HTML5, H.264 and Free Software: it's the wrong game!
Two important articles appeared in the last few days, both elaborating on why Mozilla is reluctant to adopt the H.264 video codec. Both are well thought out, but Mozilla is playing the wrong game here.
The implied conclusion is that we should all switch to Theora, since that is unencumbered with patents. Well guess what — pretty much every algorithm used in modern video compression is patented. And there are only so many ways you can slice and 2D-DCT a macroblock. There is no reason to believe that Theora is somehow designed "around" all those patents. It might very well be impossible to create a video codec that doesn't infringe on something. This article has a much more realistic approach to the issue at hand.
The game to play is to either abolish the patent system altogether (it has outlived its usefulness), or to make patent claims on algorithms void and unenforceable. Simply avoiding H.264 just because the licensing situation there is sorted out won't get us anywhere. We'll end up adopting something else (be it Theora or On2 VPwhatever) and finding out about patent claims years later, once the codec becomes popular.