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Google to Open Source the VP8 Codec 501

Posted by kdawson
from the floor-wax-and-dessert-topping dept.
Several readers noted Google's reported intention to open source the VP8 codec it acquired with On2 last February — as the FSF had urged. "HTML5 has the potential to capture the online video market from Flash by providing an open standard for web video — but only if everyone can agree on a codec. So far Adobe and Microsoft support H.264 because of the video quality, while Mozilla has been backing Ogg Theora because it's open source. Now it looks like Google might be able to end the squabble by making the VP8 codec it bought from On2 Technologies open source and giving everyone what they want: high-quality encoding that also happens to be open. Sure, Chrome and Firefox will support it. But can Google get Safari and IE on board?"
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Google to Open Source the VP8 Codec

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  • Hurrah! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by XanC (644172) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:07PM (#31826180)

    We're all very quick to hit Google when they do something wrong. This one pretty clearly is "do no evil". Thanks Google!

  • "Do No Evil" (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:12PM (#31826222)

    is actually from Google's POV, "Make others think we believe "Do No Evil" ". The main motivation, as with all other commercial endeavours, is to gain advantage for one's self (profit). "Do No Evil" is a handy PR side effect.

    Google saw commercial benefit (or penalties for others) down the line by open sourcing VP8.

  • Does this help? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by _merlin (160982) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:13PM (#31826234) Homepage Journal

    Open-sourcing it alone means next to nothing: there are open-source h.264 codecs. The community still can't use it without a thorough patent examination, a universal royalty-free patent license, and an indemnity guarantee.

  • by etymxris (121288) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:17PM (#31826272)

    Firefox has already committed to supported theora natively. Are they going to dump that now that VP8 is open? Or are they going to support two codecs now? That would just recreate the problem an open source VP8 was meant to solve.

    More problematically, patents. I doubt most people owning h264 patents want an open source competitor, and the media companies are probably more comfortable with an IP protected media format. Google has a lot of money, but patent battles could carry on for years and put the ubiquity of VP8 into doubt, much like the problems with BSD.

  • Re:Yeah, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sadler121 (735320) <msadler@gmail.com> on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:19PM (#31826292) Homepage

    Unless Google starts using VP8 exclusively for Youtube. How long would it take for VP8 to gain hardware decoding? Hint: Not long.

  • Re:Hurrah! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by moosesocks (264553) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:30PM (#31826404) Homepage

    Actually, this could have some bad effects -- it has the potential to fragment the online video market even further.

    There's now no way in hell that Mozilla will ever support h.264. Previously, h264 support for Firefox was basically inevitable because there was no way in hell that Theora was going to overtake h264 as the dominant format.

    That said, it's nice that we've got an open codec that's (supposedly) actually decent.

  • ENCODERS IDOTS ! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by johnjones (14274) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:35PM (#31826448) Homepage Journal

    its all about the encoders !

    google can quite easily make reference but until there is High quality encoders then its pretty pointless

    making decoder plugins for IE and mac is actually pretty easy in comparison

    hardware reference designes need to be seeded also to the likes of TI and STMicroelectronics before it will even start to be useful after all where do all the camera's now do mp4 come from...

    its all about the encoders !

    regards

    John Jones

  • Re:Yeah, but... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:36PM (#31826460)

    Yeah right, people aren't going to accept that their one year old phone can't play Youtube anymore. Nor that they can't buy a new phone anywhere that will [until said support materialises several months later] for no particular reason beyond "the new video is open and looks better". Accessibility is more important than quality in this arena, if Youtube erected a wall like that then they would tank pretty quickly. There are plenty of wannabes that will eat Google's lunch here, it'd be an incredibly stupid business decision.

    On the other hand, exclusive specially selected content that is only available as VP8 might work but it has to be played carefully to avoid poking the bee's nest to strongly.

  • Re:I don't like it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:47PM (#31826546) Homepage Journal

    I would disagree. The competition locks themselves out by keeping the best quality codecs closed source. If Google can equal the quality of an expensive codec, and make if open source with no royalties paid by anyone to anyone, that's great. But, don't blame Google for locking anyone out! It's still a "free market". Anyone can make an even better codec, and sell it for less!

  • Re:Codecs (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:48PM (#31826560)

    Theora has very little penetration, VP8 will likely replace it entirely* (Firefox and Opera will likely have to retain "deprecated" support for at least one or two major version releases to avoid a marketing hype backlash though). Ideally we'll end up with H.264 for hardware decoding in portable devices like phones (legacy support) and VP8 for everything else (netbooks and upwards).

    It remains to be seen though, VP8 will have to be competitive with H.264 or the quality complainers aren't going to go away.

    * VP8 is supposed to be many times better than VP3 from which Theora is derived so it seems fitting to replace it with the newer version of itself.

  • Re:I don't like it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:49PM (#31826574)

    oh please. there are plenty of open kernels and open graphics systems available.
    this VP8 thing prevents the internet from having to deal with yet another proprietary roadblock.
    it was going to happen anyway with h264 in another 10 years. Now we have a technologically advanced codec and don't have to screw around with parasites wanting to milk the internet.

    way to go google.

    besides, If you really do want to keep the ecosystem going, then start contributing to dirac, and figure out some way to make it work faster on slower hardware.

  • by Kitkoan (1719118) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:49PM (#31826580)

    ...mater because accessing the web on mobile devices has become increasingly common.

    But trends are showing that more cellphone providers are putting limits on cellphone data plans [cnet.com] and the more limits pop up, the less likely people are going to be wanting to stream videos. This runs risks that mobiles will be less of a deciding factor for things like streaming video. Time will tell though.

  • Re:I don't like it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bhtooefr (649901) <bhtooefr.bhtooefr@org> on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:51PM (#31826602) Homepage Journal

    The problem is, video codecs *ARE* a case of interoperability.

    Video codecs end up in *HARDWARE* on mobile devices. Once you put them there, you're kinda stuck with that, and need to buy a new device to change codecs. Picking a good codec at first is generally a good idea there. ;)

    Also, let's say people can freely install codecs as they choose. You'll get websites saying you need to download this codec to watch this video, and people will do it. With a standard codec, if a site does that, users can be educated that they shouldn't download ANY codecs.

  • Re:Does this help? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by steveha (103154) on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:54PM (#31826626) Homepage

    The community still can't use it without a thorough patent examination, a universal royalty-free patent license, and an indemnity guarantee.

    I suspect this is why Google has been so slow to announce their intentions: they have probably had lawyers combing through the IP, making sure that they didn't overlook anything.

    I don't know if they can do an indemnity guarantee. You don't even get an indemnity guarantee when you license H.264!

    But Google has deep pockets and would be the first target of any lawsuits over this. If they think VP8 is safe to release, they are probably right.

    steveha

  • Re:Hurrah! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:57PM (#31826654)

    They are full of shit. They can just use various media frameworks like GStreamer and leave it up to the end user/distro/whatever to provide codecs for it. They have however stated they are unwilling to do this because H.264 is Evil and Proprietary and they want everyone to use Theora, because it gives you Freedom, even if you have to put up with a vastly outdated codec with a horrible implementation and no hardware support (of course, users can't be allowed to make any such choices on their own; you're gonna get your Freedom whether you like it or not). That they think they have nearly enough influence to get everyone to switch from H.264 to Theora is absolutely insane, and their delusions will ultimately amount to nothing and harm them and their users in the process.

  • Re:Hurrah! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @10:58PM (#31826666)

    They want this to be a global standard? Luckily Google owns YouTube... if this codec was default on YouTube it would be THE standard in about 15 seconds flat.

  • Re:I don't like it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lotunggim Ginsawat (689998) on Monday April 12, 2010 @11:02PM (#31826704) Homepage

    Considering that H.264 is used in Blu-rays, ATSC, DVB-T/DVB-S2, video streaming services like Netflix and of course, sites like YouTube, I don't think H.264 will go away anytime soon.

  • Re:I don't like it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday April 12, 2010 @11:18PM (#31826846) Homepage Journal

    "only someone else with equally deep pockets", or a group of someone's who has the time, expertise, and coordination to do it for free. Like, maybe, Open Source?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 12, 2010 @11:26PM (#31826912)

    Most mobile devices have support for hardware h264 decoding these days. The iPhone and Nexus One, for example, both have hardware h.264 decoding support, and many netbooks have video hardware that accelerates the decoding.

    I'm not defending the codec here, just pointing out that you're wrong.

  • Re:Codecs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AndrewStephens (815287) on Monday April 12, 2010 @11:30PM (#31826926) Homepage

    Do you also remember what a pain it was when some browsers (IE) didn't support PNG while others (Firefox, etc) had good support. That made no-one happy.

    Now imagine if IE only supported GIF and Firefox only support PNG, with no universal fallback that they both could view. That is the situation with audio and video in HTML5.

  • Re:I don't like it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by digitalunity (19107) <digitalunity&yahoo,com> on Monday April 12, 2010 @11:31PM (#31826932) Homepage

    The whole discussion is moot in my opinion. Hear me out.

    What do we need of online video?

    Well, it should be ubiquitous. Everyone should have it available, or else web developers will be chasing their tales. FLV was a nice improvement over years gone by where a web developer couldn't predict with any accuracy what video playback facilities would be available to any particular user.

    Sites like Youtube, break.com, theonion.com, are almost entirely based on online video and are only possible if most viewers can view the content with minimal fuss.

    A codec doesn't need to be perfect. It just needs to be free as in beer, and everywhere. Flash did it, but it was proprietary and people didn't like it. Ogg Theora is free(in all the ways that matter, shut up Theo), but you'll never get native support for it from Microsoft.

    To meet the needs of everyone, Google is giving us all VP8. It may not be the best, but if it's freely available to all browsers(native ideally, or by plugin), then it meets the needs of the web developer community to avoid recreating the wheel for every browser.

  • Re:Does this help? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alex Belits (437) * on Monday April 12, 2010 @11:33PM (#31826940) Homepage

    H.264 is not open-source. Those decoding/encoding utilities are legal only in countries which do not support software patents. So no, there are no open-source H.264 codecs. You are mixing the concept of a codec and encoding/decoding facilities of it.

    It's possible for a piece of software to be open source yet still patent-encumbered if a third party owns a patent on something used in it (like h.264 may be). Since open source licenses are applicable worldwide while patents have limited jurisdiction, use of such software in some countries without a patent license may be illegal, thus negating the applicability of the open source license there. However it has no effect on the entities that released software under an open source license, or users unless jurisdiction of the patent applies directly to them.

    It's not fundamentally different from the status of open source encryption software in places where encryption use is restricted -- it's not any less open source, just third party actions' can block its use or distribution.

    Of course, it's usually IMPRACTICAL to rely on software that can't be distributed in a large fraction of the world due to hostile patent owner unwilling to issue a blanket license for the patent that will be compatible with the license of that software, so an alternative is helpful.

  • Re:Not a surprise (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stan Vassilev (939229) on Monday April 12, 2010 @11:33PM (#31826948)

    If VP8 really is as good as On2 claimed, Google could save some pretty good money by serving up YouTube videos in VP8 format instead of H264. And even better, Google would not have to worry about the H.264 patent owners changing the rates or changing the rules.

    I don't think Google really wants to re-encode their entire YouTube catalog in yet another codec, but V8 serves a very particular role in this picture.

    Google is basically keeping ISO/IEC MPEG in check by basically stating "if you do something stupid, we'll do everything possible to use V8 to make your life harder". So we may see some PR work and posturing, and V8 will likely end up in Google Chrome as well.

    Whether everyone will jump to using V8 is still questionable at this point. But having it around will keep H.264 more accessible to everyone, which is good news.

  • Re:"Do No Evil" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bhagwad (1426855) on Monday April 12, 2010 @11:34PM (#31826954) Homepage
    Your hypothesis fails the falsification test. Basically no matter what Google does, people like you are going to say they did it for their direct advantage.

    To make it a scientific opinion, you have to give an example of an action that Google will take that will convince you they were not evil. Sometime ago, slashdotters were saying that if Google open sources VP8, that would be proof enough. Apparently you want more. So tell us. What do you want?
  • Re:I don't like it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday April 12, 2010 @11:40PM (#31827002) Homepage

    First, I doubt that it will lock out competing codecs. At best, it will create a common interchange format. There's no reason why software wouldn't continue to support whatever codecs were useful to people. The only thing it might do is make it hard for patent holders on other codecs to get people to pay for licensing fees, if there's a superior royalty-free format available.

    I also disagree that video codecs aren't "infrastructure". In my opinion, all file formats are infrastructure and are required for interoperability and compatibility. People can freely dream up new applications while still standardizing the formats those applications output to.

    But finally, I disagree with the implication that your "second type of Free Software" should be considered a threat to a competitive ecosystem. Firefox hasn't locked out competing browsers and OpenOffice hasn't locked out existing office suites. MySQL hasn't locked out all other databases. Other FOSS can compete, and they can even start by forking the existing project. If proprietary software is superior enough that people are still willing to pay for it, then people will buy it. FOSS isn't a threat. to anyone doing a good job. It's only a threat to companies who want to rest on their laurels and rely on vendor lock-in to make a profit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @12:16AM (#31827258)
    Sorry, man, you're feeding a professional troll. The appropriately named BlakeyRat knows nothing but how to defecate on an otherwise half-way decent tech site with pathetic MS shilling.
  • Re:I don't like it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CecilPL (1258010) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @12:25AM (#31827314)

    Yup, now all you have to do is get people to use it.

  • Re:I don't like it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by node 3 (115640) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @12:32AM (#31827376)

    I humorously wonder if H264 will suddenly announce being 100% royalty free for lifetime now, or will fade into obscurity.

    While I do hope for the former, the latter is not likely. Even ignoring the media standards which use h.264, there is the matter of hardware acceleration. This is critical for mobile devices, and pretty damned important even for desktops.

    In a way, I think this move may be done specifically to prod the MPEG-LA to commit to freely license h.264, but ultimately it's really just the only logical thing for Google to do. Sitting on VP8 does them no good, and they are not in any industry where owning a codec provides an opportunity for commercializing it. At least by opening it, the codec may come to some use, and if it becomes widely adopted (this doesn't seem likely) then Google will at least have some visibility in the codec market. And regardless of what comes of VP8, Google will have garnered some good will from the open source community at large.

  • Re:I don't like it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kabloom (755503) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @12:40AM (#31827434) Homepage

    Isn't this an example of the market choosing a winner? Google could afford to make this free, and we still don't even know whether half of the browser vendors out there will bite. Even if they do, it could take a while for browsers supporting VP8 to penetrate the market.

  • Re:Yeah, but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Locutus (9039) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @12:46AM (#31827466)
    you mean like the DSP built into the TI ARM chips? cool, so 1080p video and hardware decoding in .5W is around the corner. sweet. I wonder if that Google tablet is slated for this kind of wonderful thing.

    LoB
  • Re:Codecs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AndrewStephens (815287) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @12:48AM (#31827484) Homepage

    Er... we have multiple incompatible graphic formats on web pages, and nobody says much about it anymore. Once upon the time, people were concerned about GIF vs. JPEG vs. PNG, and now it's apparently such a non-issue that you don't even realize that web pages aren't all using JPEG.

    For a start, GIF and PNG are used quite differently to JPEG - there are good reasons why multiple image formats exist. All videos are pretty much the same, unless someone comes up with a codec for low-colour animation or something.

    Now imagine if Google (for instance) has come up with a fantastic new image format - GPEG. Its great (10% better compression), but only Chrome supports it. Further more, imagine Chrome doesn't support GIF due to licensing costs). Sites that want to work in all browsers now need to encode images in two different formats and use browser fallbacks to display the correct version. It may not matter for your blog, but it is a major hassle for sites like flickr and wikipedia. Many sites wouldn't bother and just look bad on minority browsers, or maybe even rely on Flash to display images on all systems.

    Video and audio are like this today. It is a bit of a nightmare and is holding back HTML5 media adoption. Safari won't play Theora, Firefox won't play h264 (and probably never will due to licensing issues), Chrome plays everything but has bugs in some formats, IE plays nothing currently. It is a mess.

    Out of curiosity, what are these better ways of storing photos than JPEG, and in which ways are they better?

    I was thinking of jpeg2000 [wikipedia.org], but other formats exist.

  • by gig (78408) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @01:31AM (#31827682)

    H.264 is in *everything*, even Flash. It's in all the hardware, from smartphones to PC GPU's. Camcorders make it. It's on Blu-Ray and iTunes and YouTube.

    This move with VP8 is likely to keep MPEG licensing free from 2016 through the expiration of the patents. It's not going to displace H.264, though. Even if everyone in the world agreed to replace H.264, it would take a decade or more. Even if you don't know it, most of the post-DVD video you've watched was H.264.

  • Re:I don't like it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nxtw (866177) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @02:09AM (#31827962)

    And most current titles use VC-1 and old ones used MPEG-2, not H.264.

    You are lying.

    Some DVB might have added H.264 in addition to MPEG-2 but when they launched they were also just MPEG-2.

    HDTV DVB broadcasts use H.264, as do IPTV systems.

    Netflix will use whatever is deployed as they aren't any sort of standard and don't really have dependencies on much physical hardware yet.

    Netflix support has been in some Blu-ray players, TVs, and other devices for probably a year now, and now supports iPhone/iPad.

    No, H.264 as a format that isn't just encapsulated in some other locked DRM hell like Flash, the Netflix player, a cable company settop box, etc. is almost entirely an Apple only thing at this point.

    H.264 is used in almost every commercial video application. I use it every day without using Apple products. H.264 support is in my Intel, nVidia, and Intel GPUs, in my non-Apple phones, in non-Apple videoconferencing systems, in non-Apple Blu-ray players.

  • Re:I don't like it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mikael_j (106439) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @02:22AM (#31828038)

    Why would we want to "defeat" h.264? Most of us like it. Also, there are tons of pirated movies and tv shows out there that use h.264 in a Matroska container (why they insist on Matroska when a standard mpeg4 container would work just fine is beyond me) and that means it's got a lot of mindshare with the casual pirates (although a lot of them seem to think the codec is called x264 since that's what the releases tend to be tagged with).

  • Re:I don't like it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joocemann (1273720) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @03:16AM (#31828312)

    .... google can also just implement the new codec on youtube... the whole world will follow.

  • Re:I don't like it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Znork (31774) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @03:21AM (#31828330)

    ensured that only someone else with equally deep pockets has the time and money to engineer something so clearly better that they can recoup the time investment by surpassing VP8.

    Not at all. The cheapest and easiest way to surpass VP8 is simply to take VP8 and improve it. Minor investment, not that much to recoup that it's a problem. If you have a problem that needs a better codec, it might even pay for itself.

    It's the restrictions of patents and copyrights that make that difficult; they make it harder to engage in mass reuse, necessitating the massive investment of rewriting things from scratch. Copyleft ameliorates the problem, but nowhere near as effectively as outright abolishing intellectual monopoly rights would.

  • Re:I don't like it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @03:42AM (#31828422)

    We, the casual pirates, disagree.
    We want movies. We don't give half a shit regarding what format it is encoded, in, so long as it plays.
    We don't even particularly care about image quality. If anyone cared about the difference between Theora and h.264, blu-ray would be flying off the shelves, instead of slowly trickling out despite major pushes. In terms of media, society has consistently favoured quantity and story quality over "image quality". basically: if you can get more of it, people like it.

    We, the casual pirates, dislike region codes, release dates, and "waiting for the dvd", in an age where none of that is necessary. We want to watch movies, and if no one is willing to sell them to us in a format we can easily consume, we will acquire them through other means.

    We have never cared what the hell "h.264" means.

  • Re:I don't like it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Captain Segfault (686912) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @03:43AM (#31828436) Homepage Journal

    You are lying.

    The word here is "wrong", not "lying".

    You do not accomplish anything by accusing this this person of deliberate misinformation, aside perhaps from making yourself appear a dolt.

  • Re:I don't like it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mathinker (909784) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @04:28AM (#31828610) Journal

    Hmm, let's try to put it into a computer software context. If the only optimization level your compiler had was "-Op" which did perfect optimization by doing a brute-force search over all possible sequences of machine code of a certain size (let's assume that the input data distribution is known), but using this compiler option then required several years of computer time to finish the compilation, this wouldn't be "good" (i.e., useful) in most scenarios, and no one would do any optimization at all.

    In other words, attaining (or even trying to attain) perfection in a specific goodness metric almost always causes other goodness metrics to give very non-optimal results. Another example of this is the "over-fitting" problem in machine learning [wikipedia.org].

  • Re:I don't like it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mr_mischief (456295) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @04:52AM (#31828712) Journal

    Also note that perfection is exceedingly rare and tends to be exorbitantly expensive when it is accomplished. Solutions that meet a need well enough for a reasonable cost are usually all that's necessary. A company could go broke or a person could die of old age looking for perfection because they refuse to release a "good enough" solution. Even when seeking perfection, releasing "good enough" early enough and improving from there tends to be much more useful than paralyzing yourself refusing to compromise anything from your perfect solution.

    It can have to do with trying to displace a "good enough" solution that's already out. It doesn't have to. If that was the only reason or the saying, it would probably be worded "The enemy of the perfect is the good" instead. Too often, we never see a promising project because some minor drawback we could work around easily delays its launch.

    Software development teams often use continuous integration, time boxing, iterative development, and many of those other agile buzzwords to prevent the exact problem this saying codifies. The whole point of "agile" development (as well as lean manufacturing and many other modern productivity boosting systems across industries) is that you pay attention to the quality of the pieces as you build them and put the pieces together rapidly into a quality whole that doesn't necessarily have more than the most essential features. Then you release, then refine both the pieces and the whole, then release again with more features and any bug fixes.

    "Agile" methods are opposed to top-down methods like waterfall which involve specifying and developing whole fully-featured projects before release, often with little feedback from the target users between specification and release. A good development team can do good work under a strict release-once mentality, but it's much easier to miss your mark with one big go at it rather than a bunch of refinements.

  • Re:I don't like it (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bigtomrodney (993427) * on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @05:09AM (#31828806)
    This is the most important point. YouTube is still by far the leader in video online. It is now to video what Google is to search. If they switch to VP8 then it will be supported by browsers outside of Internet Explorer and in that case I'm sure Google can offer their own plugin for it. Once that's done all other content providers are free to implement it.
  • Re:I don't like it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Goaway (82658) on Tuesday April 13, 2010 @06:50AM (#31829418) Homepage

    Open Source has consistently failed to produce anything remotely like a decent video codec so far. The only serious attempt is Theora, and that was commercially developed and donated as open source once it was irrelevant, and then people just polished it up a bit.

    Codec design is hard, lots of work, and boring. It's exactly the kind of thing open source developers are bad at.

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