Friday, January 18, 2008

More on Kaltura

I downloaded the "source" (such as it is) to Kaltura's product today, just to look at it. As I suspected, the open source component of Kaltura is just a relatively thin "glue" layer between MediaWiki and Kaltura's proprietary hosted content repository. In order to make any use of this product, you must accept that all of your video content will be hosted on their site using proprietary software which is not being made available to you, and which they may take away, destroy, or discard at any time without notice to you. In short, you can use it as long as you hand over all control to them.

I didn't see anything in the terms of service that would forbid them from inserting advertising into your content, either, but I could be mistaken on this. Nor do I see any way for you to export a mashup you've created with their tool into a fixed product that you can then host yourself, either, so this is a commitment that will be difficult, if not impossible, to back out of.

I don't have a problem with that in general; I'm sure this is great if all you care about is creating mashups and letting other people see them without using your own bandwidth. It should be obvious to the casual observer why the above terms and conditions would be grossly unsuitable to any of Wikimedia's projects, though.

Calling this project "open source" is disingenuous, too. The only part that is open sourced is the thin client, which they've only open sourced in order to make it compatible with MediaWiki's licensing, and to allow them to offload the hosting of the client to Sourceforge. Basically they're open source pretenders.

Now, maybe they're "planning" to make the video editing and transcoding functions open source "in the future", but I haven't found any evidence of that. These people are only open source to the minimum extent that they have to be in order to interact with MediaWiki. The commitment to open source doesn't appear to extend one jot past that. It's almost as if they've made one little piece of their project open source just so they can claim to be "open source" for the PR benefit that would provide.

There are other projects, which really are open source, in this arena. Brion Vibber mentioned one of them, Metavid, in a comment on this blog earlier today. I still don't understand why the Wikimedia Foundation would announce a partnership with such a poor excuse for an open source video editing project when there are other, far more deserving, candidates out there for them to partner with.