FSF to Google: Free the On2 video codec

Free Software Foundation urges Google to open source the video codec acquired with On2

In an open letter to Google, the Free Software Foundation has urged Google to open source a video codec that it acquired in its purchase of On2, completed Monday.

The FSF letter states that by open sourcing the current version of the codec, VP8, Google can provide the Web with an open production-ready standard for high-definition video, as well as a free alternative to the almost universally used Adobe Flash.

"Because patent-encumbered formats were costly to incorporate into browsers, a bloated, ill-suited piece of proprietary software (Flash) became the de facto standard for online video," the letter states. "Until we move to free formats, the threat of patent lawsuits and licensing fees hangs over every software developer, video creator, hardware maker, web site and corporation -- including you."

In its efforts to develop the next generation of the Hypertext Markup Language, HTML 5, The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) is including support for running video directly within browsers without the help of third-party plug-ins, such as Adobe Flash or Microsoft Silverlight.

Browser makers and providers of Internet video services, however, seem divided on which compression technique, or codec, to use.

While Google Chrome and Apple Safari natively support H.264, neither Opera nor Firefox support this high-definition M-PEG video format. Both organizations behind these browsers have expressed concerns they will eventually have to pay patent fees for using the technology.

Firefox developers have put their efforts behind supporting the open-source codec Ogg Theora, though both Apple and Google have been reluctant to support Ogg Theora in their browsers and video-rendering software, citing performance concerns.

VP8 could provide another free alternative, one both technically capable and potentially free of requiring royalty payments from users, tool vendors and video providers, the FSF letter stated.

Internet video sites such as Hulu, Vimeo, Yahoo use On2's compression technology, according to the company.

Google has not responded to inquiries, however, executives have indicated that purchasing On2 will help the company improve "video quality on the [W]eb," according to a blog entry announcing the acquisition last August.

Google certainly seems interested in supporting HTML 5 as well. The company recently announced that it is phasing out its Gears browser plug-in in favor of adopting HTML 5 standards to execute the same tasks. The company also runs an experimental version of YouTube running on HTML 5.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags GooglecodecFSFIP videoOn2 Technologies

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joab Jackson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?