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Title: Vorbis  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Ogg, CELT, Opus (audio format), Comparison of audio coding formats, Speex
Collection: Free Audio Codecs, Lossy Compression Algorithms, Software Using the Bsd License, Xiph.Org Projects
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Filename extension .ogg .oga
Internet media type application/ogg, audio/ogg, audio/vorbis, audio/vorbis-config
Developed by Xiph.Org Foundation
Initial release May 8, 2000 (2000-05-08)[1][2]
Latest release
Vorbis I
(February 3, 2012 (2012-02-03)[3])
Type of format Audio compression format
Contained by Ogg, Matroska, WebM
Standard Specification
Open format? Yes [4]
Developer(s) Xiph.Org Foundation
Initial release July 19, 2002 (2002-07-19)
Stable release 1.3.4[5] / January 22, 2014 (2014-01-22)
Written in C
Operating system Cross-platform
Type Audio codec, reference implementation
License BSD-style license[6][7]
Website downloads

Vorbis is a audio coding format and software reference encoder/decoder (codec) for lossy audio compression. Vorbis is most commonly used in conjunction with the Ogg container format[8] and it is therefore often referred to as Ogg Vorbis.

Vorbis is a continuation of audio compression development started in 1993 by Chris Montgomery.[9][10] Intensive development began following a September 1998 letter from the Fraunhofer Society announcing plans to charge licensing fees for the MP3 audio format.[11][12] Vorbis project started as part of the Xiphophorus company's Ogg project (also known as OggSquish multimedia project).[13][14] Chris Montgomery began work on the project and was assisted by a growing number of other developers. They continued refining the source code until the Vorbis file format was frozen for 1.0 in May 2000[1][2][15] and a stable version (1.0) of the reference software was released on July 19, 2002.[16][17][18]

The Xiph.Org Foundation maintains a reference implementation, libvorbis.[5] There are also some fine-tuned forks, most notably aoTuV, that offer better audio quality, particularly at low bitrates. These improvements are periodically merged back into the reference codebase.


  • Name 1
  • Usage 2
  • Quality 3
    • Listening tests 3.1
    • Characteristic artifacts 3.2
  • Technical details 4
    • Outline of coder algorithm 4.1
    • Tuned versions 4.2
    • Bitrate peeling 4.3
    • Container formats 4.4
    • Metadata 4.5
  • Licensing 5
  • Support 6
    • Hardware 6.1
    • Application software 6.2
  • Deployment 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


"Vorbis" is named after a Discworld character, Exquisitor Vorbis in Small Gods by Terry Pratchett.[10] The Ogg format, however, is not named after Nanny Ogg, another Discworld character; the name is in fact derived from ogging, jargon that arose in the computer game Netrek.[10]


The Vorbis format has proven popular among supporters of free software.[19] They argue that its higher fidelity and completely free nature, unencumbered by patents, make it a well-suited replacement for patented and restricted formats like MP3.

Low-bitrate Vorbis Example

Vorbis has different uses for consumer products. Many video game titles store in-game audio as Vorbis, examples include 18 Wheels of Steel, Bookworm Adventures, Halo: Combat Evolved, Minecraft, Unreal Tournament 2004, Unreal Tournament 3, Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, Jets 'n' guns, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Crimsonland, Devil May Cry 3, Live For Speed, Guitar Hero: On Tour, Eve Online, World of Warcraft and Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Popular software players support Vorbis playback either natively or through an external plugin. A number of Web sites, including WorldHeritage, use it.[20][21][22][23] Others include Jamendo and Mindawn, as well as several national radio stations[20] like JazzRadio, Absolute Radio, NPR, Radio New Zealand[24] and Deutschlandradio.[25] The Spotify audio streaming service uses Vorbis for its audio streams.[26] Also, the French music site Qobuz offers its customers the possibility to download their purchased songs in Vorbis format.[27]


Vorbis had been shown to perform significantly better than many other lossy audio formats in the past in that it produced smaller files at equivalent or higher quality while retaining computational complexity comparable to other MDCT formats such as AAC or Windows Media Audio.[28][29] However, as of 2014, not many further significant tests had been made. Listening tests have attempted to find the best quality lossy audio codecs at certain bitrates. Some conclusions made by listening tests:

  • Low bitrate (fewer than 64 kbit/s): the most recent (2007) public multiformat test at 48 kbit/s showed that aoTuV Vorbis had a better quality than WMA and LC-AAC, the same quality as WMA Professional, and a lower quality than HE-AAC.[30]
  • Mid to low bitrates (fewer than 128 kbit/s down to 64 kbit/s): private tests in 2005 at 80 kbit/s and 96 kbit/s showed that aoTuV Vorbis had a better quality than other lossy audio formats (LC-AAC, HE-AAC, MP3, MPC, WMA).[31][32]
  • High bitrates (greater than 128 kbit/s): most people do not hear significant differences. However, trained listeners can often hear significant differences between codecs at identical bitrates, and aoTuV Vorbis performed better than LC-AAC, MP3, and MPC.[33]

Due to the ever-evolving nature of audio codecs, the results of many of these tests have become outdated.

The first is an uncompressed wav file. The second is a vorbis file encoded at 48kbps, and third is a mp3 file encoded at 48kbps using LAME.

Problems playing this file? See .

Listening tests

Listening tests are normally carried out as ABX tests, i.e., the listener has to identify an unknown sample X as being A or B, with A (the original) and B (the encoded version) available for reference. The outcome of a test must be statistically significant. This setup ensures that the listener is not biased by his/her expectations, and that the outcome is very unlikely to be the result of chance. If sample X can be identified reliably, the listener can assign a score as a subjective judgment of the quality. Otherwise, the encoded version is considered to be transparent. Below are links to several listening test results.

  • 2005, July comparison - AAC vs MP3 vs Vorbis vs WMA at 80 kbit/s. States that aoTuV beta 4 is the best encoder for either classical or various music in this bitrate, and that its quality is comparable to the LAME ABR MP3 at 128 kbit/s.[31]
  • 2005, August comparison - AAC vs MP3 vs Vorbis vs WMA at 96 kbit/s. States that aoTuV beta 4 and AAC are tied as the best encoders for classical music in this bitrate, while aoTuV beta 4 is the best encoder for pop music, even better than LAME at 128 kbit/s.[32]
  • 2005, August comparison - MPC vs Vorbis vs MP3 vs AAC at 180 kbit/s. An audiophile listening test, which states that, for classical music, aoTuV beta 4 has 93% percent probability of being the best encoder, tied with MPC. MPC is tied with both Vorbis, in the first place, and LAME in the second.[33]
  • 2011, April comparison by Hydrogenaudio - Vorbis vs HE-AAC vs Opus at 64 kbit/s. Vorbis was on average between the LC-AAC low anchor and Nero HE-AAC, while the upcoming Opus (by Xiph) was best.[34]

Characteristic artifacts

As with most modern formats, the most consistently cited problem with Vorbis is pre-echo, a faint copy of a sharp attack that occurs just before the actual sound (this artifact is most obvious when reproducing the sound of castanets).

When the bitrate is too low to encode the audio without perceptible loss, Vorbis exhibits an analog noise-like failure mode, which can be described as reverberations in a room or amphitheater. Vorbis's behavior is due to the noise floor approach to encoding; see technical details.

Technical details

Vorbis nominal bitrate at quality levels for 44.1 kHz stereo input. The new libvorbis v1.2 usually compresses better than these values (effective bitrate may vary).
Quality Nominal Bitrate
Official Xiph.Org Foundation Vorbis aoTuV beta 3 and later
-q-2 not available 32 kbit/s
-q-1 45 kbit/s 48 kbit/s
-q0 64 kbit/s
-q1 80 kbit/s
-q2 96 kbit/s
-q3 112 kbit/s
-q4 128 kbit/s
-q5 160 kbit/s
-q6 192 kbit/s
-q7 224 kbit/s
-q8 256 kbit/s
-q9 320 kbit/s
-q10 500 kbit/s

Vorbis is intended for sample rates from 8 kHz telephony to 192 kHz digital masters and a range of channel representations (monaural, polyphonic, stereo, quadraphonic, 5.1, ambisonic, or up to 255 discrete channels).[35] Given 44.1 kHz (standard CD audio sampling frequency) stereo input, the encoder will produce output from roughly 45 to 500 kbit/s (32 to 500 kbit/s for aoTuV tunings) depending on the specified quality setting. Quality setting goes from −0.1 to 1.0 for the Xiph library and −0.2 to 1.0 for aoTuV. Encoding front-ends map these values to an integer-based quality setting that goes from −1 to 10 for the Xiph library and −2 to 10 for aoTuV. Files encoded with a given quality setting should have the same quality of sound in all versions of the encoder, but newer versions should be able to achieve that quality with a lower bitrate. The bit rates mentioned above are only approximate; Vorbis is inherently variable-bitrate (VBR), so bitrate may vary considerably from sample to sample. (It is a free-form variable-bitrate codec and packets have no minimum size, maximum size, or fixed/expected size.[3])

Vorbis aims to be more efficient than MP3, with data compression transparency being available at lower bitrates.

Outline of coder algorithm

Vorbis I is a forward-adaptive monolithic transform codec based on the modified discrete cosine transform (MDCT).[36] Vorbis uses the modified discrete cosine transform for converting sound data from the time domain to the frequency domain. The resulting frequency-domain data is broken into noise floor and residue components, and then quantized and entropy coded using a codebook-based vector quantization algorithm. The decompression algorithm reverses these stages. The noise floor approach gives Vorbis its characteristic analog noise-like failure mode when the bitrate is too low to encode the audio without perceptible loss. The sound of compression artifacts at low bitrates can be perhaps described as reverberations in an amphitheater or a room.

Tuned versions

Various tuned versions of the encoder (Garf, aoTuV or MegaMix) attempt to provide better sound at a specified quality setting, usually by dealing with certain problematic waveforms by temporarily increasing the bitrate. Most of the tuned versions of Vorbis attempt to fix the pre-echo problem and to increase the sound quality of lower quality settings (-q-2 through -q4). Some tuning suggestions created by the Vorbis user community (especially the aoTuV beta 2 tunings) have been incorporated into the 1.1.0 release.[37]

Bitrate peeling

The Vorbis format supports bitrate peeling for reducing the bitrate of already encoded files without re-encoding, and several experimental implementations exist.[38][39] However, the quality is "unusable",[38] and markedly inferior to decoding and re-encoding.

The reason that peeling programs degrade quality so severely is that the format does not specify the relative importance of signal data, and existing encoders do not order the data in order of importance, hence peelers cannot easily determine if data is important or not.

Container formats

Vorbis streams can be encapsulated in other media container formats besides Ogg.[40] A commonly used alternative is Matroska. It is also used in WebM, a container format based on a subset of Matroska.[41][42][43] Vorbis streams can also be encapsulated in an RTP payload format.[44]


Vorbis metadata, called Vorbis comments, supports metadata tags similar to those implemented in the ID3 standard for MP3. The metadata is stored in a vector of eight-bit-clean strings of arbitrary length and size. The size of the vector and the size of each string in bytes is limited to 232-1 (about 4.3 billion, or any positive integer that can be expressed in 32 bits). This vector is stored in the second header packet that begins a Vorbis bitstream.[45]

The strings are assumed to be encoded as UTF-8. Music tags are typically implemented as strings of the form "[TAG]=[VALUE]", for instance, "ARTIST=The John Smith Band". The tags are case-insensitive, thus typing "ARTIST=The John Smith Band" would be the same as "artist=The John Smith Band". Like the current version of ID3, users and encoding software are free to use whichever tags are appropriate for the content. For example, an encoder could use localized tag labels, live music tracks might contain a "Venue=" tag or files could have multiple genre definitions. Most applications also support common de facto standards such as discnumber and ReplayGain information.


Knowledge of Vorbis' specifications is in the

  • Vorbis site - Xiph reference implementation
  • Vorbis reference implementation by Xiph.Org Foundation
  • Christopher "Monty" Montgomery (main developer) interview,
  • RFC 5215 - RTP Payload Format for Vorbis Encoded Audio (audio/vorbis, audio/vorbis-config)
  • RFC 5334 - Ogg Media Types

External links

  1. ^ a b Montgomery, Christopher (2000-05-08). "Merge done". vorbis-dev. Retrieved 2009-09-03. 
  2. ^ a b "Ogg Vorbis". Xiph.Org Foundation. Retrieved 2009-09-11. 
  3. ^ a b Xiph.Org Foundation (2012-01-20). "Vorbis I specification". Xiph.Org Foundation. Retrieved 2012-01-31. 
  4. ^ "PlayOgg! - FSF - Free Software Foundation". 2010-03-17. Retrieved 2013-10-01. 
  5. ^ a b Xiph.Org (2014-01-22). "libVorbis 1.3.4 released". Retrieved 2014-02-09. 
  6. ^ a b " FAQ". Xiph.Org Foundation. Retrieved 2009-08-29. 
  7. ^ "Sample Xiph.Org Variant of the BSD License". Xiph.Org Foundation. Retrieved 2009-08-29. 
  8. ^ "MIME Types and File Extensions". wiki. Retrieved 2007-10-13. 
  9. ^ "Interview: Christopher Montgomery of Xiphophorus". Advogado. 2000-04-04. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  10. ^ a b c "naming". Xiph.Org Foundation. 
  11. ^ "About". Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  12. ^ Robertson, Michael (1998-09-11). "Fraunhofer Lowers Patent Boom on MP3 Software Developers". Archived from the original on 2000-08-16. Retrieved 2009-08-31. 
  13. ^ Zisk, Brian (2000-04-19). "Dvorak Interviews Monty". vorbis. Xiph. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  14. ^ "Ogg" (project homepage). Xiphophorus. 2000-05-20. Archived from the original on 2000-05-20. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  15. ^ "The Ogg Vorbis CODEC project". Xiphophorus co. 2000-05-11. Archived from the original on 2000-06-10. Retrieved 2009-09-03. 
  16. ^ "OGG Vorbis 1.0 officially released". AfterDawn. 2002-07-19. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  17. ^ "Ogg Vorbis official release is here". News. CNET. 2002-07-19. Retrieved 2009-06-04. 
  18. ^ . Retrieved 2009-06-04.
  19. ^ "Recordings about our Philosophy". GNU Project. Free Software Foundation (FSF). Archived from the original on 2007-11-26. Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  20. ^ a b "Ogg Sites". Free Software Foundation. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  21. ^ "Ogg Vorbis — no future?". 2007-11-04. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  22. ^ , Retrieved 2009
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  24. ^ "Radio New Zealand Oggcasts". Retrieved 2009-01-14. 
  25. ^ "Deutschlandradio im Internet mit OGG-Vorbis-Stream". Retrieved 2009-10-08. 
  26. ^ "Spotify FAQ". Retrieved 2009-03-16. 
  27. ^ "Qobuz FAQ". Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  28. ^  
  29. ^ Nanook. "Ogg Vorbis - An Alternative to MP3, 2004". 
  30. ^ "Results of Public, Multiformat Listening Test @ 48 kbps (November 2006)". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  31. ^ a b "80 kbps personal listening test (summer 2005) - Hydrogenaudio Forums". Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  32. ^ a b "MP3, WMA, AAC, OGG qualité à 96 kbps (évaluation) - Traitement Audio - Video & Son - FORUM" (in French). Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  33. ^ a b "MPC vs VORBIS vs MP3 vs AAC at 180 kbit/s - Hydrogenaudio Forums". Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  34. ^ "64kbit/sec stereo multiformat listening test". Retrieved 2011-05-10. 
  35. ^ Foundation (2009-06-02). "Application". Vorbis I specification. Foundation. Retrieved 2009-09-11. 
  36. ^ Xiph.Org Foundation (2009-06-02). "Vorbis I specification - 1.1.2 Classification". Xiph.Org Foundation. Retrieved 2009-09-22. 
  37. ^ "Recommended Encoder Versions and Settings - Hydrogenaudio Forums". Retrieved 2008-01-13. 
  38. ^ a b Experimental Ogg vorbis Bitrate Peeler, Bitrate reduction of ogg vorbis
  39. ^ Vinjey. "Vorbis & Downloads". Retrieved 2006-11-13. 
  40. ^ "Oggless proposal". Xiph.Org Foundation. 
  41. ^ "Xiph.Org announces support for the WebM open media project". Xiph.Org. 2010-05-19. Retrieved 2010-05-20. 
  42. ^ "Introducing WebM, an open web media project". 2010-05-19. Retrieved 2010-05-19. 
  43. ^ "FAQ". WebM. Google. 2010-05-19. 
  44. ^ "RFC 5215 — RTP Payload Format for Vorbis Encoded Audio". IETF. August 2008. Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  45. ^ Xiph.Org Foundation. "Vorbis Comment Field Documentation". Retrieved 2007-03-14. 
  46. ^ Jack Moffitt (2001-02-26). "[icecast-dev] announces Vorbis Beta 4 and the Foundation". Retrieved 2006-11-13. 
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  48. ^ "[vorbis-dev] tremor relicensed as BSD". 2002-09-03. Retrieved 2008-03-15. 
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See also

Vorbis faces competition from other audio formats, such as Audacity can convert to more popular formats,[70] and support in games has gradually improved.[71]


As originally recommended by HTML 5, these web browsers natively support Vorbis audio (without a plug-in) using the element: Mozilla Firefox 3.5 (and later versions),[61][62] Google Chrome (as of version,[63] SeaMonkey (as of version 2.0).[64] Opera 9.5 experimental video builds released in 2007 and 2008 have only support and play back Vorbis audio included in Ogg video files.[65][66] Opera 10.5 browser has support for Vorbis audio, WAVE PCM audio and Theora video.[67][68]

Some newer Ubisoft games use Vorbis files renamed with the filename extension .sb0. It can therefore be played using a compatible player, although sometimes one must force a different sampling rate to hear it correctly. A number of tools are available for extracting sound from archived files such as the .m4b of Myst IV: Revelation.

[60]. Users can test these programs using the list of Vorbis audio streams available on the same wiki.comparison of media players For more information about support in software media players look at [59][58] Software supporting Vorbis exists for many platforms. The multi-platform open-source

Application software

for an overview. Internet radio device Also see [55] Apple's

  • Tizen devices
  • Openmoko Neo 1973 and Neo Freerunner
  • Devices based on Google's Android platform support Ogg Vorbis media files.[49][50]
  • Digital audio players such as Cowon's D2 and iAudio X5 ship with Ogg Vorbis support.
  • Samsung YP series of digital audio players [51] ships with Ogg Vorbis support.
  • The majority of iriver devices provide Ogg Vorbis support up to Q10 bitrates.[52][53][54] (as July 2008)
  • Cowon C2 (Ogg and FLAC support)
  • Sandisk added Vorbis capability to the 1.01.29 firmware for the Sansa Clip player. (added in May 2008)
  • Sandisk added Vorbis capability for the Sansa Fuze player in the 1.01.15 firmware update. (added October 3, 2008)
  • Sandisk Sansa Clip+
  • Sandisk Sansa Fuze+
  • Meizu's M6 and M3 Digital Audio Players
  • Elta 8844 MPEG4 DVD/DivX player can play music files in both MP3 or Ogg Vorbis format
  • Vedia A10 plays Ogg Vorbis and FLAC in addition to MP3, AAC and other formats
  • S1 MP3 Players also supports Ogg Vorbis since at least 2006, though this is not typically listed on the player's packaging.
  • GamePark Holding's Linux based portable gaming consoles (GP32, GP2X F100-F200, GP2X Wiz) officially support Ogg Vorbis.
  • Pioneer XW-NAV1K
  • RIM BlackBerry 9800 "Torch" and 9670 "Style"
  • VDO Dayton CD1737X car radio supports 8-192kbit/s Ogg Vorbis files
  • HP TouchPad was given support for Ogg Vorbis with the webOS 3.0.4 update

Tremor, a version of the Vorbis decoder which uses fixed-point arithmetic (rather than floating point), was made available to the public on September 2, 2002 (also under a BSD-style license).[48] Tremor, or platform specific versions based on it, is more suited to implementation on the limited facilities available in commercial portable players. A number of versions that make adjustments for specific platforms and include customized optimizations for given embedded microprocessors have been produced. Several hardware manufacturers have expressed intentions to produce Vorbis-compliant devices and new Vorbis devices seem to be appearing at a steady rate.



Vorbis is supported by several large digital audio player manufacturers such as Samsung, SanDisk, Rio, Neuros Technology, Cowon, and iriver.

The Xiph.Org Foundation has not released an official statement on the patent status of Vorbis, pointing out that such a statement is technically impossible due to the number and scope of patents in existence and the questionable validity of many of them. Such issues cannot be resolved outside of a court of law.


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