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Wikimedia Community Debates H.264 Support On Wikipedia Sites.

timothy posted about 10 months ago | from the side-loading dept.

Media 247

bigmammoth writes "Wikimedia has been a long time supporter of royalty free formats, but is now considering a shift in their position. From the RfC: 'To support the MP4 standard as a complement to the open formats now used on our sites, it has been proposed that videos be automatically transcoded and stored in both open and MP4 formats on our sites, as soon as they are uploaded or viewed by users. The unencumbered WebM and Ogg versions would remain our primary reference for platforms that support them. But the MP4 versions 'would enable many mobile and desktop users who cannot view these unencumbered video files to watch them in MP4 format.' This has stirred a heated debate within the Wikimedia community as to whether the mp4 / h.264 format should be supported. Many Wikimedia regulars have weighed in, resulting in currently an even split between adding the H.264 support or not. The request for comment is open to all users of Wikimedia, including the broader community of readers. What do you think about supporting H.264 on Wikimedia sites?"

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Why? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980533)

It's an encyclopedia, not YouTube.

Re:Why? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980729)

It's an encyclopedia

Exactly, it should just support formats that users have and not play politics.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

multi io (640409) | about 10 months ago | (#45981417)

It's an encyclopedia

Exactly, it should just support formats that users have and not play politics.

Wrong. I think it should "play politics" in this case. Wikipedia is one of the very few sites which, because of its popularity, uniqueness, and non-commercial nature, has some leverage over browser vendors, and has more freedom than others to make use of it.

Almost everywhere else on the web it's the other way round: The browser vendors can force the site owners into compliance. If you have a smallish website and you want to provide video content on it, you often have no choice than to use an encoding like H.264 that all browsers support -- thereby furthering the agenda of consortiums like MPEG LA to steer the market towards a universal adoption of a patent-encumbered "hands off" format, and also lessening the incentive for browser vendors to support open royalty-free encoding formats. But if you run the like 4th most popular site in the world, the only one of its kind, AND you're not commercially bound to maximize your number of visitors no matter what, then you have some power to drive the web (and the whole industry) in the direction of truly open, royalty-free, "free to tinker with" video encoding formats, which would help lower costs and market entry barriers for new companies and individuals. Wikipedia shouldn't throw this leverage away.

Re: Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45981539)

- "Wrong."
- "I think..."

is it objective or subjective?

Re:Why? (1)

Ardyvee (2447206) | about 10 months ago | (#45980793)

It's not wikipedia, but wikimedia, which is much more than an encyclopedia. Wikimedia is closer to a library than to an encyclopedia. Wikimedia contains wikipedia, though, if I were to insist on that comparison.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45981301)

The title contains Wikipedia too, and God forbid anyone get confused by that.

Stand their ground (5, Insightful)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 10 months ago | (#45980539)

Wikimedia should stand their ground to provide a good reason for device manufacturers to add support for open video formats.

Re:Stand their ground (1)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#45980579)

I can't see how Wiki has all that much leverage.

When did you last see someone turn down one Smartphone for another because it couldn't play a wiki video?

Re:Stand their ground (4, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | about 10 months ago | (#45980677)

I can't see how Wiki has all that much leverage.

Looking at the list of most popular websites [wikipedia.org] , I think only facebook & youtube would have more influence on video-standards settings.

When did you last see someone turn down one Smartphone for another because it couldn't play a wiki video?

Never, but it can add to a list of small frustrations, getting a user to switch manufacturers next contract renewal. You don't have to be the sole reason for a change to have leverage over manufacturers.

Re:Stand their ground (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980721)

yeah because people frequent Wikipedia for the videos! NOT. Wikipedia has zero influence here.

Re:Stand their ground (1, Insightful)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 10 months ago | (#45980849)

Never, but it can add to a list of small frustrations, getting a user to switch manufacturers next contract renewal.

You WANT to add to users frustrations? Bad attitude.

Re:Stand their ground (5, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 10 months ago | (#45981817)

Looking at the list of most popular websites, I think only facebook & youtube would have more influence on video-standards settings.

People don't visit Wikipedia for the videos any more than they read Playboy for the articles. That you even put it in the same class as YouTube only makes you sound delusional, they are 99.99% video and Wikipedia is 99.99% not. When Google that owns the VP8 codec, owns YouTube and makes Android and Chrome don't want to eat their own dog food and push their own codec on their own site to their own devices and browser it'll never be more than an obscure alternative for ideological circlejerks, like art critics patting each other on the back for recognizing true art while the rest of the world watches Hollywood blockbusters.

Even Firefox has surrendered [thenextweb.com] on this one and said they'd use the binary blob Cisco provides, if Wikimedia wants to be the Japanese soldiers hiding in the forest 10 years after the war is over and keep denying it's over and that they lost it's their problem. And by forest I mean /. where Ogg Vorbis never dies even though it totally* failed to catch any mainstream use. * Cue the counterexamples, the way Munich shows that Linux is totally going to take over the desktop. But to use an old proverb, one swallow does not a summer make.

Re:Stand their ground (2, Insightful)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | about 10 months ago | (#45980917)

I have watched Wikipedia being pulled up on two different smartphones simultaneously to settle argument/doubts more times than I can count now over the years.

"Oh, your phone can't play that wikipedia video - ha! - what a crappy phone you should get one like mine next time."

That sort of word of mouth marketing has a subtle hard to measure influence on peoples next phone contract signing agreement choices. I can't say how significant it is, but you would be hard pressed to discount it as not being significant.

Re:Stand their ground (2, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about 10 months ago | (#45981263)

That wiki is used frequently has almost nothing to do with it.

Lets face it, Wiki uses very few videos anyway, (thank god) and you aren't going to settle fact based arguments by watching videos on a phone.

Re:Stand their ground (4, Insightful)

TimMD909 (260285) | about 10 months ago | (#45980595)

Android already supports WebM (http://developer.android.com/guide/appendix/media-formats.html). I'm thinking this is more of a "should we care about the people with iPhones?" My answer would be "no." That'll add more pressure on Apple to not be jackasses w/ their mobile OS.

Re:Stand their ground (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980669)

I would just provide a JS-only decoder, and when it runs really slowly and poorly, I'd say "iPhone's don't support non-commercial video very well. We did the best we could, take it up with Apple".

Re:Stand their ground (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | about 10 months ago | (#45980681)

Android already supports WebM (http://developer.android.com/guide/appendix/media-formats.html). I'm thinking this is more of a "should we care about the people with iPhones?"

My answer would be "no." That'll add more pressure on Apple to not be jackasses w/ their mobile OS.

Remember Flash? Me neither. Fighting H.264 is tilting at windmills. The vast majority of people couldn't care less about free (to them) video formats as long as stuff works and looks good.

Re:Stand their ground (-1, Flamebait)

msobkow (48369) | about 10 months ago | (#45981151)

Flash is still in use at 80% of the sites I visit.

Apple's management are jack-asses. Let the consumer harass them instead of whining to the websites that their iShiny's don't work.

Re:Stand their ground (3, Insightful)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 10 months ago | (#45981171)

Flash? People didn't care about free or not, so Flash was big and fighting against Flash was tilting against windmills. But today Flash is greatly diminished. Thus the lesson here is to NOT give up pushing back against H.264.

Re:Stand their ground (4, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | about 10 months ago | (#45981281)

Why? I can watch and rip to H.264 with free (as in beer) tools. Is this some political thing? My tools don't convert to *.BasementVirgin, or whatever format this is. Just Works wins for me, sorry.

The "next format" is H.265, as far as I care, but only when that Just Works.

Re:Stand their ground (3, Insightful)

symbolset (646467) | about 10 months ago | (#45981573)

This course of derision has not worked out well for fans of MPEG-LA so far. So by all means keep it up. God forbid you people take a civil, persuasive tack to win friends and influence people - you might somewhere.

Re:Stand their ground (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 10 months ago | (#45981837)

The only reason Flash fell out of favour was because Steve Jobs didn't want to install it on iPhones.

Re: Stand their ground (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45981235)

Remember iOS? Me neither. Apple has been long sliding _toward_ irrelevance even if you are able to make a case they aren't quite there yet. And their shit is pretty much all that is left, which still can't play normal video files. Well, maybe them and Sony. Most of us are not willing to wait for these luddite holdouts.

Re:Stand their ground (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980735)

Android supports WebM, but most Android devices do not support it in hardware. This is a big deal for mobile battery life. But congrats for getting your Apple-bash on.

Re:Stand their ground (5, Interesting)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 10 months ago | (#45980737)

Depends on your traffic. I run a content rich site for a client of mine and we realized something as we did our quarterly review: Mobile users are now 60% of all traffic to her site. Of that, the biggest block of users are from iPad at almost 30% of all traffic. iPhone makes up another 18% and all Android devices make up about 13% of our traffic. There is another 6% of traffic that is iPods. So as it stands right now iOS is over 50% of all traffic.

Think we are going to ignore iOS? Think again. Instead we've decided that it's time to add a native mobile app for iOS targeting specifically iPad.

Re:Stand their ground (0)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 10 months ago | (#45980749)

The iStuff owners are probably more valuable customers too. It's a premium device - people who use them will tend to have above-average disposeable income.

Re:Stand their ground (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 10 months ago | (#45981059)

Android already supports WebM (http://developer.android.com/guide/appendix/media-formats.html). I'm thinking this is more of a "should we care about the people with iPhones?" My answer would be "no." That'll add more pressure on Apple to not be jackasses w/ their mobile OS.

I think you got the "jackasses" upside down here. Google, as they have done on other occassions, bought a video codecs with the sole purpose of upsetting the established standard. WebM is not patent encumbered until it is successful, and if it ever is successful, there will be patent owners trying to blackmail. Just as Google / Motorola have tried themselves. I mean that is a pathetic joke, attacking h.264 as being patent encumbered, and then patent trolling.

Re:Stand their ground (0)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 10 months ago | (#45981289)

... you mean upsetting the established business model. There's absolutely no reason someone on *any* mobile device cannot use these open standards, other than being greedy assholes. I can see reasons for not using the codec for which encoders must be licensed for, but not supporting *open* standards is pretty much the definition of greed.

Re:Stand their ground (1)

MrBingoBoingo (3481277) | about 10 months ago | (#45980611)

Pretty much. Open standards can't gain ground unless someone insists on using them. It is like Microsoft's Office Documents in their battle agaisnt literally anything else. If no one objects to the propietary lock in, the open alternatives have to fight for their survival at a severe disadvantage.

Re:Stand their ground (4, Insightful)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 10 months ago | (#45980739)

Pretty much. Open standards can't gain ground unless someone insists on using them. It is like Microsoft's Office Documents in their battle agaisnt literally anything else. If no one objects to the propietary lock in, the open alternatives have to fight for their survival at a severe disadvantage.

Or prove superiority.

Right now, there is NO advantage to WebM or VP8 over h.264. The only reason to choose it is purely philosophical, especially since it's inferiority.

No, if you want to push an open standard, you go to prove its superiority. Why do you think Google has basically abandoned VP8 (which is a crap unimplementable standard) and pushing hard for VP9? Because the next-generation codec war has just begun. And it's between h.265 and VP9.

h.264 war is lost - there is too much entrenched.

But the next gen codec war is not, and in the battle between h.265 and VP9, there aren't as much legacy to worry about. If VP9 is completely royalty free, guess what? The industry consortium will pick it, even if it is inferior to h.265 because being able to crank out parts with VP9 decoders for free means more profit for them. (And didn't Google pretty much pay off all royalties for VP9?).

Standing your ground may win you the battle, but if you lose sight that h.264's relevance is going to diminish in the next few years to be replaced by the next gen h.265, then you've lost the war. Best to move on, and put your energy into promoting VP9 so it becomes standard.

Hell, Google's stopped promoting VP8 a while ago - they wanted to add it as an option for YouTube, and it's fizzled out for that reason - Google realizes it's not worth winning the WebM/VP8 war - it's too entrenched. Just move on to next gen when the standards are still malleable and inclusion and acceptance are easy.

And it'll be an easier sell, too. Right now if you make a graphics chip, you're going to pay the h.264 royalties even if you want WebM/VP9 because it's an expected feature. But in your new chip, you're still paying for h.264, but VP9, you don't have to pay! You as the manufacturer get to keep that extra 25 cents per unit.

Re:Stand their ground (2)

Dahamma (304068) | about 10 months ago | (#45980921)

Right now, there is NO advantage to WebM or VP8 over h.264. The only reason to choose it is purely philosophical, especially since it's inferiority.

No, if you want to push an open standard, you go to prove its superiority. Why do you think Google has basically abandoned VP8 (which is a crap unimplementable standard) and pushing hard for VP9? Because the next-generation codec war has just begun. And it's between h.265 and VP9.

h.264 war is lost - there is too much entrenched.

This is probably the best point I have seen so far.

H.264 hardware support has been in most SoCs (system on a chip) built into set tops and mobile devices in the last 6+ years. The fight for this generation is in fact over.

H.265 is already planned to go into 2015 devices (TVs and BD players) in order to support upcoming features like 4k and HDR - but, there is still a chance to get VP9, etc in there. And the savings, even if $1 per unit, would be enough to get companies like Google (Chromecast) or Roku (which doesn't support Dolby Digital because they don't want to pay the license fee) very interested. And in the end if a hardware manufacturer sells enough devices, the streaming services will do what it takes (including transcoding to other formats) to support them.

Re:Stand their ground (2)

jonwil (467024) | about 10 months ago | (#45981601)

I suspect many of the manufacturers will ignore VP9 and go with H.265 anyway because many of the big boys in consumer electronics are part of the H.26x patent pools through their codec patents and dont have to pay as much in royalties as the little guys do.

Re:Stand their ground (3, Informative)

Tough Love (215404) | about 10 months ago | (#45980971)

Google's stopped promoting VP8 a while ago - they wanted to add it as an option for YouTube, and it's fizzled out for that reason - Google realizes it's not worth winning the WebM/VP8 war

What nonsense. Google didn't stop promoting VP8, they just started referring to it as WebM [youtube.com] .

Incidentally, I much prefer the HTML5 player, it integrates properly with my browser controls as opposed to flash player, which was always infuriorating. And I don't know about your browser, but WebM is is available in my browser and H.264 is not.

Re:Stand their ground (1)

MrBingoBoingo (3481277) | about 10 months ago | (#45981259)

Why do we need hardware decoders in this day and age. If you want to offload work from CPU cores why not a fucking FPGA. Is this still the 1980s? Open formats possess an inherent advantage in the decoders being open to review. Who knows what exploit can be overflowed while decoding a video on a closed codec like H.264. The x86-64 still has loads of legacy cruft in there waiting to be exploited. There is abosolutely no reason for anyone purporting to provide open content to lock that content into proprietary formats.

Re:Stand their ground (1)

mozumder (178398) | about 10 months ago | (#45980647)

They should stand their ground and consider design usability first and support H.264.

Users don't care about moronic preachy libertarian ideals like open format.

Usability > Idealism.

Don't preach. Just do.

Re:Stand their ground (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980699)

"Stand their ground" != "consider design usability first"
The Wikimedia projects are all about "moronic preachy libertarian ideals".
We have them to thank for a big chunk of currently available free culture.
Commons's infamously strict licensing rules have resulted in a lot of freely-licensed media that would not have otherwise existed.
And MPEG-LA sucks.

Re:Stand their ground (0)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 10 months ago | (#45980725)

How did the koolaid taste? I didn't even have to mod you down cause
you're doing great at -1.
Case of 'just do', I suppose. Cheers dickhead!

MOD PARENT +9000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45981089)

INCITEFUL POST SIR
STOP
YOUR INTELLETENT
STOP
  I WISH I COULD HAVE BEEN AS SMRT AS YOU
STOP
THE END

caps aren't like yelling when caps are the truth

Re:Stand their ground (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980657)

Suggesting anyone stand their ground is a bad idea. Someone will end up dead and it very well could be Wikimedia.

Re:Stand their ground (3, Interesting)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 10 months ago | (#45980671)

The open formats lost this round. Sorry, but with H2.64 we've finally had a "Standard Codec" and format that allows content creators to encode the media once and just about reach everyone. If the open standards offered a significant technical advantage, i.e. better compression without loss of quality or faster encoding vs H.264 then they'd be open to listening. But as I've talked to a lot of content creators over the past few years, many of whom remember the days of creating a quicktime video, a Windows Media video, a Real Player video and none of them wish to go back to it. And for these people the cost of paying for a H.264 encoder license is trivial compared to royalties they have to pay for images, video, and music.

Re:Stand their ground (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980823)

But that's exactly it: the world doesn't just revolve around people who are paying royalties on image/video/music. If Wikipedia accepts this, then the people who can't afford to pay that (and that includes many people who just don't want to deal with such licenes, for whom even $0.01 is too much) get screwed.

Open codecs aren't about being the best, they're about being for everyone.

Re:Stand their ground (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 10 months ago | (#45981305)

There's also no reason they can't be the best, but certain media cartels have packs of lawyers that are certainly going to take a run at making sure it doesn't happen.

Re:Stand their ground (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45981801)

But that's exactly it: the world doesn't just revolve around people who are paying royalties on image/video/music. If Wikipedia accepts this, then the people who can't afford to pay that (and that includes many people who just don't want to deal with such licenes, for whom even $0.01 is too much) get screwed.

Open codecs aren't about being the best, they're about being for everyone.

I wish people who talk about "open" like this would just man up and just say it's about FREE, as in COST.

It's not as if women, black people, men under 30, or people with pointy ears are not allowed to use x264.
ANYONE can, you just have to pay for it.

You mean FREE AS IN COST, so say that instead of free as in whatever else, or open, you damned liars.
Nowhere in the real world does liberty or open mean: to any person, for any reason, _at no cost_.

"These people?" (4, Insightful)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | about 10 months ago | (#45980845)

And for these people the cost of paying for a H.264 encoder license is trivial compared to royalties they have to pay for images, video, and music.

And what about the developing world that is slowly coming online via shared community hubs? Won't they have the right to publish content too without paying exuberant rents compared to their income? The cost is trivial for everyone. I am sorry but open formats are the only way forward for a level playing field. All we are seeing with this WWF/H.264 debacle is a small amount of vested interests trying to justify extracting rents from the world population, when non are really required.

That these closed proprietary formats/DRM are clawing their way back into our "open" standards, services like Wikipedia and browsers is a testament to how committees, foundations (and once democratic institutions serving the public interest) can be infiltrated by vested interest and their purpose corrupted slowly from the inside out. It is a slippery slope, read todays news to see how absolutely low you can slide [nakedcapitalism.com] .

Re:"These people?" (2)

gnoshi (314933) | about 10 months ago | (#45980969)

They will benefit from Wikipedia adding H.264 support to the same extent everyone else will, because WebM and OGG will remain the reference formats, and content will be automatically transcoded.

It would certainly be advantageous for all devices to have WebM and OGG support, but not having H.264 on Wikipedia isn't going to strongarm Apple into supporting WebM and OGG.

I don't like proprietary formats, but when talking about automatic transcoding for device support it is something that I think is necessary and worthwhile.

Re:"These people?" (1)

gnoshi (314933) | about 10 months ago | (#45980993)

s/wikipedia/wikimedia

Re:"These people?" (4, Insightful)

FriendlyLurker (50431) | about 10 months ago | (#45981029)

Sure Wikipedia isn't going to strongarm Apple into supporting WebM and OGG, and conversely Wikipedia does not need to be strong-armed by Apple or its vocal users into supporting closed software patent encumbered protocols.

Re:"These people?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45981157)

Nobody is strongarming anybody. This is about whether or not wikipedia wants a large majority of their traffic, possibly close to 50%, to be able to see video and audio content at all.

Re:"These people?" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45981353)

Nobody is strongarming anybody. This is about whether or not wikipedia wants a large majority of their traffic, possibly close to 50%, to be able to see video and audio content at all.

And why would those 50% be unable to use a free and open format? Because Apple is controlling which formats they are allowed to use, and Apple is pushing H.264 and undermining the free and open formats.

Is "strongarm" an appropriate word for what Apple is doing? Yes, it's a fair cop.

Re:"These people?" (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 10 months ago | (#45981321)

If people see yet another format that Apple has decided they don't want you to see, it's another reason for people to avoid their intentionally crippled environment. What exactly is their reason for not supporting an open format? I'd like to hear their reasoning.

Re:"These people?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45981609)

I'm not sure you problem is with compression formats or capitalism in general.

Re:Stand their ground (1)

jcdr (178250) | about 10 months ago | (#45981079)

Actually the reality is that the contents creators are locked by the fact that a few majors manufactures refuse to support free formats.

Non-sense; publishing in OGG and WebM is easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45981219)

This idea that publishing in these free formats is difficult is just FUD. I publish videos all the time in these formats. It's just a matter of selecting the codec. The people upset are those who can't access the videos on there iDevices. Sorry- but your poor choice is your own fault. I'll stick to publishing in a format everybody who makes a conscious decision can play. I'm not buying your self-righteous self-indulgence. Be a little less selfish and maybe I'll start actually listening to your argument.

And yea- I've got the $$$ to spend as CEO and owner of a growing corporation.

Re:Stand their ground (3, Insightful)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 10 months ago | (#45980745)

Wikimedia's mission:

The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.

The question is does supporting H.264 media files help or hinder their mission?

If their goal is to disseminate the educational content effectively then it would seem logical that they provide a media format that is widely supported.

It's really up to WebM and Ogg to promote their format. Wikimedia should stick to their own mission which is to provide educational content.

Re:Stand their ground (4, Insightful)

xvan (2935999) | about 10 months ago | (#45981159)

What about the "under a free license" part?

Re:Stand their ground (3, Insightful)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 10 months ago | (#45981399)

I believe they meant the content to be under a free license not necessarily the media itself. Besides H.264 is free for the content consumer.

Re:Stand their ground (3, Interesting)

StripedCow (776465) | about 10 months ago | (#45980831)

Wikimedia should stand their ground to provide a good reason for device manufacturers to add support for open video formats.

The best way to do this, should they choose to support the H.264 format, is to add a tiny annoyance to video files in that format.
Like a 5 second intro that displays their policy in the format war, and how users are better off with the open version of the video.

Re:Stand their ground (-1, Flamebait)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 10 months ago | (#45981109)

The best way to do this, should they choose to support the H.264 format, is to add a tiny annoyance to video files in that format. Like a 5 second intro that displays their policy in the format war, and how users are better off with the open version of the video.

Your problem is that the huge majority of Wikipedia users would be disgusted at your idea. Wikipedia is about getting information out in the best possible way. And for videos, whether you like it or not, h.264 is the best possible way. Whatever donations Wikipedia is getting today, intentionally messing with videos to annoy people will kill them. It's easier to get donations from people who are used to paying for value products and not from freetards.

Re:Stand their ground (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980891)

Simple fix is to allow upload of any format. The first time someone attempts to view it in a format that it is not in, then politely tell them "This video is not available in xxx format, please donate $5 to cover video transcoding costs" and give them a convenient button to do so. After someone has paid (thus shown an interest in wanting that format) it is then available for free to everyone else. People who donate for this will also feel like they are making a contribution to others. Cheaper than a double latte. Make the costs high enough that it would also generate a little revenue.

Re:Stand their ground (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980975)

complicated. fragmenting. not necessary. Support open standards on an open protocol at and open foundation, do not allow a small elite to extract rents from software patents.

Re:Stand their ground (1)

symbolset (646467) | about 10 months ago | (#45981495)

My first reaction was "how much is MPEG-LA offering to pay?"

Sounds good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980591)

If it means I can consume the non-text/image content on more devices than those that support webm/ogg then all the better.

Censorship (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980601)

By failing to support MP4/H264 they are defacto creating a means of censorship , i.e. denying the ability to watch the videos to those who do not share the same ideological stance.

Re:Censorship (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980645)

Is it also a form of censorship that they don't support everything else on this list [wikipedia.org] ?

What if I need my video in Indeo or Bink or RealVideo or WMV? They're denying me the ability to watch them! Ermahgerd!

Re:Censorship (0, Flamebait)

bloodhawk (813939) | about 10 months ago | (#45980773)

MP4 is the industry standard, by choosing a non standard format they are knowingly limiting the amount of people that can view the format, really it is a braindead decision, information sharing shouldn't be about ideology. We have enough shit forced on people by governments already.

Re:Censorship (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 10 months ago | (#45981351)

Why exactly is Apple not supporting the open standard? I'd really like to hear the defence of that decision, from both Apple and you. That's what this whole thing really comes down to ... why is Apple explicitly not supporting open formats.

Re:Censorship (2)

DexterIsADog (2954149) | about 10 months ago | (#45980767)

By failing to support MP4/H264 they are defacto creating a means of censorship , i.e. denying the ability to watch the videos to those who do not share the same ideological stance.

This is bullshit. You're abusing the definition of censorship the way politicians abuse the word "terrorist".

Flash Back (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980613)

Reminds me of the whole 'GIF vs PNG' battle in the mid 90's.

Re:Flash Back (2)

mythosaz (572040) | about 10 months ago | (#45980655)

And mid 2000's, and early 2010's.

FYI, I'm still not sure how to pronounce either of those :)

Re:Flash Back (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 10 months ago | (#45980821)

After having my life turned upside down by the revelation (well, at least the part of my life that deals with pronouncing file format extensions) and a short adaptation period, I now say "Jiff", as stupid as it sounds (It's Graphics, not Jraphics).

As for PNG, how else would you pronounce it if not "Pee En Gee"?

Re:Flash Back (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980869)

If the pronunciation in the original word determined the pronunciation in the initialism, SCUBA would be "scubba".

Re:Flash Back (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 10 months ago | (#45981525)

2000's: naughties
2010's: twenteens (or just teens)
GIF: Ghiff
PNG: Ping
LOL: ell-oh-ell (lolling is something different)

Shall we play again?

Re:Flash Back (1)

rourin_bushi (816292) | about 10 months ago | (#45980855)

Thank the good dude I have more conversations in text-mode than in voice-mode these days.

Re:Flash Back (1)

mcl630 (1839996) | about 10 months ago | (#45980991)

The patents on GIF compression expired in 2003 and 2004... the battle ended then.

Re:Flash Back (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 10 months ago | (#45981169)

And mid 2000's, and early 2010's.

FYI, I'm still not sure how to pronounce either of those :)

"Twenty-oughts" and "twenty-tens."

Give In (1, Flamebait)

GrahamCox (741991) | about 10 months ago | (#45980621)

Yes they should do this. Sometimes, you can't fight City Hall - you just have to go with the flow so that your website becomes more useful to people. It's annoying that media files on Wikipedia don't "just work" on most devices, not even desktops.

I appreciate their position and somewhat support it, but they've been holding out for so long now with absolutely no effect. The only losers are the site's users. At least Mp4 is a standard, albeit not as free as idealists would like.

Not necessary (1)

Burz (138833) | about 10 months ago | (#45980675)

This is not YouTube we're talking about, where its 100% about immediacy and convenience. People can download a free player--or use a non-Microsoft/Apple browser--when they're good and ready to view the Wikimedia content.

Re:Not necessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980907)

More likely people will simply choose to go elsewhere. Any website that forces you to install, plugins, addons or different browsers needs to die in a fire. Wikimedia is hardly an essential service for people.

Re:Not necessary (1)

Burz (138833) | about 10 months ago | (#45981639)

...or maybe IE and Safari need to "die in a fire"... they're not very good and people don't need them. These companies want their tollbooths on standard formats.

Function over Ideals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980629)

Wikipedia should focus on creating the best possible experience for its users rather than using its sites as a platform for ideology.

Windows 8 support (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980631)

If it makes Windows 8 stop annoying me I'm for just about anything.

As an iphone user, I would vote 'No'. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980703)

So many exceptions/compromises have been made to make iphone/apple inc. to continue their abusive practice. (Even mosh, a GPL v3 software, made an Apple store exception for it !) Doing so can only enhance their position. Their next step is to do more.
Supporting open format is snap for them to do. They should also compromise sometime.

MP4 is open (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980705)

In every meaningful sense, MP4 is the most 'open' useful video CODEC every made available. The world's BEST video encoder, x264, is open-source and free. Every worthwhile tool you need to encode, process and watch H264 video is FREE. H264 decoding is supported almost universally in hardware by everything made today.

Meanwhile, the dreadful CODEC that Google bought was created illegally by using close-source development as a method of hiding the fact that it ripped off (badly) patented MPEG standards. After Google released the source, and the truth became obvious, Google simply used its billions to pay off the various IP owners whose patents the code infringed on. Google offers its CODEC for free ONLY because Google chooses to bear the IP costs inherent in the use of its CODEC.

It gets worse. The hardware support of Google's dreadful CODEC is almost non-existent, so Google class videos are frequently decoded on the CPU, using insanely greater amounts of energy. Encoding Google class video (which always gives worse results than x264 when other metrics are equivalent) also uses far more power. And you thought Google was "politically correct" and "green"?

All Google wants is control. And Google's incompetent rip-off of H264 and now their new rip-off of H265 are all about control. With H264 and H265, the user has control, and Google hates this. So Google seeds forums like this with the usual vile shills that seek to take advantage of people whose knowledge of the facts behind H264 and its horrifically bad, originally unlicensed copy, VP8, is non-existent.

PS putting Ogg (a TRUE free sound CODEC) and WebM (Google's licensed AFTER-the-fact terrible rip-off of H264) in the same sentence is as misleading an attempt at pro-Google propaganda as you can get.

Re:MP4 is open (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 10 months ago | (#45980815)

Part of the issue, I think, is that there is no 'truely open' video codec worth using. There are a few truely open video codecs, like Theora and Dirac, but they all suck - the best algorithms are patented.

Re:MP4 is open (3, Informative)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 10 months ago | (#45981373)

It is not open in any sense of the word. The decoder is free as in beer, the encoder is not.

Re:MP4 is open (2)

jimshatt (1002452) | about 10 months ago | (#45981387)

FYI, Ogg is the container, Vorbis is the sound codec and Theora is the video codec.
H264 tools aren't free, as the codec is patent encumbered, so you have to pay license costs (one way or another). Officially, you can't use x264 either without paying royalties. So, yeah, I'm opposed to the use of H264 in open works such as wikemedia.

Re:MP4 is open (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45981513)

YOU should REALLY learn THE definitions of FREE and OPEN. And I mean FREE as in SPEECH, not BEER.

Sounds like you REALLY hate Google. I just hate all of them EQUALLY ;)

Re:MP4 is open (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45981565)

In every meaningful sense, MP4 is the most 'open' useful video CODEC every made available.

Only for a very narrowly defined sense of the word "meaningful", and a particular meaning of "open".

The H.264 video standard is patent-encumbered. In some countries, the government doesn't grant or enforce patents on software, so this may not matter to you. But the USA is one country with software patents, and I live in the USA, so it matters to me.

And it matters to anyone in the USA who would like to use Wikimedia, even if they don't understand the issues yet.

The world's BEST video encoder, x264, is open-source and free.

But still patent-encumbered. Thus, the nice folks who wrote x264 and gave away their work do not charge you to use it; but in the USA, if you use it, you must obey the demands of the MPEG-LA and pay the royalties they require.

Thus, x264 is free and open-source software for a non-free and non-open standard.

Meanwhile, the dreadful CODEC that Google bought was created illegally by using close-source development as a method of hiding the fact that it ripped off (badly) patented MPEG standards.

Are you a lawyer? Is this legal advice?

I'm not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice, but my layman's opinion is that you are just completely wrong on all points here. VP8, as I understand it, was created by people who studied H.264 and made sure that VP8 did not infringe on any patents. Many things VP8 does are similar to things H.264 does, but that's not illegal.

Here's an example that may shed some light, from the Linux kernel. The Linux kernel had a driver for "VFAT" file systems, which can have "long filenames" (also known as "non-broken filenames" or just "filenames"; compare with older FAT file systems that can only have "short filenames" of 8 letters followed by a 3-letter extension). It turns out that Microsoft had a patent that covers VFAT, so for a while VFAT support was ripped out of the Linux kernel. But someone studied the patent and saw that it was a patent on a particular method of storing two filenames for each file: a long filename and a short filename. Thus, the Linux VFAT driver was re-written, such that when writing a file, it wrote a nice legal "long filename" and put garbage bytes in the "short filename" field. Since the garbage bytes were chosen to not be a valid filename, the Linux VFAT driver was not infringing on a patent that covers writing two filenames.

The above hack figured out what was patented, figured out a workaround, and implemented the workaround. The "long filenames" are written exactly as described in the patent, but the patent was not on "a method of storing long filenames" it was on a method of storing two filenames for each file.

Returning to VP8, my understanding is they did this sort of thing for video coding. They avoided patents but found similar things that would work.

Did they succeed? Well, there was a delay of many months after Google bought On2 and before Google released their free version of VP8, and I believe during that period Google had their lawyers reviewing all the patent issues. They thought they succeeded. And then, MPEG-LA announced that they were forming a patent pool on VP8, but over a year later there were no patents in that patent pool. That is the best possible evidence that On2 did succeed: even with the source code to study, no patent owner was able to find infringing code.

On2 also claimed that VP8 was "better" than H.264, but we know that is definitely not true. But it's the next best thing, and it's way better than older standards like H.263.

After Google released the source, and the truth became obvious, Google simply used its billions to pay off the various IP owners whose patents the code infringed on.

Nope. Factually untrue. After the patent owners failed to find any patents that infringed, Google was able to strike a deal with MPEG-LA where Google admitted no wrongdoing, gave MPEG-LA some money, and MPEG-LA went away and stopped threatening to sue. Notably, there is no requirement for Google or anyone else to pay any royalties or sign any license for VP8 use. This must be regarded as a complete failure for MPEG-LA.

Google offers its CODEC for free ONLY because Google chooses to bear the IP costs inherent in the use of its CODEC.

Nope. Nobody pays IP costs for VP8. There was a one-time payment by Google.

http://www.osnews.com/story/26849/Google_called_the_MPEG-LA_s_bluff_and_won [osnews.com]

It gets worse. The hardware support of Google's dreadful CODEC is almost non-existent, so Google class videos are frequently decoded on the CPU, using insanely greater amounts of energy. Encoding Google class video (which always gives worse results than x264 when other metrics are equivalent) also uses far more power. And you thought Google was "politically correct" and "green"?

Wow, you are really reaching here. Are you being paid to shill this hard for H.264?

Yes, hardware support for VP8 is severely lacking. However, going forward, VP9 looks like it will have good hardware support. I suspect there are two issues that apply: (0) hardware vendors were leery of lawsuits if they supported VP8, but the legal agreement with MPEG-LA made it clear that VP8 and VP9 are completely safe now; and (1) H.264 was considered to have won the battle for this generation of video coder, but nobody is doing anything with H.265 yet so it's not too late for VP9.

I'm sure that Google wants to be green. A few years back they gave financial help to Googlers who bought efficient hybrid cars, for example. But they have good reasons to push for free and open standards, even if hardware support is missing for VP8.

All Google wants is control.

How does giving the world a perpetual, royalty-free license to use VP8 and VP9 give Google control over anything?

I would argue that Google wants to be free of the control of others, specifically, free of obeying the demands of the patent-holders of H.264. That is not at all the same thing as wanting control over others.

And Google's incompetent rip-off of H264 and now their new rip-off of H265 are all about control. With H264 and H265, the user has control, and Google hates this. So Google seeds forums like this with the usual vile shills that seek to take advantage of people whose knowledge of the facts behind H264 and its horrifically bad, originally unlicensed copy, VP8, is non-existent.

Am I one of these sinister shills? Could I be paid to do this? Here I am, doing it for free, guess I am a sucker.

PS putting Ogg (a TRUE free sound CODEC) and WebM (Google's licensed AFTER-the-fact terrible rip-off of H264) in the same sentence is as misleading an attempt at pro-Google propaganda as you can get.

Here's a free clue for you:

VP8 -- a video coder format
Vorbis -- an audio coder format
Ogg -- a container format
Matroska -- another container format

Ogg Vorbis -- an audio standard that consists of Vorbis-encoded audio in an Ogg container file

WebM -- a video standard that consists of VP8-encoded video and Vorbis-encoded audio in a Matroska container file

So, in your analysis, it is "propaganda" to tell people that WebM uses Vorbis audio? But it does use Vorbis audio. So what should Google tell people here?

Wikimedia pay attention (-1, Troll)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 10 months ago | (#45980711)

Go through with your proprietary plans and I will create a bot to edit & subvert each and every page that you publish.

Re:Wikimedia pay attention (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980743)

Are you an idiot? h.264 is the proprietary format in use today.

Re:Wikimedia pay attention (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980797)

While we are be mature about it what prevents someone from creating a bot that searches for your sabotages and submit the source IP address to DDOS?

Support it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45980713)

stop stifling innovation to stroke egos

And to think Timothy calls himself an editor (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 10 months ago | (#45980809)

But the MP4 versions 'ould enable...

I think you accidentally a etter.

Many wikimedia regulars

That should, of course, be Wikimedia, with a big wuh.

Can we replace the words "Posted by" with "Blindly rubber-stamped by"?

Re:And to think Timothy calls himself an editor (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 10 months ago | (#45981149)

"Posted by" means "Put online by". Which is accurate.
"Posted by" does not mean "edited by".

m4v not mp4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45981003)

They should use m4v, not mp4, so that multilingual subtitles can work.

Disconnected from reality (2)

jcdr (178250) | about 10 months ago | (#45981007)

Now there is a category of people so disconnected from reality that are ok to overpay an already excessively rich phone manufacturer that refuse to support free format, and there only reaction to there frustration is to ask a poor free project to support commercial format. I wonder how many of them have donate something to Wikipedia.

But I am not so surprised. I have observed many times that a lot of people tend to be proud of what there have payed and disregards what there have not payed, even when the reality clearly show that there money was not worth the result. It's a childish behavior to ask others to fix your own false choice.

Re:Disconnected from reality (1)

jimshatt (1002452) | about 10 months ago | (#45981441)

FYI, and not to be a grammar Nazi or anything, but only your first use of the word 'there' was correct :)

Re:Disconnected from reality (1)

jcdr (178250) | about 10 months ago | (#45981633)

Thanks for the correction. I am not an English speaker.

Just say NO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#45981821)

In my opinion, supporting H.264 is not much less wrong than the W3C moving to support DRM in the web. It ties EVERYONE into proprietary and restrictive data formats.

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