So yes, with an 9600 you are by far better off using the open source xf86-video-ati driver. At least when I was using that old box there was not a single problem with the open driver when it came to watching Videos and normal work in 2D. That is it was *rock* solid and my box running for >100 days. I only restarted when I wanted to upgrade the kernel at that time.
So switch to the open drivers, you might enjoy them! The only part not good about them (at least at that time) is/was 3D performance since that was barely usable.