[d@DCC] Re: [gosling-tor] CBC to back only proprietary Microsoft Media
Julian C. Dunn
lists at aquezada.com
Thu Sep 9 11:36:29 EDT 2004
On Thu, 9 Sep 2004, Russell McOrmond wrote:
>> Given that the majority of CBC.ca's users use Windows, one can make the
>> legitimate argument that moving to WM is a way to satisfy our mandate to
>> "serve Canadians". (I'm not necessarily making that argument myself, I'm
>> just saying...)
> (I'm not arguing against you, but you can pass this onward to those who
> would make such questionable arguments...)
> What platform users are using is only relevant when non-standard
> protocols and software are chosen. 100% of computers are capable of
> running standards based software. Pretty much any multimedia standard has
> multiple implementations on Microsoft Windows, so that "majority" is
> automatically included on the standards side.
> There can never be a legitimate argument based on statistics that
> suggests the use of a non-standard media format given any non-standard
> media format is by definition less supported (and less supportable) than a
> standard format.
That is your view, and you are certainly entitled to have it. I don't want
to sound like I'm patronizing you, but before I continue I must advise
that hard-edged statements using words like "never" don't necessarily work
well in the areas of public policy. However right you are, beating the CBC
over the head with a large bat is probably going to change nothing. They
are merely going to serve to sideline you.
What's needed, if you intend to be heard and listened to, is to promote
positive reasons as to *why* the CBC should use open source codecs, and
*demonstrate* working solutions that will not cause endless frustrations
for regular computer novices, e.g. my mother. You (or anyone else) can't
just simply point to the fact that "there are open source codecs out
there" and "Ogg Vorbis just works on all platforms" etc. It has to be
physically demonstrated that this is going to work seamlessly for the
majority of Canadians without generating too many complaints.
> What CBC is doing is not "serving Canadians" but promoting a vendor.
CBC did not choose Windows Media in order to "promote a vendor". If you
wish to view it that way, again, it's your prerogative. But in my view
it's as silly as arguing that our old streaming network was chosen to
"promote RealNetworks as a vendor". I assure you that it was not the case.
> Multiple times over the years I have made comments to CBC about its use
> of proprietary formats and proprietary CODECS. I know you don't
> "represent the corporation", but this public reply from you is the closest
> to a reply I have ever received.
CBC gets a lot of e-mail and I cannot speak to what the Audience Relations
reply policy is like, but I know that it is very unlikely that you will
receive a reply about highly technical issues.
> Thank you very much for this reply.
> I do hope many people will send in feedback, and that this decision will
> be changed.
>From a personal standpoint, I do too. Believe me, the team implementing
the change are certainly not a bunch of rah-rah Microsoft Certified
Solitaire Experts. They are actually highly experienced and very sharp,
UNIX admins. Ogg Vorbis and other open source technologies were certainly
promoted and assessed before making this change. And we certainly continue
to battle internally for the use of open standards and open source
>> In the interim, may I suggest http://mplayerplug-in.sourceforge.net/
> May I suggest you follow the country-by-country ratification of the WIPO
> copyright treaties, which seeks to make third-party compatibility with
> proprietary DRM-encumbered file formats such as Microsoft Media illegal.
Whoa there. I was merely pointing that out in order to indicate that the
argument about "shutting out UNIX users" is not exactly valid, since there
-is- software out there which can play the Windows Media streams. This was
information that I felt potential letter writers should keep in mind;
there's nothing worse than writing a letter that is full of factual
inaccuracies, if you hope to retain your credibility.
>> As for Russell's remark about being embarrassed to see what the CBC is
>> doing compared to what the BBC is doing -- the real thing to be
>> embarrassed about is how paltry the CBC's funding is compared to the
>> BBC. If every Canadian had to pay a yearly licensing tax on their
>> television sets to the CBC, we'd probably also be able to develop our
>> own open source codecs, etc.
> The great thing about Open Standards, Open Access, Free/Libre and Open
> Source Software (,etc) is that CBC doesn't need to do their own research
> and development. CBC just needs to adopt the free/gratis/libre standards
> that others have created. Is Microsoft paying CBC (or "donating the
> software" so that CBC can be part of their marketing force) in order to
> make this move to Microsoft Media happen?
Microsoft is doing nothing of the sort. There is no need for conspiracy
theories here; as I have pointed out, the decision was made based on
technical factors. If you can demonstrate a working technical solution
which is at least equal to or better than the functionality and
ease-of-use of the WMP system, I personally would be all ears.
> The timing of mentioning CBC funding isn't a great one. I know that if
> I was asked tomorrow about CBC funding I wouldn't be very supportive given
> what I see as a divergence from a public mandate towards a form of
I don't see how advocating a reduction in the CBC's funding would
accomplish your goals either.
> I believe that the government should mandate standards (as defined by
> standards groups, the way standards groups are defined by the WTO/etc) as
> a condition of public funding for multimedia/online services (whether that
> be CBC or other government funded services). I will follow the discussion
> that may happen as a result of this thread, and will later write a letter
> to a few MPs suggesting this.
I probably would agree with you on that initial statement about the
government mandating such standards.
[ Julian C. Dunn <jdunn at aquezada.com> * <julian at dreaming.org> ]
[ WWW: www.aquezada.com/staff/julian/ * www.dreaming.org/~julian/ ]
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