Removing patents would only benefit RedHat? What about smart investors that want to compete in the future against cheap knockoffs from China, that totally ignore patents? This myth that patents are necessary (or even relevant) reeks of a limited, USA-centric point of view.
The problem is that Open Source distributions can't license the patents and remain Open Source.
Of course. Which is why the problem should be side-stepped, by leaving things to the OS. We successfully distribute MP3 support from international /contrib branches in many distributions, and video should be no different. Forcing such software to be included in Firefox or other user-visible software is asking for trouble.
That doesn't change the fact that people are buying cameras that output H.264 now, and non-tech people won't understand why "firefox won't play my video - it must be broken".
The fact is, anyone can install a plugin to play any format they like, and most browser users will
Nobody installs extra plugins. The only reason flash became popular, was that it was distributed with the browser itself. And even more important, managers will make the same decision they always make: targeting the non-plugin, popular solution, which usually maps to "Microsoft/IE". The fact that mozilla (the org) is actively fighting against allowing such plugins makes this irrelevant in any case.
Note, I'm not arguing against lobbying for Open codecs. That's the ideal solution, of course. But the pragmatist in me says that normal people don't even notice patent issues, and will trend towards the software that "just works" with their fancy new camera. Free Software can adapt to that use-case, or be seen as irrelevant.
It's worth mentioning: this has happened before, and the solution was to adapt. I install linux for family/friends, and things like "how do I play my [commercial] DVD?" come up. Discussions of how it's technically illegal to play such a video file with Free Software just cause them to tune out, often moving back to Windows to avoid the issue. Fortunately, many distributions now work around the problem, fetching some DeCSS equivalent from international souces on first use.