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You are here: Home Blogs Community TinyOgg project liberates Flash videos

TinyOgg project liberates Flash videos

by root Contributions Published on Jan 12, 2010 04:48 PM
FSF volunteer and <a href="">GNU Generation</a> member Osama Khalid just launched a great tool: <a href="">TinyOgg</a>. TinyOgg takes in a link to a Flash video (boo!) and spits out a link to an Ogg video (hooray!).</p>

It only works with videos you have posted to YouTube for now, but his intention is to support a long list of sites.

What's wrong with Flash

Even though some Flash-based video sites have players that work in Gnash, Flash video promotes proprietary software, since most users think proprietary software is required to play it. Also, the ActionScript code for the page's own Flash player is usually not free (see: The JavaScript Trap) which means you're running nonfree software, even if you're using Gnash to interpret it. Finally, Flash uses video formats that are covered by software patents which patent law in the US and other countries (until we win the Bilski Supreme Court case) prevents from being distributed freely.

Enter Ogg Theora

Ogg Theora video, on the other hand, plays directly in a free software web browser like Firefox or Icecat using a simple standard (the video tag) and it is a free format with no patent restrictions. TinyOgg turns video links that are annoying for free software users and bad for the world into video links that respect everyone's freedom.

Plus the code itself is available under a free license

To help build the free software world, Osama Khalid has published the TinyOgg code for others to use on their own sites under the GNU Affero General Public License, which means that the operator of a network server running a modified version of TinyOgg will provide source code to the users of that server.

It's got potential

Though small, we think the TinyOgg has real strategic significance. With a large community participating, perhaps with a Firefox/Icecat extension automatically querying for available Ogg videos (queries which could then get prioritized for transcode according to popularity) this could become a real solution for avoiding Flash video (any takers?).

This also might be a way to get large video hosting sites (who are dissuaded by the cost of supporting another format, but who might be persuaded to offer free hosting) to start offering real Ogg Theora support. Dailymotion took a step in this direction, but not a definitive one.

Obviously there will be some quality loss in converting from h.264 to Ogg Theora. And it would be better for people to upload their video as Ogg Theora, to services that are committed to free formats. But as transitional measures go, this one has promise!

How you can use TinyOgg

  • When sharing videos you may have already uploaded to a Flash-based site, support free software and free formats by linking to them via TinyOgg.

  • TinyOgg lets you access videos from supported sites using only free software (for example, on one of our fully-free distributions).

  • Personally, I would love to see TinyOgg as the basis for a Flash-killing Icecat and Firefox extension that displayed TinyOgg versions by default (if available).

How you can help TinyOgg

  • Take a few minutes now to convert any videos you've uploaded yourself.

  • Contribute bug reports, code, and translations.

  • Tell people about it.

To help, contact

More about GNU Generation

GNU Generation is an ongoing community and competition to involve pre-university and high school students (approximately age 13-18) in free software. Each year, participants will be evaluated based on their contribution to free software. All active contributors will receive a complementary membership to the FSF, and the top contributors will win a GNU/Linux netbook!


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