File format policy

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Re: [Wikitech-l] File format policy

Walter Vermeir-2
Brion Vibber schreef:
[cut]
> I haven't tested other systems extensively but would like to see some
> compatibility feedback.
>
> NullC reports it works with gcjwebplugin on Linux/Firefox, though perhaps slowly.

I works but I had to reload some times. The buffing was difficult. The
fist times it showed 2 seconds of video and did not load the other part
of the video. My connection is not very fast.

Ubuntu 5.10, FireFox 1.0.7. - J2re1.4-mozilla-plugin

This seems to me a very usefull function to include to the wiki, also
for audio.

--
Contact: walter AT wikizine DOT org
Wikizine.org - news for and about the Wikimedia community

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Re: Re: File format policy

Andrew Lih
In reply to this post by Gregory Maxwell
On 2/14/06, Gregory Maxwell <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 2/13/06, Ilya Haykinson <[hidden email]> wrote:
> > I don't see this as an openness-of-content issue at all; I see it as a
> > technological problem.  Our organizational desire is to provide open
> > access to data; to some degree this means using open,
> > patent-unencumbered formats such that patent restrictions will not be
> > an obstacle to viewing our content.
> >
> > On the other hand, a large part of our organizational desire is to
> > actually provide the data.  Currently our video content is accessible
> > to a very small subset of users; just like we present our
> > database-persisted data using XHTML that is understood by web
> > browsers, we need to present video data in some format that's
> > understandable by most computers out there.
> >
> > Without compromising our stance, we could insist on all uploads to be
> > open formats (like .ogg) but transcode to common viewable formats as
> > an option for viewers who don't have OGG players. I don't see how that
> > would be in conflict with our core mission.
>
> I don't see how transcoding to a proprietary format would be much
> different than offering up our text alternative non-free license.

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 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.

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.

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.

> The complexity of getting working players to users is high enough that
> a great many video sites such as video.google.com and youtube are
> using flash and java based players.

This is certainly true, and they've recognized the value of a smooth
user experience.

-Andrew (User:Fuzheado)
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Re: Re: File format policy

Gregory Maxwell
On 2/14/06, Andrew Lih <[hidden email]> 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.

The difference between putting a file in a proprietary format and
putting it behind DRM is slim indeed. Both inhibit the uses for the
file for which you'd be naturally entitled, and both can be
circumvented by someone with special authority or someone who is
willing to ignore the law.

Not only is the outcome similar, but there may be little difference
legally: Modern compression schemes are a far more complex
transformation than the constant addition in GF(2^8) used Adobe's
early ebook reader... which someone was brought up on DMCA
circumvention charges over.  As far as I'm aware, none of the
conventional legal players for the suggested formats offer a 'save to
non-proprietary-format' button... I would not be shocked to see
someone make an argument that using ffmpeg2theora is circumvention.

> 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.

> 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.

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 complexity of getting working players to users is high enough that
> > a great many video sites such as video.google.com and youtube are
> > using flash and java based players.
>
> This is certainly true, and they've recognized the value of a smooth
> user experience.

They also prioritize financial gain over all other interests, do you
think that Wikipedia should be on the same path?
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Re: Re: File format policy

Mark
Gregory Maxwell wrote:

>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.
>
That's not even remotely close to the case here, though.  We're not
talking about having content *only* in patent-encumbered formats, but in
offering a user the option to receive it in a patent-encumbered formats
while also having it available in a non-encumbered format as the
preferred format.

That is more analogous to taking some content, putting one copy of it up
freely on the internet, and the other copy in a safe.  The fact that you
have a copy in a safe does not make the copy on the internet less free.

-Mark

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Re: Re: File format policy

Gregory Maxwell
On 2/15/06, Delirium <[hidden email]> wrote:
> That's not even remotely close to the case here, though.  We're not
> talking about having content *only* in patent-encumbered formats, but in
> offering a user the option to receive it in a patent-encumbered formats
> while also having it available in a non-encumbered format as the
> preferred format.
>
> That is more analogous to taking some content, putting one copy of it up
> freely on the internet, and the other copy in a safe.  The fact that you
> have a copy in a safe does not make the copy on the internet less free.

Lets not get too carried away with the metaphors... We're not talking
about putting it away where it will not effect the outside world.

Would you support the foundation distributing a DRM inhibited copy of
Wikipedia so long as there was a free copy available somewhere?

If we were to permit encumbered formats what would ensure that there
was always a non-encumbered version available if the content was not
lost entirely?
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Re: Re: File format policy

Andrew Lih
In reply to this post by Gregory Maxwell
On 2/15/06, Gregory Maxwell <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 2/14/06, Andrew Lih <[hidden email]> 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
persistent.

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)
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Dosa_preparation.ogg
- 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 -
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Help:Contents
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
thanks.
- 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
one.

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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Re: Re: [Wikitech-l] File format policy

Phil Boswell
In reply to this post by Brion Vibber
"Brion Vibber" <[hidden email]> wrote in
message news:[hidden email]...
[snip]
> Fluendo's got a GPL'd Java applet player that can play streaming Ogg
> Vorbis and
> Theora. I've tossed up a quick test page using a random short video clip I
> grabbed off of Commons:
> http://test.leuksman.com/video/

Works fine for me (Windows XP-Pro SP2a, IE6) which doesn't sound much until
you realise that this machine has been java-crippled for as long as I can
recall. I just figured out how to get rid of the broken installation which
came with it and installed the latest VM from Sun.

Now if I could only remember all those sites I wanted to look at but
couldn't...:-(
--
Phil
[[en:User:Phil Boswell]]



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Re: Re: File format policy

Robert S. Horning
In reply to this post by Gregory Maxwell
Gregory Maxwell wrote:

>On 2/15/06, Delirium <[hidden email]> wrote:
>  
>
>>That's not even remotely close to the case here, though.  We're not
>>talking about having content *only* in patent-encumbered formats, but in
>>offering a user the option to receive it in a patent-encumbered formats
>>while also having it available in a non-encumbered format as the
>>preferred format.
>>
>>That is more analogous to taking some content, putting one copy of it up
>>freely on the internet, and the other copy in a safe.  The fact that you
>>have a copy in a safe does not make the copy on the internet less free.
>>    
>>
>
>Lets not get too carried away with the metaphors... We're not talking
>about putting it away where it will not effect the outside world.
>
>Would you support the foundation distributing a DRM inhibited copy of
>Wikipedia so long as there was a free copy available somewhere?
>
>If we were to permit encumbered formats what would ensure that there
>was always a non-encumbered version available if the content was not
>lost entirely?
>  
>
I think you missed the argument I made earlier.  Often times, and
unanticipated as well, propriatory file format "owners" have pulled the
rug out from under the people who are using the data format, charging
royalties for even distributing content in that file format.  From a
purely economic standpoint, the Wikimedia Foudnation can't afford to
distribute video files for even one cent per file downloaded (other than
bandwidth costs... which is another issue altogether).  If you don't
believe that this would happen for MPEG-4 files or Real Video, you have
not paid attention to the issues for file formats like GIF, where the
spec was placed into open publication, freely distributed, and the
original creator (CompuServe) refused to collect royalties on any aspect
of file creation, distribution, or playback.  It was only when some
idiot lawyer discovered that they held a patent that covered some aspect
of the file format that royalties were changed, and it was the patent
holder, not the file format creator, who charged the royalties.

BTW, Theora (and Vorbis for that matter) are still on somewhat shaky
ground in regards to not having somebody who has done a very through job
of trying to make sure that it is not encumbered by software patents,
but at least it wasn't explictly designed to be using patented concepts,
as MPEG-4, Real Video,  and MJPEG have been.

Make sure, and check again to really make sure, that there are no
distribution costs for content in some sort of data format before it is
allowed for upload to Wikimedia servers.  Even afterward make sure that
all propritary file formats are tagged in some category so that they can
all be deleted if the terms of use change somehow, and provide clear
notice that these files will be likely deleted at some point in the
future without prior notice to the uploader or to the pages that link to
that content.  If we stick with just open file formats, this is
something that we don't have to be worrying about.

I'm not being paranoid here, I'm being realistic.  And I've been burned
too much in the past to have to see it happen all over again to those
who may not know better.

--
Robert Scott Horning



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Re: File format policy

Kim Bruning
In reply to this post by Andrew Lih
On Wed, Feb 15, 2006 at 08:51:38AM +0800, Andrew Lih wrote:
> This is certainly true, and they've recognized the value of a smooth
> user experience.

We all know that he who gives up a little essential liberty for safety
deserves neither liberty nor safety ...

But what then, must we think of one who gives up a little
essential liberty for a -smoooooooth user experience-.

        Kim Bruning

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Re: File format policy

Kim Bruning
In reply to this post by Andrew Lih
On Wed, Feb 15, 2006 at 03:58:06PM +0800, Andrew Lih wrote:
> 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
> one.
>
> 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.
>


{{sofixit}} It must be possible to make a template or a message to
go with ogg files, so that no one else need repeat your experience,
mustn't it?


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