March 30th, 2005
I was looking around for mplayer doc today to use an obscure function but imaging my surprise when I get to mplayer homepage:
This site has been shut down because of numerous patent violations in MPlayer. The other free software multimedia players are next.
Multimedia is a patent minefield. All important techniques and formats are covered by broad and trivial patents that are harming progress and alternative implementations, such as free software multimedia players.
Not sure if this is a joke or not but I already feel the pain. For those who don’t know, mplayer is the swiss-army knife for video files which runs on multiple platform (Linux, Mac, Windows). It can play almost any sort of video file you throw at it (avi, rm, mkv etc) with a variety of codecs (xvid, divx, mpeg2, mpeg4, etc), any number of audio codecs (mp2, ac3 etc), play vcd, play dvd, audio ripping, video ripping, remixing, transcoding, resampling, fix broken video, etc etc – so much so that the man pages runs into 10s of pages and no one can remember all the options and switches available.
From a humble little project started in 2001, it has become the most important OSS video app we have now but it is no more. :-(
Update 1hr later: Okay, my timing was a bit bad – they just changed the frontpage to say “This headline might soon become a reality due to the numerous patented techniques MPlayer implements.” with a link to the page below. Fooled me there :P (Hecked, I am the early April Fool :P)