ago, but it is now.

Is it really? Can any individual really have any meaningful say in the direction of how the VP8 codec is developed unless you work at Google? Sure they've given the source out but you'll have no more say in how the spec develops than you would for the H.264 standard.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34906966)

Well of course it doesn't. We all need to get through our heads that "open standard" and "open source" are completely separate ideas. An open standard does not mean the code is open; it simply means that anyone can see the standard and develop code that will work with it (there may or may not be patents in play). Open source code - well, generally that means you can see, and most often modify the code. These concepts are not hard to understand - we just need to stop conflating them.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (4, Insightful)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 3 years ago | (#34907014)

We are talking about now, though. I agree that H.264 is an open standard and VP8 was a closed one, but WebM is an open standard now and this is what should really matter at this point.

The critical difference between the two formats now is that one is royalty free and one is temporarily royalty free - in other words, we have no idea how H.264 could evolve. Maybe it'll stay royalty free forever, which would make it an interesting alternative. Maybe it will not, though, and that could be a potential disaster for video on the web - or just a thorn in the side of Google and other big video sites.

The big debate therefore is: do we stay with a widely adopted, high performance format that may behave like a Damocles sword, or do we switch now for what is currently an inferior but safer alternative?

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (5, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906828)

Can you contribute code to H.264?

The question does not make sense. It's like asking 'can you contribute code to HTML?' H.264 is a standard, not an implementation. The license of various implementations is independent of the way in which the standard was developed.

H.264 was developed jointly the ITU-T Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) and the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG). These groups solicited contributions from anyone. If you wanted to contribute something to the spec, you could. There was a lot of political stuff as well, with a few things being added to the spec just so that companies could get one of their patents in.

In contrast, VP8 was developed in private by On2 and dumped on the public by Google. The x.264 developers raised some issues with the spec, but were told that the format was frozen and would not be modified. Theora and Dirac are both frozen now, but they had an open development process and modified the bitstream format several times based on feedback from external groups.

So, when you are talking about the process for developing the spec, Theora, Dirac, and H.264 were all open. When you are talking about using the spec, Theora, Dirac, and VP8 are all open.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (4, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906888)

Thank you. Someone finally understands what I'm saying. The problem is that so many other standards that work in the exact same way that H.264 did are referred to as "open" yet H.264 is demonized as being "closed" despite there being little to no difference in the way both standards were developed.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (2)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906746)

Far more so than VP8's development

It is just another example of doublespeak. You are redefining words but focusing on an irrelevant part of the definition.

You might as well argue that Monarchy is more open than Democracy, because how the "election" is made is more open in how public and predicable it is, everyone can access the result in advance, where the the democratic process is done in secret in small boxes and is unpredictable.

While you could technically be right, you are still distorting the truth, and that, to me, is bad part of lying.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (2)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906816)

It is just another example of doublespeak. You are redefining words but focusing on an irrelevant part of the definition.

I'm not redefining anything. You've just quote mined my post to attack it. Up until Google open source VP8 it was a proprietary, closed sourced standard. H.264 was an "open" ISO standard in the same vein as how C++ is an "open" ISO standard.

While you could technically be right, you are still distorting the truth, and that, to me, is bad part of lying.

What part of the truth am I distorting? H.264 was developed during the ISO process by the input of lots of companies and industry people and had an openly published spec. VP8 had no public spec, was completely closed source and had all development driven by one company. As I said, until 7 months ago the former, H.264, was far more "open" than VP8 ever was until May of last year.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (4, Insightful)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906938)

But that is in the past, by focusing on it now, you are making it look like (in fact making the argument) that H.264 is more open, through focus on and old irrelevant fact, but ignoring another definition of the word open where WebM is much more open than H.264 will ever be.

Let's take this:
* According to one aspect H.264 was once more open, but this aspect applies to the past.
* According to another aspect WebM is much more open, and this applies today.

I am not saying you are wrong, you are in fact right, but you are distorting the debate through pedantic and irrelevant details.

Now you didn't start this doublespeak, but I can only think the person who did, was either doing so deliberately or is in serious denial.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (3, Informative)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906394)

Unfortunately, that means you don't get H.264 on Linux as its a proprietary codec that requires some form of (paid) licencing.

I mean, Firefox doesn't support H.264, but Microsoft will happily provide you with the capability of playing H.264 in firefox using a driver that leverages the OS capability... as long as you're running it on Windows.

I think you're partly right though, all the codecs should be implemented as drivers (or similar) and then you are technically using the OS-provided capability, once the correct codec is installed. But its not like the OS is providing the drivers directly, you'll haver to go get them from somewhere. As WebM is free, codecs for it will be freely available for all OSs.

I guess the problem comes for those OSs that are locked down, but then you'er always on to a loser - if Apple only supports H.264 on iPhone and Microsoft only supports (say) H.265 on WP7, and neither allows you to upgrade the video support, then you will never get a video to play universally.

At least there's no excuse for not supporting WebM by all manufacturers, and any who try to give one will quickly be found out by consumers.

As an analogy - look at the non-free 'internets', Microsoft tried to lock you into MSN, and AOL tried similarly. Look where they are now.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (2)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906438)

Microsoft only supports (say) H.265 on WP7, and neither allows you to upgrade the video support, then you will never get a video to play universally.

Wrong. IE9 natively supports only H.264 but will support playing back videos using other codecs by using the OS multimedia framework and installed codecs. This will allow it to play VP8, Theora, etc.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906566)

But isn't that whole "native support" issue what caused this whole thing to explode? Google dropped "native" (in the browser) support for H.264.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906598)

Yes, because Chrome doesn't go to the OS's multimedia framework to play codecs it doesn't support natively. IE9, on the other hand, will.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34907030)

The entire idea of enforcing "one true standard" for a media type is what's fundementally broken.

ANY open video can be easily handled by good generic tools. You don't even need a special purpose "plugin". It's always been this way.

The real problem is obfuscated video where publishers want you to be able to only view content but not save it or understand what format it is.

Ironically, the much touted "one true standard" doesn't even address this problem. This is a total tempest in a teapot as the whole HTML5 video thing is itself pretty pointless.

Just avoid the obviously highly proprietary stuff like Apple Quicktime with some exclusively licensed codec that no one else can write decoders for.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906614)

>>>But its not like the OS is providing the drivers directly, you'll haver to go get them from somewhere. As WebM is free, codecs for it will be freely available for all OSs.

MPEG4's h.264 and AAC codecs are also free to users. (Or companies with >>haver

Yes I'll be havering after you too. And I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more..... ;-)

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906538)

I honestly don't understand the opposition to MPEG. Do you show equal opposition to standards coming from the IEEE or ITU working groups? Like v.90/v.92 56k modems and such?

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34906684)

Yeah... my fucking 56k modem. I'm totally boycotting that shit now!

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906706)

Unlike patented video codecs, patented modem protocols don't have widely used pure software implementations, and the seat of the patent license usually lies in the modem hardware. The closest analog to the MPEG situation would be if people regularly connected a dial-up modem to a PC through the sound card ports. (In before "that's exactly what host signal processing winmodems were".)

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906742)

framework support only works for that OS.

that is the wrong way to do it, for that exact reason.

can you do the same things in firefox/chrome on every OS? yes, you can. that's the point.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906962)

framework support only works for that OS.

Sure, in the world in which cross-platform multimedia frameworks don't exist. Fortunately we don't live in such a world.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906872)

While I support the idea of WebM it will cause no end to problems if Apple, RIM, Nokia, and Palm/HP do not support it.

Hardware Companies AMD, ARM, Nvidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments have vowed support for WebM.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34906984)

In other words, everyone of relevance except Samsung and Intel.

Re:Wow this is a bit onesided. (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906990)

That's great, but it means nothing for all the people who own phones, video cards, standalone players, etc that only have H.264 support. Are consumers supposed to just ditch all this previous, and in some cases expensive, hardware just to get support because Google wants to foist another codec into the jungle of codecs that the world already faces?

Doesn't matter what Google chooses... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34906280)

Doesn't matter what Google chooses to support in Chrome as they are still going to have to support H.264 for Youtube streaming unless they feel like making the battery life of all current and soon to be released Android phones abysmal when playing Youtube videos.

Re:Doesn't matter what Google chooses... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34906848)

Once they include WebM in all current Android phones, they can wait 5 years and then drop h264 from the youtubes. Anyone who was idiotic enough not to support WebM alongside h264 in their phones/tablets will lose the youtubes.

Will Google care about 5 year old android phones? Unlikely that ANYONE will care about 5 year old phones from any manufacturer.

Think ahead a little bit.

Re:Doesn't matter what Google chooses... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34906992)

Since when do we need ISO's permission to be open? The source code and specs for WebM are free for the taking, and ISO's stamp of approval would add nothing to it.

What does this supposed "openness" of h264 give you over the "closedness" of WebM? And don't say ipods support h264, because nothing is stopping future models from supporting WebM in addition.

FIxed that for you. (2)

basotl (808388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906294)

"Firefox, Opera and Chrome" Since it appears that sentence was directed at browsers.

Ambiguity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34906314)

This seems more like an attempt to introduce ambiguity, than to clear it up. The definitions of open and closed in this situation are clear, and pretending that the browser codec situation is particularly confusing is mostly FUD. H.264 is closed. VP8 is open.

You may disagree with the stances of the browser makers (I think all media playback should be handed off to the parent os)... but the definitions of the terms are clear.

Re:Ambiguity (4, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906352)

H.264 is closed. VP8 is open.

How is H.264 closed? The spec is available for any one to buy and implement. If H.264 is "closed" than so can be said for the vast majority of ISO standards.

Re:Ambiguity (4, Interesting)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906412)

If H.264 is "closed" than so can be said for the vast majority of ISO standards.

Not sure if it's a vast majority, but a lot of ISO standards are closed. Even so closed that you cannot read them without paying a shitload of money.

Re:Ambiguity (0)

TheSunborn (68004) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906442)

It's not free for anyone to buy and implement. I can't for example buy and implement it in my app which is released under gpl*

And just the thought that I should have to pay each time I publish a video, just because it is encoded with h.264 is insane**.

*Just an example, I don't personally have any app.

**This may have been postponed a few years for most people, but still.

Re:Ambiguity (2, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906504)

It's not free for anyone to buy and implement.

So then ODF or C++ are not "open" either, right? One has to pay to get a copy of the spec for those technologies. Secondly, you can freely implement H.264 and release it in source form. MPEGLA has applied an exemption to source code for quite some time which is why, for example, the XviD or x264 people face no problems.

Secondly, even if you are distrbuting binary encoders/decoders you don't pay anything until you hit about 50,000 units shipped.

I can't for example buy and implement it in my app which is released under gpl

And yet there are plenty of apps released as GPL using the GPLed x264 encoder.

And just the thought that I should have to pay each time I publish a video, just because it is encoded with h.264 is insane**.

If you are streaming videos for free you have never paid royalties, and even if you are doing so for pay you have a pretty big threshold to hit before you even start paying royalties.

**This may have been postponed a few years for most people, but still.

Actually back in August the MPEGLA said they will NEVER charge royalties for freely streamed H.264 videos.

Re:Ambiguity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34906702)

And yet there are plenty of apps released as GPL using the GPLed x264 encoder.

Grandparent fell prey to the misconception that infringing patents is illegal. It's not, it just makes you a valid target for litigation. Once the court orders you to stop distributing infringing products, then it becomes illegal.

Actually back in August the MPEGLA said they will NEVER charge royalties for freely streamed H.264 videos.

Even if (I don't feel like searching for that statement and judging its legal power), they can still sue you for:
  * producing an unlicensed decoder
  * using an unlicensed decoder
  * using an unlicensed coder (ie. every consumer-level video camera, the manufacturer pays for their license, not yours)
  * being remotely involved in any of these activities

Re:Ambiguity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34906758)

And yet there are plenty of apps released as GPL using the GPLed x264 encoder.

And where is the freedom to redistribute it without restrictions that free software has? According to your very same comment you have to pay if you distribute too much copies of the binary.

Re:Ambiguity (1)

FrostedWheat (172733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906878)

MPEGLA has applied an exemption to source code for quite some time

I don't think it's a matter of them 'exempting' it, they simply can't do anything about source code.

Re:Ambiguity (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906908)

If you are streaming videos for free you have never paid royalties, and even if you are doing so for pay you have a pretty big threshold to hit before you even start paying royalties.

that's not the issue. The issue is that there are still parts you can have to pay royalties on.

If it isn't free, then it's not free. there is no imbetween just because the end user doesn't have to pay.

Meanwhile, if people implement VP8 encoders/decoders? There's no question of "how much do I have to pay?" People just do it. That's the difference. That's the only way it will ever work cross platform. Think you can implement a windows or mac decoder/encoder without paying for it? think again.

This matters because: decoders and encoders are not fucking magic and every general purpose device built in the last 10 years can be made to support it in some way but is only hindered due to legal concerns.

Re:Ambiguity (4, Insightful)

wile_e8 (958263) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906988)

Secondly, even if you are distrbuting binary encoders/decoders you don't pay anything until you hit about 50,000 units shipped.

This is the problem with x264. If x264 becomes the de facto standard, two guys in a garage will never be able to develop their own browser that competes with all the current market leaders, because the second it starts to gain widespread acceptance it becomes subject to royalty fees that two guys in a garage will never be able to afford. The x264 standard may be open, but you can't do anything useful with that standard without paying up.

Re:Ambiguity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34906510)

No shit? Many, many standards are closed. The point is that web standards are an exception, they are mostly free in all senses of the word and many of of us believe that is/was one of the main reasons for the the web revolution. We don't want to give away this advantage, even if things like DirectX and Flash have at times managed to overshadow it.

Re:Ambiguity (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34906714)

The problem with H.264 is not that isn't open (all patented stuff is open, by design). The problem is that is isn't royalty free (with free meaning both price and freedom).

That's why I don't like to talk about "linux" or "open source". Heck, even Windows is some sort of open if you apply for the Shared Source program. Is about freedom. But yeah, since Stallman is a hippie, nobody should even try to listen to him, much less talk about his ideals considerim quite valid for a variety of reasons.

Re:Ambiguity (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906858)

The problem is that is isn't royalty free (with free meaning both price and freedom).

Unless you are charging for the videos, and even then you have to hit a pretty high volume, it IS royalty free indefinitely.

Re:Ambiguity (3, Insightful)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906550)

H.264 is an open standard, governed by standards bodies (ISO & ITU). It is not, however, a 'free' standard, in either the "beer" or "freedom" sense.

VP8 is a proprietary standard, governed by Google, and developed by a single company. It is, allegedly, a 'free' standard in both the beer and freedom sense - and it's worth noting that there are some concerns as to whether or not this standard would survive an IP infringement claim, making it less "free" than we're asked to assume.

You're right, the definitions are quite clear. I'm just not sure why you seem to think it's opposite day when labelling H.264 as closed and VP8 as open. Until Google submits VP8 to ISO or some other standards body, it's not an "open" standard, it's a "Google says it's cool so I guess that's what we should do," standard. It would seem that you're conflating "royalty-free" with "open."

Re:Ambiguity (1)

FrostedWheat (172733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906944)

and it's worth noting that there are some concerns as to whether or not this standard would survive an IP infringement claim, making it less "free" than we're asked to assume

The same applies to H.264.

What I care about (4, Insightful)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906342)

The only thing that concerns me about the web video format is that it needs to be unencumbered by royalties or other licensing. If I want to make a video, encode it, sell it, make ads off of a website, get 100 or 100,000 visitors, I should damn well be able to do that without having to pay a dime to anyone for the ability to make my own god damn videos--unless I optionally choose.

By using h.264, you pretty much guarantee that *someone* *somewhere* is paying for it. Could you imagine if say, the "David After Dentist" kid had to pay tons and tons of royalties to the MPAA for a video they created simply because they used the h.264 container format? To even conceive such a thing is such bullshit that this should absolutely be a non-issue.

Though this will never happen, the US government should claim eminent domain on all patents involving the h.264 technology, and then dare the large companies to make a move. After all, we're the ones with the guns.

Re:What I care about (1)

Kenshin (43036) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906460)

I care if it has hardware-based acceleration, because I don't do everything on a beefy desktop. H.264 is supported in hardware on billions of devices. WebM is supported on absolutely no devices.

Re:What I care about (2)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906594)

If VP8 became the dominant codec used on the internet, the hardware acceleration will follow very quickly.

Re:What I care about (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906724)

If VP8 became the dominant codec used on the internet, the hardware acceleration will follow very quickly.

So basically everyone will be forced to upgrade their phones and computers because Google wants to force ANOTHER codec on the web?

Re:What I care about (1)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906936)

Not that I know the specifics, but I would imagine that in the mean time there could be some wrappers created that would at least offer some hardware acceleration benefit to the format. With the upgrade momentum of smartphones, I suspect this would be a non-issue.

Let me put it in plain terms here: We've all been through this before--many times. It's nothing new, and won't stop with h.264 or any other codec. When a new technology comes out, you'll eventually need to upgrade.

Re:What I care about (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#34907026)

And H264 needs hardware acceleration because the math involved taxes even a high end CPU...

Re:What I care about (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34906462)

Why do you think you have a right to use someone's technology without paying them? And it's really a token fee.

Re:What I care about (4, Insightful)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906576)

The point is the technology that is used on the internet should be royalty and licensing free. Period. If they want to be grinches about it, they can shove it up their ass.

Let's think about what you're saying here. Just imagine this world.

A) Pay per visitor for Ethernet
B) Pay per visitor for IP
C) Pay per visitor for TCP
D) Pay per visitor for HTTP
E) In addition to that, all vendors across all supply chains pay for rights to use these technologies. Cisco and Juniper pay royalty rights for the aforementioned technologies, end users pay for it in the devices. People and companies paying to run a business off of each of these technologies.

Re:What I care about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34907032)

And when the "technology" is a format? Yes. You don't have to pay for .txt or .png, you don't even have to pay to implement .doc. But for some reason you have to pay a token fee to implement h.264. A token 5.5 million dollar fee. I suppose you could argue that a video codex is far more complex then even .docx, and requires the money to support it... well you could except that VP8 is free.

Re:What I care about (1)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906560)

The only thing that concerns me about the web video format is that it needs to be unencumbered by royalties or other licensing. If I want to make a video, encode it, sell it, make ads off of a website, get 100 or 100,000 visitors, I should damn well be able to do that without having to pay a dime to anyone for the ability to make my own god damn videos--unless I optionally choose.

By killing h.264 support all together, though, you are killing the "choose" keyword. Google announced they are going to release WebM plugins for Safari and IE, that is a good way to go. But killing h.264 in their product as a mean of strong-arm the entire industry to go their way... well, its something Microsoft would had done in the late 90's. Give choice, dont force. No matter how noble the intentions, forcing a choice is never a noble act.

Re:What I care about (1)

wzzzzrd (886091) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906584)

Word. Hardware acceleration, performance and other stuff is irrelevant, because vendors and implementations will catch up in no time (this is NOT irony). You hit the nail on the head, because what most people don't realize: once a patent encumbered format (not to mention the powers behind it) like h.264 becomes standard, the floodgate opens for just one more way to control the web. NO. The standard formats of the intarwebs MUST be free, otherwise there is a back door for hindering some people to publish what they want. Never forget, the first web browser was also a server ;)

Re:What I care about (3, Insightful)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906626)

You don't have the right to use a technology developed by someone else (e.g. H.264) without paying. It's nice if you have such an option and I understand why you would prefer it, but there is no inherent right to it.
Arguments like yours are what sometimes weaken the FOSS movement. People who do not understand what FOSS is all about think it is full of whiny people who want to get everything for free. Guess what? You (me, everybody) don't deserve to get a video codec for free. There are some things that we deserve to get for free, but video codecs are not one of them.

You could say that as a non-professional creator of videos (like the "David after Dentist" kid), you would be very happy to have a codec unencumbered by patents which you could use royalty-free, and thus you prefer WebM over H.264 due to this reason. You could even extend that to saying that you would support companies that push to more adoption of WebM throughout the Internet, due to the above reason. But "I should damn well..."? Sorry, it doesn't hold water.

Re:What I care about (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34906642)

MPEG-LA has a real quandary here. Imagine, for a moment, that you're running the MPEG-LA business, and think about the devices that code and (more importantly) decode video. Your job is to create as many revenue streams as possible. In order to do this, you want your encoder used by all content producers, but more importantly, the content producers need an audience, so you want your *decoder* used by all consumers.

Furthermore, you're smart enough to realize that you want royalties on every *hardware* device (think cellphones, DVD players, etc.) that is shipped with h.264, and perhaps every copy of OS X and Windows. You also realize that there is zero money to be made from including h.264 n Firefox/etc, because Firefox generates no revenue. In fact, you *want* h.264 used in Firefox, Chrome, etc., just because it increases the audience size. So you sit down to rewrite the royalty/licensing structures to specifically allow free browsers to implement h.264 for free, but then you stop. Why? Because you've just realized that these little hardware devices (or even DVD players, these days) can incorporate Firefox/Chrome/etc. into their software stack and thereby skirt any royalty structure you've just set up for your hardware devices.

Maybe it's because I'm not a lawyer, but I can't conceive of any legal language that would allow MPEG-LA to distinguish between browser+h.264 on computer vs. browser+h.264 on cellphones/DVD players/whatever devices comes along in the future.

Re:What I care about (1, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906658)

Well, all you can say right now is that nobody yet has publicly put forward a lawsuit asserting their patents against WebM.

Google isn't indemnifying anybody against patent exposure for WebM, so if you were a real-world company, with say, an actual lawyer, the lawyer would certainly advise you to go with h.264 just to reduce your legal exposure.

Because I'm sure there is more than one company out there just waiting for some more medium to large size companies to start using WebM, just for the cash windfall due to patent infringement.

Re:What I care about (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906716)

>>>I should damn well be able to do that without having to pay a dime

You already have that ability to pay *nothing* so long as your Revenue from that MPEG4/h.264 video is less than $500,000. And if you make more than $500K... well... you can afford to pay the dime for the encoding software. Just as you pay higher taxes when you pass the 500K threshold.

Re:What I care about (2)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906842)

The difference is that taxes (should) go to the betterment of my society and my surroundings so that my family, friends, children, grandchildren, and people I don't know can have at least my life if not better than my life for their future.

Paying taxes is a completely different beast from being "forced" to pay for the h.264 codec licensing fees.

And when I say "forced", I'm implying that if every device on the market can *only* encode in h.264, and every player on the market can *only* play h.264, and modifying devices so they play other formats to *give me choice* is illegal, then you don't really have much of a "choice" do you not?

Re:What I care about (1)

terjeber (856226) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906764)

the US government should claim eminent domain on all patents involving the h.264 technology

But Mr. Stalin, I thought you were dead. Apparently not.

Re:What I care about (2)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34907036)

Last time I checked, this is a right granted in the US Constitution.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eminent_domain

In this case, if the US government were to seize the h.264 property and providing just compensation (I would imagine would be somewhat less the cost of what we're spending on these wars) to the creators, then put it into the public use--then we very well can do it.

Stallman doesn't like the word "open" (1, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906346)

Well I learned something new. Perhaps "liberated" would be a better term since the software, like Seamonkey, Songbird, OpenOffice.org, have been liberated from the clutches of single companies (i.e. Microsoft).

Google also has a WebP standard based on VP8, to replace GIFs/JPEGs, but it seems like it's reached a deadend. So WebM is the container.
--- VP8 is the video
--- Vorbis is the audio
Versus h.264:
--- MPEG4 AVC for video
--- plus some audio codec, like MP3 or AAC or HE-AAC

MPEG4/h264 vs. VP8 comparison (h264 slightly better - specially on low bitrate connections):
        - http://compression.ru/video/codec_comparison/h264_2010/vp8_vs_h264.html [compression.ru]
HE-AACplus vs. Vorbis (HE-AAC wins):
        - http://listening-tests.hydrogenaudio.org/sebastian/mf-48-1/results.htm [hydrogenaudio.org]
JPEG vs. WebP (WebP wins):
        - http://englishhard.com/2010/10/01/real-world-analysis-of-googles-webp-versus-jpg/ [englishhard.com]

Shocking: Apple and MS are doing the right thing (3, Insightful)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906378)

It's frustrating that only the OS-provided solutions (Safari and IE) are doing this right by handing it off to the OS. The notion that your browser needs to reimplement everything, including video rendering, is what leads to the bloatware we have today. The whole point of having an OS is to have a common framework and API layer that all applications hosted on it can access. Instead, Firefox, Chrome and Opera are all re-developing their own video rendering, for each platform they exist on, AND each one needs to write its own video-card accelerator layers for each platform it exists on.

Re:Shocking: Apple and MS are doing the right thin (-1, Troll)

amolapacificapaloma (1000830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906588)

So the Right Thing is to force everyone to buy an OS from Microsoft or Apple? Do you know there are some crazy people developing free operating systems? And even using them! How dare they ask for a royalty free baseline codec for encoding video for the web? How selfish they are, giving away their OSes and expecting to be able to play with the Big Boys...

Re:Shocking: Apple and MS are doing the right thin (5, Informative)

mccalli (323026) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906688)

So the Right Thing is to force everyone to buy an OS from Microsoft or Apple? Do you know there are some crazy people developing free operating systems? And even using them! How dare they ask for a royalty free baseline codec for encoding video for the web?

You're missing what the GP said - no-one's suggesting forcing anyone to buy an OS, the suggestion is to hand off video playback to the OS. In this case, the right thing to do would be to release it to a video decoding layer for Linux and then call it from Firefox/Chrome.

Cheers,
Ian

Re:Shocking: Apple and MS are doing the right thin (1, Interesting)

amolapacificapaloma (1000830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906822)

Ah, but can't write such a thing and release it under the gpl... And that's my problem with adopting h.264 as the standard. We wouldn't be able to have general-purpose Free OS anymore ;)

User codecs vs. system-wide codecs (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906862)

In this case, the right thing to do would be to release it to a video decoding layer for Linux

Which would end up supporting only MPEG-1, Theora, and VP8 given the patent policies of many GNU/Linux distributors. And for each operating system, how should the browser direct the user to find and install appropriate codecs? Do video decoding layers for Linux even support codecs installed by one user for that user as opposed to codecs installed by root for all users? Most of the tutorials I found were for .deb installation on Ubuntu, which is always system-wide.

Re:Shocking: Apple and MS are doing the right thin (0)

terjeber (856226) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906790)

Thing is to force everyone to buy an OS from Microsoft or Apple

You really need to go back to school and learn how to read.

Re:Shocking: Apple and MS are doing the right thin (1)

amolapacificapaloma (1000830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906884)

Clearly, as I do not understand what are you talking about, could you please point it out? Bear with me, I'm still learning the English language.

Re:Shocking: Apple and MS are doing the right thin (1)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906668)

The QtWebkit based browsers and KHTML also hands it off the OS (through Phonon and/or GStreamer).

Re:Shocking: Apple and MS are doing the right thin (1)

FrostedWheat (172733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906762)

So basically what you're saying is that having one supported format that web developers can rely on being supported, regardless of platform, is a bad thing?

Re:Shocking: Apple and MS are doing the right thin (5, Interesting)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906796)

A good point here - Google has a lot of "green" initiatives (reduced-power computing, huge solar cell farms on their roof, etc.)

This approach is NOT a "green" approach - a "green" approach is one that makes use of the large amount of hardware acceleration infrastructure now deployed for the existing standard codecs.

WebM/VP8 will force a non-accelerated CPU-only rendering path on ALL existing hardware. This eats power compared to hardware acceleration. (Look at how well most Android devices handle H.264 thanks to hardware accelerated decoding.)

Google is being hypocritical and inconsistent here. Great summary at http://daringfireball.net/2011/01/simple_questions [daringfireball.net] - Key here is, HTML5 was supposed to at least partially break Adobe's stranglehold on the web by moving some content away from Flash. Google just killed any hope of that - They talk about supporting open codecs, but they still bundle Adobe Flash (which includes H.264 support) with Chrome?

As a result of this mess, content providers are starting to shy away from HTML5 and stick with what "just works" (for the most part) - SmugMug was starting to consider HTML5, but Google's latest decision has them moving back to Flash.

Re:Shocking: Apple and MS are doing the right thin (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906804)

Are Apple/Microsoft doing the right thing because it's the "right thing", or because they fear an independent web browser with builtin Video support, might make their OSes obsolete? (i.e. Don't install either OS X or Windows- just install Seamonkey, or Opera, or a spinoff of those like Splashtop, and you're done. The browser does everything.)

Re:Shocking: Apple and MS are doing the right thin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34906890)

Three words: Cross Platform Uniformity

The user doesn't care that his OS is doing something stupid/wrong, he just wants the app to work. It's an inherent problem with cross platform anything, and the reason toolkits like Qt have to exist.

Run-on sentence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34906426)

What does this one sentence mean?

"Firefox, Opera and Google rely on their own media frameworks to decode video, whereas IE9 and Safari will hand over video processing to the operating system (Windows Media Player or QuickTime), the need for the web to establish a baseline codec for encoding videos, and how the Flash player is proprietary, but implementation and usage remain royalty free"

you fail IT.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34906464)

join in.D It can be

Open means open. (0)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906498)

in all respects.

something that is 'reasonably open as per defined standard bodies' but, is subject to the ownership of any private party which can at any point end that state of openness at whim through their ownership of underlying patents, is NOT OPEN. it is a state of 'dubiously open' or 'haphazardly open', or 'illusory open', or 'open for now' or 'open depending on the whim of the patent owner' .....

open means open. and dont be mistaken and think that there is difference in between ownership and openness concepts - in the world of software, they are directly linked - today's open can be tomorrow's closed when you wake up.

booooo (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906920)

concept of ownership was challenged. mod to oblivion. dey comin for ya. hide your patents, hide yo codecz ...

Open Standards != Open Source (5, Informative)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906542)

There are open standards, and open source, and they are not the same. The IETF, for example (subject to yesterdays Birthday Article [slashdot.org]) deals with open standards. Linux, by contrast, is open source.

An open standard means that no one party controls the generation of the standard, and that the standard is openly available. Generally, open standards are developed by SDOs (Standards Defining Organizations, such as the IETF or the W3C). As a general rule "anyone" can participate in their creation (but this may require that you or your company be a member of some organization or have some other qualifications). Many open standards have patent encumbrances. Typically, SDOs seek RAND [wikipedia.org] (Reasonable and NonDiscriminatory) licensing terms; some even require a particular patent licensing policy as a condition for participation. The IETF, however, requires disclosure [ietf.org] and seeks, but does not strictly require, RAND terms. While an open standard may have some code associated with it, typically the entire point of an open standard is to allow you to go off and write your own code, generally under whatever code license you want. This is how the Internet was developed.

Open source means that the source is licensed by GPL [opensource.org] or BSD> [opensource.org] or some similar licensing. Now, generally open source means that the code is available, but in practice many open source projects are more or less closed to outside participation, and they frequently do not provide documentation sufficient to replicate what they are doing.

Re:Open Standards != Open Source (2)

ceeam (39911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906976)

And generally speaking Open Standards are even more important than Open Source. Especially in the long run.

This knee jerk reaction is amusing to watch (1, Flamebait)

melted (227442) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906772)

For years Slashdot seems to have yearned for a wider adoption of Vorbis and Theora. Theora didn't quite cut it, so Google replaced it with VP8, and has thrown its weight (and its patent portfolio) behind Vorbis as well. But since it's Google, now Slashdot seems to support a royalty and patent encumbered h264 instead of pining for WebM (which is VP8 + Vorbis wrapped into a Matroska container) to win, for which there's a non-exclusive, perpetual, royalty free license on everything, including fucking _ASIC designs_. WTF people? Do you have no principles?

Re:This knee jerk reaction is amusing to watch (1)

magamiako1 (1026318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906896)

I suspect the people responding right now are the same trolls that are starting to learn to use the internet in recent years. We've seen more and more of them on other sites I visit, and they don't understand what's really going on.

Woah the kid is 15 years old? (0, Troll)

wamatt (782485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906926)

Ok I'll come clean I havent RTFA, but it strikes me weird that a 15 year old is going to grasp all sides commercial and technological nuances of a very complex issue.

Anyone else feel the same way?

"Flaunt" (1)

wamatt (782485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34906986)

Yeah I'd totally hit some of that hot piece of ass Apple is flaunting in Main road.

Oh wait I got confused. They are utilising an upgraded processor in their upcoming iPhone refresh.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...