Berlin, March 31st 2010 – On today’s “Document Freedom Day” the German radio stations Deutschlandfunk, Deutschlandradio Kultur and Austrian Radio Orange were lauded for their usage of the open Ogg Vorbis format for live streaming.
In Berlin staff members of Deutschlandradio received an award certificate and a big cake with the slogan “rOgg on!”. The certificate was awarded by the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) together with the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE).
Stephan Uhlmann from FFII board thanks the awarded radio stations for their support of the open Ogg Vorbis audio format: “When radio programs are available in open formats, listeners have more freedom of choice for their player devices and software.”
“Open Standards” are patent-free so that everyone can implement the standard in their software. Legal constraints and licenses are unnecessary. If data formats are controlled by patents, the patent holder decides who can use the standard. Its usage is not open to everyone anymore.
“With the upcoming HTML5 web standard there will be the feature to have video playback supported directly by the browser. Now is the time that the course is set which video format will be used. I really hope that mistakes of the past will not be repeated.”, says Uhlmann.
Often licensing fees for patented formats are not levied until everyone depends on these formats. Only after the GIF graphics format was widely spread, in 1994 the patent holder Unisys demanded royalties. Only after MP3 became popular, in 1998 Fraunhofer Research and Thomson demanded licensing fees for its audio format covered by over a dozen patents. Free open source implementations of these formats are systematically barred from the market. The way out of the “lock-in”, the patent trap, are open formats such as Ogg Vorbis.
Vigilance remains necessary. For example, the video compression format H.264 is in widespread use today. It is included in mobile devices and smartphone as well as many video platforms on the Internet. But the format is encumbered by over 1000 patents, managed by a consortium of about 25 corporations. Various companies have announced to use this H.264 format for the video functions in HTML5.
“It’s in the hands of browser manufacturers and especially content providers to fully embrace open video format. The deployment of H.264 could for example leave behind the popular Firefox webbrowser, because Free Software can’t play the patent monopoly game.”, says Uhlmann.
Hence the FFII invites Google, Microsoft and Apple to implement the HTML5 web-standard in their browsers Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari with video formats based on Open Standards. Google has the special opportunity to help establish free video formats with their popular Youtube service.
André Rebentisch from FFII board adds: “The Internet is based on Open Standards. Only by its patent-free usability it has become the worldwide and dynamic medium with its unbound innovation. It should be our joint responsibility to preserve that.”
Ogg Vorbis Streams from Deutschlandradio:
FFII’s Open Standards definition and website:
Photos from the awarding ceremony in Berlin will be available at about 17:30 o’clock here:
The Document Freedom Day (DFD) is a global action day for free document formats and Open Standards. It takes place every year on last Wednesday in March since 2008. In recent years over 200 teams of volunteers in over 60 countries have shared the benefits of Open document formats and Open Standards.
The FFII is a not-for-profit association, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, and open standards. More than 1,000 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights in data processing.
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Email: office (at) ffii.org