In the wake of Google finalizing their acquisition of On2, the Free Software Foundation has wasted no time, according to The Register, in appealing to Google to release the VP8 codec under an irrevocable free license. This isn’t necessarily far fetched, Christopher Blizzard discussed this very outcome as a possibility.
It is hard to see a downside to Google in doing so. YouTube generates revenue from ads and licensing deals so the codec choice would seem to be orthogonal. Google has a roughly even track record with choosing to foster open platforms when there is no obvious downside.