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HTML5 and video patents

HTML is the standard set by the W3C for how to write webpage markup. HTML5 was supposed to include a standard way to add video to webpages, but after lengthy discussions about software patents, the drafters announced on June 30th 2009[1] that they could find no freely implementable video format to recommend.

The two main candidate formats were H.264 and Ogg Theora, but the former is heavily encumbered by patents while the latter's future was deemed questionable because, as Google's Chris DiBona said:

Here’s the challenge: Can [T]heora move forward without infringing on the other video compression patents?[2]

A third option discussed was to use software from 20 years ago: MPEG-1.

HTML is an open standard and aims to be patent-free. Consequently, the risk of patent encumbrances is posing a real problem in extending HTML to provide a standard video interface.

Microsoft announced in April 2010 that they will only support the heavily patented MPEG H.264 for the HTML5 video tag.[3]

Other software patent issues for HTML5

In 2007, Apple claimed to have patents covering the "canvas" tag,[4] but they later solved this problem by agreeing to license those patent(s) under the W3C's royalty-free terms.[5]

Related pages on ESP Wiki

External links

Drafters discussion

Press coverage of the announcement

Further analyses afterwards

General discussion