Wikimedia Blog/Drafts/MP4 Video

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This was a draft for a blog post that has since been published at https://blog.wikimedia.org/2014/01/23/rfc-should-we-support-mp4-video-on-our-sites/

RfC: Should we support MP4 Video on our sites?[edit]

Body[edit]

A video of a cheetah, captured in slow-motion at 1200 fps. The video was released on Vimeo in MP4 format and converted to OGV format before uploading to Commons. It cannot be viewed in this format on most mobile phones and many web browsers.

The Wikimedia Foundation's multimedia team seeks your guidance on a proposal to support the MP4 video format. This digital video standard is used widely around the world to record, edit and watch videos on mobile phones, desktop computers and home video devices. It is also known as H.264/MPEG-4 or AVC.

Supporting the MP4 format would make it much easier for our users to view and contribute video on Wikimedia projects. Video files could be offered in dual formats on our sites, so we could continue to support current open formats (WebM and Ogg Theora).

Currently, open video files cannot be viewed on many mobile devices or web browsers without extra software, making it difficult or impossible for several hundred million monthly visitors to watch videos on our sites. Video contributions are also limited by the fact that most mobile phones and camcorders record video only in MP4 format, and that transcoding software is scarce and hard to use by casual users.

However, MP4 is a patent-encumbered format, and using a proprietary format would be a departure from our current practice of only supporting open formats on our sites—even though the licenses appear to have acceptable legal terms, with only a small fee required.

We would appreciate your guidance on whether or not to support MP4 on our sites. This Request for Comments presents views both in favor of and against MP4 support, and hundreds of community members have already posted their recommendations.

What do you think? Please post your comments on this page.

All users are welcome to participate, whether you are active on Commons, Wikipedia, other Wikimedia projects—or any site that uses content from our free media repository. We also invite you to spread the word in your community about this issue.

We look forward to a constructive discussion with you and your community, so we can make a more informed decision together about this important question.

All the best,

Fabrice Florin, Product Manager, Multimedia
On behalf of the Multimedia team
Wikimedia Foundation’s Engineering and Product Group


Cheetahs on the edge video by Gregory Wilson (personal website), under CC-BY-3.0. Originally posted on Vimeo and converted to OGV format, then uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by Russavia.

Notes[edit]

This is a draft for a Tech blog post that we aim to publish on Thursday, January 23 at about 10am PT, after it has been reviewed by team members and edited by Guillaume Paumier.