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Ogg Vorbis Development Continues
Posted by netwebly |12.13.2000

The makers of open source audio format Ogg Vorbis are vowing to keep going, despite the untimely death of sponsor iCast. With the future uncertain for the MP3 format, Ogg Vorbis is seen by many as a likely successor to the popular file format.

Daily Trivia fix: The Ogg in Ogg Vorbis is taken from the game Netrek.The literal translation: to force an issue regardless of the consequences. As in, "At last year's Comdex I ogged my way through the crowd and attempted to ogg an interview out of Steve Jobs."

Despite the explosive surge in popularity of MP3 in the last year, many people see trouble ahead for the format. Currently, both companies that make MP3 players and web sites that use MP3 are required to pay stiff licensing fees. An open source alternative - like Ogg Vorbis - could prove popular with both surfers and digital media companies.

The signs are that Fraunhofer and Thomson multimedia, the two companies who for all intents and purposes own MP3, are not going to take the challenge from their open source competition lying down. After all, if more positive predictions about the future of the digital music industry over the next few years hold true, millions and possibly even billions of dollars in licensing fees are at stake.

Don't be surprised if the two companies try to Ogg the issue in court, with this much money at stake.

"We doubt very much that they are not using Fraunhofer and Thomson intellectual property," a Thomson executive told CNet "We think it is likely they are infringing."

From a purely technical standpoint, this format has a lot going for it, something that can't always be said for competing proprietary formats. In theory, Ogg Vorbis files can compete with MP3, delivering near CD-quality sound, performance which open source developers point out can be improved in the future.

Many think Thomson may want to think twice about making war. On all sides digital music companies are sick and tired of being distracted by legal issues - and watching potentially astronomical profits disappear.
Will these long suffering - in their own minds anyway - companies stand by Fraunhofer, when the alternative will save them money? Over the long term this seems unlikely, to say the least.

Another important factor worth consideration: The controversy and media attention a court case and campaign against open source programmers would undoubtedly create might be just the sort of publicity that could energize a format like Vorbis, the same sort of publicity that helped turn Napster into a 500 hundred megaton monster...

Skeptics doubt that a little known file format - however cute and cuddly it may be , will be able to energize the same sort of support a monster application like Napster was able to gather in the space of under a year. On the other hand, the fight between everybody's favorite file-sharing company and the recording industry has created a politicized climate and many potential Ogg Vorbis fans.

Email comments to netwebly.

Related links

Both Sonique and WinAmp can be set up to play Ogg Vorbis files easily.

To get you started, the North by Northwest Music Festival web site has a nice selection of tunes available for free download by artists who performed last September.

Austin's South by Southwest has a similar archive.

See also:

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