Make Television

Why Ogg Theora Matters for Internet TV

If you are making an Internet TV show, then you should be supporting the Ogg Theora video format.

As an Internet TV producer you want to support the formats that will let people view your show. So you think: "you want iPod users to be able to view your show, so you need to support .m4v's". You think: "you want PSP users to be able to view your show, so you need to support .mp4's". You think: "you want Windows users (without anything else installed) to be able to watch you show, so you need to support .wmv's". Etc.

But you should be forward thinking too. And do the right thing to help everyone making and watching Internet TV shows, including yourself, by supporting the Ogg Theora video format.

No Tax on Internet TV

All these formats (except for Ogg Theora) are encumbered by patents or have licensing costs associates with them. Costs that me, you, tool creators, and our audience will have to pay, either directly or in-directly. (This means that watchers and makers of Internet TV will have to pay money to some person or company just to watch and make Internet TV shows that have absolutely nothing to do with that person or company.) This just makes things more expensive for everyone since we are essentially being "taxed". And it's ridiculous to just accept this tax when there's no reason we have to.

Ogg Theora was created by a grass roots effort (spearheaded by the Foundation) to combat all the patent and licensing absurdness video formats have been seeing. Ogg Theora is NOT encumbered by patents. Ogg Theora makes it so there is absolutely no licensing costs of any kind! Ogg Theora is completely Free for everyone (and will always stay that way).

Ogg Theora History

On the web we have 3 image formats to work with: GIF's, JPEG's, and PNG's. But did you know that the PNG image format is a rather recent creation. The PNG format was created because at the end of December 1994 one company started making people, who handled GIF's, pay them money because they claimed that patents they had gave them ownership over the GIF image format. (An image format which they had absolutely nothing to do with.) The PNG file format was created by a grass roots effort to combat this. And make a Free image format for everyone to use (without fear of being sued by someone claiming patent infringement).

Later on, the Internet faced another patent crisis; but this time with the MP3 audio format. Ogg Vorbis, a sister format to the Ogg Theora video format, and whose history the Ogg Theora video format is tied to, was created by similar motivations as the PNG format.

The Ogg Vorbis audio format was the answer to the MP3 patent crisis. Although MP3's ushered in the age of audio on the Internet, there were problems with it. There were and still are people who are going around suing anyone who is doing anything with MP3's (who doesn't pay them money), because they claim that patents they have gives them ownership over the MP3 audio format. (I'll avoid talking about all the patent law problems we currently have and the unethical practices and just refer you to the No Software Patents! website if you want more information.) Ogg Vorbis was created as an answer to this problem. Ogg Vorbis is an audio format (like MP3's); but one which isn't going to get you sued if you use it.

Like MP3's, all the video formats of the day were encumbered and plagued by patents. And people were and still are rightly concerned about getting sued and forcibly having to pay fees/taxes. Ogg Theora is an answer to this. Ogg Theora is completely Free for everyone to use!

The Theora codec was based on the VP3 codec generously donated by On2 Technologies to the Foundation. The good people at the Xiph Foundation then turned this into the Free video format known as Ogg Theora.

More on Ogg Theora

This article only scratches the surface of Ogg Theora. You can get more information via the following links.

And if your interested in Ogg Theora, you may find Matroska and Dirac interesting too.


published on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @ 12:42PM
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Ben <> said on Wednesday March 15, 2006 @ 1:22PM:

the video codec is really outdated you said it uses the VP3 codec generously donated by On2 Technologies. while i do agree that On2 Tech. has the best codec in the world but that is the VP7 or even the VP6. But yea even the VP3 produces video much better then other codecs used today.

Charles Iliya Krempeaux <> said on Tuesday April 4, 2006 @ 11:23PM:

Java Applet for playing Ogg Theora

If you're worried about your viewing not being able to play Ogg Theora videos in their browser, you can make use of Cortado.

Cortado is a Java applet that plays Ogg Theora video (as well as other video formats). And best of all, Cortado is Free and open source software.

You can get more info about it at:

-- Charles