[Xiph-Advocacy] Fwd: [whatwg] Video codec requirements changed

Gregory Maxwell gmaxwell at gmail.com
Mon Dec 10 21:24:53 PST 2007

On Dec 10, 2007 10:54 PM, Conrad Parker <conrad at metadecks.org> wrote:
> On the other hand, the new wording also specifies:
>  "...; we need a codec that is known to not require per-unit or per-distributor
>   licensing, that is compatible with the open source development model, that is
>   of sufficient quality as to be usable, ..."
> which actually makes the case for Ogg stronger. The previous draft stated no
> such requirements. As no rationale was given for choosing Ogg, that
> recommendation was easy to attack, hence the flamewars on the whatwg list.

Half-empty, Half-full.   True, the new text adds requirements which
are good, not just for Ogg/Theora+Vorbis but for the general good of
the public.

In fact the text is so good for Ogg that it pretty much spells out
Ogg/Theora+Vorbis exactly... which makes it all the more disappointing
that Ogg/Theora+Vorbis was removed at the same time.

The claim that the prior proposal created a distinct vulnerability is
rubbish: The W3C isn't going to be able to escape patent risks so long
as they seek to specify the behavior of software and not abstract
mathematical algorithms which live only on paper.  If the text
accurately reflects the W3C's wishes, it is effectively demanding the
impossible. That last requirement alone excludes all possibilities. It
might as well say "the W3C will not suggest a codec".

I would be a lot more positive if there actually had to be an
agreement for things to move forward, but the reality is that the
parties opposed to this will be perfectly happy with a failure to
standardize, as they have already demonstrated substantial competence
at driving de-facto standardization on encumbered codecs in every
domain which doesn't have a solid unencumbered baseline codec.  As
such, no education effort can be guaranteed to succeed, since
education alone can only bring the position back to neutral.

Worse, I think the current text still leaves substantial risk of
"compromises" such as some agreement to freely license the *decoding
technology* for some highly encumbered for *web only use*.  Such a
move might fit the W3C's currently stated requirements, but it would
fail in terms of advancing the public interest in terms of the
public's ability to freely exchange knowledge without the cost or
liability of a internet media tax, of the sort imposed by encumbered

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