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Cisco H.264 codec goes open source

The H.264 codec that runs video on the web is being offered open source with no licence fees by Cisco to aid in WebRTC

One of the problems we come across when trying to go with truly free software is when we start to try and consume entertainment media. So much music is still released in mp3 format, and all major video formats require nonfree licenses and packages. A big step has been made to make a large number of video formats open source as Cisco has decided to open up their H.264 codec.

Mozilla have been working closely with Cisco on this project
Mozilla have been working closely with Cisco on this project

As a leader in web-based video, this is a huge coup for open source web standards as well as the desktop. Cisco have made this decision based on the problem WebRTC is facing in trying to get native, real-time video on the web. Not only will they make it open source, but they will also pay any licensing fees necessary for the use of the open source codec.

“It hasn’t been easy, but Mozilla has helped to lead the industry toward interoperable video on the Web,” said Brendan Eich, Mozilla Chief Technology Officer, in statement on the Cisco blog. “Cisco’s announcement helps us support H.264 in Firefox on most operating systems, and in downstream and other open source distributions using the Cisco H.264 binary module. We are excited to work with Cisco on advancing the state of interoperable Web video.”

It won’t be long before these codecs start making their way into major Linux distros, or Firefox.