The Digital Media Project



Martin Springer


TRU #26 to transcode





Martin Springer

Affiliation/additional information:

Active Contributor, Luebeck, Germany

Date submitted:







Name of TRU

TRU to transcode


Summary description of TRU

The ability of an individual to convert (readable, audible, visible,...) content from one media format to another media format.


Use records of TRU

Throughout the history, people used their abilities to fixate literary and artistic works on media that appeared most appropriate to them. With the invention of the printing press it became easy to replicate works. Nevertheless, people needed to transcode works if the media formats offered by the "content replicators" did not fit their needs. Some examples:

  • Handwritten pocket bibles in the 19th century
  • Compact Disk recordings of vinyl records playable on "Walkman" devices in the 1980ies
  • MP3 files converted from Audio CDs playable on laptops in the 1990ies
  • DivX files converted from DVDs playable on laptops in the 2000s
  • ASCII files distilled from Word Documents
  • Media playable contemporary media player devices transcoded from media designed for an outdated and obsolete technology


  Nature of TRU

Customary TRU, supported by copyright laws (fair use).


Benefits of TRU

The ability to transcode content to appropriate media formats makes media users independent from the distribution chains of the (mass) media industry. Media users trancode content if they feel the need to play it back on a device appropriate for a certain usage situation or if they wish to preserve it for future use (continued access). By their ability to transcode media (and by their ability to make playback devices), users can define, evolve and control their media usage.

Industry players who couple content to media formats and playback devices might be negatively effected, since the users need not license content several times if they wish to play it back on different playback devices.


Possible digital support

  • Document format converters
  • Audio- and video codecs (decoders and encoders)



  • Open standards for content encoding
  • Well documented content formats available to the public under fair and reasonable conditions
8. References