What really does ‘open’ mean in the context of codec's?? In this context an open codec means : ‘Open’ as in ‘Source’ : the source code is available for the compression algorithm to be accessed by developers ‘Open’ as in ‘Patent Free’ : development of the code must not be hindered by patent rights

‘Open as in ‘royalty free’ : the codec must have the ability to be used either as an algorithm integrated into softwares (players, servers, encoders) as well the ability to be used as an encoding codec by content producers without an legal requirement that royalties should be paid now or at anytime in the future for using the codec.

All codec’s developed by RealNetworks and WindowsMedia and most codecs used by QuickTime.

What codec’s are open?

Ogg Vorbis (audio codec – # ), VP3 (video codec - # ) see Open Codecs

MP3 (short for MPEG – Layer 3 ) is a patented technology and has a schedule of royalty rates ( # ). Mp3licensing.com states that they will not charge “or private, non-commercial activities (e.g., home-entertainment, receiving broadcasts and creating a personal music library)” as long as the activities do not earn more than $US 100,000 a year. However their patent protection policy has lead to various problems for free (as in GPL) MP3 softwares including Plugger, CDEX, soloH, 8Hz, Blade, and Canna, furthermore these rules are company policy hence they can be changed at anytime.

DivX is a suite of codec’s used most often for ripping DVD content. DivX is originally backward engineered from Microsoft technologies by a group called Project Mayo. However Project Mayo ( # ) is now called # ( # ) and are currently trying to patent the technology.

And, by the way, what is the Free Software, and what is Open Source?? The GPL (General Public Licence) is the Free Software Foundations ( # ) licence for free software. This licence allows and protects certain freedoms, most fundamental of all is the ability to share code, distribute and change code (including code for codecs). The Open Source movement ( # ) is a separate movement that believes that the term ‘Free Software’ doesn’t appeal to business people and that ‘Open Source’ is a much more marketable term. The Free Software people generally don't like this.

Information about the family of Ogg codec’s and supporting software

The Xiph.org Foundation

“Xiph.Org is a collection of #, multimedia related projects. The most aggressive Xiph.Org effort, the #, works to put the foundation standards of Internet audio into the public domain, where all Internet standards belong.”

Open Audio Licence

This licence allows you to distribute your music under “copyright's stated objectives of spreading knowledge and culture while preserving incentives for the author”. In essence it stipulates that an artist can allow for the distribution of digital works through network technologies such as file sharing.

Posted by: r a d i o q u a l i a on Jun 10, 2003 | 4:29 pm