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Goodbye Blu-Ray, Hello Lib-Ray - A Free Format for Free Movies

About the Talk

April 2, 2011 6:30 AM

Hilton Austin Hotel

Hilton Austin Hotel

New technologies for distributing high-definition video are necessary, but the commercial entertainment industry's response (Blu-Ray) is totally inappropriate for free media on free software platforms suchas GNU/Linux. Since there appear to be no commercial competitors, we are forced to consider creating a new, minimalist standard for HD, which we've dubbed "Lib-Ray."

How hard will this be? On the one hand, we are burdened by a very tiny distribution effort, targeted at a small number of niche users concerned about free culture, and an even smaller group of free culture producers who will be attracted to a free format. On the other hand, most of the effort in proprietary standards is put into anti-features -- DRM, region-coding, and obfuscation -- which we neither need nor want.

Our standard emphasizes re-use of existing, widely-supported open source technologies (Notably XHTML, CSS, Javascript/ECMAScript, Ogg, Theora, Vorbis, FLAC, and Kate). As a result, most of our work is done for us. We have only to pick and choose a minimum set of standards, and market it.

Doing so, we can achieve all of the end-user values of DVD and Blu-Ray movie standards, and yet provide complete transparency and freedom for the viewer.

Lib-Ray is a pure-software standard, agnostic towards hardware technology (any mountable format is acceptable), and it can also support digital delivery.

My presentation will include the particulars of the draft Lib-Ray standard, the motivations for the choices, and the work remaining to make the standard viable for producers, consumers, and "prosumers" of free culture movies.

Terry Hancock is co-owner and technical officer of Anansi Spaceworks, a small company which applies free software and free culture approaches to advocacy, education, and development of space technology and resources. He is also a regular columnist for Free Software Magazine, and the producer of an in-production free culture science fiction animated video series about a lunar settlement to be called "Lunatics".

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