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22 February 2010, 13:19

Free Software Foundation: Google should free the web from Flash and H.264

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FSF Logo Although Google's take-over of On2 Technologies has only just been completed, already the Free Software Foundation (FSF) is calling on the company to release On2's video codec technology as a patent free standard. In an open letter, it asks Google to release the VP8 video codec under a royalty-free licence and to promote that free codec by using it on the YouTube video site. The FSF says to Google that it "can end the web's dependence on patent-encumbered video formats and proprietary software (Flash)". The letter then suggests that "to sit on this technology or merely use it as a bargaining chip", for example, in negotiations over h.264 video licensing, "would be a disservice to the free world".

The FSF tells Google that "You have the leverage to make such free formats a global standard". The FSF says that "If YouTube merely offered a free format as an option, that alone would bring support from a slew of device makers and applications".

In addition to releasing VP8, the Free Software Foundation hopes that Google will generally encourage users and developers to use patent-free formats. The foundation says "Apple has had the mettle to ditch Flash on the iPhone and the iPad -- albeit for suspect reasons and using abhorrent methods (DRM)". This, they claim, has pushed web developers to create Flash-free alternatives of their pages. According to the FSF, migrating YouTube to HTML5 and VP8 "would be a death-blow to Flash's dominance in web video". YouTube has been experimenting with a Flash-free, HTML5-based variant of YouTube for some time, but has so far only used the patented H.264 video codec. This could, of course, change now Google has access to VP8 from On2 Technologies.

Apparently to lend weight to its appeal, the open letter to Google ends by saying that if Google doesn't do this, that the FSF will conclude that Google is only interested in dominating the web and not user freedom, adding "We all want you to do the right thing."


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