Yesterday's e-mail included an announcement from the folks at Creative Commons who were bragging about PBS's assignment of a Creative Commons deed to its NerdTV downloadable series of videos. NerdTV will feature interviews of industry luminaries by Robert X. Cringley. Said Cringley in the announcement,
NerdTV will have an uninterrupted hour with the smartest, funniest and sometimes nerdiest people in high tech. These are people who have changed our lives whether we know it or not. Through NerdTV a broad audience of enthusiasts and students will gain a much greater understanding of these techies and the context of their lives and work.
However, buried further down in the announcement was an interesting detail about NerdTV's digital video format selection:
Viewers will be able to choose which content or format they download to their computer: MP4 video of the whole program, MP4 video of the "juicy" excerpt (for a more general audience wanting just a nugget) and MP4 video of the "nerdy" excerpt (for a more technical audience wanting just a nugget). In addition, a variety of audio-only formats will be available, including AAC, MP3 and ogg vorbis.
MP4, also known as MPEG-4, is a vendor-neutral, non-proprietary encoding format for encoding digital video. PBS's selection of MPEG-4 for Internet delivered video is probably one of the first times in recent months that I've seen a major publisher of video go with a format that isn't in some way shape or form connected with Microsoft's media juggernaut. One reason PBS could go with the format is because of how its selection of a Creative Commons deed means that PBS won't need a Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology to manage how end-users can view or copy it. Although I wouldn't count on it any time soon, a sea-change towards Creative Commons-like licensing amongst content providers (text, audio, video, etc.) would wipe out the need for DRM technologies like those built-into the media technologies of Apple and Microsoft which in turn could undermine the evolution of what could be the next technology monoculture.