Mozilla has awarded a grant of $100,000 to the Wikimedia Foundation to help coordinate improvements to the development of Ogg Theora and related open video technologies. Mozilla and Wikimedia share a strong commitment to open standards. Version 3.1 of the Mozilla Firefox web browser will include built-in support to play audio and video in the open source Ogg Vorbis and Ogg Theora formats. All audio and video in Wikipedia is stored in these formats. Mike Shaver, VP of Engineering at Mozilla has blogged about this great news, as has Chris Blizzard, Director of Evangelism for Mozilla.
Open standards for audio and video are important because they can be used by anyone for any purpose without royalties, and can be inspected and improved by an open community. Today, video and audio on the web are dominated by proprietary technologies, most frequently patent-encumbered codecs wrapped into closed-source player widgets. Wikimedia and Mozilla want to help to build a web where video and audio are first class citizens: easy to use and manipulate by anyone, without compulsory royalty schemes or other barriers to participation.
The $100,000 grant will be used to support the work of long-time contributors to the Ogg Theora/Vorbis codebase and related tools, such as libraries for network seeking. The improvements will be made over a 6 month period.
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation
As already suggested, I hope that even alternative/open source OSes will support royalities-free codecs by default.