Guy, you might want to look into Ogg Theora
, a completely open, patent-free video format. It doesn't perform as well as leading commercial codecs, like H.264, but sometimes openness is the most important factor, and it probably has widespread software support in leading players and software like VLC.
That said (and I could be wrong as I haven't researched this much), it seems the patent owners in various audio/video codecs are collectively choosing to turn a blind eye to non-commercial, freeware/open-source video packages regarding the patents used within, which probably makes things easier for a lot of people, while not really cutting into the patent revenue from commercial products. This likely even helps the video codecs' adoption.
Public service announcement:
Remember, there are three major attributes to a video file:
- The container format
- The video codec
- The audio codec
The file extension often only indicates the container format. Sometimes, it may imply
a likely video/audio codec.
For example: .AVI, .MOV, .WAV, and .MKV are not codecs. They are merely containers.
Video codecs are H.264, XviD, MJPEG, etc.
Audio codecs are Vorbis, AAC, MPEG Layer-3 (MP3), etc.
Some files don't have a container, like MP3. They are just "raw" audio. But you can also put MP3 audio in a .WAV container.
Leading video tools like MediaCoder can inspect any file and tell you all three primary attributes, as well as many other details. MediaCoder also has encoders and decoders for a huge number of audio and video codecs. MediaCoder may even work in converting your file. :)