OGG? OGG? WTF is OGG? I’ll get to that in a moment, and then after I’ve gotten to that I’ll get to two methods for getting Ogg Vorbis files to play in iTunes. One method is insanely easy but will take a while, the second method is much quicker and somewhat harder. Now, I get to the getting to that.
Ogg Vorbis is a free competitor to MP3. “But wait,” you say on cue, “MP3s are, err, free-ish. I don’t have to pay anything to legally encode my legally purchased CDs on a computer that I certainly didn’t win in a bar bet in Tijuana.” That’s right, you don’t have to pay anything, but someone does.
A company called Faunhofer owns several patents that are used with MP3s, and so every time you download an MP3 playing program the maker has to spend money. If you still hate Apple after all they’ve done for you you could download iTunes several billion times and drive them into a much-predicted bankruptcy. (Probably not)
If you or one of your geeky friends wanted to make your own MP3 player you’d have to pay Fraunhofer, even if you gave it away for free. Sure that seems unlikely – considering the free mp3 players available for download – but my girlfriend seems to insist on cooking from scratch when there’s perfectly good meals available in my supermarket’s frozen foods and cereal aisles. My point is that people make all sorts of crazy things from scratch, except she doesn’t have to pay royalties on her excellent pasta salad.
(Aside: MP3 is short for MPEG Audio Layer 3, and MPEG is an acronym for Motion Picture Experts Group. Does that mean that MP3 expands to “Motion Picture 3,” even though it’s an audio format? What’s the matter, did I just blow your mind?)
Am I against giving Fraunhofer their due? Not really, but I’m not champing at the bit to give them money for something the Vorbis people are able to do for free. Should you get rid of all your MP3s and re-encode all your albums as Ogg Vorbis? If you’ve got that much time on your hands, I guess, but I’m not doing it.
What should you do with Ogg Vorbis? If you’re part of the 83% of musicians that provides music online consider putting up Ogg files. When you rip your new music, rip it as Ogg Vorbis. Or you can just listen to LiveJournal Phone Posts and make fun of people for all their drama.
More importantly, why should you use Ogg Vorbis? Well it sounds better. Also, copyright protections are eroding our rights and by using an open format you know that it won’t track users. If you don’t think that file formats are that important, Larry Lessig puts forward an excellent case in Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace for how computer code is creating laws that no citizen can protest.
So now that the advocacy for Ogg Vorbis is out of the way, continue reading for how to get it going in iTunes.
I promised an easy way and here it is: Contact Apple and tell them that you want Ogg Vorbis support in their products. I told you it was easy, and I also said it would take a while. A long while considering iTunes 4.5 just came out, I wouldn’t expect to see iTunes 5 for 12 to 18 months. But this part is key: in their most recent iTunes conference call, Apple said that they don’t support Ogg Vorbis because no one is asking for it. Let Apple know that you don’t want to rent music, you want to own it. Apple admits that you are the reason that it doesn’t support Ogg Vorbis.
If you don’t want to wait for Apple to officially support it (and I don’t blame you if you don’t), you can still get it working by going to the QuickTime Components project and downloading the Ogg Vorbis plugin for Windows or Mac OS X. Exctract the file and either put it in C:\Windows\System32\QuickTime (Windows) or /Library/Quicktime (OS X) and restart. iTunes will start playing Ogg files! Awesome. That wasn’t that much harder than writing Apple, and it’s got a much faster payoff. Of course, following both methods yields best results.
: Yes you. You personally. They named you but Gizmodo wanted to spare you the wrath of Apple zealots and didn’t print your name. You should thank them. [back]