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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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  • End of Firefox? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Sunday May 16, 2010 @01:36AM (#32225100) Journal

    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.

    Additionally, it looks like Firefox is actually starting to lose support even from the Open Source front. Even Ubuntu is probably changing to Chronium [crunchgear.com] and dropping Firefox. It kind of looks like Firefox lost the track of what they were doing a long time ago.

    Apparently Ubuntu, the most popular Linux distribution, is considering dropping Firefox for Chrome. ...
    it could be a sign that people are starting to feel less, um, “loyalty” to Firefox.

    Not that I'm anymore happier Google's products taking over everything...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Trepidity (597)

      As far as I can tell, they aren't actually proposing a wholesale fork, with a new community to do general browser development and replace Firefox. It looks like it's just a project to release variant builds of Firefox with additional features added, and will otherwise track mainline FF development.

      • 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.

        • 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.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2010 @03:26AM (#32225592)

          As far as I can tell their is no "they".

          Their is no they're is no there. So there.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by morari (1080535)

        Couldn't that just be done with addons?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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?

      • 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?

        • 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.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            3D support next?

            Google WebGL.

            Pass it to the OS or build against external libraries and let something else figure that out.

            Also see WebGL. I agree that external libraries should be used, but there needs to be some amount of integration, or at least standardization. The browser doesn't have to implement OpenGL itself, but it helps that it's specified to be OpenGL and not DirectX.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by BZ (40346)

              > 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:5, Insightful)

            by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted&slashdot,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. ;)

        • by sjames (1099)

          Not having to work out what particular set of voodoo incantations is necessary to control the video/audio playback with javascript?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          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.

        • by FlorianMueller (801981) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @04:51AM (#32225938) Homepage

          It's true that the new <video> tag in HTML 5 would suggest that a standardized codec be used by all browsers claiming to be fully HTML 5 compatible.

          However, the new tag could also be used (even though in a less useful way than otherwise) if there is, which is unfortunately the most likely scenario, no industry consensus on a single codec. Assuming that there are two camps (H.264 and Theora; or maybe three if Google pushes for VP8), web servers could then provide different Uniform Resource Identifiers for the files, based on the browser that makes the web page request; or the file names (thus the URIs) could be identical but dependent on which browser is in use, a different file could be provided.

          I have discussed the HTML 5 aspects of this in a recent blog post, "Video codecs: The HTML 5 dimension" [blogspot.com]. While I am against software patents (I founded the European NoSoftwarePatents campaign in 2004, I just try to take a realistic perspective on the fact that software patents exist and get enforced all around the globe (as far as codecs go, there's aggressiv enforcement even in Europe, such as dozens of search warrants and confiscations every year at the CeBIT trade show [blogspot.com].

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

          by Tarquin Sidebottom (239733) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @10:11AM (#32227226) Journal
          Currently if Firefox comes across a html5 video using an unsupported codec, it already allows you to play the video in an external player or save the video. The problem is the HTML5 Javascript function canPlayType(); things like the Youtube trial detect that h264 isn't natively supported so the javascript never dynamically creates the VIDEO tag.

          Downloaded the Firefox source and edit content/html/content/src/nsHTMLMediaElement.cpp.
          Change the line

          case CANPLAY_NO: aResult.AssignLiteral(""); break;

          to

          case CANPLAY_NO: aResult.AssignLiteral("probably"); break;

          If you recompile the browser then join the youtube html5 beta, it will now try to serve you video via html5. At this stage the video is "protected" behind a transparent DIV so you can't right-click it. Use Firebug, or the following Greasemonkey script to delete the DIV.

          // ==UserScript==
          // @name youtube anti-div
          // @namespace html5hackery
          // @include http://.youtube./*
          // ==/UserScript==

          // video-blocker
          function addGlobalStyle(css) {
          var head, style;
          head = document.getElementsByTagName('head')[0];
          if (!head) { return; }
          style = document.createElement('style');
          style.type = 'text/css';
          style.innerHTML = css;
          head.appendChild(style);
          }

          addGlobalStyle('#video-player .video-blocker { display:none;');

          You now have a version of Firefox 'compatible' with Youtube's HTML5. Currently it doesn't work with Vimeo's HTML5 beta and I haven't bothered to find out why.

      • Not quite. (Score:3, Insightful)

        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 sznupi (719324)

      Not that I'm anymore happier Google's products taking over everything...

      It's not like Chromium is anywhere close to that; it grows, sure, but this time it might bring honest adherence to standards instead of a kind of duaopoly, making websites to work with "IE+FF" that was semi-common for some time. Even if they are only slightly better than FF with standards at this point; this post [chromium.org] means they rather care.

      Good for me, and any user of the browser which is closest to the bullseye. And good for the web.

    • 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!
    • Has any version of Ubuntu had uninterrupted support for the then current version of Firefox? They seem to think it's ok to wait months, and then only update with the entire OS.

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

      by buchner.johannes (1139593) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @03:44AM (#32225682) Homepage Journal

      Two things:

      1. Forks of good* projects have it hard:
      Wild fox will not be able to keep up with the good infrastructure of Firefox (developers, build system, connections). Mozilla is pretty big and provides a excellent service. Wild fox will have a hard time to keep up with upstream.

      2. Mozilla has a bigger target. They aim for a free Internet (and free software). They have been quite successful against IE in these terms (correctness regarding CSS, HTML4 & XHTML, inclusion of HTML5, JS speed).
      The FSF, GNU & Red Hat have the same goal for free software. The Linux kernel has the same goal too (no closed source modules).
      Ubuntu does not. Wild Fox has not.

      It is shortsighted to find the "tolerant", "pragmatic" projects better. It is not just puristic zealots against "I just want it to work". The availability of free software increases the options users have.
      Projects that cut the corner slow down the OSS development of free replacement packages, and can damage the upstream process.

      Don't get me wrong. It is nice that we can view Flash videos. This binary blob comes with security issues, memory bloat and crashes. At the same time Gnash ran out of funding and most developers had to abandon it.
      Contrary to what Ubuntu users** believe, good free software doesn't come from screaming loud enough, but actual, continuous work.

      * you could also say: projects that don't sufficiently suck
      ** Enough Ubuntu bashing :-) They are very good at taking an end-user view on projects, which is valuable feedback.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      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.2

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

        by ultranova (717540) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @05:38AM (#32226148)

        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.

        H.264 is a free standard in most of the world. That's the point: why should the rest of us suffer from USAs bad laws?

        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.

        So don't operate in a country that "respects" software patents. Operate in an area where it's impossible to patent a file format, such as the EU.

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

        Well, moving operations out of a country where the local laws inhibit competition certainly seems like taking a stand to me. It's just a stand that happens to be inconvenient to US citizens. Maybe you should talk to your congresscritters about it?

        Meanwhile, here in the free world, h.264 is an open standard, as are all file formats, so...

        • 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]

      • Too late (Score:3, Interesting)

        by westlake (615356)

        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

        H.264 has unstoppable momentum beyond the browser:

        Cell phones. Professional production. High Definition Video. Cable, sattelite and broadcast technologies.

        CCTV (Think Medical, Industrial and Security Video.) The list goes on and on and on.

        H.264 has the support of industrial giants like LG. Mitsubish

  • what to still watch out for: making Wild Fox available in the USA could be an infringing importation http://www.managingip.com/Article/2400437/Foreign-infringement-of-US-patents.html [managingip.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by gzipped_tar (1151931)

      Not to mention concerns over invasive species... ;)

    • by Elledan (582730) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @02:22AM (#32225320) Homepage
      That's why I specifically mention on the site that this version of Firefox is not meant for anyone in a country which has such patents. No American, South-Korean or anyone from another country which has or will get such software patents can not, is not allowed to and shall never use Wild Fox. Period. Unless they cough up the licensing costs for using a h.264 decoder.


      Maya (Wild Fox maintainer)
  • 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.

    • 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.

      • by Kethinov (636034)

        True, but I said profoundly anti-competitive. The negative effects on the market in this case vastly outweigh the general incentive created by the monopoly prize for being first to innovate. I simply don't see the benefit to society in legally denying people the right reimplement proprietary software from scratch.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          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: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            To be fair, that's an adverb.

        • 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 Bert64 (520050)

            There would still be plenty of research in the field, because video compression is only a tiny part of an overall market... There are plenty of organisations who would find video compression useful and would feel that a better codec would make their products more useful.
            And then there is always purely academic research.

      • 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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Sparx139 (1460489)
        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
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by intrico (100334)

      Hopefully, the supreme court recognizes this as well. The landmark Bilski vs. Kappos case decision is expected to be released by the U.S. Supreme Court any day now. Depending on what that decision is, thousands of patents could be invalidated.

    • by pizzach (1011925)

      This project is yet more proof that software patents are profoundly anticompetitive.

      Software patents do not make open source software illegal. They do make not paying license fees illegal. There are ways to do this and there is a cap to how much you need to pay.

      If the fees were that exuberant, wouldn't there already be another competing standard by now?

  • Route around boys, route around.

    Any attempt at controlling information will eventually fail and do so in far more spectacular ways as we progress both socially and technologically as a species.

    • 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.

  • 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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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 GigaplexNZ (1233886) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @02:28AM (#32225340)
      Chromium does have addons now, and since it is an open source project it'll be rather difficult for Google to hide snooping mechanisms in it. Also, I highly doubt that Ubuntu will decide to stick with Firefox as the default purely because one user who knows how to uninstall software and install an alternative expressed that they will change from the default.
    • by mmaniaci (1200061)
      Google knows that 99.999% of users will keep Google as the default search on Chrome, so why would they ever need to add reporting mechanisms to the browser? I think the point of Chromium is to force the browser ecosystem to evolve, and not to spy on users.
      • 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: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      Didn’t you know? The new fad with Linux desktop environments (not everything else Linux) is to make them just as much a PITA for everyone who actually got a brain, than Windows and MacOS: By setting all the defaults in a way that only the dumbest of the dumb like it.
      Because apparently because they scream the loudest, they are the most important ones. And ever will be. Even when that whole behavior just lowers the whole Gaussian curve of intelligence distribution every time, creating new, worse, idiots

  • by Unfocused (723787) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @02:15AM (#32225280)

    "Only two countries in the world have software patents"

    That's not exactly accurate - MPEG LA has been granted patients in numerous countries: http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/bz/archives/020400.html [mozillazine.org]

    • by Billly Gates (198444) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @03:46AM (#32225692) Journal

      As we saw with Decss it doesn't matter if other countries support the law. Us law is international law due to corrupt treaties paid by lobbyists. They can have the president issue an order like they did to poor Jon Johnsen for daring to have people watch their own dvds that they own on their own computers with Linux.

      Unfortunately, this is not going away [msn.com] anytime soon.

    • Despite the typo with the excessive "i", the post was right on: those patents exist all over the world. It's not just that they exist, they also get enforced. Even in Germany, despite the fact that we (I founded the NoSoftwarePatents campaign in 2004) defeated a proposal for an EU software patent law, those kinds of patents get enforced quite aggressively. Every year at CeBIT, there are dozens of search warrants and confiscations [blogspot.com], most of them related to MP3 and presumably an increasing number related to MP

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by andersa (687550)

      One of the central patents cited is EP 0443676 which concerns the MPEG-2 codec which is granted by the European Patent Office, not the national patent offices. Had the patent application been filed in any of the member states, their patent office would likely rejected the patent on grounds that algoritms are not patentable. EPO has no such qualms, however and will happily grant software patents, even though they know they are probably not enforcable.

      There is a case running in the Danish Maritime and Commerc

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      Uuum, that list is clearly bogus fearmongering. There is no such thing as software patents in Germany. (Where I live.) And the same is true for pretty much all the other EU countries. The move by EU pseudogovernment to make it law, is proof that it isn’t already.

  • For <audio> tag (Score:4, Interesting)

    by figleaf (672550) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @02:30AM (#32225350) Homepage

    Please include support for mp3 and aac.

    Thanks for creating this project. Support H.264 for the <video> tag is the right thing to do.
    Good luck for your effort.

    • Re:For tag (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hurricane78 (562437)

      Think like a programmer: Generalize: Include ffmpeg, and be done with it. Tons of codecs. Tons of features. Works on every OS. And since it’s an external dependency, the whole “problem” vanishes into thin air. It’s beautiful! :)

  • 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
  • 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 FlorianMueller (801981) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @05:08AM (#32226008) Homepage

      As much as I regret to say it (btw, I founded the European NoSoftwarePatents campaign in 2004), I don't think this kind of resistance to H.264 is going to lead to a solution in the event some of the patents in the MPEG LA pool (just the H.264 pool contains 1,135 patents, and they have more pools under management there) get infringed by an alternative format that everyone would advocate, be it Theora or VP8. In that case, "the lawyers" would come out anyway to collect royalties and impose other terms and conditions.

      As a result, whatever alternative that infringes on those patents would end up being unfree (neither free beer nor free speech) anyway.

      The call for resistance to H.264 will make a great deal of sense if and when there is a reasonably reliable basis on which it can be assumed that a format such as Theora and/or VP8 doesn't infringe patents. While it's impossible to check on every one of the millions of software patents that exist around the globe, at the very least the proponents of Theora or VP8 (which Google might opensource very soon) should make a well-documented patent clearance effort with respect to the patents held by the MPEG LA consortium and explain why they their preferred codec doesn't infringe on those. Companies like Google or a deep-pocket non-profit such as the Mozilla Foundation could certainly do so if they wanted. I explained this thinking in a recent blog post [blogspot.com].

  • Stupid. (Score:3, Informative)

    by RichiH (749257) on Sunday May 16, 2010 @04:35AM (#32225858) Homepage

    Firefox has a large enough install base to actually stop or at least slow down H.264 adaption. IIRC, the Mozilla Foundation is in large part responsible for H.264 not being part of the offical HTML 5 standard, same as Apple & Nokia are the main players behind stopping Ogg Theora.

    Having Firefox refuse to move to the patent- and licence-encumbered time-delayed scatter bomb that is H.264 has been very important. Software patents will be around for some more time and every user (in the broadest sense; i.e. everyone touching H.264 in any way) is required to get a licence. Sure, there are some limited free-as-in-beer rules, but that will not help anyone if the MPEG LA changes the licence terms in 2015 (I think that's when the current licences expire). Also, that will not help any FLOSS project they decide to smash into the ground. And of course, no large company like MS or Apple would ever indirectly fund such a thing. Unheard of! And yes, I know that this part is speculation and what-if.

    Anyway Ogg Theora has lost the race as

    1) it has slightly larger file sizes meaning significantly more cost to large companies deploying it (they scale to a _lot_ of video)
    2) there is (almost) no hardware support, meaning that it drains batteries, can not be played on cheap mobile devices etc due to higher CPU usage
    3) it has no 500-pound gorilla behind it; merely a 200-pound one.

    Well, Ogg Theora is based on VP3 by On2 Technologies which they released to the Xiph Foundation a few years back. VP6 was good enough to be the default in Flash 8, VP7 was supposedly better than H.264 in 2005 (no idea if that is true) and recently, google bought the company.

    Rumour has it that google will release VP8 to the public under a Free Licence at their I/O conference which will start next tuesday, May 18th 2010.

    So imo the project is a bad choice in the first place, has really bad timing, no consideration for the underlying issues at all and is generally a bad idea.

    • 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.

       

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