Wikipedia's decision to support Ogg Theora for video uploads may be the last chance to break the proprietary video monopoly embodied in H.264.
Microsoft, Google and Apple have all built H.264 support into their products because it readily adapts to Digital Rights Management, without which studios and other video rights owners have been unwilling to make content available online.
Ogg Theora allows downloading, re-mixing and uploading without payment of license fees. It is embedded in the VLC player, which reached Version 1.0 earlier this month.
Our Josh Lowensohn says Google is sniffing that Ogg Theora does not deliver video that is as good as H.264, but now for the first time you can be the judge of that.
Wikipedia is a natural fit for this fight because it supports open source content aggressively, as witness its current battle with the UK's National Portrait Gallery (NPG), which threatened legal action after 3,300 images it digitized were uploaded to Wikipedia.
The response by Wikipedia deputy director Eric Moeller could be summarized as "Nuts":
The NPG believes that the slavish reproduction of a public domain painting without any added originality conveys a new full copyright to the digital copy, creating the opportunity to monetize this digital copy for many decades. The NPG is therefore effectively asserting full control over these public domain paintings.
That may also be his response to the Hollywood-Silicon Valley embrace of H.264 and DRM. Does Wikipedia now have the heft to win this battle, and give open source video an opening in the market?