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Firefox Patents Software Your Rights Online

Firefox With H.264 HTML 5 Support = Wild Fox 477

Posted by kdawson
from the join-the-fun dept.
Elledan writes "Two countries have software patents which make it impossible to freely use video codecs such as AVC (H.264). This has led to projects such as Firefox not including AVC support with the HTML 5 video tag in their releases, which makes the rest of the world suffer indirectly the effects of software patents as well. To rectify this situation at least somewhat, I have created the Wild Fox project, which aims to release Firefox builds with the features previously excluded due to software patents. This software will be available to those in non-software-patent-encumbered countries. Any developers who wish to join the project are more than welcome."
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Firefox With H.264 HTML 5 Support = Wild Fox

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @01:46AM (#32225148)

    That a new word?

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @01:51AM (#32225160)

    You said,

    As far as I can tell, they aren't actually proposing a wholesale fork

    As far as I can tell their is no "they". It's more like a person who is looking for programmers:

    As I (Maya Posch AKA 'Elledan') am just a single person, help is required to set up this project successfully...

    I think the news on this story is a bit premature.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @01:53AM (#32225168)

    kdawson. 'nuff said.

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BiggerIsBetter (682164) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @01:53AM (#32225170)

    Now first of all to the Wild Fox project maintainers, this is the right move. Fight to win the whole war, not one battle. Don't die as a martyr and lose it all just by demanding something to happen right now.

    I agree with parent that WildFox is the right way to go, but could Firefox devs not offer a means to pipe the video stream to the player of the user's choice? Eg, vlc or mplayer running as a content-transparent plugin? That sorts the patent issue (from Firefox's perspective) and sorts the playback performance problem that others have mentioned. As long as the layer of the window is handled right, this might be a palatable workaround?

  • by Kethinov (636034) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @01:55AM (#32225176) Homepage Journal

    This project is yet more proof that software patents are profoundly anticompetitive. People have written open source H.264 encoders and decoders. Software patents literally make these open source projects illegal. Why should anyone have a monopoly so they can charge for what others are willing to give away for free? How does that benefit the economy, or the progress of technology? Absolutely ludicrous.

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @01:57AM (#32225190) Homepage Journal

    ``could Firefox devs not offer a means to pipe the video stream to the player of the user's choice? Eg, vlc or mplayer running as a content-transparent plugin?''

    Yeah, they could. But then they'd be doing the same thing that browser vendors have been doing for the object element since the 1990s. Then what would be the point of the new HTML 5 video element?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @01:59AM (#32225200)

    The whole concept of patents is to protect the patent inventor against competition and give him or her a monopoly. 'Patents are anticompetitive' is a tautology. It never in the past therefore was considered a valid argument against patents.

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @02:05AM (#32225224)

    Now first of all to the Wild Fox project maintainers, this is the right move. Fight to win the whole war, not one battle. Don't die as a martyr and lose it all just by demanding something to happen right now.

    What "war"? Against who, exactly? Mozilla's only interest is in building an open, inclusive web where everyone can participate with no barriers to entry. H.264 represents the direct antithesis of this goal. There is no segregation into groups of "winners" and "losers" in an open web, rather everyone benefits.

    Look, I know there's no point trying to convince you. You don't really get it. Whenever there's an H.264 story, you're always one of the first posters and always pro-H.264. It's like you post on an astroturfer hair-trigger.

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nakor BlueRider (1504491) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @02:05AM (#32225228)
    You're right, only I don't know that it's premature for Slashdot. It certainly doesn't belong in a mainstream news article of any sort, but we know the feelings here on the topic; perhaps a little /. exposure is what the project needs to get its feet off the ground.
  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BiggerIsBetter (682164) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @02:07AM (#32225236)

    Yeah, they could. But then they'd be doing the same thing that browser vendors have been doing for the object element since the 1990s. Then what would be the point of the new HTML 5 video element?

    Well, it would make all that bitching about which codecs to standardize on a non-issue for a start. It's a browser, why should it know how to play audio, video, decode images, display fonts, or lord knows what other things will come along - 3D support next? Pass it to the OS or build against external libraries and let something else figure that out.

  • Not quite. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday May 16, 2010 @02:14AM (#32225272) Journal

    HTML5 requires a bit more control than I think tools like mplayer would provide. However, there's nothing stopping Firefox from supporting local tools -- GStreamer on Linux, QuickTime on OS X, or DirectShow on Windows -- and letting the user get the appropriate codecs, legally or otherwise.

  • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @02:15AM (#32225278)
    If Ubuntu omits Firefox, it will be the first thing I do on any new version, is remove Chromium, and to manually install Firefox.

    Until Chromium has addons like Firefox I'm not interested in using it. If they actually go with Chrome, that will be a joke. I actually value my privacy rights, and I don't want Google's browser snooping on me, and reporting my web usage to their advertising servers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @02:15AM (#32225282)

    Oh, "profoundly." Well, fuck. Then that changes everything.

    Are you really going to hang your argument on an adjective? The point, as you've been told, IS to BE anti-competitive. Adjectives and your personal judgement of their application don't change that underlying fact.

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Beelzebud (1361137) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @02:19AM (#32225298)
    Of course Firefox is losing support among the OSS front. It's feature-rich, and is widely used.

    Perfect time to turn our backs on it, and kill it!
  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday May 16, 2010 @02:22AM (#32225316) Journal

    If they actually go with Chrome, that will be a joke. I actually value my privacy rights...

    If you look at the list of stuff Chrome adds over Chromium, you won't find much you'd actually care about as far as privacy rights.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @02:23AM (#32225326)

    Likewise, holding a patent gives you exactly ONE right.

    That right is the right to prevent others from making, using, or distributing your invention.

    You aren't granted any positive rights such as the "right" to produce your invention. No, you just get the right to stop others.

  • by smoot123 (1027084) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @02:31AM (#32225352)
    It's defensible because someone had to do the research to figure out the H.264 algorithms. In retrospect, it's easy to say "Duh, of course quarter-pixel motion estimation is a good idea", but someone had to do a lot of grunt work to prove that's really the case.

    I'm quite certain math geeks are beavering away at new compression algorithms in corporate labs. Much of that research will screech to a halt if there's no prospect of making money licensing the resulting patents. Not all of it, just a lot. So the benefit to society is we get a 2160i video standard this decade, not next. Is that worth it? I don't know, maybe, but it's not cut and dried.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @02:34AM (#32225370)

    This is a technological work-around for a legal problem.

    When the music industry shut down Napster, some clever programmers wrote up distributed filesharing applications. Hooray, right? Well, no, then the lawyers and the CEOs and the lobbyists went crying to the legislators. And one by one, each country started enacting stricter and stricter copyright laws. Grandmothers are being thrown in prison. Citizens are being fined thousands for a half dozen song downloads. Pirating has reached social acceptance, but hey, so has pot smoking. Social acceptance hasn't changed the fact that your government can throw you in jail at any minute.

    Look at the story of The Pirate Bay. We're running out of safe havens, because "routing around" is so much easier than making a stand in your own country, against your own government. Who really wants to go down to their local state/federal legislature and march and protest for the "right to copy data"? Most of us just fileshare for the sake of having some good entertainment to watch in the evening. It's hard to get worked up over relaxation. We don't want to have to work at getting our entertainment, so let's just route around and hope the lawyers don't catch me.

    Somewhat related example: China builds a firewall. The clever computer nerds know how to get around it, but for fear of imprisonment, they can't go around blabbing the details. Their own neighbors will turn them in at the drop of a hat. As a result, political dissidence remains horribly unorganized and ineffective. The tools are there, but it doesn't matter, because no one can use them for anything bigger than reading Western newspapers or downloading porn.

    Routing around doesn't fix anything. If anything, it releases just enough steam that the public's anger never reaches the critical point to turn around these abominable laws. Quit bragging, about your clever programming tricks. They won't help you when the government/corporations own the tubes, the clients, the servers, and the courts.

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Beelzebud (1361137) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @02:38AM (#32225382)
    Don't install 100 addons, and there is no bloat or memory mismanagement.
  • by grilled-cheese (889107) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @02:43AM (#32225414)
    This sounds an awful lot like other patent/export issues we've had in the past. Linux support for WMV, MP3, or DVD codecs as well as SSL encryption are restricted in various countries for patent and export reasons; yet many successful projects have enabled users to make the choice on these features. If a linux user chooses not to pay the appropriate patent license fees, it's not the media player's fault that a user made that choice. Likewise, shouldn't Mozilla simply find a way to load this support as a plugin for those on the planet not bound by US patent trolls?
  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by spikeb (966663) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @02:44AM (#32225420)
    haha, right. it's still a resource hog and slow as molasses compared to chromium
  • by moriya (195881) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @02:50AM (#32225442) Homepage

    In the event that HTML5 takes off and the video markup becomes commonplace, Firefox would be the only browser that doesn't support it. By creating this project to have the codec support built into a Firefox codebase, Firefox can retain the userbase instead of losing out to other browser that implements H264 support. It is not simply adding support using some 3rd-party framework in place. Gstreamer is not commonly found in Windows-based systems and OS X probably has their own framework for multimedia playback and handling.

    A lot of people still stick to Firefox due to extensions. Many are probably reluctant to even ditch or use anything else because of all the features that they depend on.

    Soon we'll be at a crossroad where you have Firefox with HTML5 support but no H264 support, IE with H264 support with trivial HTML5 support, or Chrome. Where would the majority go with if it means being able to play back videos on HTML5-based YouTube?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @03:04AM (#32225500)

    On the contrary, OOS software writers would be using the latest published mathematical recipes (algorithms) to create H.264 equivalent and better encoders/decoders/software *today* (if not years ago) if were not for the inhibitory effects of existing software patents. We are behind in technology available to the masses because of software patents shooting out rungs in the ladder on the climb to next bigger and better thing for non-moneyed software writers.

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @03:21AM (#32225562)

    Then what would be the point of the new HTML 5 video element?

    Look, the asshats that selected a proprietary plug-in as the standard lost any right to make the video plug-in behave as intended.

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @03:25AM (#32225586)

    Needs help? To integrate one codec into a browser? Really?

    This can't be real. Is he asking for brains to do all the work for him? For volunteers to set up and run a website? For donations? Popularity? I don't get it.

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @03:32AM (#32225632)

    Don't you get it? Mozilla already showed it in their concepts, they want to take over the desktop. Since emacs more and more applications are trying to become something more than they are. Today Mozilla, Chrome and possible others want to be the whole desktop experience where ever you are using it, on your mobile, laptop or desktop.

    I am by the way against using the any non-free codec anywhere, whether its built-in or not. There is no reason for us to support software patents in anyway. It is a stupid american idea that is being enforced by us corporate greed.

  • Say no to H.264 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @03:41AM (#32225664) Journal

    All this is doing is making H.264 standard and this is going to kill Linux and Firefox once the lawyers come out when it monopolizes the market.

    This patent bs has got to stop. If enough users (firefox users) do not support it then we have a fighting chance to fight it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @03:50AM (#32225700)

    On the contrary, OOS software writers would be using the latest published mathematical recipes (algorithms) to create H.264 equivalent and better encoders/decoders/software *today* (if not years ago) if were not for the inhibitory effects of existing software patents. We are behind in technology available to the masses because of software patents shooting out rungs in the ladder on the climb to next bigger and better thing for non-moneyed software writers.

    Right. And who would invent them? Where is demonstration of this inhibited talent? OSS is never pro-active; it's reactive, as evidenced by the current battle waged against H264, a battle lost years ago. If OSS were as progressive as you think, they would already have been working on the next video standard, not musing on their defeat -- ironically, a move that will start this entire cycle all over again.

  • by Madsy (1049678) <mads&mechcore,net> on Sunday May 16, 2010 @03:58AM (#32225730) Homepage Journal
    You're kidding, but I wouldn't be so sure. Intellectual property is the only remaining goods the U.S exports. If anything could make the U.S start a nuclear war, it would be something that threatens its economy.
  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Trogre (513942) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @04:30AM (#32225830) Homepage

    X.Org/XFree86?

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @04:34AM (#32225850)

    Now first of all to the Wild Fox project maintainers, this is the right move.

    Why? It capitulates to a non-free standard, and if H.264 becomes the defacto standard for HTML5 it effectively destroys the ability of any free browsers without deep pockets behind them to compete in the market.

    Google Chrome will be fine, as will Apple Safari and Microsoft Internet Explorer, but Mozilla may well be toast, and any other free alternatives that want to operate in a country that respects software patents.

    This is not the right move. We have free compression formats that work just as well as H.264 but don't have any of the licensing baggage. One of those should be the HTML5 standard, with any additional codecs a browser vendor wishes to supply optional.

    You don't fight a war by giving ground at every turn. Eventually you have to make a stand.

    It really sucks to have an open standard (HTML5) that effectively requires a proprietary standard (H.264) to be fully functional. It isn't necessary either.

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @04:39AM (#32225884)

    > Why bundle the codecs when you can call out to native, shared systems

    Because that's the whole point of this - to be sure that something works, as opposed to some vaguery "native" system that may or may not work.

    I <object>!

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StopKoolaidPoliticsT (1010439) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @04:47AM (#32225914)
    gcc/egcs. In the last 90s, the FSF officially abandoned gcc (gnu c compiler) development and turned it over to the egcs team, which renamed their compiler gcc (gnu compiler collection).
  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @04:52AM (#32225944)

    The whole concept of patents is to protect the patent inventor against competition and give him or her a monopoly.

    You've got the method, but you don't have the purpose. The purpose for patents is to spur the sharing of inventive ideas for the benefit of society. See, before patents, ideas would generally be held as trade secrets by guilds. Often times these ideas would die, never to see the light of day, if the guild wasn't in a position to make use of them. This severely hampered innovation.

    We want to get these innovations to be spread and known as widely as possible. This allows for the fastest implementation of those ideas, as well as speeding up the process of new innovations which are founded by those same ideas.

    So, how do you make it so that everybody knows how the latest innovation works, yet still allow the inventor to extract sufficient profit out of the invention to make it worth the effort (and therefore worth inventing the next great thing)?

    Simple, you give him a limited guaranteed monopoly that is long enough to extract most of the value from the invention, but make him describe his invention in detail such that another competent engineer could recreate the device. Then, the next great widget can be invented based on the revelations of the previous great widget, regardless of whether or not the new inventor is the same person as the old. Also, it gives the inventor of such a widget many options for monetizing his invention so that he can afford to create new inventions.

    The purpose of patents is to benefit society. It is not to benefit inventors. We dangle the carrot of a limited monopoly to encourage as much invention as possible, but the success of the inventor is not the goal of patents. Spread of knowledge is the goal of patents. This is the same goal as copyrights, by the way.

    Any time you see someone attempting to limit the spread of knowledge via patents or copyrights, you know immediately that they are working counter to the goals of copyrights and patents.

  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @04:56AM (#32225964)

    Google knows that 99.999% of users will keep Google as the default search on Chrome

    Hell, 99.999% of Firefox users keep Google as the default. Also remember that nothing makes money for Google like Google Search - it's 95% of their revenue.

    They don't need to track you through their browser, they already track you through their search engine and you* love them for it. ;)

    * By "you" I mean people in general, not necessarily you specifically

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bemymonkey (1244086) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @04:57AM (#32225970)

    One of the main reasons to use Firefox is: Addons!

    There's only about 5 or 10 that I absolutely need to have installed, but even with those, the memory usage is so high that I frequently get out-of-memory errors with 2GB of RAM... highest I've seen was almost 800MB, and there were less than 50 tabs open...

  • Re:Stupid. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by westlake (615356) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @06:56AM (#32226416)

    Firefox has a large enough install base to actually stop or at least slow down H.264 adaption.

    The geek refuses to look beyond the browser.

    Firefox is roadkill. Little Dolly Dumpling tied to the railroad tracks.

    H.264 has the support of 817 of the biggest names in global manufacturing: Fujitsu. LG. Mitsubishi. Panasonic. Philips. Samsung. Toshiba...

    In cable, broadcast and sattelite distribution. In CCTV.

    In home video.

    In PCs. In cell phones. In mobile devices of every sort.

    It is backed by Adobe, Apple, Google, Microsoft - and Canonical.

     

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @06:58AM (#32226424)

    Software patents literally make these open source projects illegal

    You know, I keep seeing this said over and over again, and I've been letting it go, but I can't anymore ...

    A PATENT DOESN'T MEAN ITS ILLEGAL TO IMPLEMENT IT.

    It doesn't mean you can't make it open source.

    All a patent does is grant someone a right to exclusive use ... IF THEY WANT IT TO BE USED EXCLUSIVELY BY THEMSELVES OR LICENSE IT TO OTHERS.

    Having a patent doesnt do anything by itself, it gives the holder of the patent specific options.

    It is not illegal to make an OSS h264 codec, you just simply need the license authority to allow you to do so.

    You people really need to get a freaking clue before you go ranting about things you don't understand.

    Let me ask you, how many people has the MPEG-LA sued over h264 ... there are OSS implementations ... how many of them have been sued? I can count to one higher on my dick, so just stop with the retarded bullshit you're pulling out of your ass.

    Whats absolutely ludicrous is how completely ignorant of reality you and the rest of the 'ZOMG PATENT!%!@!@!@' twits are. You know what the biggest problem for patents in OSS is? Ignorant OSS zealots without a clue.

    I suppose the fact that Novell, Redhat and Canonical all are patent holders just slipped your fucking mind too right? There are most certainly patented features in the Linux kernel, and it doesn't fucking matter because the patent holders are OK WITH THAT. It actually means that no one else can stop Linux from using those ideas. Patents help OSS too, just like software licensing.

    I get that you don't like patents, but what you need to get is a god damn clue about what patents do, how they do it, and why they exist. You clearly don't know any of those 3 things. You're just another one of those people that rant about things they don't understand. Like the twits who rant about software licensing followed up immediately by telling everyone how GPL is gods gift to the world. Pure ignorance and stupidity.

  • by Sparx139 (1460489) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @06:58AM (#32226426)
    Patents and copyright, when applied correctly with sane laws, do this, and help advancement by giving people incentive to create. The objection that most* people have on here is when they are used to prevent people from creating because someone is interested in keeping a monopoly and screwing the market, as we see all too commonly.

    *Not counting the people that just want everything for free - I mean the people that actually have a reasoned argument and stand on the issue
  • by BitZtream (692029) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @06:59AM (#32226430)

    Nothing will ever fix your paranoia, regardless of what browser they install.

    Let me give you a hint about your privacy ... NO ONE GIVES A FUCK ABOUT YOU OR WHAT YOU BROWSE.

  • Taint (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Schoktra (1438297) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @07:12AM (#32226478)
    I have not read all of the other comments and apologize if this has been covered before. That being said, starting the wild fox project is a horrible idea. H.264 and other patented softwares are left out of firefox with good reason. Writing a program that is open source but implementing closed source softwares such as the H.264 codec create license tainting issues for the open source project. Another good issue is why would someone want to support softwares which are not open. I do not like the idea of ever having to use software in which I have zero input on the outcome of the product. If the H.264 codec were to do something stupid such as run code in the kernel such as Windows 7 fonts were doing, that could have catastrophic outcomes. Being able to alter my own copy then submit the changes to the dev group for inclusion into the main project is a great comfort to me.
  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kalriath (849904) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @07:58AM (#32226620)

    The whole point of what SanityInAnarchy is saying is that browsers shouldn't need to know anything about the codecs needed. The operating system already has the libraries (QuickTime for Mac, GStreamer for most Linux disributions and DirectShow for Windows). More fragmentation is the exact opposite of what is needed.

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted AT slashdot DOT org> on Sunday May 16, 2010 @08:15AM (#32226676)

    Uuum, the player uses the standart OS facitilies anyway. On Linux e.g. ffmpeg or xine. On Windows DirectShow. On Mac CoreVideo.
    I always said that, and I’ll say it again: Just bind to ffmpeg. [sourceforge.net]
    Then you don’t only get one codec, but ALL. Plus lots and lost of processing functionality. And if you do it right, you can make it optional, and offer the lib separately. In all distributions of Linux, a simple (optional) dependency on ffmpeg would be enough. Which would make the whole “problem” dissolve into thin air.
    Yes, that’s right: The original Firefox team could do that, and be out of “trouble”.

    I told ya: If there are two things that seem to be an either/or choice... I choose both. No compromises*! :)

    (* WARNING: Requires brain power. ;)

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by syousef (465911) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @08:40AM (#32226816) Journal

    Don't install 100 addons, and there is no bloat or memory mismanagement.

    Without the addons, what the fuck is the point of Firefox?

    Seriously, if they release a broken addon framework that allows the addons to make the product unstable, then put addons as a feature, they can't come back and blame the addons.

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BZ (40346) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @09:25AM (#32226998)

    "Most of the world" by which metric? If you weight countries by number of Firefox users, most of the world has a patent-encumbered H.264.

    Unless you're laboring under the same misapprehension as the Wildfox author about the patent status of H.264. It's patent-encumbered in way more than two countries. See http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/bz/archives/020400.html [mozillazine.org]

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BZ (40346) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @09:28AM (#32227012)

    > The browser doesn't have to implement OpenGL itself

    However it does have to implement some sort of OpenGL checker (which is actually harder in some ways). Unless you enjoy having web pages send your GPU into an infinite loop, of course. Not to mention that most graphics drivers out there don't handle "invalid" OpenGL very well (read: crash, usually exploitably); needless to say one can't expect websites to stick to "valid" OpenGL.

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BZ (40346) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @09:34AM (#32227050)

    The article is wrong. According to the MPEG-LA, there are patents on H.264 in at least the following countries:

    Germany, France, UK, Finland, Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Bulgaria, Liechtenstein, Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Spain, Hungary, Ireland, The Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Portugal, Slovenia, Japan, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, India, Canada, Mexico, Australia

    See http://www.mpegla.com/main/programs/AVC/Pages/PatentList.aspx [mpegla.com]

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by camperdave (969942) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @10:23AM (#32227274) Journal
    Exactly the worst enemy of "perfect" is "good enough". It is why Plan9 died at the hands of Unix.

    To make people think that Plan 9 is dead is all part of Plan 9. Plan 9 is proceeding perfectly.
  • by Skapare (16644) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @10:26AM (#32227296) Homepage

    What the standard SHOULD do is provide for at least ONE codec as a minimum requirement, to ensure that there is at least one format that ensures universal functionality. Then it can ALLOW any additional that others wish to use. That one minimum required codec must also be an unencumbered one to ensure free access by all browsers. This one minimum doesn't even need to be the best technology; it just needs to basically work and be usable.

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LordVader717 (888547) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @10:36AM (#32227346)

    The article's plain bull. MPEG patents are upheld in Europe, so if you don't pay you'll get sued pretty fast. Linking to one Wikipedia page, and drawing badly-researched conclusions from it is a joke.

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday May 16, 2010 @10:37AM (#32227360) Journal

    Directshow, Gstreamer/FFMpeg and Quicktime is going to cause the Internet to catch fire and explode ("performance tuned code with little security").

    Because Flash is so much better. And where are they getting their Theora implementation, hmm?

    The second issue is that WinXP and Vista don't have H.264, you need to install FFDshow or Nero, etc to get that support.

    So what? At least then it's possible to get that support.

    Basically, their argument is, "It might be hard for the average user to get H.264, at least on older OSes, so we'll make it actually impossible." WTF?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @10:46AM (#32227434)

    You're missing the point, which is that we want to know for sure that we won't be sued.
    And I'm talking the discrete, definite for sure here. Any answer including the words "probably", "likely", "think", or phrases like "it would be stupid", "it's counter productive" or "it would backfire" are disqualified.

    The fact that current patent holders are OK with their patents being used is irrelevant, since owners and opinions can change. Thus, we want guarantees.

    Your turn. Give us the guarantee.

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @11:32AM (#32227686)

    When a product runs faster via wine than its native code, I'm not too excited about running it.

    When a OS runs an emulated windows application faster than the native version I'm not excited about running it.

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phoenix321 (734987) * on Sunday May 16, 2010 @11:37AM (#32227734)

    It may or may not have all the required libraries. How will the webpage know? How will the user know?

    You know why I use VideoLAN for media playback? Because it has its own codecs for everything. Drop a file in it, works, everytime. If it doesn't, an update is already available or the file itself is damaged.

    Modular solutions are a nice way to implement functionality and has its advantages, but the monolithic model is sometimes the way to go. The average user will have one tool to download and that's it. They don't know about the difference between codecs, or even what a codec is at all.

    We have come a long way to bring Firefox some market share among the usual tech support leeching crowd around us, family, friends and fools, so to speak. And I want to be able to continue saying "download Firefox and everything will work", knowing that missing plug-ins will be auto-downloaded from a probably known-good source (mozdev etc) and updates for all components are auto-enabled as much as possible.

    Since using the web is a must-have feature for everyone and their dog, this functionality should be assumed and fulfilled by a quality product of free open source software.

    And I'd rather sacrifice the free part of the video-codec than letting Joe User migrate back to IE8 and IE9. Which they will do, because they - at least some of them - are the most pathetically ignorant crowd you could ever imagine and they want to be able to use their YouTube, Facebook, whatever stuff to maintain their 1000 friends network. They will not ever care about patents, copyrights, fair use and DRM. They will leech off whatever they need to off PirateBay and be done with it. They don't even care about malware, spyware and trojans, as long as their steady download of porn, music, games and movies isn't slowed down too much. These Joe Normals are nice and friendly people, and for them, we need quality free software.

    Giants like Apple and Google can take over market share much much faster than the Mozilla foundation, so we need to take great care here.

  • Re:Stupid. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by westlake (615356) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @12:11PM (#32227918)

    Remove all devices that don't have a reason to care about HTML5 from your list, and what are you left with?


    Everything that outputs, switches, records, edits and processes [in hardware or software] video for your HTML 5 browser to parse.

    A search of Google Shopping returns 1,600 hits for "WiFi H.264 Camera."

    Security cameras for home, commercial and industrial use. Would it be convenient to remotely view the video and control the camera through an ordinary web page? Of course it would.

    A search of Google Shopping returns 3,600 hits for "H.264 Camcorder."

    The HD "Flip" pocket camcorder beginning at $125-$150. The pro-sumer Sony Handycam at $4,000. Product in stores now. Does it make sense to transcode or store all the H.264 videos these cameras output as Theora or VP8? Probably not.

    It makes even less sense when you are serving video directly to the "Internet-enabled" Blu-Ray player, set-top box, video game console or HDTV.

    Knowing that 100% of the manufacturers of these devices are MPEG LA licensors and licensees of the H.264 codec.

  • by Junta (36770) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @12:31PM (#32228024)

    Software patents literally make these open source projects illegal

    The context you skipped was speaking directly to OSS H264 implementations. A patent does not *force* the patent holder to be anti-OSS, but if the patent holder doesn't explicitly grant that liberty, then the OSS project distribution in geographies where the patents apply are illegal and are liable. You may argue that this should be the right of the patent holder to make these restrictions, but don't pretend that all software patent holders are just fine with OSS and that it has no impact.

    Let me ask you, how many people has the MPEG-LA sued over h264 ... there are OSS implementations ... how many of them have been sued? I can count to one higher on my dick, so just stop with the retarded bullshit you're pulling out of your ass.

    That argument could have been made about GIF and VFAT for *years* before the respective companies started going after their royalties with force. One of the devious things about patents is that they can be 'submarined' while the industry standardizes on it and then the holders can raise their hands and make demands upon the whole industry. In cases like Novell and RedHat where they explicitly license their patents, its ok. For closed/open projects that explicitly get signoff from a patent holder, they are ok. In the case of H264, there are clear demands as to how to legally license that are ignored by many who are *currently* ignored in turn as the holders think it the best current business course of action. Because of the overall soft stance in the community on h264 licensing, they reap the benefits of open source implementations as validating it as a standard while not incurring the risk of losing their right to sue by explicitly granting rights.

  • Re:End of Firefox? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by morari (1080535) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @03:42PM (#32229408) Journal

    Couldn't that just be done with addons?

  • by tepples (727027) <tepples AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday May 16, 2010 @04:50PM (#32229930) Homepage Journal

    There's this concept called a spine

    It's not that I lack a spine. It's not that 10,000 of us lack a spine. It's the other 306,990,000 of us that either lack a spine or even benefit from the status quo. For example, I've discovered that the movie studios decide who gets elected in two ways [pineight.com]. I wanted to vote for Ron Paul in 2008, but because the MPAA-puppet cable news networks gave the other Republicans so much more time, he was eliminated before the primary even came to my state.

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