The goal of this project is to massively decentralize the hosting of rich multimedia content on the web, by providing a set of up-to-date, easy-to-follow documentation for using free code tools to host and stream audiovisual files. These could be hosted on FLOSSManuals.net. By making existing tools accessible to a wide range of creators, we hope to break the oligopoly of the media corporations, and increase the diversity of art available online. We also hope to stimulate developer interest in resuming abandoned projects like the Broadcast Machine (see below), or creating new free code projects to help creators share their work with audiences, and help audiences reward these creators (and the software developers for that matter) with one-click donations (see Virtual Hat).
Currently, most people who want to publish audio-visual files on the web rely on a handful of ad-supported commercial sites like YouTube, Vimeo, BlipTV, SoundCloud, MixCLoud, and another handful of non-profit corporations like Archive.org and the Wikimedia Commons. Smaller sites like individuals blogs and group blogs, and non-commercial news sites usually rely on embedding audio and video hosted by these larger organizations.
The reasons for this are that audio-visual files are many times larger than text or graphic files, meaning that they use a lot of space on the hosting server, and use a lot of bandwidth whenever a user views or downloads them, and the cost of all that drive space and bandwidth has been prohibitive for smaller organizations. The other reason is that the software for managing the streaming of video is either expensive, or in the case of free code options like IceCast, too complicated for most users. Commercial video streaming sites have tended to rely on streaming files using proprietary software like Flash that prevents users making a local copy. YouTube said in 2009 they planned to offer downloads for video that has been licensed under CreativeCommons, and have switched from Flash to an HTML5 player and Webm files. But watching YT videos anywhere other than their website is still tricky, even when licensed for free distribution.
Innovative Hosting Services
Existing websites that use free code software on their servers, actively support CreativeCommons licensing, or offer innovative ways for audiences to help creators make a living while freely enjoying the fruits of creative work.
BitTunes was an independent digital music market that used BitCoin to collect from audiences and pay out to artists.
CCMixter.org is a remix site that grew out of the CC network
D.Tube is a video-hosting site using IPFS and the Steem blockchain.
Free Music Archive is pretty much what it says on the tin. It was created in 2009 by people involved with radio station WFMU. In early 2019 it was acquired by Tribe of Noise, a Dutch music services and licensing company founded in 2008. The previous owners, a "video gear rental marketplace" called Kitsplit acquired FMA in late 2018, after it hit a funding crisis.
Jamendo.com is a web store for independent music artists using CC licenses. They also sell commercial use licenses and collect royalties for artists on their platform.
LivePeer.org is a bit like D-Tube but for live-streaming, and using the Ethereum blockchain
Musicoin.org is an ad-free music streaming platform using a blockchain payment system.
Opsound was an "experiment in applying the model of free software to music". Musicians and other audio artists were invited to upload their work using a copyleft CC license, for others to "download, share, remix, and reimagine".
Resonate.is a cooperatively-owned media streaming service, owned by the musicians and audiences who use it, based on a blockchain database created by BigChainDB.
Vodo.net was a distribution site for independent film-makers, using BitTorrent for distribution, and collecting donations for creators. As of early 2018 their site was seriously outdated, but the concept and the films they've featured were both cool.
Free Code Apps for Sharing and Streaming
Some of the software we could test and mention in MediaFlood documentation includes:
CamStudio (GPL) - captures desktop activity, audio, and webcam, turns these into an AVI file, and turns that into a Flash stream, which is not ideal, but it does do streaming.
Frostwire (GPL) - a free code media player integrating a BitTorrent client and search functions. The in-app home page promotes CC-licensed works.
OpenBroadcaster (GPLv2+) - "video recording and live streaming", available for GNU-Linux, MacOS, and Windows.
PeerTube (AGPLv3) - a video-hosting server using WebTorrent (see below), and allowing many PeerTube sites to connect with each other, and with federated social network software like Mastodon and Pleroma, using an open standard called ActivityPub.
Transmission (Expat and GPLv2) - One simple way to share a media file from a home computer is to create a torrent for a file on your hard drive, and add that torrent to a BitTorrent client on your computer. I successfully did this with the ccKiwi video using Transmission on Ubuntu 11.04.
BlockChain and Crypto-token Storage Projects - giving these bleeding edge projects their own category as loads of them will probably start and fail before any become mature, effective, and widely used:
Force Network ("MIT") - "A cryptocurrency solution that enables real network privacy. Incentivised nodes facilitate the transfer of encrypted information that keeps the source and destination IP addresses hidden from each other."
HoloChain - "Holochain and blockchain are built for fundamentally different use cases. Blockchain is relatively good for systems where it’s absolutely necessary to maintain global consensus. Holochain is much better than blockchain at anything that requires less than universal consensus (most things): It’s faster, more efficient, more scalable, adaptable, and extendable"
IPFS ("MIT") - stands for Inter-Planetary File System, "A peer-to-peer hypermedia protocol to make the web faster, safer, and more open", using tech derived from BitCoin to create a sort of giant BitTorrent swarm containing all files, accessible to all users. FileCoin is buiding their own distributed file storage system involving a crypto-token and a blockchain, on top of IPFS.
MaidSafe (GPLv3 at least for utilities) - "the world's first autonomous data network", a distributed file storage system involving a crypto-token (SafeCoin), but unlike FileCoin it doesn't use a blockchain.
Minds (APGLv3) - a publishing system that allows people to publish content, and to pay for content they appreciate using crypto-tokens (based on Ethereum?)
Steem is a "blockchain-based rewards platform for publishers to monetize content and grow community".
Swarm (alpha) - "serverless hosting incentivised peer-to-peer storage and content distribution" part of the Ethereum Project (Go implementation is GPLv3/ LGPLv3) cloud of free code crypto-token projects
ZeroNet (GPLv2) - started in 2015 with a similar goal to Maelstrom, but an open source development model, and adding the use of BitCoin addresses as a substitute for IP addresses. Sites are limited to 10MB of storage, but magnet links on their pages could be used to fetch larger media files through ordinary BitTorrent seeding and downloading.
Free Commons Protocols For Storing and Distributing Media
Solid - "(derived from "social linked data") is a proposed set of conventions and tools for building decentralized Web applications based on Linked Data principles. Solid is modular and extensible. It relies as much as possible on existing W3C standards and protocols"
WebTorrent ("MIT") - uses WebRTC to allow browsers to play streaming media in the browser directly from BitTorrent swarms without having to download first. Instant.io allows users to experience WebTorrent, by pasting in a magnet link for a video file currently being shared in a BitTorrent swarm, and watching the video right there on the site.
There are a number of others tools which could be useful in self-publishing music and film work on the web:
Ascribe set out to use the BitCoin blockchain to record the authorship of digital works in a decentralized database. CreativeCommons France collaborated with Ascribe to help artists and authors using CC licenses get attribution when their work is distributed or re-used. The developers have moved on to other projects (eg BigchainDB) but the Ascribe code remains online.
Creator-Endorsed Mark is a set of Trademarks owned by QuestionCopyright.org, which can be freely used to mark commercial products which are endorsed by the creator of the work the product is based on.
CCPublisher was an application that helped creators upload their CC-licensed work to Archive.org
I've been thinking for a while that a LinuxTracker style site for tracking swarms sharing CC-licensed work would be quite cool. I found a Russian site called SoundPark and another site called Music Torrent which illustrates roughly what it could be like, but I would want it to be strictly not-for-profit, with no seedy advertising a la SoundPark or TPB. Maybe discreet, relevant, non-tracking advertising to cover costs, such as paid promotion for upcoming shows, album releases, film releases etc.
Vidcommons.org has been an example of this using PeerTube for CC video
Reliable server storing copies of CC works which have been or might be featured on the Common Culture show. Each work is stored in the highest available quality, for posterity, and made available online in a range of formats and quality levels, as appropriate. For example, a musical album might be stored in Ogg FLAC for posterity, but made available in variable-bitrate Ogg Vorbis and MP3 for general use, or a speech only recording (spoken word, poetry reading, audio books etc) might be stored in Ogg Opus for posterity, but also made available in MP3 for general use.
BitTorrent and Web Seeds, or WebTorrent, could be used to make the archived media available to the public, while giving them a way to share the bandwidth costs of distribution, a la LinuxTracker. There are many other bleeding edge file storage and distribution technologies that could be tried.