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Media Open Source Wikipedia Your Rights Online

Wikimedia Community Debates H.264 Support On Wikipedia Sites. 247

Posted by timothy
from the side-loading dept.
bigmammoth writes "Wikimedia has been a long time supporter of royalty free formats, but is now considering a shift in their position. From the RfC: 'To support the MP4 standard as a complement to the open formats now used on our sites, it has been proposed that videos be automatically transcoded and stored in both open and MP4 formats on our sites, as soon as they are uploaded or viewed by users. The unencumbered WebM and Ogg versions would remain our primary reference for platforms that support them. But the MP4 versions 'would enable many mobile and desktop users who cannot view these unencumbered video files to watch them in MP4 format.' This has stirred a heated debate within the Wikimedia community as to whether the mp4 / h.264 format should be supported. Many Wikimedia regulars have weighed in, resulting in currently an even split between adding the H.264 support or not. The request for comment is open to all users of Wikimedia, including the broader community of readers. What do you think about supporting H.264 on Wikimedia sites?"
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Wikimedia Community Debates H.264 Support On Wikipedia Sites.

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  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @06:00PM (#45980671)

    The open formats lost this round. Sorry, but with H2.64 we've finally had a "Standard Codec" and format that allows content creators to encode the media once and just about reach everyone. If the open standards offered a significant technical advantage, i.e. better compression without loss of quality or faster encoding vs H.264 then they'd be open to listening. But as I've talked to a lot of content creators over the past few years, many of whom remember the days of creating a quicktime video, a Windows Media video, a Real Player video and none of them wish to go back to it. And for these people the cost of paying for a H.264 encoder license is trivial compared to royalties they have to pay for images, video, and music.

  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @06:10PM (#45980737)

    Depends on your traffic. I run a content rich site for a client of mine and we realized something as we did our quarterly review: Mobile users are now 60% of all traffic to her site. Of that, the biggest block of users are from iPad at almost 30% of all traffic. iPhone makes up another 18% and all Android devices make up about 13% of our traffic. There is another 6% of traffic that is iPods. So as it stands right now iOS is over 50% of all traffic.

    Think we are going to ignore iOS? Think again. Instead we've decided that it's time to add a native mobile app for iOS targeting specifically iPad.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 16, 2014 @06:23PM (#45980823)

    But that's exactly it: the world doesn't just revolve around people who are paying royalties on image/video/music. If Wikipedia accepts this, then the people who can't afford to pay that (and that includes many people who just don't want to deal with such licenes, for whom even $0.01 is too much) get screwed.

    Open codecs aren't about being the best, they're about being for everyone.

  • by StripedCow (776465) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @06:24PM (#45980831)

    Wikimedia should stand their ground to provide a good reason for device manufacturers to add support for open video formats.

    The best way to do this, should they choose to support the H.264 format, is to add a tiny annoyance to video files in that format.
    Like a 5 second intro that displays their policy in the format war, and how users are better off with the open version of the video.

  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bigmammoth (526309) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @09:42PM (#45982011) Homepage
    We "played the politics" a few years ago, there was momentum with at one point chrome saying it was planing to ~remove h.264~ from its browser. But in the end that did not pan out. Firefox ended up supporting h.264, and wikimedia was left with very little video participation by its exclusive support for royalty free formats.

    Assuming the point of wikimedia is promote free codecs ( not get free information to people that want to access it ) ... Its still too late to say to Apple .. hey if you don't support webm, you won't be able to view the near zero percentage of wikimedia articles that have video content. But when it comes to h.265 and vp9 or Daala [xiph.org], if Wikimedia was a large video player similar to youtube it could help add its weight behind free future free codecs guenteeing they have a prominante home on the web with an active video community.
  • by lgw (121541) on Friday January 17, 2014 @03:08AM (#45983535) Journal

    And why shouldn't they, is my point. The system is working fine if people get convenience and entertainment. Freaking out over DRM etc on principle is irrational. If it blocks normal people just trying to watch/play/shift/whatever their paid-for entertainment, as game DRM has a habit of doing, then it's a problem. But we've seen companies get bitchslapped by their customer base when they cross that line, and accepted when they only cross obsessive geeks making philosophical points. I see no problem with this.

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