Posted by: commonsresource | May 20, 2010

Party On? – WebM and patents

While I see the The WebM Project launch by Google as a cause for celebration, I have been slow to put on my party hat.  While looking into potential patent concerns (along the lines discussed in my Codecs, Codecs, everywhere post earlier this month), I was very pleased to come across Peter Bright’s Google opens VP8 codec, aims to nuke H.264 with WebM post on the Ars Technica site.

Peter’s post provides an excellent overview of yesterday’s WebM announcement together with its background history and context on proprietary and open source codecs.  While it appears that Apple and Microsoft remain committed to H.264, he points out that “H.264 remains a problematic choice” due to “lack of freedom, patent encumbrance, and a potential royalty time-bomb”.  Even when this reality is combined with the WebM BSD-like license, patent grant, and projected “bettter-than-Theora quality”,  Peter states that “it might not be enough to sway Microsoft and Apple” for the reasons he so clearly sets out.

While it is unlikely that Google will adopt any of extreme “indemnification” or “going nuclear” strategies mentioned by Peter, I agree with his assessment that “WebM is set to rapidly become the most widely supported standard for Web video.” And since I also agree with his assessment that Google’s patent due diligence “arguably puts WebM in a stronger position than Theora”, I have decided to don my hat and party on!

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