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20 January 2011, 10:12

FSF backing Google's push for WebM codec

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FSF Logo Following Google's announcement last week that it would be removing support for H.264 video from the Chrome browser's <video> tag, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) is now publicly urging web site operators to abandon H.264 and distribute their videos using the WebM format. The Foundation, which has supported WebM and VP8 since it was first announced, says that it applauds Google for the change, calling it "a positive step for free software, its users, and everyone who uses the Web".

WebM Logo In an FSF news post, FSF compliance engineer and licensing guru Brett Smith notes that, "For a while now, watching video on the Web has been fraught with peril," pointing out that, "Most of it is delivered with Flash, which is proprietary, nonstandard software". Smith goes on to add that Google removing support for H.264 is "good news" because it will help prevent web video from standardising the patent-encumbered H.264 codec. Free codecs like WebM require no licensing fees and will help to "make sure the Web stays free for everyone".

The WebM / VP8 video format is an open, royalty-free media file format for the web that was introduced by Google in May of 2010 as part of its WebM Project. The format has a small footprint, does not require a plug-in and allows users to stream high-quality content over the internet. In addition to Google and the FSF, other WebM supporters include Mozilla, the organisation behind the Firefox web browser, and Opera – Microsoft and Apple both support H.264.

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