It seems that the Free Software Organisation is just as capable at telling porkies about software as the big evil proprietary outfits.
The FSF has started a campaign called PlayOgg, whose goal is to encourage the use of open-source Ogg media formats.
On the PlayOgg FAQ page, they found statements which were a little misleading. One said that unlike MP3, Ogg Vorbis is not restricted by patents. Microsoft had to pay $1.5 billion after being sued for using MP3 without a license. With Ogg Vorbis, they would have been safe!
However Redmond has not had to pay anyone as the result of a lawsuit on the MP3 format. In February 2007 found for Alcatel-Lucent and against Microsoft in a patent case that lasted seven years. However six months later the jury verdict was dismissed as being “against the clear weight of the evidence”.
Microsoft began using the MP3 format in Windows Media Player in 1998 however since the first stable version of the Ogg Vorbis reference software (version 1.0) was not released until July 2002 this would have been a bit tricky.
The FSF also claims that RealPlayer, Windows Media Player, iTunes, and other popular formats require people to use non-free software: controlled by companies, not by the users. However if you write a media player for Windows and can build in support for whatever media formats they want, you are not “required” to use Windows Media Player.
Default Programs menu allows you to replace Windows Media Player with your preferred media player. One is VLC which uses Ogg so quite why the FSF forgot about it is anyone’s guess.
Accordingly, Redmond has been quite helpful to VLC and funded the players Windows 7 compatibility programme.
The FSF claims that Windows Media Player spies on users, again without any shred of evidence.
Then there is the question as to whether Ogg formats and codecs are any safer. Zdnet claims that the Ogg formats and codecs simply haven’t been tested in court because as a nonprofit foundation, Xiph.org is a pretty unattractive target for a lawsuit.
So all up, according to ZDNet, the FSF is telling porkies and spreading FUD as other codecs are equally safe.