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streaming media converter

website that converts any streaming format in a MPG/MOV/MP3-file
  [vote for,

A website where you enter the URL of a Real of Windows Media Player stream and after a few minutes you can download it as a MPG or MOV to view locally, even off-line.

A lot of bandwith is wasted by streaming media formats that require you to connect to a certain site where it is served. You can't save it, if you want to listen to it or see it again you have to reconnect to that site and all the data is pumped through the internet, often transatlantic. What a criminal waste of bandwith!

Wouldn't it be much more economical if the media stream becomes a downloadable file that you can save locally. You can then listen to it whenever you want, burn it on a CD to archive it and share it with other users who don't need to connect to that site themselves anymore.

When listening to a live radiobroadcast (on the internet) and you hear something you want to record, you can do it through this website also for example.

Remember that the internet is founded as a filesharing network, not a broadcasting network! There is just so little content we absolutely need to see or hear live (through the internet). Let alone that we massively want to see or hear the same. Even with just minutes of difference, we do it asynchronous.

The website could be a paid service and still it would be attractive. After all, such a service requires a lot of computing power and datatransfer someone has to pay for. But once one person has paid to convert a stream to a file, it can be put on some filesharing network and people can share it with each other decentrally. Makes much more sense network topology wise.

Legally there might be a problem or more, but I am only interested in this from a user perspective and with a responsability to prevent abuse of the network structure of the internet I have learned to love the past decade.

rrr, Jun 01 2002

Stream Box http://www.afterdaw...s/streambox_vcr.cfm
[IvanIdea, Jun 04 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Progressive Layered Media http://research.mic...R_ID=MSR-TR-2002-26
One possibility. [bristolz, Jun 04 2002, last modified Oct 21 2004]

KeepVid http://www.keepvid.com
KeepVid does exactly that for some months now. Check it out :-) [RonnyO, Apr 05 2006]


       Hmmm. I'm pretty sure all my media players cache their data. Does anyone know if that's not the case?
phoenix, Jun 02 2002

       I'm not that familiar with the state of the art but I think that *streaming* media (as opposed to view-as-you-download stuff; it's a pretty fine distinction, I grant) generally isn't cached; they're trying to reinvent television.   

       [rrr], I see two ideas here: one, the format conversion (which I am all in favor of, since I'm always running across streams in wacky formats/codecs my players don't support); and two, the caching aspect. I think they're separable.   

       Streaming media caches could also provide multicast-style functionality, as well as adding a bunch of buffering (minutes, hours, days of buffering) to allow the asynchrony that we all love. If done right, then no matter how many people in Australia are watching the stream from the UK, only one copy of the stream would have to go across the undersea cables. I'm beginning to suspect that wide-area IP-level multicast is a flawed design anyway.   

       I'd bet that this kind of thing hasn't been done already because it's easier for a single company to buy a bigger central server than to design and deploy a cache network. Akamai is an exception, since they're in the business of supplying this functionality to other companies. I don't know if Akamai does streaming media, but if not it would be an obvious extension to their business.
wiml, Jun 03 2002

       Both programs I use for streaming media - QuickTime and RealPlayer - buffer the stream to accomodate lag. Both begin playing a few seconds after the stream begins and both allow me to save streamed files. I assume most, if not all, streaming media players work like that, but I could be wrong.   

       I guess the next question is: Who pays for this service? The downloader? Ads? The content source? What are the legalities involved in converting someones content to another format?
phoenix, Jun 03 2002

       Point 1: Why does it have to be a website? I would prefer this as something on my computer. A simple utility which connects to media streams and saves them in any format I want. Would also convert files to other formats, as it wouldn't be much extra work really.   

       Point 2: Legally, as far as the converting goes, its perfectly fine. Think about it, you can Zip up your downloaded videos if you want and there is nothing wrong with that.   

       Point 3: Legally, as far as saving them goes, VCRs and Tivos are legal. Thats how I see it. God, I love my Tivo.
ironfroggy, Jun 04 2002

       For streaming mp3, this is quite possible -- I've done it myself, in fact. Just connect to the mp3 server and save the bytes it sends you. For commercial formats like RealPlayer and Windows Media, the fact that they don't allow to you to save streams is considered a *feature* ... the companies that produce these streams don't want you to be able to save them, they want you to have to come to their web site (and view their ads) every time you view the stream. Yet another reason why proprietary formats are evil!
Jeremi, Jun 04 2002

       You can use a program called streambox for this. I have posted the download address as a link. You just enter the url of the streaming media and it downloads and saves it for you. It works great for Real media as well as microsoft media formats.   

       There are legal problems, but instead of dressing up our sensitivities in fine notions lets just admit that we don't give a stuff.
IvanIdea, Jun 04 2002

       wiml: the distinction you make is a good one. If the caching could be done on the harddisk of your neighbour this would prevent a lot of data being pumped across the net. Practically, it would be the easiest if people would start sharing these sound & video files with the known filesharing systems.   

       The other part, format conversion, is also the reason why I want it to be a website. The 'Streambox' software doesn't run on my OS. A website is compatible with all OS's. And I don't really want three different mediaplayers on my system, I just want one good one. Furthermore, it requires computingtime and know-how to use this software. It is easier to just type the URL of the stream you want to convert and to select the type of format you want as output.   

       Legally, on the other hand, a solution like Streambox on your computer, is the most reliable. Once the software is 'out there' nothing can be done against it. Streambox is already illegal I just read. Real is behind that. But it can still be used. A website would end up in all kinds of legal battles, no matter how legal in the long run (like Tivo and VCRs). Such a site would use a store and forward principle and might infringe on copyrights or something...   

       In the end, the most convenient would probably be some server software anyone could install (secretly) on some unknown portnumber. If you want a stream to be converted you enter the IP-address + port number + URL of stream. The converted file can then be found in some FTP dir (and share it also with the popular peer to peer filesharing systems). For a webmaster it is also fun to run this software because you end up with all kinds of movies and sounds on your server without doing anything for it.   

       If it takes too much traffic or clogs your server's capacity or when you end up in legal trouble you just close it down or move it to another portnumber. This also answers phoenix' question "who pays?" It's a free service to fellow netizens you know. If it becomes too popular you close it/move it/rename it.
rrr, Jun 05 2002

       Three years have passed and this idea is still not baked unfortunately.   

       Meanwhile we have BitTorrent technology. It would be obvious that such a streaming media converter would turn out BitTorrent files for all the obvious reasons.   

       It only just neads someone to do the coding. Anyone?
rrr, Oct 10 2005

       RonnyO, KeepVid is a stand alone local application, not an online solution where you just drop the URL of a stream you want to capture.   

       If they do it like that they will probably end up in legal battles the moment someone wants to capture material from some big media mogul. The site will be sued out of existence the next day. When end users run this software it is difficult for broadcasters to react legally.
rrr, Apr 21 2007


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