AfterDawn: Tech news

Firefox 4 to feature WebM

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 11 Jun 2010 20:39

Firefox 4 to feature WebM Firefox 4, the upcoming major new release of the Firefox web browser, will feature WebM support following the resolution of a licensing issue. The VP8-based video format was introduced at Google's I/O developer conference, and only last week the Internet search giant added WebM support to its own Chrome web browsing software.
Google acquired the VP8 technology in its $106.5 million deal with On2 Technologies last year, and revealed at the time it would use its new codec technology to make the Web experience better for all users. It serves as an alternative to H.264, which for the moment can be used royalty-free. However, the MPEG LA consortium has said that it will only remain royalty-free until December 31, 2015.

With support added to the Chrome browser and Microsoft adding WebM to its upcoming Internet Explorer 9 release (when a user installed the VP8 codec), Mozilla's dedication to it serves as another milestone and WebM is now available in the Firefox nightly builds.

The problem up until now for Mozilla was how the patent clause was written. If patent action was brought against Google, the patent license terminated, which is not uncommon. However, the provision terminated "any" rights and not just rights to the patents, making it incompatible with GPLv3 and GPLv2.

A new iteration of the patent clause decouples patents from copyright, and resolves the issue removing the hurdle for Mozilla. A beta of Firefox 4 is expected this month.

Apple has not revealed if it will follow suit and do the same for its Safari web browser.

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