Olympic file format capriciousness

This blog doesn’t generally deal with cronyist bullying operations like the International Olympic Committee (IOC). But when the IOC get silly about the file formats it tells people they can’t use, that’s a subject worth mentioning here.

The IOC has decreed that “the use of Olympic Material transformed into graphic animated formats such as animated GIFs (i.e. GIFV), GFY, WebM, or short video formats such as Vines and others, is expressly prohibited.”

Does this mean that MP4 videos are OK? Who knows. GFY isn’t a distinct format; it’s a GIF converted to HTML5 video. Vine isn’t a format at all; it’s a website.

Is there a pattern here? Maybe some lawyer who can’t tell a format from a website just threw in some familiar-sounding names. But there’s a tendency, if not logic, in the choices. GIF is a feeble format. It’s limited to 256 colors, has poor compression, and is no threat to professional video coverage. It’s popular only because it’s an easy way to create video of sorts within an image format. Vine specializes in very short videos. Maybe the IOC was trying to say “We’re banning even the weakest, most amateurish videos.” But WebM is a modern video format, as capable as the MPEG formats. It doesn’t fit with the feeble-format theory.

I’ve looked at some Web articles about the affair. They all focus on GIF, just citing the other formats in passing. Apparently no one has a good theory about the list.

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