The term 'Codec' usually applies to audio or video encoding and decoding which generally implies Compression and decompression.
Ogg Theora+Vorbis can change that but Apple and Nokia are fighting it. They want their preferred patent-encumbered formats to become the standard means for distributing video online. This is a real problem for anyone who can’t pay for the relevant patent licenses, which means all free software hackers.
- Implementing MPEG standards (such as mp3 or H-264) is difficult to do without encountering patent issues which will require royalty payments to http://MPEGLA.com
Compiled by Valentin Spirik:
FOSS Codecs For Online Video http://wiki.transmission.cc/index.php/FOSS_Codecs_For_Online_Video:_Usability_Uptake_and_Development_1.2 "Usability Uptake and Development 1.2"
Flip4Mac http://www.flip4mac.com/wmv_download.htm is a commercial but free (there is a pro/to buy version) that allows Mac users to watch (newer) .wmv encoded files either via the web browser or with the QuickTime Player. Since the latest version of the open-source VLC (0.8.6) - see above - now also plays back videos encoded with the newer Windows Media 9 codec (on the Mac), Flip4Mac might not be so important any more for some Mac users.
QTAmateur http://www.mikeash.com/?page=software/qtamateur/index.html is "a small, simple QuickTime video player. It can play any format that QuickTime can understand, handle fullscreen video playback, and export files to any format that QuickTime can write ...includes a Batch Export function which can convert any number of movies at a time to another format."
Perian http://perian.org/ is "a free, open source QuickTime® component that adds native support for many popular video formats" (like .avi and .flv). Requires OS X 10.4.7.
Xiph QuickTime Components http://www.xiph.org/quicktime/ is "the solution for Mac and Windows users who want to use Xiph formats in any QuickTime-based application, e.g. playing Ogg Vorbis in iTunes."
Ogg Vorbis http://www.vorbis.com/ (for audio) and Ogg Theora http://www.theora.org/ (for video) are open-source alternatives for media encoding, also interesting for commercial online publishing since they are patent free and no license fees will have to be paid.
(*) VLC 0.8.6 (December 2006): Windows Media 9 and Flash Video now also supported under OS X. The only major format not supported yet on any platform is the increasingly unpopular RealVideo.