Photo: Flickr user lifeontheedge

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ogg Vorbis -- no future?

All of wikipedia's audio is in the open Ogg Vorbis format, which doesn't play on iPods (or a lot of other players). John Gruber warns that Ogg may never see wide use.

With regard to Ogg Vorbis, or the idea of “free” codecs in general, the consensus seems to be that this is an ugly patent lawsuit waiting to happen. Yes, the creators of Ogg Vorbis have released the format (and source code for encoding and playback) openly, but the holders of the patents behind MP3 (and other patented codecs) very likely consider part of Ogg Vorbis to violate their patents. If Apple, or any other company with a serious amount of money behind it, were to use Ogg Vorbis in a mainstream widely-used product, it could lead to an expensive lawsuit.

Do software patents suck? Yes. Is it possible that Ogg Vorbis does not actually infringe on anyone’s patent, but that some patent holder could sue and win even though they shouldn’t? Yes. The point is, Ogg Vorbis is intended to be free, and it would be great if it were free, but no one with deep pockets has yet tested the water to see whether it really is. Worse, there are some experts who do believe that Ogg violates at least one significant patent.

1 comment:

zooplah said...

The patent holders of MP3 can eat it!