Linux, musical road-dogging, and daily life by Paul W. Frields
Restoring a voice.

Restoring a voice.

To Ian’s post I can only say, “right on.”

There’s an even deeper underlying concern for free software’s desire to have an unencumbered way to create content. It’s to restore the ability of people to use moving pictures as part of their voice in the processes around them. Codecs are not just the “-dec” component — the decoder that allows people to consume content. It’s also very much about the “Co-,” the encoder component that lets people create content and then share it as desired.

In free software communities like Fedora, we use these codecs to share information about innovations and the communities that create them. But they are just as powerful applied to social and political processes. If we ever want to have a hope of sharing the benefits of global information economy with cultures around the world, people must be able to express themselves without costs being applied by systems into which they have no input. That means having freely available codecs to create and share content.

Red Hat has contributed substantial work in partnership with Mozilla and to improving the capabilities of free codecs for audio and video support, which HTML5 can use. Most free softies know these as Ogg Vorbis for audio and Ogg Theora for video. Their capabilities are excellent now, and are highly competitive with the best closed-source or patent-encumbered formats. Don’t believe me? Check out Greg Maxwell’s enlightening page about how good Ogg Theora looks at some typical YouTube transmission rates.

Free content must not end up another victim thrown under the blundering, driverless train of software patents. The results would be disastrous, quashing freedom for people around the world, especially those who most desperately need a free path to content creation. The Open Video Alliance is concerned with this situation (Mozilla is a major partner in OVA), and Red Hat continues to do its part in the fight against software patents too. I hope that others will “get on board” as well.


  1. Pingback: Paul W. Frields: Restoring a voice. | TuxWire : The Linux Blog

  2. Duv

    Something that I have noticed and has bothered me for a time, I am not sure of the direction that xiph is taking with theora after the 1.1 branch off.
    If you can ask about it, or post it… that would greatly help kill the perception that theora is a dying format with no future.

  3. @Duv: You can find discussion lists for the Theora project here: //

    I assure you it’s not at all dead or dying, as the recent work on the 1.1 version shows. Theora is a great codec and many other people around the open source community are interested in using it with HTML5 to promote open video across the web.

  4. @Kevin: there are so many weak links… beside the tools to create the content and players to show it (hardware and software), there is also the delivery problem, what video sharing sites exists and which formats they support. It looks like the video sharing sites are the entity who will decide the “winner”.

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