Things I would change if I could repost the article: The headline is almost
flamebait, and not necessarily wholly relevant.
The poster doesn't actually say that mp3 is an "open format" per se.
It is strongly implied, I'll agree with you there. Is there currently
a truly "open" (ie unencumbered) downloadable music format, that would
be feasable to use for releasing 181 minutes of music?
None of the formats available are completely open in the sense that I think
most of us would use the term.
Monty's page (author of cdparanoia) has
lots to say; he's working on a "a patent-clear, fully open general purpose
audio encoding format". Also, the
list has spun off a new list as of last month to discuss the creation and
implementation of the tentatively titled "Open Video Disc" standard to serve
as an open and superior alternative to DVD; mail
to subscribe to the list.
I think the general idea though is that mp3 is at least "open" in a
capitalistic kind of way. Even if Fraunhofer does want to charge
(retroactively) for legal use of the code they gave away to begin
with, at least they're not picky about who they'll license it to. Try
getting a windows media player for linux. Ever. For any amount of
money. That, my limited-range crystal ball says, is never going to
I'm rather surprised someone hasn't written a conversion utility by now, for
any OS, to convert ASF to straight MPG; it's really not that proprietary
compared to RealMedia, and better documented (especially since Real yanked
most of the good technical documentation from their public website :(.
MP3 is open in a de facto sense, if not de jure, in that there are plenty of
open (as in both free speech and free beer) decoders AND encoders available.
I haven't seen Fraunhoefer shutting down sites like
LAME lately; they were a bit nastier
in the past.
I thought the gist of the story was that it's odd that this of all
bands would choose to release music in a format that, whatever the
cost, is inaccessable to some portion of their audience, rather than
in a format which is accessable to anyone with a computer.
As you noted upon perusing the Discipline webpage, the choice to use the
Windows-specific format is odd given the intelligence and philosophical
beliefs of the musicians in question. Perhaps it was an informed decision,
a question of expedience, or simply looking at the numbers and concluding
that ASF offered the best tradeoff of quality and size; regardless, I'd
like to know.
* to operate in the market place, while being free of the values of
the market place.
* to be a model of ethical business in an industry founded on
exploitation, oiled by deceit, riven with theft and fuelled [sic]
Is that the recording industry, or the computer industry? Is that DGM
music, or the Open Source movement speaking?
Fripp is truly a mad genius, and not just when it comes to music. Looking at
the fine print on most Discipline releases, one finds an interesting and
subtle judo-reversal on traditional copyright:
"The phonographic copyright in these performances is operated by Discipline
Global Mobile on behalf of the artists, which whom it resides. Disciple Global
Mobile accepts no reason for artists to give away such copyright interests in
their work by virtue of a 'common practice' which is out of tune with the
time, was always questionable and is now indefensible."
You can tell this is a man who has been screwed long and hard, and is
determined that he won't be screwed again. Almost like Stallman, Fripp uses
copyright law against itself to make people aware of the rights of the artist
and to better secure those rights.
Dave Sim is more traditional in his methods, and just as rabid about
retaining 100% control/ownership over his work; yet for many years his comic
has been a collaboration with another artist who draws all the backgrounds.
Reading about their business relationship is quite enlightening in the context
of this discussion.
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