Wikipedia push for Ogg Theora

Wikipedia push for Ogg Theora

Summary: Wikipedia is a natural fit for this fight because it supports open source content aggressively, as witness its current battle with the UK's National Portrait Gallery (NPG), which threatened legal action after 3,300 images it digitized were uploaded to Wikipedia.

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Wikipedia's decision to support Ogg Theora for video uploads may be the last chance to break the proprietary video monopoly embodied in H.264.

Microsoft, Google and Apple have all built H.264 support into their products because it readily adapts to Digital Rights Management, without which studios and other video rights owners have been unwilling to make content available online.

Wikipedia's support of Ogg Theora will place extra steps in front of those who wish to upload video to Wikipedia, but the support of Fireogg, a Firefox plug-in, may alleviate the problem.

Ogg Theora allows downloading, re-mixing and uploading without payment of license fees. It is embedded in the VLC player, which reached Version 1.0 earlier this month.

Our Josh Lowensohn says Google is sniffing that Ogg Theora does not deliver video that is as good as H.264, but now for the first time you can be the judge of that.

Wikipedia is a natural fit for this fight because it supports open source content aggressively, as witness its current battle with the UK's National Portrait Gallery (NPG), which threatened legal action after 3,300 images it digitized were uploaded to Wikipedia.

The response by Wikipedia deputy director Eric Moeller could be summarized as "Nuts":

The NPG believes that the slavish reproduction of a public domain painting without any added originality conveys a new full copyright to the digital copy, creating the opportunity to monetize this digital copy for many decades. The NPG is therefore effectively asserting full control over these public domain paintings.

That may also be his response to the Hollywood-Silicon Valley embrace of H.264 and DRM. Does Wikipedia now have the heft to win this battle, and give open source video an opening in the market?

Topic: Collaboration

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9 comments
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  • Moeller

    I didn't want to bring this up in the article,
    but Mr. Moeller has been charged with supporting
    pedophilia.

    I urge those interested to read the entire blog
    post and the comments below, which include at
    least one call to ban Wikipedia from all schools
    because of Moeller's hiring.

    http://www.cydeweys.com/blog/2008/05/08/erik-
    moller-wmf/

    Personally, I find his views disgusting, I don't
    agree with his hiring, but on the issues of
    codecs and copyrighting of public domain content
    I think he is speaking on the side of the
    angels.
    DanaBlankenhorn
    • If anything, his obsession with the topic is disturbing

      I also don't agree with his views. But if I look at each statement he's made, can I categorically state that he is absolutely wrong on all points? I don't think I can. At the very least, I cannot deny that children are interested in sex because I can certainly remember being interested in doing more than just "sneaking a peek" at members of the opposite sex (though certainly not with older men) when I was under the age of ten.

      I will not say it ought to be encouraged because it absolutely should not be, but I don't think he's come out and said that either.
      Michael Kelly
      • RE: Wikipedia push for Ogg Theora

        Wikipedia is a natural fit for this fight because it supports open source content aggressively, as witness its current battle with the UKs National Portrait Gallery (NPG), which threatened legal action after 3,300 images it digitized were uploaded to Wikipedia.<a href="http://ipadbagblog.com/"><font color="LightGrey"> k</font></a>
        zakkiromi
  • RE: Wikipedia push for Ogg Theora

    As far as I know Ogg Theora is a much less efficient codec
    size, quality and performance wise than say H.264?
    Personally i'd prefer smaller data overheads, better
    compression and hardware acceleration thank you very much.
    Hopefully the patent and license holders of H.264 sort their
    cwap out.
    theoxygenthief
  • RE: Wikipedia push for Ogg Theora

    Comparision testing here http://people.xiph.org/~greg/video/ytcompare/comparison.html

    Quote: conclusions
    It can be difficult to compare video at low bitrates, and even YouTube's higher bitrate option is not high enough to achieve good quality. The primary challenge is that all files at these rates will have problems, so the reviewer is often forced to decide which of two entirely distinct flaws is worse. Sometimes people come to different conclusions.

    That said, I believe that the Theora+Vorbis results are substantially better than the YouTube 327kbit/sec. Several other people have expressed the same view to me, and I expect you'll also reach the same conclusion. This is unsurprising since we've been telling people that Theora is better than H.263, especially at lower bitrates, for some time now and YouTube only uses a subset of H.263.

    The low bitrate case is also helped by Vorbis' considerable superiority over MP3. For example, the crickets at the beginning are inaudible in the low rate YouTube clip but sound fine in the Ogg/Theora+Vorbis version.

    In the case of the 499kbit/sec H.264 I believe that under careful comparison many people would prefer the H.264 video. However, the difference is not especially great. I expect that most casual users would be unlikely to express a preference or complain about quality if one was substituted for another and I've had several people perform a casual comparison of the files and express indifference. Since Theora+Vorbis is providing such comparable results, I think I can confidently state that reports of the internet's impending demise are greatly exaggerated.

    Of course, YouTube may be using an inferior processing chain, or encoding options which trade off quality for some other desirable characteristic (like better seeking granularity, encoding speed, or a specific rate control pattern). But even if they are, we can conclude that adopting an an open unencumbered format in addition to or instead of their current offerings would not cause problems on the basis of quality or bitrate
    anonymous
  • NPG offered medium-res images to Wikipedia

    The National Portrait Gallery case is not that simple.

    From what I know they offered medium-resolution images to wikipedia but where not taken up on the offer. Instead the volunteer used screen-scraping to assemble hi-res images from a zoom feature on the NPG site.

    I think wikipedia should accept the medium-res images.
    jimmyed2000
  • Re; new full copyright to the digital copy.

    This is unforgiveable.
    To claim copy right to a work that is public domain.
    When a work has gone into public domain then it STAYS there !

    Copy rights were not introduced for this purpose and to re-introduce a brand new copy right to a work in public domain is just pervers.

    Before long someone will come along and claim copy right to the Bible.
    hkommedal
  • Theora is an excellent codec

    I recently used VLC to convert DVD clips to a compressed format. I tried a couple of different proprietary formats, then I used theora. As far as I could tell on my laptop screen, it matched the DVD quality with good compression. I was very happy with it, especially after the other two codecs produced a pile of blocks at the same bitrate.

    Obviously my tests were not completely extensive, but theora was excellent for my purposes. I certainly think it would be excellent as a standard for web video.
    MattinVA
  • RE: Wikipedia push for Ogg Theora

    I'm sick of Wikipedia's freetarded attitude with this. The most important thing is efficiency and versatility, and H.264 is the closest there is to the best of all worlds. It is damn near close to universal, while nothing uses OGG/Theora/Vorbis. It is also free to use for non commercial uses, forever, so this "battle" Wikipedia is just a waste of time, that in the end only hurts users, and editors, by making it unnecessarily hard to view and upload videos, and music. It is this poor ability to make good decisions that has made me avoid being involved in Wikipedia lately.
    Aaronieru