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19 May 2010, 17:51

Google open source VP8 as part of the WebM Project

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Google have, as expected, open sourced the VP8 codec as part of the WebM project, which is dedicated to open web media. Google are joined by Mozilla and Opera in the WebM launch, along with over forty other software and hardware vendors and publishers. Software supporters include Adobe, Sorensen and Skype while the hardware supporters include AMD, ARM, Broadcom, Freescale, Logitech, Marvell, NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments. The Ogg Theora foundation is listed as a supporter.

The VP8 codec is only part of the WebM video solution which is about creating a royalty-free media file format for the web. Audio streams are encoded with Vorbis and the WebM file structures are based on the Matroska (MKV) container, although WebM does not support other codecs in the container. Google is licensing its intellectual property, which includes On2 technologies IP assets, under an open source license which is only revocable if a licensee files a patent infringement lawsuit against the VP8 code as released by Google.

The software is open sourced under a BSD-style licence, and is optimised for the web with a "low computational footprint" for hand held and other portable internet devices. The WebM project is being released as a developer preview, the initial previews are not fully optimised and have a higher footprint that the developers expect at release. WebM is already being incorporated into browsers as media format understood by the HTML5 video codec.

Early builds of browsers supporting WebM include Chromium and Mozilla nightly builds, with an Opera Beta coming soon, and a Google Chrome early access release available on May 24th. WebM has a VP8 Codec SDK for developers with an encoder, decoder and testing tools. An FAQ covers details of licensing, patents and the file format. Google have already begun converting videos on YouTube.


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