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You can choose between Theora and something else only when there is 'something else'. The
current situation looks like there is pretty much nothing to choose from, except for Theora,
considering royalty-free licensing requirements.
Why not ?
Posted Dec 12, 2007 19:29 UTC (Wed) by khim (subscriber, #9252)
Most of the world can happily use x264 - free, open-source, high-quality codec. Why the whole world must suffer just because one country got silly laws ?
Posted Dec 12, 2007 21:16 UTC (Wed) by gmaxwell (subscriber, #30048)
While I haven't looked at H.264 specifically many of the other MPEG pool patents have been
granted in Europe.
Try getting the companies arguing against Theora to say that the encumbered formats are not
encumbered in Europe. Haha.
While software patents may not be directly enforceable in Europe, devices (including software)
implementing certain techniques can probably infringe. Though this is outside of my scope of
expertise so I can't say much on that point. Whatever benefits the European system currently
has can not be guaranteed to last.
Beyond that, infringing US patents is unwise even if they can't be enforced in Europe... Since
a judgment against you in the US would be a problem if you ever need to do business in the US.
Perhaps this may not matter to a person, but single people aren't currently the subject of
patent litigation. Companies are, and this matters a lot.
This codec licensing stuff can largely be seen as a fight where there are a few LARGE and
deeply invested companies against a huge number of smaller companies. The public suffers as a
result but they are just collateral damage.
Posted Dec 13, 2007 11:53 UTC (Thu) by skitching (subscriber, #36856)
This is nothing to do with what formats *can* be supported; any user is free to add extra
codecs to their browser. This is about what codecs will ship with browsers, and therefore what
codecs publishers can assume are present.
The question that needs to be asked is not whether Theora is better than H264, but is it
better than nothing? And the answer is clearly yes: it is quite a reasonable default to
provide to users. Those who pay for bandwidth, or have limited bandwidth, and can legally use
an H264 implementation can install one later if they wish.
Flash video sucks, but it is very widely used, just because it is convenient. And because it
is widely used, publishers offer their video in that format. If publishers knew that Theora
would be available in their users browser, they would provide that format.
Posted Dec 12, 2007 23:34 UTC (Wed) by DonDiego (subscriber, #24141)
You can choose between Theora and something else only when there is 'something else'. The current situation looks like there is pretty much nothing to choose from, except for Theora, considering royalty-free licensing requirements.
Posted Dec 13, 2007 1:48 UTC (Thu) by ikm (subscriber, #493)
Nokia was actually pushing H264/AAC. There seems to be a demand, so some form of supply should
better be decided upon, rather than leaving every player on the market to push their own
mutually incompatible de-facto standards. WHATWG tries to help everyone by finding some common
denominators here, but that proves not to be an easy task.
Concerning the opinion of yours on the matter, why not settle with some 'inferior' codec until
there is a better alternative?
Posted Dec 13, 2007 8:29 UTC (Thu) by DonDiego (subscriber, #24141)
Correct, Nokia was pushing for a high-quality video codec and when offered crap as alternative
they went for the "nothing at all" option instead. When you say "some form of supply should
better be decided upon" you assume that any supplied solution will be good enough and
acceptable to all players. This is not the case.
My opinion on the matter is completely irrelevant. Settling on an inferior codec just will
not work, no matter how much wishful thinking we apply. Better alternatives without patent
encumbrances will not fall from the sky. So it is going to be something patent-encumbered or
nothing at all. It may be a sad fact, but nonetheless it is a fact.
To put things in slightly more graphic terms: When you are looking for an automobile and
somebody offers you a tricycle instead, will you settle for it until there is a better
alternative or will you keep demanding a car and keep looking for car providers elsewhere?
Posted Dec 13, 2007 12:57 UTC (Thu) by mjr (guest, #6979)
So it is going to be something patent-encumbered or
nothing at all. It may be a sad fact, but nonetheless it is a fact.
If it will in the end turn out to be a fact, it will mostly be so due to a conscious decision by multinational companies against the public good.
Also talking about "crap" being offered is hardly productive. Theora isn't crap. It just isn't very shiny either.
Also let's see if people want to continue using H.264 in 2009 with the per-user webcast fees or change into something more reasonable...
Posted Dec 13, 2007 13:21 UTC (Thu) by DonDiego (subscriber, #24141)
Posted Dec 13, 2007 14:29 UTC (Thu) by mjr (guest, #6979)
I still see "crap" coming only from the horse's ass, not the mouth it referenced.
Anyway, suit yourself, but flaming on about crap is rather trollish of you. Nobody is or would
have been stopping you or anyone from using any codec you like regardless of the baseline
recommendation whose sole purpose would be to ensure achievable compatibility across all
browsers from everyone without active threat from outside.
Well, actually, somebody is stopping you. Not us or the W3C, though, but rather the MPEG LA
gang of Nokia and friends. If you're worth their time.
Of course, some of us are hardly worth anyone's time anymore. How lucky.
Posted Dec 14, 2007 1:30 UTC (Fri) by DonDiego (subscriber, #24141)
<xiphmont_> Vorbis still stands up nicely. Theora, OTOH, is a a bit embarrassing.
<xiphmont_> rather, it's a bit embarrassing until you look at the code, then it's alot embarrassing.
<xiphmont_> and that's 70% 'really fucking stupid encoder, really On2, be ashamed' and 40% 'format design flaws'. It's so bad it adds up to 110%.
<xiphmont_> I plan to help Theora limp along not too embarrassingly until it can be replaced for real-- possibly 2-4 years.
<xiphmont_> Theora is actually fixable tho. The amount of low-hanging fruit is staggering.
<xiphmont_> I mean, an entropy backend that results in *more* bits being written than went in? It's just... wow.
Now ad hominem attacks are not going to take us anywhere. I am afraid you are attacking the messenger bringing you bad news.
There are some inconvenient truths that need to be faced:
Posted Dec 13, 2007 15:00 UTC (Thu) by nettings (subscriber, #429)
the horse itself - displaying considerable wisdom - is *not* sugarcoating anything. rather,
technical issues are being discussed frankly, shortcomings included.
for those who are used to marketing blabber and will take any internal criticism of a *work in
progress* as a sign of total obsolescence, the horse kindly spells it out for you in the
> "This document does *not* say [...] Theora is doomed or hopelessly obsolete. It says the
current encoder is lacking compared to the very very best."
> "Don't forget kids, this isn't a fight about *technology*. It's a fight about *control*."
nobody is doubting that your favourite codec has a bigger dick than mine. that is not the
Posted Dec 13, 2007 15:07 UTC (Thu) by corbet (editor, #1)
Posted Dec 13, 2007 17:10 UTC (Thu) by nettings (subscriber, #429)
agreed, and my apologies. it's just that i've been working with theora pretty much since first
alpha (because it's the only available codec that allows free video streams worldwide), and i
know many people who put great efforts into it, creating a free platform for those who care
about such things. the derogatory nature (and lack of clue) of some comments here hit a
taking your advice, i shall withdraw from the discussion now.
Posted Dec 14, 2007 0:12 UTC (Fri) by DonDiego (subscriber, #24141)
Sorry for getting a bit carried away and thanks for pulling us all back in line. However, I
firmly believe that there is a point to be made here. Unfortunately the people disliking that
point have started to kill the messenger...
I shall try to make all further comments as respectful as possible.
Posted Dec 13, 2007 20:33 UTC (Thu) by lysse (guest, #3190)
When you are looking for an automobile and
somebody offers you a tricycle instead, will you settle for it until there is a better alternative or will you keep demanding a car and keep looking for car providers elsewhere?
Posted Dec 14, 2007 1:05 UTC (Fri) by ikm (subscriber, #493)
Theora is not a tricycle. RLE compression is :)
In my current project, I use IMA ADPCM to compress sounds. The sound quality is not the best,
the compression ratio is not the best either, but it's very fast, and that's the absolute
requirement there. Before it was Vorbis, and I had to throw it away, no matter how much I
liked the compression quality. Same here.
Another example is bzip/bzip2. The author had to throw the superior arithmetic coding used in
bzip away and replace it with Huffman for bzip2 because of the patents.
Posted Dec 20, 2007 9:25 UTC (Thu) by KotH (subscriber, #4660)
You talk about royalties and how MPEG is so expensive, but did you
really have a look at the license terms? The h.264 are the cheapest
license terms for such a huge patent portfolio i've ever seen.
First 100'000 units per year are for free, and those over 100'000 are
a mere 0.2 USD per unit. I don't know how you calculate production costs,
but even administrative costs are higher than that. And please note that
only _paid_ products are included, anything that is given away for free
(like OSS) is royality free.
So, over all, h.264 has the same royalties like theora for OSS,
with the simple exception that you really know that you don't have
to pay for h.264 while it is always possible for someone to pop out
of nowhere demanding royalties for a patent violated by theora.
For commercial products the fees are negligible for h.264 and knowing
exactly what you have to pay makes it a much safer choice than theora.
Summa summarum, i have to say that the patent situation favors h.264 rather
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