Wait, wut ? That's a textbook example of a straw man argument: I never stated academics don't get paid to do research. I attacked the proposition that "At the end of the day, the main beneficiaries of open-source are academics ..." by arguing that everyone using the internet is using at least *some* form of open source software and/or open standards along the way. Moreover, it is pretty easy to comprehend that for line of business programmers it is much easier to track down problems if they have access to the source code of the pre-canned modules they glue together to solve some problem. The claim that only academics benefit from open source software is therefore false by providing at least two broad and obvious counterexamples.
As for the main discussion itself: it's interesting to note the parallel between h.264 <-> WebM and the GIF <-> PNG format wars from a decade ago. PNG was created to have a non-patent encumbered alternative for loss less image compression. It didn't replace the GIF format outright (mostly because Internet Explorer 6 had pretty horrible PNG transparency support) but it did manage to become a widely used format. However, PNG has technical superiority over GIF where WebM as a format doesn't as far as the reports from experts in video compression that I've read state. This does not mean however that it's impossible for WebM videos to get better over time as more research is put into writing better encoders that still stay true to the format specification. Ogg Theora had similar improvements over time for instance. In the light of GIF and PNG, is it really a problem that there are also two video formats ? Let the "open source hipsters" use WebM or if you don't want to have to pay patent "protection money". If you have a license to use h.264 then sure, use it. Either way, all relevant browsers will play one format or the other over time or both through some plugin.