Spread Open Media/en/FAQ

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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 Open Media formats, and a directory of cool stuff to watch or listen to.

Open Media 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 Open Media formats.
  • Share only Open Media formats with others.
  • Link to this site. We have some banners that you may use.
  • Inform companies that you want to use Open Media 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 formats.
  • Pay for advertisement somewhere for the SOM cause.
  • Record podcasts in Speex. Release music in 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 Open Media formats are there?

Here’s a list of the most common:

  • Theora (video, lossy)
  • FLAC (audio, lossless)
  • Vorbis (audio, higher quality lossy)
  • Speex (audio, lower quality lossy, voice)
  • XSPF (playlist)
  • SVG (vector image)
  • PNG (raster / compressed bitmap image, lostless)
  • OpenDocument (office)
  • SMIL (media presentations)

This list is not complete.

Why do free/open media formats matter for either the Free Software, Free Culture, or Open Source movements?

Let's just say that without Open Media 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 guy/girl.

Then focus on the good aspects of Open Media 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. Open Media formats are not crippled or defective by design. They provide you with what you want: content.

But the pirates won't release material under Open Media formats!

Xiph.org is creating media technology to enable users to stay legally clean without depending on the gratitude of third-parties. Pirated content won't suddenly get a clean legal status no matter how open and free the media format involved is.

Xiph.org won't promote Ogg media technology to the warez scene. Pirates are irrelevant to the mission of enabling users to keep in charge of their media. Respecting copyrights and law in general is a crucial underpinning to the world of open source.

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.

What is this Ogg thing I keep hearing about?

Ogg is a container format. It’s complex, 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 Ogg.

You may also see some ignorant companies promoting so-called “OGG players”. There’s two serious 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, OggPCM, OggMNG, or OggUVS.

To avoid confusion just forget about Ogg altogether and call the formats by their appropriate name, regardless of their connection to the Ogg project.

Is SOM related with PlayOgg?

No. That's a FSF project.

How do I put a license in my video or audio files?

If you own the copyright of a media work you may license it under whatever conditions you like. Check this tutorial for instructions on how to do it.