Spread Open Media/en/FAQ
What is Spread Open Media all about?
Spread Open Media is the one web site where you’ll find everything you need to know about the media formats that will help build a better world. And if you believe in our cause, you may want to tell everyone you know about those new formats, because ignorance is their worst enemy. So come join the fight to free the content you care from the corporations that want to restrict your rights and lock your files.
On SOM you will find campaigns to join, advertisement material to use, tutorials to help your friends, a database of products that work with free formats, and a directory of cool stuff to watch or listen to.
Free formats allow for innovation, quality, and freedom. Through them, and only through them, do projects like Wikipedia and Creative Commons make sense. Through them, and only through them, will video and audio work across the web as smoothly as images do now. It’s time to promote them. It's time to Spread Open Media.
How can I help?
There’s many things you can do:
- Start using free formats and Open Media.
- Share only free formats and Open Media with others.
- Link to this site. We have some banners that you can use.
- Inform companies that you want to use free formats (check the MailOgging project).
- Join one of the campaigns.
- Suggest new campaigns.
- Help translate this site to other languages.
- Pay a programmer to fix existing programs that deal badly with Open Media.
- Pay for advertisement somewhere for the SOM cause.
- Record podcasts in Opus or Speex.
- Release music in Opus, Vorbis or FLAC.
- Use Theora for video.
- Make SVG and/or PNG graphics for your web site.
- Use OpenDocument on your office.
- Share XSPF playlists.
- Avoid MP3, AAC, H.264, Xvid, and OOXML like the plague.
What are free formats and Open Media?
Formats or codecs are the basis of all video, audio, images, text you see around. In opposition to non-free formats, free formats are royalty-free/patent-free and made available for anyone to implement and use at no cost.
Media is the content. We define Open Media as content that is both under a free format and is made available under a free license (like the less-restricitve Creative Commons licenses).
What free formats are there?
Here’s a list of the most common:
- Theora (video, lossy)
- FLAC (audio, lossless)
- Opus (audio, lossy, better quality and lower latency than Vorbis, MP3, AAC and others, replaces Speex and CELT)
- Vorbis (audio, lossy)
- Speex (audio, voice, made obsolete by Opus)
- XSPF (playlists)
- SVG (vector image)
- PNG (raster image, lossless)
- OpenDocument (office)
- SMIL (media presentations)
Note that this is not an exhaustive list. Plenty more free formats out there!
Why do free formats matter for either the Free Software, Free Culture, or Open Source movements?
Without free formats, there's really no point for any of those projects. Media is content. When it's locked in proprietary formats, you remove the freedom of the users to use it. If you believe in the ideals of any of those movements, you should not create content under proprietary formats or create tools that work with these formats only.
But I don't care about any of those movements! I'm just a normal person.
Then focus on the more "practical" aspects of free formats. Most of them provide better audio or visual quality than their proprietary counter-parts. All of them are confirmed to work in the future, whereas with proprietary formats you never know what the corporation is planning. And there's no DRM locking. Free formats are not crippled or defective by design. They provide you with what you want: content. That's what Open Media is all about. Content.
But the pirates won't release material under free formats!
Unfortunately, piracy will always exist. More unfortunately, the rise of formats is always due to piracy: look at VHS and MP3 cases.
While we will not advocate nor condemn piracy, the problem with the warez scene is that they release material on the currently popular formats. Free formats can be popular as well as long as people work to make it so. So, while we will not advocate nor condemn piracy, we hope the warez scene will wake up and do the right thing. The warez scene believes it's doing the world a favor. Maybe they should prove that by going further and use free formats only.
However, pirated content will not get a clean legal status no matter how open and free the media format involved is. Never forget that. Magnatune and other online stores will sell you content under free formats, some of it licensed under free licenses too.
How do I edit SOM articles?
Easy. Follow the [ edit ] link at the bottom of every post. It will lead you to a wiki where you may help improve the articles.
How may I contribute content to the SOM project?
Please go to this page.
Why the acronym SOM?
SOM is the Portuguese word for "sound". The name was chosen because of the sound of every voice asking to Spread Open Media.
Who's behind SOM?
See the credits.
What is this Ogg thing I keep hearing about?
Ogg is a container format. Container formats are different to video and audio formats, but you don’t need to know the details. Just keep in mind that Theora is sometimes called Ogg Video and Vorbis called Ogg Audio, because they both go inside an Ogg container. Ogg is not just audio, okay?
You may also see some companies promoting so-called “OGG players”. There’s two problems here: Ogg is not an acronym and these companies are fooling their customers into thinking Ogg is Vorbis, which is not true. So, if you see a company selling a player with support for “OGG”, it means it can play Vorbis, but very likely it won’t play any of Theora, Speex, Dirac, OggPCM, OggMNG, etc.
To avoid confusion, just forget about Ogg altogether and call the formats by their appropriate name, regardless of their connection to the Ogg project.
No. PlayOgg is a campaign of the Free Software Foundation.
How do I access SOM with my WAP browser?
People still use WAP? Here you go: wap.spreadopenmedia.org