Ogg Vorbis and Theora on its way to become a video standard?

The Mozilla Foundation just released native support for the free (as in freedom) audio and video codecs Vorbis and Theora in Firefox. These codecs are possibly the best free codecs existing. Encoding (producing) and decoding (consuming) audio and video files using these codecs is unrestricted by EULAs or license fees for patents.

Currently, the largest archive of free audio and video material is Wikimedia Commons. They will greatly profit from this move. The Wikimedia Foundation applauded to Mozilla’s announcement. They see great potential in free media codecs:

This could never make it into the mainstream without the groups developing and promoting these free codecs — particularly Xiph.org, spreadopenmedia.org, and the FSF’s PlayOGG campaign. The W3C’s policy of only accepting royalty-free technology has played an essential role by not allowing encumbered codecs as part of the standard, but there has been a stalemate in the adoption of a useful, royalty free baseline codec set.

It now seems to be really possible that free codecs make it into the mainstream and become a standard for audio and video content on the web. This is because even the non-free web browser Opera supports these free codecs with a experimental version of their browser. Two major browsers are going to support HTML5’s <audio/> and <video/> tag with free formats. The HTML5 working group at W3C earlier backed down from Nokia’s and Apple’s pressure and rejected Vorbis and Theora in the HTML5 standard. But now there’s the possibility of Ogg and Theora to become the de facto standard. Especially since Microsoft and Apple still have not agreed on a common format. Neither Internet Explorer nor Safari support the new HTML5 media tags at the moment. Thus it will be interesting to see how this turns out and whether freedom will win in the end.


Ogg Vorbis and Theora on its way to become a video standard? — 2 Comments

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