So Sun Microsystems video codec effort is now public. Actually its been public since the 11th of April, but I missed it until today. I think it is an interesting effort and wish them good luck. That said I noticed from the comments that people where wondering why they where not instead pushing Theora or Dirac forward instead of making their own codec. Well the answer to that question is implicitly given in Rob Glidden’s blog post, Sun wanted something which they felt was 100% sure to not be under any current patents and thus they started with the sure to be patent free H261 codec (due to its age).
Of course that is similar to the approach the BBC took with Dirac, but instead of using an codec implementation they used old text books and research papers as their baseline.
That said neither the OMS video codec or Dirac can be 100% sure that there will never be any patent lawsuits, to many bogus patents for that. So all they can do is what they have been doing, which is to ensure that their prior art story is so strong that if a case ever is brought they should be able relatively easily defeat it.
And while I would of course love even more people contributing to improving out existing codecs like Theora and Dirac and think that getting new codecs launched which has used different strategies for ensuring their royalty free status is only a good thing as it gives us more angles of attack. And once one of these codecs reaches critical mass in terms of consumer adoption I think it can actually open the door to the others as it will reduce the current ‘stigma’ around royalty free codecs.
In the meantime we just need to continue improving our tools as I feel that is the next step we need to take to help push free codecs forward. My goal is that we will get Pitivi and Jokosher to a stage where we have them running on all three major platforms and thus the threshold for getting your marketing department etc., to publish their audio clips and videos with free codecs is greatly reduced. The two Summer of Code students we have working on Pitivi and the renewed Jokosher effort should help push us forward.
I am also hoping that the codec support provided in HTML5 through Firefox will open some doors. While Apple and Microsoft are still trying to sabotage it there is still hope that the market share of Firefox is large enough to make a difference and force the issue.