Free Codec

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May 11, 2011:
Updated with new codec news.

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How To Find Free Codecs

Get Your AV Application To Work

Google stunned the internet world on May 20, 2010 when it offered free codec known as WebM which is valued at over one hundred million dollars. Firefox, Chrome, and Opera will be building support into their browsers. The advantage of this codec is that it allows for development of royalty-free video encoding on a common standard. Previously, most codecs fell under Microsoft and Quicktime, which use an H264 standard for their codecs, and these are not royalty-free like Google’s offering.

What Is A Codec? The word itself is a combination of “coder” and “decoder” and essentially is the language in which your video is sent over the web. If you ever downloaded a video and were told you don’t have the right codec, your program was telling you that it can’t figure out how to turn the file back into something you can see. A single universal codec allows video developers all over the world to encode their videos with a codec that can be seen by just about anyone, without paying someone for the right to use the program. This may also make user-generated video easier to share for individuals and small businesses, who would have previously balked at paying for a video development suite and licensing fees.

Naturally, there are all kinds of free codecs available out on the web, for viewing AVI, MPEG, MP4, DIVX, Quicktime, and other videos, plus MP3 and WAV formats for audio. Most of the time Windows Media Player, Quicktime, and RealAudio can find the appropriate codec and download it, but some videos from sharing sites and other applications (like old CD-ROMs) may require a codec that is only available on a specialty player.

Notes and Special Information

Special note: Some codecs may be impossible to find. Previously, there was a wide number of AV codecs, and not all of them are supported for newer video players. Obsolete codecs are often hard to come by.