Mozilla gives £70k grant for open-source video

The Firefox backer will help fund the development of Theora, an open-source rival to Mpeg-4
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

The Mozilla Foundation, which oversees Firefox and other open-source projects, has given a $100,000 (£70,000) grant towards development of the Theora open video technology.

Theora is a lossy video compression layer used in Ogg, which is an open container format used for streaming and multimedia. The most popular audio layer used in Ogg is Vorbis. Theora's main proprietary competitors are Mpeg-4 and WMV, while Vorbis competes with MP3 and others.

In a blog post on Monday, Mozilla's vice president of engineering, Mike Shaver, said Theora was "the best path available today for truly open, truly free video on the internet".

"We also believe that [Theora] can be improved in video quality, in performance, and in quality of implementation, and Mozilla is proud to be supporting the development of Theora software with a $100k grant," Shaver wrote. "Administered by the Wikimedia Foundation, this grant will be used to support development of improved Theora encoders and more powerful playback libraries."

Mozilla's director of evangelism, Christopher Blizzard, wrote in his blog on Monday: "Anyone can have an impact and anyone can affect the technology direction of the web", but said video remains an exception, as it is tied to proprietary formats.

"More often than not, [video formats] are subject to per-unit royalties, large up-front fees and creating content in those formats [is] often so expensive as to be prohibitive to all but only the deepest-pocketed corporations or well-funded start-ups," Blizzard wrote.

Blizzard reiterated that the next version of Firefox, version 3.1, would include Ogg support using the open-source Theora and Vorbis codecs. "They aren't perfect formats, but they are certainly good enough for how video is used on the web today," he wrote. "And they are improving with time."

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