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Paul Merrell

Open letter to Google: free VP8, and use it on YouTube - Free Software Foundation - 0 views

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    With your purchase of On2, you now own both the world's largest video site (YouTube) and all the patents behind a new high performance video codec -- VP8. Just think what you can achieve by releasing the VP8 codec under an irrevocable royalty-free license and pushing it out to users on YouTube? You can end the web's dependence on patent-encumbered video formats and proprietary software (Flash). This ability to offer a free format on YouTube, however, is only a tiny fraction of your real leverage. The real party starts when you begin to encourage users' browsers to support free formats. There are lots of ways to do this. Our favorite would be for YouTube to switch from Flash to free formats and HTML, offering users with obsolete browsers a plugin or a new browser (free software, of course). Apple has had the mettle to ditch Flash on the iPhone and the iPad -- albeit for suspect reasons and using abhorrent methods (DRM) -- and this has pushed web developers to make Flash-free alternatives of their pages. You could do the same with YouTube, for better reasons, and it would be a death-blow to Flash's dominance in web video. If you care about free software and the free web (a movement and medium to which you owe your success) you must take bold action to replace Flash with free standards and free formats. Patented video codecs have already done untold harm to the web and its users, and this will continue until we stop it. 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. 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. You can use your purchase of On2 merely as a bargaining chip to achieve your own private solution to the problem, but that's both a cop-out and a strategic mistake. Without making VP
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