John Gruber's fundamental misunderstanding
Friday, January 21, 2011 3:10:59 PM
In fact, in his last post, he seems to be trying to ridicule the FSF for supporting WebM, and allegedly misunderstanding the difference between standards and freedom.
But I think it is John Gruber, not the FSF, whose stance represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the issue.
A lot of Apple supporters and fans are quick to conflate open standards and open source. This is not about the source code, but about the fundamentals of the web. The web is built on open standards, and an open web standard is royalty-free.
The FSF knows this, and while they are obviously happy about the implications for free software, as they call it, they correctly point out that the vision of the web is one where it is not dragged down by patents and other fees to make use of the fundamentals of the web. Even if the FSF and Opera disagree on application licenses, we can still agree on the necessity of an open web.
So I see no misunderstanding here on part of the FSF. I see an organization which is perfectly aware that open standards are fundamental to the web, and this is the case whether you write open-source or closed-source software. Being happy about the implications for free software does not change the fact that their position on open web standards is correct!
John Gruber, on the other hand, does not seem to realize that the web depends on open standards. That is, standards that are not patent-encumbered, but that are accessible to all for unlimited royalty-free use.
The fundamental freedom of participation on the web depends on royalty-free, open, standards. Standards are not "freedom", and the FSF did not say that they are. But standards can guarantee freedom, as they do on the web. This is something John Gruber does not seem to understand.
And because of this, H.264 can never become an open web standard, and it can never become part of HTML5.
It is simply not open enough for the web, and therefore, open web advocates must reject it.