Anger as EU ignores open-source video

Anger as EU ignores open-source video

Summary: Seven-thousand Linux users have signed a petition in protest, as the EU claims it cannot support Linux legally

TOPICS: Tech Industry

More than 7,000 angry Linux users have protested against the European Union after it excluded them from viewing streaming videos.

The EU makes streaming videos of many of its most important council debates and press conferences available online. However, this service only works on Windows and Apple computers.

Stefan Esterer, a member of computing staff from Austria's University of Salzburg who is also involved with Debian, created an online petition last Friday which calls on the EU to stop excluding open-source users. At the time of writing, 7,600 people had already signed up.

Jonah Naylor is one of the latest to sign the petition. He wrote: "Linux is about freedom and choice, something that the EU should be trying to protect for its people, not steal away from them."

Another, Tony Pikus, said: "It is wrong for you to support only a closed system, which is owned and controlled by a company outside of the EU. You should support open standards so all can see and read."

Although the EU Council could not be reached immediately for comment, its website stated: "The live streaming media service of the Council of the European Union can be viewed on Microsoft Windows and Macintosh platforms." It added: "We cannot support Linux in a legal way. So the answer is: No support for Linux."

The EU uploads the videos in the .wmv file format, meaning only Windows and Mac users can view them.

The streaming service also properly supports just two browsers: Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. Individuals wanting to use Firefox or Opera, for example, will find that only minimal functionality is offered.

For those browsers: "No possibilities to use the Table of Contents for positioning the streaming. All the buttons for the player will disappear," said the EU's site.

Topic: Tech Industry

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  • The council's site seems to intentionally lead the discussion...

    The council's site seems to intentionally lead the discussion into a debate about operating systems, which is an easy way to completely distract the public from the issue at hand which is one of open standards and data formats.

    In other words if the council had been using regular standards for the streaming, then the issue of which platforms are supported and which are not would not be necessary: use of open standards would ensure that *all* platforms can access the streaming video.

    The same goes for the issue of the web site. If the council had been using W3C standards like XHTML and CSS, then *all* browsers would be supported.

    Instead, the council seems to have gone out of its way and expended extra effort and cost to exclude part of its citizenry. That smells more of politics than technology.
    Next address
  • Strange, the BBC has no such problem.

    The BBC also has a mandate to reach as many people as possible, and so currently supports both WMV and Real formats. However, it is also creating its own Free codec called "Dirac":

    I'm sure that something like Dirac would serve the EU's purpose as well.
  • Disgraceful

    Bloody disgraceful!

    Whose interests are the Council serving?
    The Former Moley
  • What

    IOW, why do they insist that a video must play in the browser? Just adding this direct link to the video addresses all browser functionality issues (e.g., the TOC issue they mention). This also simplifies playback in Linux (and, FYI, binary-only codecs are NOT required to play videos from their site).

    So I think that the only issue here is the FUD that they seed by saying "We cannot support Linux in a legal way" and not suing ffmpeg authors.
  • Why?

    I am interested in their statement, "We cannot support Linux in a legal way". Why is it illegal? Certainly Linux is not owned by a single company, nor are any of the protocols that they use proprietary except to use someone else's formats. Does this indicate that they have an agreement with Microsoft to use only Microsoft protocols? I hope not.