HTML 5 Video Codec Debate

My co-worker sent me an interesting article from Ars Technica about the current HTML 5 video codec stalemate over whether to use Ogg Theora or H.264 as the de facto video standard. I don’t know much about either, but it is an interesting read and both sides make valid points.

My 2 cents on the whole thing is why choose anything that requires royalty payments (H.264), as MPEG LA are looking to collect licensing fees starting in 2010. Worse than that, these fees may be a whole lot:

The language used in the current license treats Internet streaming just like over-the-air television, implying that the licensees will have to pay broadcast fees per-region. That could prove to be extremely costly for Internet video providers who make their content available around the world.

Theora is open source and currently free from any subversive patents (or so it seems), but there are questions about the validity of that “freedom”. Either way, I am sure the big video players (a la YouTube) will wind up determining which wins the “format war”.

I do wonder why the HTML 5 spec cannot support both? I am sure that is not ideal, but couldn’t it work similarly to <object> and <embed> tags?