2008-09-18

EuroparlTV for everyone? No, only for users of proprietary software!

The European Parliament (EP) has just recently started a new service: EuroparlTV. A web-TV service which should give citizens of the European Union (actually everyone around the world)  a way to inform themselves about how the EP works, what it does, and so on.

After I first read these news over at heise (german) I was impressed, but started to fear that yet again some sort of government has invested in proprietary software and is able to bring its services only to users of such software. Seconds later my fears became reality.

EuroparlTV seems to work only for users of either Adobe's proprietary Flash player (via the proprietary Adobe Flash file format) or users of Microsoft's Windows Media Player (via the proprietary WMV file format).

What this means to an open web, that is usable for everyone, should be clear.

Basically this is a service all citizens of the European Union pay for, but some cannot use. Is this really how governments (and the EP is some sort of government) should treat their citizens? Rather not.

On the one hand the European Commission is fighting vendor lock-in and monopoles, but on the other hand it directly helps these vendors by creating such services. Not a smart move in my opinion, neither is it understandable.

What I am asking myself though is why the EP was unable to create such a service, which itself could be quite interesting, without having all users of that service use proprietary software?
Is it so hard to deliver the service in a free (as in freedom), standardized format?
I will let answering these questions to you, but keep in mind that there are alternatives to this whole proprietary mess, like Ogg, which are completly free.

Personally I am pretty disappointed by this move. However, I hope that I at least informed people that there is a problem with EuroparlTV.
Putting it simple and short this way the EP does a great deal with helping vendor lock-in whilst fighting the freedom of its own citizens. Even though it should be the other way round.

2 comments:

  1. government institutions are so stupid! romanian national radio broadcasting(srr.ro) is streaming only wma2 crapy proprietary format with live drm copyright :)!!
    i send them an e-mail to ask for change this but they don't even bother to respond!
    those dumb heads think everybody is using windows!

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  2. This is indeed very sad. It has to be said though that there doesn't seem to be a lot of choice for free codecs for video formats around. Ogg is great however only useful for sound. There is the Theora video format, but last time I watched an interview at linux.com in Theora the file was huge, about 120 MB to download! (although in a great quality). Have you tried watching it with the gnash plugin instead of flash?

    I'm looking forward to the html5 specification which apparently should include native embedding of video content however this seems to be far into the future as well.

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