[Foundation-l] Why don't we re-encode proprietary formats as Ogg?

Robert Rohde rarohde at gmail.com
Sun Jun 7 19:00:07 UTC 2009

On Sun, Jun 7, 2009 at 8:26 AM, David Gerard<dgerard at gmail.com> wrote:
> It would be a simple matter of programming to have something that
> allows upload of encumbered video and audio formats and re-encode them
> as Ogg Theora or Ogg Vorbis. It would greatly add to how much stuff we
> get, as it would save the user the trouble of re-encoding, or
> installing Firefogg, or whatever.
> So why don't we do this? Has it been officially assessed as a legal
> risk * (and I mean more than people saying it might be on a mailing
> list **), has no-one really bothered, or what?

Patent encumbered formats often have licensing fees when you perform
encoding / decoding at commercial scale.  For example, the MPEG
licensing association expects a fee from anyone distributing more than
100,000 MPEG encoded files per year, and those fees can run hundreds
of thousands of dollars.  The WMF has a big enough budget that they
could probably consider paying such fees (and enough clout they might
negotiate a better than average rate), but even so it is still likely
that paying the MPEG tax would require forgoing one or more staff
hires.  It's not inconceivable, but such projects would require
looking carefully at the trade-offs involved, and I think in many
cases avoiding proprietary formats makes sense.

That said, in my ideal fantasy world the educational value of the free
encyclopedia would be maximized by accepting all mainstream formats,
performing automatic conversions and providing users with any
mainstream format of their choice in return.  But such thinking seems
to be pie in the sky at the moment.

-Robert Rohde

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