[Foundation-l] Re: File format policy

Andrew Lih andrew.lih at gmail.com
Wed Feb 15 07:58:06 UTC 2006

On 2/15/06, Gregory Maxwell <gmaxwell at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 2/14/06, Andrew Lih <andrew.lih at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Gregory, there is a big difference between "free content" as with a
> > copyleft license, and using a patent-free format for delivering said
> > content. The former talks about the legality of copying and altering
> > the work, and the latter is only about the technical delivery
> > mechanism. So I think in this case, free has a triple chance of
> > confusion - free as in freedom (to copy), free as in beer and free as
> > in delivery payload (implementation regarding patents).
> >
> > In short - they're not the same.
> I don't agree. If I take some content, place it in a safe, and make it
> illegal for people to open the safe unless they agree to pay me money
> and abide by certain other conditions, and then distribute it
> widely... Well..  I can *claim* all I want that the 'content' is free,
> but that would a meaningless claim. The content would be just as
> unfree as if I'd added an oddball license which places odd
> restrictions on the next hop of the distribution chain.

See Delirium's comment - putting it in an alternative format is for
user benefit, not as a sole distribution method. A better analogy - I
have a magazine that I distribute for free to the public via a "news
rack" on the sidewalk, but I also make it available in places where
people have to pay (like an amusement park or night club). Is it
non-free simply because I also make it available in a venue where
folks have to pay to get at it?

> > We have to recognize honestly that Theora installations lag far far
> > behind QT, Real and WM by a large margin and the user experience is
> > not the same to find and download the player/codec.
> We give people two click access from our media help page to a number
> of solutions. How can you claim that theora is fundamentally harder to
> install for someone already at our site?
> Now, perhaps the media help page could use some improvement. But based
> on the discussion here it doesn't seem like the people complaining
> have even looked at it.

I'm no noob, but see below for my experience.

> > One cannot reasonably think the number of folks with Theora codecs
> > installed even closely approaches the number with Quicktime or Real.
> > Even for the lesser Quicktime, every iPod owner who installs iTunes
> > (nearly all) by necessity installs Quicktime. (Over 30 million iPod
> > units shipped in 2005.) Real Networks has been around since the dawn
> > of the dotcom industry (1993) with tons of legacy content and new
> > content being generated. So it is a bit of a stretch to draw
> > equivalence between Theora and the other non-WMP codecs.
> Well a real player from 1993 (or 2004 for that matter) won't likely
> play content released for real today. ... But, I never argued that
> there was as many qt or real users.. Just that the number of
> QT/Real/Xvid/etc codec users is *far* fewer than the number of Windows
> desktops because Windows doesn't usually ship with them.... and
> moreover, that installing theora is just as easy as installing
> QT/Real/etc.

The point of the numbers is that there is a much higher likelihood
when a user runs across an MOV, MP4 or RM file that they have the
codec installed already, so the download/install would be irrelevant.

> If a user has QT/Real/ or whatever third party video players/codecs
> installed there are few reasons why they couldn't install the theora
> codecs.

The problem is it took over 10 minutes of noodling around to track
down a way that would work, and I would not expect a newbie to be so

Here's exactly what I did on my Windows machine:

- Went to Commons.wikimedia.org
- Scrolled down one page to Content, By Type, Video; clicked on Video
- Category:Video page comes up, a pretty rudimentary page with a list of files
- Choose "Dosa_preparation.ogg" (my favorite breakfast)
- Image:Dosa preparation.ogg (Newbie: "Is this a picture? The page
doesn't even say that it's a video"). In fact the only indication that
it's a video is the category at the bottom of the page.
- Click on the Ogg file, Firefox 1.5 downlaods it and launches Winamp
(MP3 player) but no video, not even audio.
- Go back to file's page, look for help but no indication of how to
play this file
- Click on Help in left-hand column -
where the only two mentions of video are:
    * Creating video
    * Converting video
- Converting video is likely to closest to what I want, so I click on
that. The first line: "Wikimedia accepts only video files in the
Theora Ogg format. As of January 2006, this format is still in alpha,
and only a few video-management tools support it just yet." Further
down, in "For_most_operating_systems" recommends
ffmpeg2theora - command line utility? No thanks.
VLC media player - I have that, let's try that
- Go to Firefox download window to manually open the file in VLC
- File not actually in the download folder for some reason, need to
download again using "Save link as..."
- Finally launch VLC 0.8.1, drag-n-drop Ogg file onto it in Windows -
does not play.
- Go back to "Help:Converting Video" help page, under "Converting
Quicktime (.mov) to Ogg Theora" there is a seven step process of how
to do it. No thanks, not worth it. Other option is Quicktime Pro.
That's a paid product, and I only have the free Quicktime Player. No
- I'm out of ideas, I go to Google and search for
"site:commons.wikimedia.org theora"
- Result 1 - Commons:File types - No help
- Result 2 - Help:Converting video - I was just there
- Result 3 - Commons:Media help - Ah looks useful! Was there a link to
this from the Ogg page? I still don't know
- Got to Commons:Media help, and under Microsoft Windows see
"Installing codecs from Illiminable..." At first I think it's a typo
with three "I"s or three pipes in a row. :) What they heck are the
talking about? Ok, I'll try the Illiminable codec thing.
- Go to Illiminable.com, click on codec to download (at 798 kbytes, it
will most certainly take longer than 2 minutes to download over a 56k
modem, contrary to what the Commons page says)
- Run the EXE file to install
- Run Windows Media Player, and drag the Ogg file to it
- Success, it finally plays!

Much of this could be solved if there was a obvious "How to play this"
button for each "Ogg" file to the Commons:Media help" but I don't see

If there is a "two click" way to get to the software, I'm not aware of
it. But it would be nice to make it obvious somewhere.

-Andrew (User:Fuzheado)

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