[rtcweb] One consuming project's concerns with OpenH264 as a MTI codec

Toshio Kuratomi <a.badger@gmail.com> Wed, 06 November 2013 21:11 UTC

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Date: Wed, 6 Nov 2013 13:11:49 -0800
From: Toshio Kuratomi <a.badger@gmail.com>
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Subject: [rtcweb] One consuming project's concerns with OpenH264 as a MTI codec
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Greetings,

I serve on the Engineering Steering Committee for the Fedora Project, a Linux
Distribution.  A few days ago we were asked if we could give input on
OpenH264 becoming a MTI codec in the rtcweb standard.  We discussed the
issue at our weekly meeting and agreed on this statement:


Fedora is a distribution that cares about software freedom and our users
freedom. Firstly, we cannot ship binary-only prebuilt software within Fedora.
This rules out inclusion of OpenH264 binaries direct from Cisco, or other
providers. Secondly, we cannot ship software built from source which is not free
for any use, freely distributable, and free from patent restrictions.
Therefore, Fedora is similarly unable to ship rebuilt OpenH264 code.

Fedora would be much happier with a non-patent encumbered codec in the standard
as it would relieve us of the burden of caring for a codec implementation that
we cannot fix if it is buggy on our platform, let us ship improved or more
efficient versions of the codec if that is asked for, and relieve us of the
burden of making sure all implementors of the standard were using a proper
technique to retrieve the patent-encumbered portion from the internet so that
we weren't shipping non-free code.

Acceptance of an insufficiently-free license of the OpenH264 codec would mean
that open-source vendors are not able to implement it on their own terms. They
must rely on the implementation provided by a third party (Cisco) and create
workarounds to have the user download that implementation after installation,
increasing the burden on open-source users. This creates an unequal environment
for open-source vendors.


I hope that helps in your decision making.

Thank you for your time,
Toshio Kuratomi