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Free aacPlus encoder - any such beastie?


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I've been looking for a free aacPlus audio codec to use in a source encoder. As I've browsed around, I know plenty of people are yanking the WinAmp aac encoder and using that in edcast or whatever encoder they prefer. However, I'm not entirely convinced of the legality of that.

 

This is for a small commercial service provider, so I don't want to run afoul of any laws. I'm sure I'll get a solid grasp of the topic shortly, but decided to turn to this community since it's been such a vast repository of knowledge and I've already met some great people through it.

 

I'm considering just using a commercial product like SamCast or even one of Orban's products just to make sure I'm legal as a beagle. However a free codec would be spiffy... :rolleyes:

 

Any thoughts?

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I'm streaming AAC+ with edcast and didn't realise having the AAC+ encoder from the winamp shoutcast plugin was illeagal. So does that mean people using DSP plugins with SAM or RDJ 1.5.8 are also breaking software laws?

 

I thought most of these type of encoders we're genrally covered by a GNU Public licence myself.

 

They are listed on Rarewares http://www.rarewares.org/aac-encoders.php where is where i source most of my Audio encoders. I keep an eye on them for any major updates.

Edited by djgary72

My Blog https://djgarybaldy.blogspot.com

User of RadioDJ FREE radio playout software since 2010.

How to Install RadioDJ: https://djgarybaldy.blogspot.com/2020/08/how-to-install-radiodj-free-radio.html

RadioDJ is my most FAVOURITE piece of software EVER

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wow, so sorry for going AWOL on everyone. No idea why I spaced it on this thread. :retard:

 

I'm streaming AAC+ with edcast and didn't realise having the AAC+ encoder from the winamp shoutcast plugin was illeagal. So does that mean people using DSP plugins with SAM or RDJ 1.5.8 are also breaking software laws?

 

My understanding of the legality of all of this is rather fuzzy. However, from what I've gleaned, it is perfectly fine using SAM or other commercial products to stream AAC+ because the software provider has licensed the codec. For example, I'm looking at both SAM Broadcast as well as Orban's products to stream AAC+ and I know that would be peachy keen.

 

However, the AAC+ codec is held under a patent pool that requires product makers to license the technology. Apparently licenses are only needed by product producing companies, but not the content providers, so perhaps me/us as stream providers are off the hook? I'm not sure what that means for yanking the codec from one licensed product to be used in another product though. Seems grey. More info from VIA here: http://www.vialicensing.com/licensing/aac-faq.aspx

 

MP3 format is itself such a quagmire that I just got frustrated and did what everyone else does and used LAME to encode streams, but even that is iffy if you want to get completely pointy-headed about it from a lawyer perspective. LAME itself tip-toes around the issue:

 

6. Does LAME use any MP3 patented technology?

 

LAME, as the name says, is *not* an encoder. LAME is a developmentproject which uses the open source model to improve MP3 technology.Many people believe that compiling this code and distributing anencoder which uses this code would violate some patents (in the US,Europe and Japan). However, *only* a patent lawyer is qualified tomake this determination. The LAME project tries to avoid all theselegal issues by only releasing source code, much like the ISOdistributes MP3 "demonstration" source code. Source code isconsidered as speech, which may contain descriptions of patentedtechnology. Descriptions of patents are in the publicdomain.

 

 

I thought most of these type of encoders we're genrally covered by a GNU Public licence myself.
Some are, but AAC+ isn't. Even those that are free and open, like OGG Vorbis for audio and OGG Theora for video are grey areas. Hence Steve Jobs didn't throw his hat into that ring and refused to include support for those formats in iDevices. His take on it is that there is so much patent momentum in the codec realm that it's impossible to have created something that has zero ties to a previously patented technology. Just because something has been GNU'd, GPL'd, BSD'd, CC'd, or generally copylefted doesn't mean it makes thorny legal issues disappear. If OGG Vorbis ever hits the bigtime, I'm sure lawyers will start circling.

 

Anyway, I've drifted from the topic. The licensing of AAC and its sundry varieties seems to be a bit nicer for service providers than other proprietary formats. Still... some things aren't cut and dried it appears.

 

They are listed on Rarewares http://www.rarewares.org/aac-encoders.php where is where i source most of my Audio encoders. I keep an eye on them for any major updates.
Indeed, rarewares is nice, but the linguistic ballet that they have to do has always kept the patent cold war in my mind.

 

So, I suppose the question is, has any stream/service provider been prosecuted or have there been any rumblings to that effect for them to suggest or provide one of the free, "lifted" AAC codecs to their customers to use in their source clients?

 

Perhaps I'm just being an Eeyore.

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My worries about patent infringement is what stopped me from including either MP3 (via LAME) or AAC encoders with my software. As for OGG and (more recently) OPUS, my understanding is that unlike MP3 and AAC, not only is the source code open, but the formats themselves are free (see "Free File Format": http://www.linfo.org/free_file_format.html).

 

AAC does not require a license for encoding, streaming, or distributing content in AAC format, however "An AAC patent license is needed by manufacturers or developers of end-user encoder and/or decoder products." http://www.vialicensing.com/licensing/aac-faq.aspx That is why I do not feel comfortable including the encoder with my software. But, as an end user, if you have the encoder, you are fully within your rights to use it.

 

MP3 is much more restrictive. I don't think there is much more to say about that one. Unless of course, the MP3 patents really do expire in 2015 as many are hoping for. http://www.osnews.com/story/24954/US_Patent_Expiration_for_MP3_MPEG-2_H_264

 

Again though, this is all to the best of my knowledge based on my own research and it's quite possible I am wrong about any of that. Patents are not fun to figure out.

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My worries about patent infringement is what stopped me from including either MP3 (via LAME) or AAC encoders with my software. As for OGG and (more recently) OPUS, my understanding is that unlike MP3 and AAC, not only is the source code open, but the formats themselves are free (see "Free File Format": http://www.linfo.org/free_file_format.html).
Yes, I've worried about getting clients set up on an encoder like Edcast and how exactly it's okay to distribute the LAME codec to them. I'm not dealing with terribly technically proficient people so I wonder how much hand-holding is okay from a strict legal interpretation. I doubt any SWAT teams will be kicking people's doors in for this, but it still is something I want to make sure I'm doing correctly.

 

OPUS seems like the best FOSS bet going forward. I hope it gets more and more uptake.

 

AAC does not require a license for encoding, streaming, or distributing content in AAC format, however "An AAC patent license is needed by manufacturers or developers of end-user encoder and/or decoder products." http://www.vialicensing.com/licensing/aac-faq.aspx That is why I do not feel comfortable including the encoder with my software. But, as an end user, if you have the encoder, you are fully within your rights to use it.
Right, which is why I'm not sure if it's okay to yank the AAC codec from one application to be used in another. For example, AAC encoding using edcast as the source client. I'm thinking of using the winamp+edcast combo since, apparently, Nullsoft has the right to distribute the AAC+ codec and edcast is just a bolt-on plug-in. I... hope. =)

 

Nevertheless, I'm thinking about just telling clients to BYOE (Bring Your Own Encoder) and if they want AAC+, I'll happily sell them SAM Broadcast if they just click on my affiliate link.

 

MP3 is much more restrictive. I don't think there is much more to say about that one. Unless of course, the MP3 patents really do expire in 2015 as many are hoping for. http://www.osnews.com/story/24954/US_Patent_Expiration_for_MP3_MPEG-2_H_264
I know, it's funny when most consumers think MP3 is just some happy, open, la-dee-da format that anyone and everyone can use. I'm surprised patent wars haven't erupted over the use of the MP3 format yet.
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If the user already has the encoder on his/her PC (i.e. via winamp), they are free to use it for whatever they like AFAIK. But, what the legalities are in respect to someone bundling the encoder with some other software and redistributing it, even if it is software they did not develop themselves, that I'm not sure about. What I do is provide links to where users can obtain encoders. As a developer, I cannot afford to include these encoders with my software. Especially not software I am giving away for free. ;)

 

Nullsoft has the kind of backing to be able to afford that licencing and Spacial Audio charges enough to be able to cover the licensing fees. But, independent freeware developers like myself...no chance...

 

I do hope that OPUS takes off and becomes the new standard. Dethroning MP3 will not be easy though. AAC couldn't do it, nor could OGG. It's kind of like Apple or Linux trying to take over the PC market. Too many people running Windows and software that relies upon Windows that even an (arguably) better OS simply doesn't stand much of a chance.

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Nevertheless, I'm thinking about just telling clients to BYOE (Bring Your Own Encoder) and if they want AAC+, I'll happily sell them SAM Broadcast if they just click on my affiliate link

 

Personally I think you are just trying to make a mountain out of a Molehill under a Guise to make People Buy SAM ....

 

Yes, I've worried about getting clients set up on an encoder like Edcast and how exactly it's okay to distribute the LAME codec

 

The Setup for Edcast sends you to a website where you can find the AAC codecs for free.http://www.audiocoding.com/.... and i see this listed under LGPL license So i don't think there is anything Illegal in using AAC with edcast.

 

Also the AAC encoder is on the Nero site for FREE as well http://www.nero.com/enu/technologies-aac-codec.html

 

If you are making money from people by telling them they are doing something wrong when they aren't that is Just Wrong.

Edited by djgary72

My Blog https://djgarybaldy.blogspot.com

User of RadioDJ FREE radio playout software since 2010.

How to Install RadioDJ: https://djgarybaldy.blogspot.com/2020/08/how-to-install-radiodj-free-radio.html

RadioDJ is my most FAVOURITE piece of software EVER

 

 

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If the user already has the encoder on his/her PC (i.e. via winamp), they are free to use it for whatever they like AFAIK.
That's what I'm not sure of. I'd not worry about it normally, but if the services I'm offering get much more popular (and they appear to be) then I'd be a larger target than just someone hobbycasting their own content.

 

I do hope that OPUS takes off and becomes the new standard. Dethroning MP3 will not be easy though. AAC couldn't do it, nor could OGG. It's kind of like Apple or Linux trying to take over the PC market. Too many people running Windows and software that relies upon Windows that even an (arguably) better OS simply doesn't stand much of a chance.
I think AAC has a good chance. It's got superior audio quality and not many devices that don't support it. I think it'll eventually overtake MP3 - it's close as it is, as far as I can tell.

 

Personally I think you are just trying to make a mountain out of a Molehill under a Guise to make People Buy SAM ....
Oh it's certainly a molehill for now. I'm just trying to prevent any seismic activity that could cause some peaks to form in the future. =)

 

The Setup for Edcast sends you to a website where you can find the AAC codecs for free.http://www.audiocoding.com/.... and i see this listed under LGPL license So i don't think there is anything Illegal in using AAC with edcast.
Yes, I think in that case it could be fine, although something being GPL'd, etc. doesn't necessarily make patent and distribution issues go away. I'm already skittish enough about the LAME MP3 encoder. However, it's still a nice assurance that there's less likelihood of trouble.

 

Also the AAC encoder is on the Nero site for FREE as well http://www.nero.com/enu/technologies-aac-codec.html
I totally forgot about that! Thanks for the reminder!

 

If you are making money from people by telling them they are doing something wrong when they aren't that is Just Wrong.
Yes, and it's a good thing that's not what's happening. :balloon:
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My automation software and all of its extra tools do have support for encoding to MP3 and HE-AAC with the "Bring Your Own Encoder" idea here ;-) But that idea would be restricted to the one implemented in my software, so the LAME and the Winamp AAC encoder.

 

Also I've included MP2 support in my programs, and that one can be distributed too without problems as I've done some research on it. Also Opus, Vorbis and FLAC are supported for streaming.

 

And also I think that dethroning MP3 won't be done by another lossy format, but by the lossless formats. Most systems do have much more space than the time when MP3 was designed. The lossy formats are going to be used for streaming, I think. As bandwidth is still expansive, esspecially for streaming radio. (I'm just running my program for 3 hours, and it already send 324 MB to Icecast with a bitrate of 256 kbps.)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Allow me to revive this thread. There is a post over at the loudcity forums that is fascinating in the context of this b-casting world thread. the Loudcity post is a discussion earlier in the summer concerning the AAC codec and how yanking the codec from WinAmp is decidedly verboten. I knew that wasn't really a legal solution: http://forum.loudcity.net/viewtopic.php?id=4528

 

I'm still not so sure about the AAC codec offered at rarewares, but I'll go with it for now until I can see clear reason not to use it in a commercial setting. gulp

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Allow me to revive this thread. There is a post over at the loudcity forums that is fascinating in the context of this b-casting world thread. the Loudcity post is a discussion earlier in the summer concerning the AAC codec and how yanking the codec from WinAmp is decidedly verboten. I knew that wasn't really a legal solution: http://forum.loudcity.net/viewtopic.php?id=4528

 

I'm still not so sure about the AAC codec offered at rarewares, but I'll go with it for now until I can see clear reason not to use it in a commercial setting. gulp

 

That is going to be the end of HE-AAC in free radio automation and encoding software. Including my radio automation system, or I'm just hiding it in the standard/non debug versions. Another big thumbs up for Ogg Opus. If you've didn't hear about Opus, than I can really recommend to look in to that codec ;-)

 

Also the AAC codec on Rarewares is a I see the FAAC encoder, which doesn't have STDOut and most important of all HE-AAC. And also then you have to check if it may be distributed freely.

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