Originally Posted by d-range
First of all: writing, using and distributing a decoder or encoder for H264 is free for non-profit use, and even for commercial use there is a lower bound on the money you make off H264 video's before you have to start paying. As so many before me already mentioned, MPEG-LA has stated this will remain this way until the patents expired, which makes a lot of sense because they wouldn't benefit at all if everyone abandoned H264 because MPEG-LA acted like codec-nazi's: in the end, non-profit users are not what MPEG-LA hopes to get their revenue from to recuperate their investments in creating H264.
Second: in what way is it a bad thing that commercial entities making money off H264 encoders or decoders have to pay a trivial part of their profits to the inventors of the standard, and how is this different from *any other* piece of technology licensed to third parties? Do you think USB should be replaced because every cable vendor using the USB logo on their cable needs to pay licensing fees? Do you know how many patented and licensed technlogies are used in modern operating systems? Almost every bit of software down to the fonts and the way they are rendered has been licensed and paid for one way or another. Did you know there are companies who even *gasp* pay people to write software for them, so they can sell it or use it to support their own products?! It's what they call 'the economy' or 'creating value in exchange for money'. If you hate that idea so much, you should move to North Korea.
Third: on the topic of Mozilla: it's a shame the people in charge at Mozilla are too dickheaded to just announce they will not support H264 natively because of patent issues (that part they already have covered), but that instead they will write a plugin that hooks into the OS codecs (which already have been licensed and paid for by the OS vendor). Problem solved, everyone happy. The only reason they haven't done this *yet*, is because they are still quietly hoping that somehow the whole world will agree and ditch H264 for something else and that HTML5 will list a different codec as the one and only one for <video> tags. This simply won't happen because companies already invested billions in hardware and software supporting H264, and none of them have anything to gain throwing that out because someone else likes their stuff to be 'open' or 'free'. The sunken costs of licensing H264 are huge, almost everyone and their mother already supports H264 and paid for it. Mozilla's hard-headedness doesn't make sense and it's a purely ideological stance they are taking.
Last but not least: I understand that it's easy to pull out the fanboy argument on a forum dedicated to Apple, but let me remind you that Microsoft is also putting full-force support behind H264, just like Sony (with Blu-Ray), just like all those companies that were behind HD-DVD, just like Adobe (Flash has H264 built in), just like Nvidia and AMD (their cards decode H264 natively), and so on, and so forth. There's a much simpler explanation why H264 is so widely used: it's simply the best codec available, and the companies using it do not mind paying royalties to use it, because they make a lot of money using it in their products. Again, the market has already spoken on this issue, and it chose H264, in spite of the royalties involved.
Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but if you ask me, your opinion on this issue is foolish. You're basically saying you want to settle for a lower quality video codec, for which no professional tooling is available at all, which is almost totally unsupported by any hardware on the market, and which is likely just as patent encumbered as H264, because you 'like the idea that it is free and open'. Meanwhile the only sensible argument against the alternative codec that you can come up with is that other people (companies making profit from products using H264) have to pay royalties for using something they didn't invent themselves.
I really wonder what other products and services you refuse to buy or use in daily life because you don't agree on the distribution of the profits between all the companies in the production chain.
You must be joking. First of all, since when is Stallman an expert of video codecs? I'd rather trust the guys who coded x264 -regarded by many as the best H264 encoder on the planet- who dissected the VP8 codec to the last line, and explicitly stated that they question Googles claim that WebM is patent free, that they expect it to be a bigger target for patent lawsuits than VC-1 (which was also supposed to be patent-free, but turned out to be so patent-encumbered that it now has it's own patent pool) and that they advice companies that invest in WebM to be 'very cautious' until Google steps up and announces it will cover any risk anyone will ever run using WebM, and provide a clear and unambiguous analysis as to why WebM is *not* patent-encumbered. Right now all Google is saying is "Hey everyone! Use WebM, it's patent free, but we can't show you how it doesn't infringe any of the same patents on H264 even though it's remarkably similar in so many ways it's almost a copy of H264 baseline profile, and we don't provide any protection for patent infringement claims at all".
Second: why is Stallmans opionion on these things still relevant? The guy has extremely strong opinions on so many things, which in itself isn't a problem, if it weren't for the fact that 9 out of 10 times he's completely missing the point that there is more to technology than just wanting everything to be free and open. Stallman is like people who hope to rid the world of all diseases, bring world peace and create a fully sustainable economy based on 100% renewable energy, all in one lifetime. These are all good things to want and to work for, but anyone who's even the least bit rational about it knows that they are unattainable goals and that it is better to settle for a compromise than to keep fighting windmills and not accomplish anything at all.