Opera still won't support H.264 video

Despite H.264 announcing it would go royalty free, Opera says the standard isn't open enough for them to support it

October 1, 2010
Opera still won't support H.264 video

In late August this year the MPEG Licensing Authority (MPEG LA), a body which licenses pools of patents for various standards, announced that it wouldn’t charge royalty fees for Internet video that streams to end users for free.

Previously MPEG LA had said they wouldn’t charge royalties for such video until after 31 December 2015, but now it appears that this will be extended into perpetuity.

This move by the MPEG LA wasn’t welcomed by everyone however, with Mozilla speaking out against the move and questioning the relevance of the H.264 standard beyond 2014.

Jon S. von Tetzchner, co-founder of Opera Software, said that Opera would also not incorporate the H.264 video standard into their browsers.

Opera Software develops the Opera line of browsers for desktops, mobile phones and other devices and is known among geekdom for introducing tabbed browsing and mouse gestures to the wider desktop user base.

Currently Opera is more famous for their mobile phone browsers, Opera Mini and Opera Mobile.

Regardless of platform, Opera won’t be supporting H.264 in its browsers. Von Tetzchner said that this is because H.264 isn’t royalty free for everyone and they believe in a completely open web.

All standards used on the web should be open and there should be multiple implementations thereof, von Tetzchner said. He added that WebM and VP8 formats aren’t completely in line with their belief in openness yet, but that it’s the video format closest to their values.

Von Tetzchner emphasised the difference between open standards and open source. An open standard, he said, allows for different implementations of that standard whether the source code of such implementations is open or closed.

He added that in the hypothetical conundrum of choosing between open standards and open source he would choose open standards every time.

Video should be as open as everything else, von Tetzchner said.

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