Mediagoblin: Media hosting done right
Do you share videos, sounds, pictures or 3D models? If so, you probably had to create accounts for countless sites, one for each medium. Every single one of them is run by a different private company with its own agenda and onerous user agreements that you have to trust for keeping your files online. But don’t worry, this won’t last. The GNU project is working for safe, free and transparent content hosting. Its new baby is named MediaGoblin.
MediaGoblin is a free software media publishing platform. Now what does that mean? If you know about Flickr, Youtube, SoundClound and ImageShack, you can understand MediaGoblin as a combination of all these and more. A server running MediaGoblin lets you upload texts, videos, sounds, images and basically any media type you want, provided that someone wrote a plugin to support it. The results may be surprising: lead developer Chris Webber used to make jokes about how 3D model hosting was theoretically possible, and indeed, thanks to a partnership with 3D printer maker LulzBot, the support for this medium has been recently added to MediaGoblin.
Now, for the free software part, if you are not familiar with this notion, you should definitely look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_software for a consistent introduction, but it basically boils down to three unrestricted rights for the users of a free software:
- The right to use
- The right to copy
- The right to modify
It means that everybody can host his own server, and customize it to meet his own requirements.
Current content hosting platforms are centralised, meaning that the users depend on the goodwill of the hosting company to keep their files online. So the users have to trust the company to
- Keep the site online
- Keep the files online
- Never censor user content
- Have a reasonable copyright policy, with no hidden terms, that allow them to hijack your property
This last point is by no mean trivial: see Facebook’s Statement of Rights
you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it
MediaGoblin is not run by a company. The software is free, so as we have seen, everybody can reuse it or modify it and run his own server. And the servers running MediaGoblin can connect between themselves, to create federations of servers, sharing contents between themselves and ensuring that if one server goes down, the data will still be available.
A crowdfunding campaign ran from 11 October to 11 November and gathered over 42,000 dollars to hire lead developer Chris Webber. While it did not reach its initial goal of 60,000 dollars, it is still considered a success by the community. It is still possible to donate to MediaGoblin via the FSF at http://mediagoblin.org/pages/campaign.html
MediaGoblin has already a few live instances running, a short list is available at http://wiki.mediagoblin.org/Live_instances. But you can also try and run your own! The official documentation provides a quick-setup guide. So don’t wait, and help Chris Webber and his team to build the media hosting system of the future!
Test site: https://gobblin.se/
Project site: http://www.mediagoblin.org/
Featured image: CC0 Mediagoblin
About Loïc Grobol
I am a pirate since late 2011, a member of the French Parti Pirate. Maths teacher and former linguist, I spend a large part of my spare time campaigning for a Federal EU.