Which common image formats are open or royalty-free?


A few of the more well known ones are:

PNG, DNG, BMP, GIF (Patents are expired),

Some in question are: JPEG (Lawsuits pending), TIFF (Until next year),

Some requiring licensing are: JPEG 2000,

  • 4
    While the patents are expired, I wouldn't call GIF an open and free format. PNG is and always has been an open format, so I would consider it preferable to GIF. – Computerish Jan 5 '11 at 18:42
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    Yes, but by open, he really meant royalty free. GIF requires no royalties now, as the patents have expired, so... – PearsonArtPhoto Jan 5 '11 at 20:56
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    Still, PNG is technically superior to GIF in all ways. The only reason to use GIF is for animated GIFs--due to the lack of support (mainly IE) for APNG. That's one of the fundamental flaws of the patent system--by the time a patent expires the technology will have long since become irrelevant. – Calvin Huang Jan 9 '11 at 2:12
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    @Calvin Actually, I think that's the whole point of the system. – Mateen Ulhaq Jan 9 '11 at 6:15

Pearsonartphoto mentioned several raster formats. A couple of other file formats that are used for vector based files:


There's the OpenRaster format (Wikipedia; extension .ora), a proposed open standard for exchange between image editing applications. It is intended to support layered images, comparable to Photoshop's PSD and GIMP's XCF.

Currently it's only used by open-source applications like GIMP.

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