On Mon, 22 Jul 2002, at 2:04pm, Rich C wrote:
> It appears the goal is to allow proprietary streaming media providers to
> supply "plug-ins" to RealNetworks' framework, in order to make a more
> versatile client. They don't appear to be opening up RealNetworks'
> streaming protocol.

  I haven't been able to derive much in the way of goals (or, indeed,
anything more than vaporware) from any of this.  I've seen the usual
conflicting rumors.  If you know of any more information, pointers are

  Bruce Perens, or someone who has hijacked or impersonated his account, has
made the following statements on Slashdot:

BP> Well, this release does not include any DRM, so it is likely that in the
BP> future (or even now) thare will be some DRM-protected RealMedia that the
BP> mostly-Open-Source player won't play.

  DRM is, of course, "Digital Rights Management", AKA "content control", AKA
"Thought Police".  However, DRM can mean many things, depending on context.  
RealNetworks pushes real-time streams as a sort of DRM, since it makes it
harder (note well: by no means impossible) to capture the content for later

  In regards to the reverse-engineering of Windows Media, Mr. Perens also
had this to say:

BP> The answer from Real's president was rather confusing. It sounds as if
BP> they have reverse engineered Microsoft's transport and not their codec.
BP> I'll follow up.

  That is uninteresting from a "Windows Media playback on Linux" standpoint,
but it does imply that Real is opening up their transports.  Maybe.

> Of course, the way they've done it has certainly opened the door for
> "Someone Else" to come along and reverse engineer their protocol.

  Reverse engineering network protocols has, historically, been rather easy
to do.  I was, in fact, somewhat surprised to not find an instance of a
"ripper" for RealNetworks's RDT protocol already in existence.

  The A/V CODECs have historically been harder, and more often protected by
patents, which is where the real problem (no pun intended) comes in.  While
capturing the RealMedia stream to disk would allow me to feed it back to
RealPlayer at my leisure, that really does not make it an "open" technology.  
It just makes using the closed, proprietary RealPlayer more easier for me.

> As an amateur content provider, I can say that my chief motivations in
> using streaming content ...

  As an amateur content provider, RealNetworks has zero interest in you.  
You are not paying them tens of thousands of dollars in license fees for
their production and distribution tools.

  As an amateur content provider, I would assume things like MPEG and Ogg
would be of the most interest to you.  Encoders are low-cost or free, and
very little needs to be done to enable "streaming" functionality.  At the
same time, nothing special needs to be done for those (like me) who cannot
sustain the stream: We just download it like normal, and play it back in
deferred time.

  The "big boys" who use RealMedia and Windows Media are generally
interested in content control.  Why else would they pay all this money for
things like RealServer and Windows 2000, when MPEG and Ogg are available for
so much less?

> While many content providers have copy protection and content control in
> mind, these objectives are easily met ...

  Not according to the media cartel (RIAA, MPAA, etc.) or the DMCA or the
recent "Internet radio" thing.  All say that even a horribly imperfect
digital stream is a "performance".

> If I WERE concerned with such matters, I certainly wouldn't go running to
> Microsoft, since RealNetworks' player can now decode that format as well.

  Since when can RealPlayer decode Windows Media?  The version I have on
Linux ( certainly cannot.  More information, please.

> Any client plug-in that can capture RealNetworks' stream to a file would
> likely be capable of doing the same with the Media Player stream as well.

  That's not the point.  The point is that the media cartel regards Open
Source as a lethal toxin.  They might start favoring Windows Media if Real
even appears to be "tainted" by the Open Source poison.  Reality has nothing
to do with this argument.  Remember, the media cartel argued that VHS would
be the death of their industry, too.

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