Xiph.Org announced the release of the Theora 1.0 video codec yesterday. A video “codec” is a program that allows you to play a particular type of video file on your computer. Theora is significant because it is free and unencumbered by patents, which would require developers to pay patent owners large sums of money in order to develop a program that will play their video type. This is in stark contrast to the patent-encumbered MPEG video codecs, which underly many video (and audio) files that you’re probably familiar with. For this reason, Theora playback will appear out-of-the-box with future releases of the Firefox and Opera web browsers.