[Foundation-l] Re: File format policy

Gregory Maxwell gmaxwell at gmail.com
Tue Feb 14 02:39:49 UTC 2006

On 2/13/06, Ilya Haykinson <haykinson at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 2/13/06, Gregory Maxwell <gmaxwell at gmail.com> wrote:
> > I also see the assertion made multiple times that the number of users
> > who can view this content is greatly diminished... but I've yet to see
> > this substantiated with data.  If you count users who must install a
> > codec as unable, then you must also realize that the proposed
> > alternative proprietary formats are also not installed by default on a
> > great many (a majority?) of computers.
> My overall point is that our mission contains the need to maintain
> content in an open format, so that the knowledge we accumulate is
> accessible in the present and future to those unable or unwilling to
> pay for this collection of knowledge, and to not be beholden to the
> whims of patentholders.

How would this be any different than offering to sell the text under a
non-copyleft license?  Surely there are some additional avenues of
distribution which could be better exploited if only we dropped that
pesky copyleft...

> However, the most important mission is to provide content.  Despite
> your suggestion otherwise, I hold that the 98% of the web browsers
> that have flash, and the 80%+ people who run Windows, are actually
> somewhat likely to view a video whereas the (definitely more than) 90%
> of the people who have computers with no Theora codec are not.

How did 98% of web browsers get flash? I'm fairly confident that they
did not ship with it, windows doesn't. In most cases I'm aware of,
flash was installed via the flash website by the user. I'd suspect
that in many of those cases flash was installed in order to view a
website with far less popularity than Wikipedia.

> In keeping with our primary mission to provide the knowledge, I think
> we need to be flexible and accepting of a compromise of accumulating
> knowledge in an open format but providing it in such ways as are
> actually likely to be useful to people, now.

Our primary mission is not just to provide content, it is to provide
free content. The unfree encyclopedia has already been done several
times over and many of them are better *encyclopedias* than what we
have today.  Some of them even make substantial amounts of content
available at no cost via the internet.

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