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Free Software Foundation Talks Potential of Google’s On2 Deal

Last summer, Google announced that it would be acquiring video compression...
Free Software Foundation Talks Potential of Google’s On2 Deal
Written by Chris Crum
  • Last summer, Google announced that it would be acquiring video compression technology developer On2 Technologies. A couple weeks ago, Google announced that the acquisition had closed. Upon the completion of this acquisition, the nonprofit Free Software Foundation, whose mission is to "promote computer user freedom" and "defend the rights of all free software users," wrote an open letter to Google, telling the company that it now has the opportunity to "make free video formats the standard, freeing the web from both Flash and the proprietary H.264 codec."

    WebProNews contacted the foundation to find out if Google had responded to this, and Holmes Wilson, Campaigns Manager for the foundation told us that while he had heard from one Google employee on the matter, he didn’t think it was an official response.

    "You shouldn’t have to mess around with bloated, unstable, proprietary plugins like Flash just to play a video– video playback should be built into your web browser," Wilson tells WebProNews. "There is a huge movement behind open standards and free formats working to make this a universal reality. If Google freed VP8 and pushed it out to users on YouTube, that would be a big boost to this movement.  And it would accelerate progress towards a web video space where we didn’t need proprietary plugins and patented codecs."

    On2 Technologies

    We asked Wilson how it would make life easier for a business trying to expand its online video marketing strategy. "The free HTML5 ‘video tag’ standard makes posting a video to your site as easy as posting an image, but it’s not supported by a critical mass of users yet," says Wilson. "Google freeing VP8 and pushing it on YouTube would give us a critical mass. So it would make life much easier for anyone trying to reach others with video."

    Google paid about $124.6 million for On2. The company also recently acquired mobile email app reMail, which it did make open source last week.

    The Free Software Foundation’s letter can be read here.

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