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Google and Open Video Standards

As some of you might have heard, Google released an experimental player for Youtube that works without Adobe Flash, last Wednesday. While they are “very excited about HTML5 as an open standard” (from the announcement), they surprisingly chose not to offer the content as such and instead serve videos in a patent-encumbered format. As Google has not yet stated whether it will add videos in an unencumbered format, this clearly strengthens the stand of proprietary solutions in the ongoing debate about the future of video in HTML and disappoints those of us who expected Google to live up to their policies, published just last month, where they say:

whenever possible, use existing open standards. If you are venturing into an area where open standards don’t exist, create them. If existing standards aren’t as good as they should be, work to improve them

So, while some people ponder if Google has not really understood what Open Standards are (I would recommend FSFE’s definition to remedy this), others suspect a strategic interest: promoting their new web-browser Google Chrome which can make use of this new feature in contrast to now-competitor Firefox. Mozilla Firefox is the most-used browser that implements HTML5. Its authors have repeatedly made clear that they will not support proprietary solutions and explained their reasons for that quite well.

I can only appeal to Google, to live up to their self-set standards and be the change for the “open internet” they are always talking about. Don’t be evil.


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