01 August 2008

Saint Firefox, Defender of the Weak

News that Firefox 3.x will be adding support for Ogg Theora and Vorbis is welcome, since the latter find themselves in a typical Catch-22 situation: nobody uses them because nobody supports them. But I was struck by the following comment:

there is a risk to bundling even an open source codec like Theora because of the possibility of submarine patents -patents nobody knows about until a product that unknowingly infringes it, succeeds, becoming a target for the patent owner who will seek monetary compensation and a good licensing agreement. This is why the HTML 5 spec doesn’t recommend any encoder so vendors don’t have to choose between taking this kind of risk or not complying with the standard.

During today’s announcement at the Products and Technology Roadmap Mozilla Summit session, Mitchell Baker commented that Mozilla would be a bad target as it is a project with a product a lot of people cares about.

Mike Shaver, interim Mozilla’s VP of Engineering, also commented “Somebody had to do it. It’s good it was us”.

Indeed. And it's further proof of the ever-more central position of Firefox in the free software ecosystem.

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