The W3C Media Fragments Working Group has posted the first public working draft of Use cases and requirements for Media Fragments:
Audio and video resources on the World Wide Web are currently treated as "foreign" objects, which can only be embedded using a plugin that is capable of decoding and interacting with the media resource. Specific media servers are generally required to provide for server-side features such as direct access to time offsets into a video without the need to retrieve the entire resource. Support for such media fragment access varies between different media formats and inhibits standard means of dealing with such content on the Web.
This specification provides for a media-format independent, standard means of addressing media fragments on the Web using Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI). In the context of this document, media fragments are regarded along three different dimensions: temporal, spatial, and tracks. Further, a fragment can be marked with a name and then addressed through a URI using that name. The specified addressing schemes apply mainly to audio and video resources - the spatial fragment addressing may also be used on images.
The aim of this specification is to enhance the Web infrastructure for supporting the addressing and retrieval of subparts of time-based Web resources, as well as the automated processing of such subparts for reuse. Example uses are the sharing of such fragment URIs with friends via email, the automated creation of such fragment URIs in a search engine interface, or the annotation of media fragments with RDF. This specification will help make video a first-class citizen of the World Wide Web.
The media fragment URIs specified in this document have been implemented and demonstrated to work with media resources over the HTTP and RTP/RTSP protocols. Existing media formats in their current representations and implementations provide varying degrees of support for this specification. It is expected that over the time, media formats, media players, Web Browsers, media and Web servers, as well as Web proxies will be extended to adhere to the full requirements given in this specification.