Open standards for media on the web got a shot in the arm this week with the news that the Mozilla Foundation – the group behind the popular Firefox web browser – has given $100,000 to the Wikimedia Foundation to fund further development in the Ogg Theora and Vorbis technologies.
Reported over on Ars Technica
yesterday, the grant will be used to fund development in the Ogg container format and the two main media codecs used therein: the Theora video codec and the Vorbis audio codec.
Unlike alternative codecs – such as AAC or MP4 – the Theora and Vorbis technologies require no licensing fees or royalty payments, making them an excellent choice for open source projects such as Wikimedia and Mozilla. The format also has no integral Digital Rights Management technology, which helps adoption in a world that is increasingly turning its back on locked-down media formats.
The $100,000 grant isn't merely a gift from the Mozilla Foundation, however: there's a lot for the Foundation to gain from improved media codecs. Firefox 3.1 is due to have integral support for Ogg Theora video and Ogg Vorbis audio with no plugins required, and for that to work the base code behind Ogg needs a thorough checking over and tidy up – which the grant will certainly make happen. It's not just Firefox looking to benefit, however: rival browser Opera is also planning to add Ogg support in upcoming versions, with a preview release already supporting the format.
Mike Shaver, the vice president of engineering at Mozilla, explained that the Foundation sees Theora as “the best path available today for truly open, truly free video on the Internet,
” but believes that “it can be improved in video quality, in performance, and in quality of implementation.
” Hopefully the grant will go a long way towards seeing these improvements implemented – which will be a win for anyone who enjoys audio or video on the 'net.
Hoping to see Ogg take its place as the predominant format for media on the Internet, or should developers man-up and start paying the license fees required to use MP3 or Flash formats? Share your thoughts over in the forums