Piracy Groups Switch to H.264 for Video, Mozilla Debates H.264 Support
Last week piracy groups published a new set of rules which requires a switch from the Xvid/avi format to x264/mp4 for new Scene releases, according to TorrentFreak.
From February 22nd and earlier in some cases, release groups including ASAP, BAJSKORV, C4TV, D2V, DiVERGE, FTP, KYR, LMAO, LOL, MOMENTUM, SYS, TLA and YesTV began releasing TV shows in the new format. Out went Xvid and avi, in came x264 and MP4.
While we don't condone piracy this change will have a massive effect on the popularity of H.264 video. The web has been struggling to make the switch to the new format, largely due to Mozilla's refusal to adopt the H.264 for its Firefox browser. Developers have been forced to encode each video they serve in multiple formats just for the lone holdout.
Back in 2010 the MPEG LA announced that its AVC Patent Portfolio License will never charge royalties for Internet Video that is free to end users. Licensing was a major reason cited for Mozilla's refusal to adopt the format. Although that announcement was important, products and services other than Internet Broadcast AVC Video continue to be royalty-bearing.
Google has tried to push a webm (VP8) format with little success. Last year, the MPEG LA issued a patent call asking any one who had patents that the VP8 codec infringed on to come forward. The VP8 codec is thought to draw heavily from other sources and likely does not qualify as open source.
Today John Gruber quotes from a lengthy thread on Mozilla's Developer Group where Firefox developer Justin Dolske says, "But I think if Mozilla is going to do an about-face on open video standards (and it _is_ an about-face), then there should be some serious discussion about it. Certainly more than than a few terse words saying it's hopeless and obvious. That makes it sound more like a half-hearted notification of a decision that's already final.
At the very least, it needs to be explained enough so the community can understand the change. We spent a lot of time and made a lot of blog posts about why H.264 was bad for the web. Leaving those who advocated for us suddenly high-and-dry doesn't feel like the right thing to do."
We're hoping an end to this need for dual video formats on the web comes as soon as possible.
Notably, Apple just bumped its Apple TV to support the H.264 high profile for encoded video.