Phoronix: A Group Of FFmpeg Developers Just Forked As Libav
Following a number of internal disputes among FFmpeg developers in recent weeks, a group of these developers have stepped away from the project and have forked off of the FFmpeg code-base to create a new project called the "libav" project...
It's not that confusing: Libav is the audio/video library; libavcodec is the audio/video encoding/decoding library; libva is a separate, sort-of (un)related library. What else is there to confuse?
I know, you could accidentally write libva instead of libav, but you could just as easily write 'too' instead of 'to', or 3 instead of 4. It's not that big a deal (unless you have a mental condition where you sometimes transpose letters in words, or words in sentences, but then anything to do with reading or writing becomes difficult). If you accidentally search for the wrong one, you'll likely notice that what you are reading is unrelated to what you thought you were searching for, and hopefully will realize you mistyped the name. Otherwise, if absolutely necessary, they can put a notice on their site pointing visitors to the other similarly named project page.
A more likely source of confusion would be that of libav and LibAV ("Liberty AV Solutions"), which is what I found when doing a search on Google. Unfortunately, Google doesn't provide a way to discriminate based on letter case (I imagine that would increase server load, which is why an option for it hasn't been made), so we're left to sift through the (40,000) results ourselves.
Forks are an amazing aspect of open source software. We have more than a few projects at work that are in desperate need of a fork (the company as a whole is not managing them appropriately) but that can never happen.
This, in my opinion, is the principle that has held the whole GNU/Linux progress back.
You disagree with the project's goals? Fork. You Disagree for the sake of disagreeing? Fork. You feel god and you think you could do a much better job than those who made the original piece of software, though it's completely untrue? Fork and let die.
Want to create more fragmentation? Fork.
This Fork, like many others, the only thing that will achieve is to reduce the man-power that could be devoted to one single project and create a lot of redundant work, leaving critical issues unattended or severely weakened.
Seems they just need to change name because of MPEG-LA royalties.
No, there was some kind of dispute over project management. That much is obvious from recent FFmpeg list archives, though the details are less clear (at least to my casual reading). Also, I doubt that MPEG LA actually has any exclusive right to the name "MPEG", which designates an ISO/IEC working group that existed years before MPEG LA was formed.