[Theora] Theora, great stuff!

Nick Hill t0 at nickhill.co.uk
Sun Aug 21 15:27:00 PDT 2005

I manage the audio-video section of the GNU web site 
http://audio-video.gnu.org/. I have tried the Theora codec and am very 
impressed by the level of integration with free desktops and the bit 
rate/quality combinations.

I intend to move all video content to the Theora codec partly for 
technical reasons but mainly to promote free and open formats.

I do have longer term worries, projecting forward when Theora becomes a 
generally important codec standard competing against WMV, real and qt.

Several games are open season for the likes of MS, Real or Apple. For 

1) Poisoning the standard: Releasing a player which plays Theora plus a 
version with secret changes. A common non-free media editing suite 
creates Theora with those secret changes whose code is based the theora 
code base.

2) Hijacking the standard and code base. A player, either one of the big 
3 or a start-up release a codec based almost entirely on the Theora code 
base. Secret implementation changes make files created increasingly 
incompatible with Theora players. Development forks at that point, 
Theora development then has to compete with the forked codebase. The 
forked codebase possibly an incompatible version of Theora with Digital 
Restrictions management as a 'value added' feature.

A solution to pre-emptively defend the theora project from such games 
would be for further changes to be placed under a license which requires 
public disclosure of derivative source code. Given incompatible versions 
based on the Theora code base would no longer be secret, business plans 
based around releasing incompatible versions will be substantially less 
attractive to those so inclined. The GNU GPL would provide protection.



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