The HTML5 spec looks set to introduce new audio and video capabilities into the language, but the HTML5 working group has become embroiled in a debate over the codecs that browsers should support for them.
Nokia and Apple have succeeded in removing Ogg Vorbis and Theora from the current draft, citing patent uncertainties (read: a reluctance to back a standard that has no provision for including DRM).
Manuel Amador has detailed why he believes the decision to omit these open formats to be an “outrageous disaster”:
(Given) the fact that there are widely available patent-free implementations of Ogg technology, there is really no excuse for Apple and Nokia to say that they couldn’t in good faith implement HTML5 as previously formulated.
And Ian Hickson from the WHATWG has responded with his own version of why it doesn’t make sense for Ogg Vorbis or Theora to be included (primarily, because Nokia and Apple are supposedly worried about being sued for using the format).
Regardless of the true motivations, it feels like this is a step backwards for HTML and for digital media in general.