Spread Open Media/es/It's about the quality, it's about the freedom

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Bueno, aquí estamos. Formatos libres, medios abiertos. Palabras bonitas, palabras bonitas, pero ¿qué significan ellas para usted?

Tal vez no mucho ahora, pero escúcheme.

Esas palabras significan video de calidad-HD. Significan música de alta calidad en archivos de tamaños reducidos. Significan archivos de oficina que funcionan en todas partes, sin importar el sistema. Significan listas de reproducción que usted puede compartir realmente. Y, más importante aun: significan emancipación de las trabas de las corporaciones.

Sí... corporaciones. Ellas quieren aprisionar sus archivos, sus medios. Intente hacer una copia de respaldo de una de sus películas de DVD. Oh, correcto, no funciona. Así es como muchas de ellas mantienen los monopolios de software y el dominio del mercado de dispositivos electrónicos. A costa de la libertad de sus usuarios. Su libertad.

¿No apoyaría usted mejor a las compañías que no le quitarán esa libertad? Eso solo puede pasar si usted usa formatos libres. Así, por la demanda, las compañías se verían obligadas a vender medios abiertos y reproductores que funcionen con formatos libres. ¿No desea usted tener la libertad de usar sus medios donde quiera? Tal vez ya haya oído hablar de la DRM, pero esa es solo la punta del iceberg de los formatos no-libres.

Má preocupante aun es que los formatos no-libres pertenecen a compañías que no permiten su utilización más que en sus propios productos que exigen que todos paguen una licencia por su uso. Por ejemplo, cuando usted compra una película en DVD está pagando, no solamente por el ya sobrevalorado contenido, sino también por la licencia para usarlo. Aquí hay otra anécdota: tal vez recuerde la Xbox original. Aunque esta contiene un reproductor de DVD como otro de sus competidores, a diferencia de este, la Xbox no podía reproducir películas en DVD. Microsoft evitó tal licencia forzando a sus consumidores a comprar un control remoto costoso para cubrir el precio de la licencia. Esa no es la manera de servirle a los consumidores. Y mejor ni empiezo con MP3. Pregúnte a Microsoft cómo se sienten al pagar billones por daños a Alcatel-Lucent para que la gente pueda seguir usando un formato que suena como el audio de VHS.

Non-free formats are of the interest of no one but the people who own patents on them. The freedom to spare the money to pay for unnecessary licenses should not be taken lightly.

Still not convinced? Audio CDs have arguably become out of fashion with the turn of the century, so a few have moved to the next distribution method: online stores for digital music. Now, imagine. There's this guy, he's just a bloke struggling to make a good service out of representing musicians and gain a commission while at it. He's the middle man. But since he has not yet become filthy rich, it turns out he can't pay all the licenses required to sell music in non-free formats, and he knows he can't just sell them in free formats, because people don't know they should use free formats or just don't care. So he either gives up or goes illegal and prays nobody notices.

You — yes you — can avoid this. All you gotta do is use free formats like Vorbis (.ogg) and FLAC for music, instead of MP3 and whatever they try to promote as its successor. Or use Theora (.ogv) for video.

Still not convinced? Okay, back to the subject of freedom and liberty. The concept of Open Media is one that means two things: freedom in the use of the chosen format for any and whatever reason (only possible when you deal with free formats) and freedom to use the content for any and whatever reason (only possible when the content is made available under a free license). To achieve Open Media, a special kind of nirvana to some, a useful tool to others, these two battles to free content must be fought. Free formats and free licenses. And Open Media is only one step for the betterment of humanity.

Does it sound like some hippy bullshit? It's not. It's about leaving a better world for the next generations.

Well, but is it about quality as well as it is about the freedom? Hell yeah.

Public tests show that Vorbis is far superior to MP3 and other more modern lossy formats like Musepack and AAC. Classic, Pop, Rock, any kind of music! And it has multi-channel support! DJs know the power of Vorbis and, thanks to Ogg's streaming capabilities, so do online radio owners.

On the speech front nothing beats Speex. It's powerful, scalable and people use it in such different areas as podcasts, VoIP, audio books, and talking robots. Record a sample of your voice and compare the quality and the file size between a Speex and an MP3 file. The result is staggering. Not only is the Speex file way smaller, it sounds better!

And in the lossless audio front, FLAC is unbeatable. Good compression, low CPU overhead and — blasphemy! — it works on portable players. It's everyone's favorite choice for archiving music digitally. Metallica uses FLAC and so should you.

That covers audio, but what about video? The future will likely hold Dirac, but right now you have Theora. In its early years, Theora has suffered from bad support in tools, which made it look as if it had bad quality. Nothing could be farther from truth. Theora rivals most MPEG-4 formats, it beats Xvid, and it's ready to provide the world with video for everyone for the next five or more years until something better comes along. And that at a fraction of CPU power used by its rivals. Theora's performance makes it the ideal choice for video in low-powered devices like the XO laptop from the OLPC project or mobile phones. It is that good.

What if you wanted to share audio or video with your friends? Why, you would have XSPF for that. It is the one playlist format that gets it right. No, seriously. Try compare it with any other. It is no wonder multimedia applications like VLC are using it internally. It's simple, it's pratical, and it does everything one may want from a playlist and more.

We talked about the stuff you and I use, but what about the niche markets? The stuff only a few use? Are you wondering about your graphic designer friend? Then fret not. Until recently, graphic designers were forced to use proprietary formats to work with vector graphics. Now? Now they have SVG, a browser-comptabile, scriptable and cool format. Your friend can use it for both simple drawings and complex applications. How complex, you ask? Well, let's mix SVG, Theora and bit of scripting and you get this. Pretty cool, uh?

The formats are here, but they can't make the decision for you. It's you who must decide if you want Open Media or not. Make the world a better place. Support freedom, support quality. Use Open Media, use free formats.