Of Formats and Patents

Of Formats and Patents

leeor_net's picture

Hey, everybody!

I'm not usually this forward but I thought I'd ask for others opinions.

I've been looking around in the music section and noticed that... pretty much every submission is in MP3 format. I suppose that makes sense as it's such an easy format to distribute in. But... I have two issues with it.

It's Lossy

Like the JPEG's, it's a lossy format. E.g., you lose information during the compression. Sure that can be minimized by choosing a higher quality setting, but that sort of defeats the purpose of the compression. And if you're going to save it at a higher quality, why not use an open format?. Which brings me to my next point.

It's a Patented Format

Just like JPEG, the MP3 format is a patented format. For me, it's one of the most egregious abuses of the patent system in the US and I would even go so far as to say that software patents are evil. It's one of the reasons I don't support MP3 formats in my NAS2D API and one of the reasons I've been avoiding MP3 alltogether. Sorry, but if we're targeting the FLOSS community, I would think that using patented compression algorithms which require paid royalties regardless of who builds an encoder/decoder flies in the face of everything that is FLOSS.

That stated, what I'm wondering is why we don't have more submissions in either FLAC or OGG formats? Should we encourage submitters to encode music/audio in these other, non-patented formats? Sure, anybody can convert an MP3 to something else with tools like Audacity but, as with my first point, the damage to audio fidelity has already been done and the lost information is permanently lost. And yes, OGG is a lossy format, but FLAC isn't and it gets a pretty good compression factor.

Just as with NAS2D, I personally encourage everybody to use non-patented formats (like PNG or WebP and Ogg or Flac for audio)... should OGA do the same?