How Open is the Open Video Player Initiative?


Here's that “open” meme again:

Interactive agencies, ad technology firms and software firms joined with Akamai to build a best practices approach to online video player development. The goal of the project was to give the industry a resource that promotes existing best practices around rich media development. Over the last three years thousands of applications have been developed based on this standard powering millions of video plays.

As the Open Video Player initiative attracted a larger group of supporters it was agreed the project should be given to the Internet community. Today houses the latest versions of the player foundation – called the media framework - and cultivates it’s use as a best practice approach to professional online player development. The goal of the site under an open source license with optional contribution parameters is to simply make Internet video playback better and encourage the proliferation of online video. We encourage contributions and ideas on ways to achieve this ongoing goal.

What's curious about this self-styled open source site – whatever that means – is that two of the initiative's partners are Adobe and Microsoft, and in the downloads section, we are currently offered code for Adobe's Flash and Microsoft's Silverlight, which are hardly open source foundations. Open source, here, seems little more than a digital fig-leaf.

Indeed, as Larry Augustin writes:

What about building online video players using open source technologies? I agree that we need to open up standards and code for building media players because those technologies have become core to the Web experience today. But they need to be truly open technologies. Akamai has a chance with Open Video Player to do just that and I encourage them to consider supporting a truly open source video player platform.

He also notes another important deficiency:

I don't see anything about collaboration on the code There's nothing about a community process around advancing the code. I think to truly engage the developer community this has to be more than just publishing code. The code has to become a living, breathing project that can grow.

Exactly. Invoking the magic words “open source” is all very well, but it does imply rather more than this new site seems prepared to offer.

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