January 17, 2001

DivX team: We want to do right by Open Source community

Author: JT Smith

- By Grant Gross -
How better to get your video compression software recognized as the standard across all platforms, even video-game consoles, than to Open-Source the code to the world? That's the hope of the team that's created DivX, a program that allows users to create and sent high-quality video across the Internet.

The team announced Tuesday that the DivX code, based on a next-generation MP3-like video standard called MPEG-4, has been released at the Project Mayo Web site, and OpenDivX's forums already have more than 100 posts and hundreds of page views.

"What we're aiming for is for DivX to be a video-playing standard," says Joe Bezdek, director of product definition for Project Mayo, the company built around the DivX product. "We're movie lovers, and we want to see it work on as many platforms as possible."

The Project Mayo site has DivX projects set up for Linux, Mac, Windows, even Playstation, in response to many requests the team as gotten in the past six-plus months for a game-console version, Bezdek says. Binaries are now available for the Windows version and for a Windows player, called the Playa.

"What's next is to build this online community and DivX, to have it work well on all the platforms listed on the site and maybe even ones we haven't even thought of," Bezdek says. "We're just getting into the community and enjoying talking to people."

Here's what the site says for the DivX for Linux project: "OK guys, this is it. An open video codec for Linux. There are only about 10,000,000 posts to every Slashdot thread that mentions an open source MPEG-4 codec, so we assume you want one. We are working on everything for Linux - the encoder, the decoder, you name it ... We have some internal versions running on Linux but we need to blow them out." Project Mayo is looking for a Linux forum moderator who "has the love."

Project Mayo has created its own license for the Open-Sourced project. Like the Apache license, the DivX Open License allows the DivX team to retain the right to release versions under the "DivX" name. The license also addresses video patent issues -- basically, the user is responsible for getting a patent release to play a video.

That wording may help Project Mayo avoid lawsuits that have plagued other technologies such as the DeCSS DVD-playing software. And Bezdek is careful to distinguish DivX from file-sharing services such as Napster, which uses the MP3 format to allow users to trade music.

"DivX is comparable to MP3," he says. "It's a high-quality video compression format that a lot of people like to use. We don't have any control over how people use it."

David Ulevitch, a sysadmin for Project Mayo and advocate for its Open Source release, says the team wants to do right by the Open Source community. He told Slashdot readers that the Open Source release of DivX isn't meant to drum positive press. "This code works, but we are making it better," he wrote to Slashdot. "We are developing this code still, not just throwing it to the open source world for the hype, we just thought others would want in ... all of our developers are on the mailing lists and actively post in our forums."

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