Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

Might be time to BurnAllMP3s, too

By rusty in News
Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 11:26:20 PM EST
Tags: Music (all tags)

The inimitable Don Marti, motivating force behind BurnAllGIFs.org, and tireless anti software patent crusader has a new target in his sights: the MP3 format. It appears that Thompson Multi Media, a Fraunhofer spinoff and holder of many digital media patents, intends to start charging royalties for streaming MP3's, commonly used in internet radio, possibly as early as the end of this year.

Don alerted the linux-elitists mailing list to this latest patent profiteering scheme, mentioning his intention to set up BurnAllMP3s.org, which is currently just a mirror of the BurnAllGIFs site.

As PigDog Journal pointed out way back in September '99, now might be the time to start seriously considering Ogg Vorbis...


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Related Links
o Don Marti
o BurnAllGIF s.org
o Thompson Multi Media
o many digital media patents
o charging royalties
o latest patent profiteering scheme
o BurnAllMP3 s.org
o PigDog Journal
o Ogg Vorbis
o Also by rusty

Display: Sort:
Might be time to BurnAllMP3s, too | 19 comments (12 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
slight difference... (2.20 / 5) (#5)
by 31: on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 10:30:08 PM EST

the only problem i have with this is there doesn't seem to be any viable alternative to mp3 for (relatively) high quality, small files... i've looked at the ogg vorbis, but it's encoder is still in beta 2, it's players only recently made it to 1.0...
With gifs, there were good and bad ways to replace it... if you really didn't want to use gifs, but work with everyone, you could use jpegs (even though it's usually a horrible substitute), or you could go with pngs, which was a superior, and finished, standard...
So to actually solve the problem, instead of organizing a boycott of the format, there needs to be one that's obviously superior, and it needs to be easy to use with existing software (like the winamp plugins vorbis has), and some easy conversion software, for people who just want easy music, and aren't as concerned about the quality...
And honestly, i'm using mp3s, just outta the ease of use involved... I could spend a bunch of time reburning cds, but i'm lazy, and most people are... hmm... maybe it's time for me to work on some gui frontends...

Version numbers irrelevant (4.25 / 4) (#6)
by iCEBaLM on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 11:11:38 PM EST

Since when did we start rating software by its version number? Have you even used Ogg Vorbis? I have. Despite its small version number it works great, small files, nice music, the standard is even superior to MP3 with its ability to encode poly-channel audio instead of MP3's limitation of stereo.

Didn't we learn not to judge the maturity of software by its version number with Red Hat 7?

-- iCEBaLM

[ Parent ]
Or Windows 95? (1.00 / 2) (#15)
by TrentC on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 10:08:40 AM EST

see topic

[ Parent ]
It is not the version which matters.. (4.33 / 3) (#7)
by mystic on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 11:11:48 PM EST

Agreed, Ogg Vorbis is still at its infancy, but you have to realise that versions go up fast, especially if it is Open Source, but patents remain the same.

Right now, MP3 format is getting all headlines, hence softwares like WinAmp is using MP3 format. I am sure that once Ogg Vorbis gets attention, it will on the fast track to maturity.

By the way, has any one who is commenting on this actually used Ogg Vorbis format ?? I have, and it really isn't bad. Sure it still has some grounds to cover, but if MP3 is patented, I sure and going to welcome Ogg Vorbis.

[ Parent ]
Not as slight as you might think... (4.50 / 2) (#10)
by lovelace on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 12:58:56 AM EST

or you could go with pngs, which was a superior, and finished, standard...

Actually, PNG was developed specifically because of the GIF patent. From the libpng website
So what is PNG, and why is it worthy of its own home site? PNG (pronounced ``ping'') is the Portable Network Graphics format, a format for storing images on computers. Unofficially its acronym stands for ``PNG's Not GIF.'' PNG was designed to be the successor to the once-popular GIF format, which became decidedly less popular right around New Year's Day 1995 when Unisys and CompuServe suddenly announced that programs implementing GIF would require royalties, because of Unisys' patent on the LZW compression method used in GIF. Since GIF had been showing its age in a number of ways even prior to that, the announcement only catalyzed the development of a new and much-improved replacement format. PNG is the result.
I think the main difference, however, is that PNG had a little bit of time before the web became so ubiquitous while ogg vorbis has the challenge of trying to displace not only an entrenched standard, but and entrenched platform as well (there's only so many ways of listening to music, while viewing images on the web was really a new thing).

[ Parent ]
More info on Ogg Vorbis (3.60 / 5) (#8)
by mystic on Tue Oct 17, 2000 at 11:17:00 PM EST

Just to add more details on Ogg Vorbis. Taken directly from the project site(emphasis added):

Ogg Vorbis is a fully Open, non-proprietary, patent-and-royalty-free, general-purpose compressed audio format for high quality (44.1-48.0kHz, 16+ bit, polyphonic) audio and music at fixed and variable bitrates from 16 to 128 kbps/channel. This places Vorbis in the same class as audio representations including MPEG-1 audio layer 3, MPEG-4 audio (AAC and TwinVQ), and PAC.

And furthermore.... (3.00 / 1) (#11)
by DesiredUsername on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 08:12:41 AM EST

...it's easy as pie. You can already download an ogg encoder and WinAmp/Sonique/XMMS plugins. I tried this the other night and it went absolutely seamlessly. Encoded two albums with no audible difference in quality (through admittedly poor speakers) and saved ~200KB/file (at the same bit level). Even better, xmms knows which plugin to use for which file, so I can launch it with mp3's and ogg's and not have to worry about the difference.

My intention is to re-encode all my own music to ogg for freedom and disk space. I'll leave my downloaded music as mp3's instead of converting. But where do I get new oggs? Maybe I should just make them available through Napster and hope others do the same...?

Play 囲碁
[ Parent ]
higher bitrates (3.00 / 1) (#12)
by mikpos on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 09:36:38 AM EST

One thing I should mention is that Ogg Vorbis is supposedly going to support higher bitrates (over 128kbit/s) soon, but that functionality just hasnt been implemented yet.

One thing I am wondering about (which I haven't heard about) is how the other specs will be able to scale, making it plausible for audiophiles maybe. i.e. will we be able to have 96khZ mixing rates? 24-bit (32-bit?) sample depth? 8 channels? All I hear about is 44.1kHz, 16-bit, 2-channel audio, which is all but useless expect for one thing: ripping CDs. I want a little more than that, thanks.

[ Parent ]

Channels (3.00 / 1) (#13)
by Michael Leuchtenburg on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 09:50:35 AM EST

Vorbis can handle any number of channels. Well, okay, only up to 255. Only.

The FAQ has answers to some questions such as this one.

[ #k5: dyfrgi ]
[ TINK5C ]
[ Parent ]

The Ogg Project (4.00 / 2) (#14)
by Michael Leuchtenburg on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 10:00:53 AM EST

Hopefully OggSquish (Learn about the names in the project) will also allow us to escape from the current hell that is video codecs. All those proprietary codecs. I have a Mac in my room just for playing video (and Robowar).

The Ogg project hopes to fix this as well, eventually. The video codec, while non-existant thus far, will hopefully be good enough to push out such evils as Sorenson. Hopefully it will also stream as well as Vorbis does (see another post for better details), thus allowing people with home computers to easily stream video at varying quality, without need for a huge computer or several pre-encoded qualities.

[ #k5: dyfrgi ]
[ TINK5C ]

Streaming (4.66 / 3) (#16)
by Michael Leuchtenburg on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 10:14:27 AM EST

This info is all taken from the format documentation, albeit paraphrased.

Ogg Vorbis is interesting, streaming-wise, in that it's arranged like a newspaper article. That is, the more important stuff in a given packet (Vorbis packet, not TCP packet) comes first. Thus the streamer can simply chop off part of each packet to decrease the bitrate.

This is obviously optimal when it comes to streaming audio, as the extremely cpu-efficient nature allows for many streams to be run off a lesser computer than would otherwise be neccessary.

In addition to this, it's actually streaming. It's not trying to get it 100% correct, just to make the sound play, at the right time. So it's not going to pause in mid-stream, buffer a bit, and restart where it was. It might skip, though. Obviously this isn't always desirable, but you don't have to use the Ogg streaming protocol, you can just transfer the file.

Transferring the file is also improved over MP3s, as the file header contains information about the file, such as the title, which in MP3s is at the very end of the file. So if you stream an Ogg Vorbis encoded song off a webserver, you can read the header and know what the title/artist/etc. are. A significant improvement.

All in all, the Ogg Vorbis format has some actual thought being put into it, rather than simply falling together as little bits as patched on to the raw codec. Ogg Vorbis is designed from the ground up to accomodate the needs of the 'net, and in this is unlike any other format.

[ #k5: dyfrgi ]
[ TINK5C ]

Two Points: 'Burn' viability / Standards (4.00 / 4) (#18)
by Parity on Wed Oct 18, 2000 at 03:23:38 PM EST

Firstly, I'd like to point out that the 'Burn all GIFs' movement has been a miserable failure; mostly, I think, because the only way to get fully working PNGs is to make sure your clients are on one of IE5 or higher for MacOS (not Windows!) or are on Mozilla for Linux. That leaves 90% of your web-surfing population (the windows users) using browsers with broken PNG interpretation, and broken in different ways. Mozilla is about to fix binary transparency for PNG under Windows, and then we'll have good PNGs under Windows with Mozilla... but not Netscape, because it's past the fork point; and IE for Windows PNG support hasn't improved since 5.0.
It doesn't help that sites like linux.com use GIFs, projects like Mozilla use GIF internally, and the 'idealist' sites like gnu.org use JPG... which is to say, PNG is broken, therefore nobody uses PNG, therefore PNG doesn't get fixed. Hopefully Mozilla/NS6 will change this, but it's slow going. (I think I'm going to stick to pure PNG web-page design anyway, and recommend people upgrade to Mozilla if they can't see it correctly... ;))
Anyway, my point is, it's very hard to defeat an entrenched de-facto standard; you need to provide not on a spec and a reference implementation, but also, full-featured applications for every platform that not only are -as good as- but are -better than- the current de facto standard. Otherwise, nothing will happen. (Well, nothing except the generation of reams of standards documents and an O'Reilly book or two, anyway.)

My second point, or question really, is... if mp3 is just the audio layer of MPEG, and MPEG was designed by an ISO standards committee from the ground up to be a streaming multimedia standard, then... isn't it required that patents -not- be enforced against people implementing/using the standard? Or am I thinking of some other standards agency? (IEEE, ANSI, IETF?)
I checked out the webpages, and they say they were, in fact, involved in the standards process; the standard didn't accidentally 'infringe' on the patents, the patented technologies were built in to the standard! If this is actually allowed by ISO standards, then I think the entire industry needs to start considering ISO standards as essentially unusable, at least for core infrastructure, since those technologies may need to be pulled for patent reasons.

Just my thoughts.

Parity Odd

Might be time to BurnAllMP3s, too | 19 comments (12 topical, 7 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:


All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!