Should We Fight for Ogg Vorbis?

I'm a big fan of Richard Stallman and his work – even though, the first time I interviewed him, he proceeded to criticise my questions before answering them, not a journalistic experience I'd had before. Without his vision and sheer bloody-mindedness in the face of indifference and outright hostility, we would not have the vast array of free software we enjoy today.

More recently, he has built on his growing success in creating a flourishing free software ecosystem by moving on to address important related issues. These include fighting DRM (“Digital Restrictions Management



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The lousy name choice killed this format before it started.

Anonymous's picture

As a marketing guy, I see plenty of great products launched every day that die because the public simply cannot wrap their heads around the name. Try getting your mom (or anybody else) to say ogg vorbis.

The programmers could have called it anything. They could have chosen something simple and descriptive. They chose ogg vorbis. Nice going. Good luck with that.

mp3, wma, and ogg in

Anonymous's picture

mp3, wma, and ogg
in business, very large companies give away a lot of free products to maintain market share. they also spend a lot of money just to get people to use *new* products - ie. the product is free + they give you money to take it.

the mp3 license holders probably give a better deal to manufacturers who only support mp3. this way they still make money while protecting future profits against competition from other codecs. microsoft probably pays the manufacturers to include wma support.

there is no one to pay manufacturers to support ogg and with an additional cost to implement the codec and possible increased mp3 license fees, loss of wma promotional fees, it's hard to get the ogg ball rolling.


NEmouse's picture

MP3 patents are not going away - most patents can be renewed.

The problem lies with the silence of the lambs. If we do not bleat "o-o-og, o-o-og", then nobody hears the cry. I'm kinda fortunate - my car audio deck accidentally supports SOME encodings of ogg. But that was accedental, JVC never claimed ogg compatibility.

I've tried the local Best Buy several times, asking for 802.11G NICs that are Linux compatible. Only a scant few will venture, however misguidedly, to research for me the compatibility of whatever card corporate america elects to make a sales push on. Ultimately some kid will announce he has made the touchdown: "This should be 100% compatible"; I tell him to buy the card FOR me, and if it works, I'll repay him. They finally learn that they are without assurances when searching manufacturer websites.

Lets rearrange the lesson and place it upon oog: if nobody demands ogg, nobody will sell ogg. That lesson applies to Garageband and iTunes, as well as to iPods and Walkman.

The general public ALWAYS settles with the dominant entity (Windows, MP3 and MOV quickly come to mind). That CLEARLY teaches us the consumer does NOT want CHOICE, they want COMPATIBILITY. I agree - I've cried for compatibility when I used Linux, but hardware makers think $$$ for development expended in a low margin market. Ain't gonna happen!!!

MP3 leads the compatibility race, 20:1. Will the consumer decide to change formats after illegally converting all their CDs into MP3s??

The fight for ogg is noble, I see it is a viable format, but I am only one consumer, one that elects to be educated about options before me. I have learned that ogg is simply not on the radar for hardware developers, and consumers do not care that they are paying a few pennies for royalties per MP3 encoded. Converting their future files to ogg, their savings would be nil... no, the long term costs would be greater, since they've already burned MP3s and would end up tossing them out.... the costs would be incurred at no advantage for the consumer.

And then comes the lessons to NOT convert MP3 to ogg..... consumers, in GENERAL are not that smart.

This is should not be a stallmanesque venue - the point is moot.

Patents cannot be renewed

andrig's picture

Patents cannot be renewed. See the following FAQ:

Even with the fact that patents cannot be renewed, we still have four years left. Many devices, software players (even for Windows, such as WinAmp) that play MP3 files can and do play ogg vorbis as well, due to the small cost of adding it (no royalties).

Many people just don't know about the format. I think that it would be useful to spread the word about ogg, and help drive adoption for the at least four years we have left on MP3.


coolzgeek's picture

I only use MP3 'cos my music player only supports MP3 and WMA not Ogg. Though I would rather use FLAC than ogg


elcaset's picture

I prefer using FLAC files instead of Ogg Vorbis or MP3. FLAC has much better sound quality, is lossless, & libre, like Ogg Vorbis.

OF COURSE we should fight for it.

Lanjoe9's picture

Dammit, I want to do stuff with audio NOW, and I want people to be able to hear it NOW, not in 4 freaking years!!

Besides I've already convinced several people to use Ogg Vorbis on file size/quality comparison against MP3, ALONE. Yep, these people specifically searched for hardware that supported Ogg Vorbis simply because they could carry more tracks and it sounded better than MP3.

OF COURSE we should fight for it.

Lanjoe9's picture

Dammit, I want to do stuff with audio NOW, and I want people to be able to hear it NOW, not in 4 freaking years!!

Besides I've already convinced several people to use Ogg Vorbis on file size/quality comparison against MP3, ALONE. Yep, these people specifically searched for hardware that supported Ogg Vorbis simply because they could carry more tracks and it sounded better than MP3.

That's got nothing to do with the file format issue

Anonymous's picture

You're talking about something different, specifically, copyright infringement. However, this is a discussion about the file format. Let's stay on topic here. I'd much rather use legal OGG portals than *any* MP3/WMA/AAC portals, be they legal or otherwise.

about formats

Anonymous's picture

Having worked with standards and formats for over 20 years (and having dug a bit into history back to the early 1960s) we see these sort of patterns:

1. Multiple large corporations all create their own format/API because they don't want to pay another company $$$ for something so trivial. In the earlier years of desktop PCs this was getting so far out of hand that once Microsoft was dominant they published a number of books essentially saying "do things THIS way or we won't waste our time trying to support you". That was a good thing for consumers - parts became more interchangeable etc. The lesson: proliferation of formats and interfaces which accomplish the same task for the mere sake of avoiding license or royalty fees places a huge burden on consumers and manufacturers. Consumers lose out more because they become locked in (remember IBM, HP, Compaq, DEC etc through the '80s and '90s?).

2. Throughout history (well, at least back to 1960's) there have always been open/license-free/royalty-free solutions to things. One example: the UPC barcode marking (and many other barcodes). Especially with modern hardware it is trivial to implement, any number of manufacturers can create readers/markers for it and not pay out $$$ to third parties, and the consumers end up with a decent number of choices of cheap hardware. Everyone wins. Despite that there are numerous proprietary 1D, 2D and so-called 3D 'barcodes' (really also 2D) which force manufacturers to shell out $$$ if they want to produce equipment for a certain type of code which may be used in a certain type of commercial application (asset tracking, product coding, whatnot). Manufacturers pay out more (unless they own the patent), and consumers pay out an awful lot more and are also often locked into a single source. You don't change labelling schemes overnight - the change can cost a large business a few million $$$ to implement. Classic lock-in. Examples of proprietary but open, license-free and royalty-free specifications is Adobe's PostScript and PDF. You only pay fees under certain conditions (and many manufacturers do, but they are paying for a service and certification of compliance with a specification).

3. In the past 15 years or so industry has put in a lot of effort to create industry-wide licence/royalty-free standards such as USB. This is a phenomenal effort because USB has incredibly complex electrical specs as well as protocol specs. But the end result is USB is everywhere and very cheap and the corporations involved in the specifications (not to mention manufacturers who weren't involved at all) didn't have to bear the burden of the entire development process.

4. Recently there has been more proprietary stuff being pushed into 'standards' and I see this as an evil thing. In some industry standards that means the entire world is locked into paying $$$ to a monopoly (or several monopolies depending on how many proprietary bits got in). The monopolies recognize this, know full well the time and effort that goes into a standard, and hold the world to ransom. Two fairly recent cases come to mind: CSIRO (Australia) which had proprietary schemes introduced into IEEE802.11 industry standard and in the past 3 years that patent troll has reared its ugly head. A few years before that there was Rambus who held the world hostage to fast memory technology because proprietary stuff was pushed into standards. Somewhere between those two, the W3C considered putting proprietary stuff into web standards and here's a brief story on the sort of response they got:

So the overall lesson is that open/license/royalty-free standards is a Good Thing, everyone is happy and everyone benefits (except possibly for the extremely small minority who believe the world owe them something and should give them $$$ for their closed proprietary stuff). Despite that, there are still closed proprietary niches which make things expensive for everyone and the patent/copyright holder is the happiest party. People believe, for whatever silly reasons, that proprietary+closed is good and that open/license-free/royalty-free is evil - and we see this with the staunch defenders of MP3 who really haven't got a leg to stand on. The way I see it: the open solution is always cheaper and if it is technically superior as well, then only a fool goes with the proprietary solution. (And as PT Barnum is reputed to have said, "there's one born every minute".) I see one of the posters goes for the "Ooh, but Malibu Stacy has a new hat!" argument while another goes for an equally ridiculous fallacy of "come on, we only have to put up with this for at least 4 more years then it's free". As I see it, there will be 2 camps just as there has been for over 40 years - the ones who stick to open and preferably licence/royalty-free formats, and the ones who stick to closed $$$ formats for whatever reason. One interesting psychological glitch that I often see is that people who religiously defend closed formats believe that they are getting something better simply because they are paying more - two words come to mind: SUCKERS and LOSERS.

You said it, brother

Anonymous's picture

Very well, and eloquently, put.

Apparently some governments are getting that picture, which is why they're looking to the OpenDocument formats instead of Microsoft's Uh-Oh-XML. Andy Updegrove, an attorney who has a strong interest in open standards, seems to believe as you do. The same arguments apply to the Ogg formats or any other truly open format.

Andy's Web site is at and is well worth reading.

It's not an either or matter

Anonymous's picture

"The final reason why the PlayOgg effort is not really necessary is that in the LGPL'd LAME code we have what many regard as the best MP3 encoder in the business, and one that seems to be tolerated by the patent holders. So provided the latter don't go bonkers and sue everything in sight during the last years of their patents (admittedly, always a possibility), it's not even the case that the use of patented technology is locking out users of free software."

We have a format that is patent-free. I don't know why one should rely on the "mood" of those patent-holder of MP3.

Also Ogg shows that the Free Software have their own format to work on when it comes to multimedia codecs and allow people to have the same benefit of freedom. And, by the way, the reason why Ogg was created is due to the restrictive patents and royalties attached to the other media codecs. So when fighting against Software Patents -- pushing for Ogg is part of that.

Get the picture?

Nope, we shouldn't fight

Anonymous's picture

Nope, we shouldn't fight for ogg. We should let people make up their own mind, and not be zealots about anything. It's called free choice--you make up your mind, I make up my mind, and we're mature enough to respect each other's decision without acting like 12 year olds. --AR

Right just like BlueRay and HDDVD is thinking

JZA's picture

I wish Sony and Phillips were thinking the same way. We should just let people choose. Somehow I think the first one that think that, will disapear.


Anonymous's picture

iPod baaa!
Zune! baaa!
baaa! baaa! baaa!

These are the masses on the streets "making up their own minds".

It isn't called "Free

Anonymous's picture

It isn't called "Free Choice" for not fighting for Ogg. Because in the end your choice as a consumer will be restricted by those who control the proprietary formats.

Not fighting for OGG is not called "Free Choice", we call that "Blissful Ignorance".

Ah, ha

Anonymous's picture

The first 12 year old has arrived.

Actually, the comment makes a lot of sense

Sum Yung Gai's picture

The poster was referring to the tendency of the masses to act like sheep and follow whatever someone tells them without bothering to think for themselves. I thought that it showed a lot of insight to point that out, especially since he happens to be correct. :-)

Too many people don't bother to think. That's why they just plod along with the MS Windows and MS Office that got preinstalled by the OEM, instead of considering an alternative...such as GNU/Linux.


Yes, yes

Anonymous's picture

The table for 12 year olds is in the corner. Please have some cookies and milk while we contact your Mommies to come take you home.

P.S. He just validated you--of course you feel all warm and fuzzy. In the meantime, I'll be making my own mind up on what I want to do without trying to make you do the same. 'Cause I'm an adult.

MCSE Alert! Oh, and advice on cookies

Anonymous's picture

Hey folks, let's give this MCSE some slack. Remember, they don't know that there's a world beyond Blue Screens of Death and having your computer phone home to Redmond. :-) Give him a few more years; he'll learn. In the meantime, enjoy the comic relief that he provides. It actually is kinda amusing.

BTW, I actually do like cookies and milk...provided that the cookies are Mrs. Fields chocolate-chips. I know, chain store and all, but they are so good....

MCSE Alert! Oh, and advice on cookies

Anonymous's picture

Hey folks, let's give this MCSE some slack. Remember, they don't know that there's a world beyond Blue Screens of Death and having your computer phone home to Redmond. :-) Give him a few more years; he'll learn. In the meantime, enjoy the comic relief that he provides. It actually is kinda amusing.

BTW, I actually do like cookies and milk...provided that the cookies are Mrs. Fields chocolate-chips. I know, chain store and all, but they are so good....

The poster comment was

Anonymous's picture

The poster comment was really simple to understand.

You may use whatever you call it "Free Choice" to either
1) "Keep Your Freedom of Choice"


2) Have that "Blissful Ignorance and allow Corporations to Restrict your Choice."

Shut up

Anonymous's picture

Shut up and stop attempting to be patronising without putting forward any useful point. This whole "I am the only adult, therefore I am right" thing is old, boring and make me wonder why whoever is typing away is so obsessed with age as a criteria for correctness.


Anonymous's picture

Your mommies are here now--make sure she puts you in your car childseat (surely, from your comments, you're under 4'9" in height) before she drives you home and tucks you into bed. G'nite!


sulking teenager's picture

Wow. Another mature adult, I see. "I'm a grown up, and you're not! na na na na na"

:D Height and Age is not

Anonymous's picture

Height and Age is not the measurement for I.Q.

looks like a different

Anonymous's picture

looks like a different comment is not tolerated.. this is not called passion , it is called extremism.


Anonymous's picture

Ogg Vorbis is great.
But one thing that I find confusing, is that both Ogg Vorbis (audio) and Ogg Theora (video) use the .ogg file extension.

LAME is NOT Tolerated

Christopher Baluyut's picture

"The final reason why the PlayOgg effort is not really necessary is that in the LGPL'd LAME code we have what many regard as the best MP3 encoder in the business, and one that seems to be tolerated by the patent holders."

That is not true anymore. Makers of the Windows program dbpoweramp got "screwed" by the patent holders of MP3, even if dbpoweramp used LAMR for mp3 encoding. Formerly, the mp3 encoding in dbpoweramp was fully functional. Now, it's a 30-day trial for it. Strange, dbpoweramp should have been off the hook, but no, it wasn't

The world should go Ogg. MP3 is a aging and proprietary music format.

Ogg has inferior hardware and software support

Thomas Wittek's picture

I once used to rip all my CDs as OGG Vorbis.

Just until I started to clean up my music library using MP3Gain [1] and Album Cover Art Downloader [2].
It's really great to have all your music at approximately the same level and have it with nice album art in your software _and_ hardware player.

There exist some efforts to allow the same for OGG files: Vorbisgain [3] and putting a cover as an additional stream in the OGG container.
But unlike MP3 these features _have_ to be supported explicitly by the software or hardware player.
For MP3 the gain is applied directly to the file (works in _every_ player) and the covers are stored in the ID3 (works for all players that support cover art).

So although my hardware MP3 player(s) _does_ play OGG, I went back to rip all my CDs as MP3 instead.
Just because MP3 still offers more features/compatibility/support.
Sadly :(


Jane Doe comments

Wy's picture

OK, I'm commenting on this simply from a "gal on the street"'s the hardware drivers stupid! I'm not saying we shouldn't fight for Ogg Vorbis but the clear question is HOW???? There's already a HUGE market in place for mp3 players and the now what? What is Richard Stallman or anybody else actually doing to reach manufacturers? I am sure Apple is aware of a lot of these "open" standards, but other cheap manufacturers? Fuggedaboutit.

ps. The Amish are good people, leave them out of this. ;}

Should We Fight for Ogg Vorbis?

Jhon's picture

Apple is a proprietary company; others *are* awake, though

Sum Yung Gai's picture

Well, Jane Doe, there are indeed portable players that support not just MP3, but also Ogg Vorbis. They're not at all hard to find; just Google for the search terms "Ogg Vorbis" and "MP3 player". You'll find several.

As for Apple, they won't support Ogg Vorbis for the same reasons that Microsoft won't support OpenDocument. Like Microsoft, Apple use proprietary formats as an end-user lock-in device. They support MP3 for the same reason that they now support TCP/IP instead of AppleTalk--because they *have* to, not because they *want* to. Rest assured, they'd much rather not support anything but AAC.

Oh, and I certainly have nothing against the Pennsylvania Deutsch (aka Amish). They're not hurtin' me. :-)


AAC is only as "proprietary" as MP3

Rich Pollock's picture

I suggest reading the following links before spouting off about the "proprietary" nature of AAC:

Daring Fireball: Some facts about AAC
Wikipedia AAC page
Apple's AAC page

Your implication that MP3 is to TCP/IP as AAC is to AppleTalk is a little off the mark, I'd say. I do, however, agree that Ogg would be a better format than either AAC or MP3.

Big flaw in your argument

Sum Yung Gai's picture

Apple has patents all over AAC. You just *try* to implement it without getting sued to high Heaven. VRRP is "open" in that same respect, too (Cisco claims patents on VRRP). See this:

So sure, the protocol can be known. But you can kiss your house, car, and anything else you own goodbye if you actually implement it. Due to this, AAC is an Apple-only protocol. Read your own Wikipedia article, and you'll see that. I quote:

"However, a patent license is required for all manufacturers or developers of AAC codecs, that require encoding or decoding. [5] It is for this reason FOSS implementations such as FAAC and FAAD are distributed in source form only, in order to avoid patent infringement.

"AAC requires a patent license, and thus uses proprietary technology. But contrary to popular belief, it is not the property of a single company, having been developed in a standards-making organization."

Hmm...yep, just like VRRP....

What I *actually* said, BTW, is that Apple would much rather not support MP3 or any other format, and that the only reason Apple *do* support MP3 is because they *had* to. This was to ensure that their iPod would be compatible with all those thousands upon thousands of pre-existing MP3 songs out there. Yes, Apple would then have to pay Fraunhofer a patent royalty.

Just go Ogg Vorbis/Theora. You then avoid all that crap.

The implication is MP3 is

Kuwanger's picture

The implication is MP3 is AAC as TCP/IP is to AppleTalk. And I'd agree, that such a comment is a bit off the mark. There's really no simple analogy to compare Apple's "lock-in" versus any other lock-in that Microsoft has produced. And that reason is Microsoft's lock-in is inherently tied into the obfuscation of their various formats (such obfuscation might not be directly intentional, but heavy backwards compatability in not-well-thought-out formats and not creating documentation as a blueprint for design has led to such a net effect). Meanwhile, Apple's "lock-in" is inherent more towards (1) AAC being patented, requiring that manufacturers or developers of AAC codecs pay for a license--such at minimal causes a lock-in effect for free software, which releases their AAC codecs as source-only (and yes, this is true of mp3 as well, but then that's the entire reason people were upset that Apple chose AAC instead of OGG Vorbis)-- and (2) the inherent traction that exists whenever an organization convinces a large number of people to have a large number of files in one format over another. Add to this fact that AAC is lossy, meaning any conversion to another lossy format will further degrade the quality of one's audio, and you have very good reason why people aren't interested in going to iTunes, buying songs, and then using some script to convert them to vorbis or mp3.

So, the three major lock-in factors that exist for Microsoft formats exist for the AAC format: that people are too set in their ways to be interested in switching formats without having a clear reason, and neither Apple nor Microsoft are giving overwhelming reasons for most people; that not everyone can freely and trivially support the format of the file (OOo's support of the .doc format is still incomplete); and that any conversion to a new standard type, even if such could be automated, would result in a lossy conversion which is unacceptable to most people (again, for Microsoft because their formats are obfuscated and for ACC because the format itself stores the information lossily).

There's more than one way for a format to be proprietary.

Freedom Everywhere

Vinci's picture

I have wittnessed this perspective often - but not only from the free software people:
* Free software people advocate patented technology and non-free content.
* Anti patent people advocate non-free software and non-free content.
* And open content people advocate non-free software and patented technology.

To look at all the stuff only from your own eyes is extremely dumb. We expect other groups to rather use free software but we dont want to stand by them . And this you find everywhere. And that is the exact reason why companies like Sony, Microsoft, Apple or Thompson hold us all still in prison. We dont want to be free. We only want freedom for ourselves and our own universe - everything outside is not our core interest and we even think that non-free content, non-free software or patented technology is superior.

Yes: Suporting free media formats does not help free software - but free software also does not help free media formats. But together it would be extremley powerful - but it isn't. Please think more in networks and less in "my group" their group"....


Anonymous's picture


Cutting off my nose to spite my face (and save my soul)

Jim Manis's picture

Although the editors of Linux Journal are infallible in matters of doctrine, there are other beliefs, still flourishing outside the walls of the Cathedral. Out here, we, the agnostic, often make decisions based solely on the advice of that nagging little voice (and the advice is ever the same): "You know the right thing to do." Does that mean I have to join the ranks of the digital Amish, eschewing the convenience of some patent-laden technology in favour of a free and open source alternative? Alas, yes, sometimes it does mean that...

And remember, sometimes the Amish are right. Their wagons are not are not filling the coffers of giant, multinational oil companies, nor are they choking the planet.

You don't have to "go Amish" in this case

Anonymous's picture

It's true--you don't have to "go Amish" here. Just use the Ogg formats from here going forward. If there's an Ogg version of some file, then download that one. I always do this.

In this case, you actually gain *technically* by making the correct *moral* choice. You win both ways.


russian translation's picture

We should not forget: the Ogg Vorbis specification is in the public domain, it is completely free for commercial or noncommercial use. That means that commercial developers may independently write Ogg Vorbis software which is compatible with the specification for no charge and without restrictions of any kind.

predictions, predictions

Anonymous's picture

Let's assume for the sake of argument that the pertinent patents will run out in 2011.

What happens when Fraunhofer et al. lobby the EU in 2010 with big Euro notes to get the standard patent lifetime extended to 100 years, and then get that extension applied retroactively to their patents on the MP3 codecs?

If you think that won't happen, look at what Disney has done with the Mickey Mouse copyright, at what Sonny Bono did with media copyrights and trademarks, and what the US PTO did with software patents.

For this reason alone, we need to strengthen the market presence of Ogg Vorbis/Theora. They will be protected, open, and DRM-free, no matter how many new formats come along, and no matter how much the technologists litigate against the DRM crackers.

vorbis = almost as awesome as I am

hollywoodb's picture

OGG/Vorbis should be supported and used for the exact same reason that any decent media format should be used: it provides quality media in a meaningful way.

OGG/Vorbis should be supported and used for one very significant additional reason: it's free for you, it's free for me.

It really is that simple. I recently bought an iAudio "mp3 player" (by Cowon Audio) that plays Ogg as well. It also mounts as a standard USB storage device and therefore is completely linux-friendly. It will play any semi-sane format you throw onto it.

I don't like to be coined as a zealot, but the more hardware and software I become exposed to the longer my shit list gets. I praise those willing to bust ass to provide free (not in price but in unrestricted usage when it comes to hardware) quality alternatives to horseshit semi-adequate formats and hardware.

In a word YES! The problem

Anonymous's picture

In a word YES! The problem in adoption seems to be a lack of supported hardware. I have ripped all of my music to ogg vorbis and even went out and bought my iAudio G3 specifically because it supports ogg. It wasn't easy to find one that did. I'm less than impressed with Rockbox on my iPod and wish it had native support from apple.

MP3 has been "good enough"

Anonymous's picture

MP3 has been "good enough" for most people because they never knew of any alternatives, and there weren't any at the time. Many people are still oblivious to this and it's going to be an uphill battle. I recently read that Amazon was going to have an online music store selling 100% DRM free music so I thought what the hell, let me give them some input. I emailed Amazon asking them to consider offering music in Ogg Theora format instead of just MP3 because it as "free" as in free from patents and licensing (I made sure to point out the distinction that I was referring to free in terms of freedom, not price / cost). The moron who responded basically copied and pasted from some reference manual telling me they already offer free MP3 downloads for a couple of songs and sent me a link. I still think it's worth fighting for as another user mentioned, regardless of whether or not the patents run out because it's also a philosophical thing. But it won't happen until more devices (especially the iPod) support OGG.

The problem with LAME is not

sil's picture

The problem with LAME is not that it's not really good; it's that basically no Linux distros can ship it, which means that Jo Punter moves to Linux and finds that, out of the box, her huge music collection won't play. That's a kick in the teeth if you're just trying something out.

Not LAME, but libmad0!

Béranger's picture

It's not LAME that is "tolerated", but MAD! (libmad0)

Debian ships with libmad0 (I don't know how they can afford it). And Slackware comes with libmad too.
Another issue: how comes nobody remembers of "MP3PRO", a "super-format" patented by Thomson? It was really offering a better quality than MP3 for the same size, but you need a special decoder (not free of charge).


Glyn Moody's picture

But I can't believe that the community can't come up with a way round this in terms of "click here" kind of stuff that automatically downloads LAME for them....

That is always the problem.

Bjorn Solstad's picture

That is always the problem. The moment the community comes up with something as simple as the Win installers, that will be the day when Lin*x goes mainstream. Not before.

Work Arounds

Seth de l'Isle's picture

That's exactly what Ubuntu does. But it is illegal for me to use MP3 software, either encoder or decoder, in the United States, without a patent license. It's also illegal to distribute MP3 encoders in the United States or decoders without a patent license.

As far as I am aware the primary motivation for Vorbis was legal.

According to the Wikipedia entry for MP3, which appears well referenced, Fraunhofer made a 100 million euros on MP3 patent licenses in 2005.

Are you advocating that US citizens break the law and that distros should assist them to break the law? In that case, why even mess with this Linux stuff -- you can just use a pirated copy of Windows for free ;)