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VLC version drops support for spyware

Blames AOL for licence restrictions
Tue Jun 22 2010, 10:55

OPEN SOURCE media player Videolan has been forced to drop Shoutcast support in its latest version.

vlcThe software, which is known for its versatility, has been updated to support GPU decoding of high definition video formats including Mpeg-2, VC-1 and H.264 on Windows Vista, Windows 7 and GNU/Linux. However, the team is "quite sad" at being able to recommend only Nvidia's GPUs, claiming that ATI needs to fix its Windows drivers and that Intel has yet to give them access to its hardware.

As always, VLC won't be found wanting for codec support. Even decoding of Google's vaunted VP8 is supported, so its no surprise that VLC 1.1.0 supports encoding and decoding of the WebM format. Webm is a combination of VP8 video and Vorbis audio, and Google is pushing for its inclusion in the HTML5 standard.

Along with providing support for a plethora of audio and video codecs, VLC also has improved support for container formats such as MKV. The VLC team is claiming an astonishing "up to 40 per cent" speed-up in high definition resolutions, thanks in part to low-level optimisations.

VLC has also targeted developers with the removal of "tens of thousands of lines" of code, code refactoring, simplified libraries, better C integration and new C++ bindings.

However controversy has arisen, as the team felt it necessary to explain why the latest release of VLC does not include support for Shoutcast. Apparently, Shoutcast support was "one of the best features of the software", according to user feedback. Therefore it's not surprising that it took something major to have it pulled.

According to the VLC team, developers had been receiving injunctions from AOL asking it to comply with a licence that VLC claims is "not compatible with free software" or remove Shoutcast in VLC. To justify why it chose the latter option, VLC has come out fighting.

Stating why AOL's license cannot be adhered to if VLC is to remain open source, the VLC team claims that "the license (sic) forces us to integrate the spyware and adware based Shoutcast Radio Toolbar inside your browser." However AOL's loss is the open source project Icecast's gain. VLC points out that its "extension framework" makes it possible to integrate Icecast within VLC.

It's hardly surprising that AOL, a company that seemingly exists merely to be the butt of technology jokes, expects a high profile open source project such as VLC to sully itself by being associated with the two-bit dial-up Internet outfit. Thankfully, its stupidity has paved the way for an open source project to take its place. µ



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