Theora’s Monty Montgomery is excited about Google’s announcement to open source VP8 with its WebM Project, but doesn’t believe it will kill Theora in the near future. Other open source and open video advocates are stoked as well, but some caution about possible patent lawsuits.
Ever since we broke the news earlier this week that Google is going to open source its VP8 video codec at its Google i/O event next month, speculations have been abounded as to what this means for Ogg Theora, the video codec of choice of open source advocates and free software developers alike.
Theora is currently supported by the Mozilla foundation, whose Firefox browser utilizes the format instead of H.246 for HTML5 video playback, and the Wikimedia foundation, which is planing to use the codec for its upcoming Wikipedia video roll-out. However, Google and others have been skeptical of Theora. So is Google going to kill Ogg Theora by open sourcing a superior video codec?
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Mozilla is looking to make video on the web as open and as easy to enjoy as images are now, by eliminating the need for software plug-ins or expensive licensing fees for restricted codecs. To further that mission, Mozilla selected the free and open Theora video compression format for Firefox 3.1, and yesterday granted the Wikimedia Foundation $100,000 to administer the development of Theora and related open video technologies.
On his blog, Mozilla director of evangelism Christopher Blizzard wrote about the importance of openness when it comes to video on the web:
Although videos are available on the web via sites like youtube [sic], they don’t share the same democratized characteristics that have made the web vibrant and distributed. And it shows. That centralization has created some interesting problems that have symptoms like censorship via abuse of the DMCA and an overly-concentrated audience on a few sites that have the resources and technology to host video. I believe that problems like the ones we see with youtube are a symptom of the larger problem of the lack of decentralization and competition in video technology – very different than where the rest of the web is today.
Blizzard goes on to explain what the selection of Theora and the grant money will enable:
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