The at times tedious war between open source advocates and the industry standard, but proprietary H.264 codec appears to have been settled by the generosity of Cisco.
The networking behemoth is dipping into its own gigantic pockets to absorb the licensing costs for their H.264 module and to open-source it, to allow other open source projects to use it at will.
"Cisco will not pass on our MPEG LA licensing costs for this module, and based on the current licensing environment, this will effectively make H.264 free for use in WebRTC," Cisco announced via a recent blog post.
At the forefront of the fight against the use of closed video codecs, particularly in standards like HTML5, has been Mozilla, makers of the popular Firefox browser. The popularity and ubiquity of H.264, officially adopted for devices from Apple, Google and all Blu-ray players, meant that Mozilla was fighting an un-winnable battle, something that Mozilla has come to accept. But Cisco's act of kindness has presented a way out for Mozilla, and they were forthright in their praise for Cisco's move.
"We are grateful for Cisco's contribution, and we will add support for Cisco's OpenH264 binary modules to Firefox soon," Mozilla Foundation CTO Brendan Eich responded to the "good news" in a blog entry, before adding "In addition, we will work with Cisco to put the OpenH264 project on a sound footing and to ensure that it is governed well."