Monday, February 1, 2010

The Boycott

There are several classes of Boycotts, but I think that I may be the only person to boycott coke because they played and played a real crappy song in the radio some years back. I only ended that boycott when coke launched the Final Fantasy IX ad. This happened quite a few years back, but it serves as a perfect introduction for a boycott I started a few days ago.

I had been writing about the need to have an open codec associated with the new VIDEO tag present in HTML5. I had linked the petition to get youtube to support ogg/theora along with a second link that I later removed, a link to the same kind of petition for VIMEO

I had read the beginning of that forum message, and I was linking a lot both what it said and the respectful reaction of the community. But I hadn't read it till the end because it was long and I was writing a blog post. After publishing the post, I went over and finished reading, and at the bottom, I found a message from Andrew Pile, part of the Vimeo Staff. He wrote "Going to close this now since "+1" reposted a hundred times doesn't really help other than to clog up the front page. We fully support Ogg/Theora as an upload format. As for playback, the likeliness of that happening is close to zero at the moment."

Once I've read that, I took out the link from the blog post, in part because the voting was already cancelled. But another big part of that had to do with the attitude. For Vimeo, hundreds of people manifesting their accord with the original poster (that's the meaning of +1, an approval vote) don't serve any purpose at all but to clog up the front page. For them, hundreds of users manifesting themselves to the point where that appearing in the front page constantly is something that gives up a bad image, it doesn't matter that they are not doing anything destructive, that they are only trying to tell Vimeo the road they want it to follow.


After thinking it seriously for some hours, I sent an email to Vimeo. It says "I've seen that although you support Ogg/Theora as an upload format, you don't support it as playback format, as Andrew Pile said it, "As for playback, the likeliness of that happening is close to zero at the moment.".

Allright then, you have every right to do so, but the likeness of me entering your site to watch videos till you change this is close to zero at the moment. I know that I'm only one user, but I know I won't be alone in this.

Good luck and please fix it soon, I'd love to have a reason to return. "

So now you know, this is a boycott, and everyone that wants to jump aboard will be welcomed.

20 comments:

Will said...

Google's standards guru Chris DiBona infamously said: "If [YouTube] were to switch to Theora and maintain even a semblance of the current quality, it would take up most available bandwidth across the internet."

That's why they aren't using theora. Google just recently purchased on2 presumably for this very issue. Hopefully, and probably it will become an open format. Unfortunately theora is just too inefficient.

Gedece said...

It's funny, but he fired that in an email without using any kind of proof, so either you believe him or you don't.

For example, I'll like the page that's always linked in this kind of discussions. http://people.xiph.org/~greg/video/ytcompare/comparison.html

You can believe him or not, but he at least offers some proof and speaks about his methodology. It's up to the users if they want to repeat the test themselves, after all, even the movie he used is open, and can be used this way.

I personally think that Ogg/Theora are open source development, and as such can easily surpass what H.264 has to offer, since it has been proved again and again that the development of open source popular projects surpasses the speed of any company.

Anonymous said...

I am 100% supportive of open standards - especially through open source. I understand, both on a personal, emotional and on an intellectual level, how important having an open standard, open source solution to the HTML5 tag really is. While I agree that OGG Theora may very well be less efficient than many proprietary codecs, we need to start somewhere. I am joining you in your boycott of Vimeo, and YouTube (except for the ability to view YouTube through my Tivo because it entertains my cat, and I like having a happy cat).

ke6seh said...

I am 100% supportive of open standards - especially through open source. I understand, both on a personal, emotional and on an intellectual level, how important having an open standard, open source solution to the HTML5 tag really is. While I agree that OGG Theora may very well be less efficient than many proprietary codecs, we need to start somewhere. I am joining you in your boycott of Vimeo, and YouTube (except for the ability to view YouTube through my Tivo because it entertains my cat, and I like having a happy cat).

Steve Pinkham said...

Honestly, the first thing that needs to happen for Theora to become the useful is for it to be included in Flash. Theora at the moment will play in 30% of browsers, while H.264 will play in 99% of browsers through flash, or natively on chrome and safari including the iPhone.

If you want content users to switch to Theora, you need to convince them it's worth the cost to re-encode and host the files, and that means large user base or large costs for H.264. Their costs for H.264 will be very very cheap until 2016 at least.
Our best hope is for 99% of people to be able to play Theora through Flash. As much as I hate Flash, that's the way it is...

pookito said...

Dude, I will support you on that. :D

David B said...

Do you have ANY idea how much time and money it would cost Vimeo to re-transcode all their videos in order to serve them in any different format? And the costs of storing more than one format?

Do you know how many millions of $ a year any large video site spends on bandwidth? Any decrease in efficiency costs real $. Lots of it.

It's a financial decision. Vimeo is a business. Get off your high horse. Vimeo is totally in the right here,

Gedece said...

So, just because I decide not to use a site because of a decision they made I'm on a high horse?

Funny, I always thought that as individual I had the right to decide which places to go to and which people to support.

You are right, they do have the right to mantain the status quo, and I have the right to say that simply won't do with me.

This is an idea, others might agree, but it's their choice to agree. Others, like you might disagree, and it's your choice to do so.

Finally, yes, Vimeo is a business, but I'm a consumer. See the relation? It's two way, and I decided to cut my part.

Anonymous said...

Right now, there's not much one can do.

These companies -- except Youtube, IIRC -- have a big problem with bandwidth-related expenditure. I don't have the numbers & rates, but I'm sure content providers, carriers _and_ licensing firms know fairly well what is the break-even point so as to know how much to charge or pay for licensing costs.

Besides there's the cost of conversion which is non-negligible for a big co. Even I, having a modest sized music collection, would spend on energy by leaving my computer on to convert from mp3 to ogg during sleep -- and this is only music, video is a lot worse.

And to what end? My car radio plays both mp3 and ogg, but this conversion -- like anything in this world -- can't be perfect.

What we can do is to buy equipment which plays ogg; preferably, boycott hardware-makers which offer only h264-only (or mp3-only) players. This can already be done wrt music; about video, not so much.

One thing we're in desperate need is compatibility seals. I fail to understand why this is not a source of revenue for Torvalds/linux.com (the Linux TM), xiph.org (all ogg related) and the various Linux compatibility sites. A company paying for having its hardware tested and verified compliant is very basic in the business world. I think is just close to charging for advertising. I see exactly zero problems.

And it would help a lot to know, on a country-by-country basis, what products I can purchase which will work with non-proprietary (NP) formats.

There's also the very important consideration of how these sites will fare when closed formats get costly. It's a foreseen tragedy.

Another consideration is political clout of media distributors and their lobbies to mandate anti-copy mechanisms, which usually lean on closed formats (for obscurity) and are incompatible with NP formats... by definition.

On a personal note, it bothers me both such DRM-alike money-extracting schemes _and_ the thriving unlicensed copy distribution business (AKA piracy). Both sides of the same coin, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

As for the uneconomical transcoding from H264 to Theora, why don't they have the community do it? The community can certainly offload a large burden off the backs of businesses.

Gedece said...

Wonderfull idea. It can be done with something like the BOINC project, distributed computing.

Anonymous said...

Another thing they could do and would probably be easier is allow new content to be publish in Theora and not transcoded by them to h264. That way the uploader takes the decision of what codec to use and that way Vimeo can really see how many people are using open versus closed codecs.

The problem with this options is not all browser (especially IE) can play theora.

Gedece said...

As far as I know, IE doesn't play any HTML5 VIDEO tag, so H.264 isn't supported directly either. IE never played well with standards.

Anonymous said...

@Will

"Google's standards guru Chris DiBona infamously said: "If [YouTube] were to switch to Theora and maintain even a semblance of the current quality, it would take up most available bandwidth across the internet.""

Well, this is a blatant lie.

For YouTube, Theora's quality is MORE THAN good enough.

Anonymous said...

Quote:
Anonymous said...

Another thing they could do and would probably be easier is allow new content to be publish in Theora and not transcoded by them to h264. That way the uploader takes the decision of what codec to use and that way Vimeo can really see how many people are using open versus closed codecs.

The problem with this options is not all browser (especially IE) can play theora.

February 4, 2010 4:41 PM

I second that! Would be very useful. video's encoded with libtheora 1.1 are pretty up to par with h264, on low bitrates, if you want a low quality setting their about even. Difference isn't much, neglegible for the most part/video's.

William Lacy said...

BROGGCAST.com OGGTV.com

The best way to Boycott, is to support our own.

Building a large number of OGG-video supersites worldwide, is the only way to get Google's attention.

Because this is a free market economy, where we can build and support our own OGG-audio/video IPTV services worldwide.

With H.264 (possibly) tied to Google's big media contracts, we have to examine, and accept the reason why they are cannot use OGG-Theora.

(Because they are not a open-source company, they are a Flash based video service)

If Google is trying to slow down or devalue OGG-websites as a possible market threat, then we have a problem.

So I believe the best thing to do is support, and build a group of powerful OGG-video flagship websites worldwide, and let YouTube use H.264.

I believe BROGGCAST.com, and our OWN OGG-video websites, should get the support from OGG-video users, because now two sites are now gone, and BROGGCAST.com is the last one.

Here is the list of HTML5 browser support:

Since YouTube and vimeo have very limited HTML5 video support 9%, (because of only having Safari and Google chrome HTML5 support with H.264), OGG is the clear winner with:

Firefox at 24% alone
Opera (video playback version)
SeaMonkey (a new Netscape)
Swiftfox
Google Chrome
Google Chromium
Arora (video playback version)
Midori (video playback version)
Safari (with XiphQT OGGcodecs installed
Epiphany (on Linux with GStreamer plug-in)
Silverlight 3rd party HTML5 OGG-video plug-in

and BROGGCAST.com is the only one which also plays in IE,
with Google chrome Frame (because of a special meta-tag on the web pages)

plus

Ouicktime browser plug-in (with XiphQT OGGcodecs installed)
VLC video, browser plug-in on Windows, Linux, and UNIX
MPlayer video, browser plug-in on Linux

BROGGCAST.com plays directly on other platforms, with a included plug-in:

Konqueror browser on KDE 3.5 with KMPlayer(Linux/UNIX)
Konqueror browser on KDE 4, with Dragon Player ''
Ubuntu, with Totem browser plug-in
Solaris, with Totem browser plug-in
BSD UNIX, with Totem browser plug-in

plus direct IPTV streaming

So who is at the super-advantage, and super majority of HTML5 browser support.

OGG, or H.264

I say OGG

So if YouTube wants to use H.264, who cares, let them, their business model is Flash based, so let them use it.

we can build upon BROGGCAST.com and others.

Everyone is going to have gzipped chunck streaming (with XML, pearl, and a HTML5/MPlayer/VLC front-end), as an extra streaming option anyway, so OGG-video will always be ahead of the industry.

And why are we thinking VP8 compression is going to be open-sourced?

Gedece said...

I'll look into broogcast, I didn't know it existed. Thanks a lot for a new insight in this campaign.

araon said...

Thank you very much for your kind words (and an excellent blog post)!
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