To Ian’s post I can only say, “right on.”
There’s an even deeper underlying concern for free software’s desire to have an unencumbered way to create content. It’s to restore the ability of people to use moving pictures as part of their voice in the processes around them. Codecs are not just the “-dec” component — the decoder that allows people to consume content. It’s also very much about the “Co-,” the encoder component that lets people create content and then share it as desired.
In free software communities like Fedora, we use these codecs to share information about innovations and the communities that create them. But they are just as powerful applied to social and political processes. If we ever want to have a hope of sharing the benefits of global information economy with cultures around the world, people must be able to express themselves without costs being applied by systems into which they have no input. That means having freely available codecs to create and share content.
Red Hat has contributed substantial work in partnership with Mozilla and Xiph.org to improving the capabilities of free codecs for audio and video support, which HTML5 can use. Most free softies know these as Ogg Vorbis for audio and Ogg Theora for video. Their capabilities are excellent now, and are highly competitive with the best closed-source or patent-encumbered formats. Don’t believe me? Check out Greg Maxwell’s enlightening page about how good Ogg Theora looks at some typical YouTube transmission rates.
Free content must not end up another victim thrown under the blundering, driverless train of software patents. The results would be disastrous, quashing freedom for people around the world, especially those who most desperately need a free path to content creation. The Open Video Alliance is concerned with this situation (Mozilla is a major partner in OVA), and Red Hat continues to do its part in the fight against software patents too. I hope that others will “get on board” as well.