Google, Microsoft Create Alliance for Open Media

by Ostatic Staff - Sep. 02, 2015

The big headline in the feeds today was the announcement from newly formed Alliance for Open Media. The seven "leading Internet companies" planning to create new media formats "optimized for the web" include Microsoft, Cisco, and Google. The announcement called Alliance for Open Media "an open-source project," but Roy Schestowitz classified today's news as "Openwashing."

The founding members are Amazon, Cisco, Google, Intel Corporation, Microsoft, Mozilla and Netflix. The goal is to "create a new, open royalty-free video codec specification based on the contributions of members, along with binding specifications for media format, content encryption and adaptive streaming." The word open is used many times in the announcement, but only once with source. Is "open" the same thing as "open source?"  Roy Schestowitz at doesn't think so. He organized the news of the AOM under the title "OpenWashing (Fake FOSS)."

The stated focus is to "deliver a next-generation video format" that is:

* Interoperable and open;
* Optimized for the web;
* Scalable to any modern device at any bandwidth;
* Designed with a low computational footprint and optimized for hardware;
* Capable of consistent, highest-quality, real-time video delivery; and
* Flexible for both commercial and non-commercial content, including user-generated content.

Not much more information was given at this time other than the promise of more "later this year," including how to join. Most coverage has touted the break from Adobe's Flash, which is indeed a worthwhile goal given its terrible security record.  Many of these initial and in-talks-with companies deliver media content for profit and will need encryption and rights management.

It is difficult to trust some of these players, but Mozilla's David Bryant today wrote that the work will be released under a free software license, compatible with version 3 of the GNU GPL. "The Alliance will operate under W3C patent rules and release code under an Apache 2.0 license. This means all Alliance participants are waiving royalties both for the codec implementation and for any patents on the codec itself."