Ogg Vorbis is a fully open, non-proprietary, patent-and-royalty-free, general purpose compressed audio format for high quality audio and music (44.1-48.0kHz, 16+ bit, polyphonic) at fixed and variable bitrates from 16 to 128 kbps/channel that also has the ability to stream. This places it in the same class as MP3 and MPEG-4 audio files. Contrary to popular belief, MP3 is not an open format. Fraunhofer (and other MPEG consortium members) claim that it is impossible to create an mp3 encoder without infringing on their patents. MPEG-4, destined to be the next generation of internet audio, might be even more tightly controlled, and recent alliances between MPEG and the RIAA (which seeks to control all distribution) provide yet another reason to consider promoting an open source alternative.
Check it out for yourself. A download page lists the available plug-in players, encoders and development kits by platform (all are available on most platforms).
For Windows developers, a Oggdrop - Drag and drop GUI encoder and a Ogg Vorbis Win32 SDK are available, as well as the Winamp, FreeAMP and Sonique players. FAQ and Documentation are available for more information.
Here are the details regarding the format's open source license: "Xiphophorus's Vorbis software libraries (libvorbis and vorbisfile) are distributed under a BSD-like license; these libraries may be used by any application, Open or proprietary, linked or incorporated in whole, so long as acknowldgement is made to Xiphophorus when using our codec source in whole or in derived works. See the file 'COPYING' in the source for all the details.
All other portions of xiph.org's reference Vorbis software are distributed under the (GNU) General Public License (GPL)."
Date Listed: 06/18/2001