VLC media player (commonly known as VLC) is a portable, free and open-source, cross-platform media player and streaming media server written by the VideoLAN project.

VLC media player supports many audio and video compression methods and file formats, including DVD-Video, video CD and streaming protocols. It is able to stream media over computer networks and to transcode multimedia files.

The default distribution of VLC includes a large number of free decoding and encoding libraries, avoiding the need for finding/calibrating proprietary plugins. The libavcodec library from the FFmpeg project provides many of VLC's codecs, but the player mainly uses its own muxers, and demuxers. It also has its own protocol implementations. It also gained distinction as the first player to support playback of encrypted DVDs on Linux and OS X by using the libdvdcss DVD decryption library.

The VideoLan software originated as an academic project in 1996. VLC used to stand for "VideoLAN Client" when VLC was a client of the VideoLAN project. But since VLC is no longer merely a client, that initialism no longer applies.

It was intended to consist of a client and server to stream videos from satellite dishes across a campus network. Originally developed by students at the École Centrale Paris, it is now developed by contributors worldwide and is coordinated by VideoLAN, a non-profit organization.

Rewritten from scratch in 1998, it was released under GNU General Public License on 1 February 2001, with authorization from the headmaster of the École Centrale Paris. The functionality of the server program, VideoLan Server (VLS), has mostly been subsumed into VLC and has been deprecated. The project name has been changed to VLC media player because there is no longer a client/server infrastructure.

The cone icon used in VLC is a reference to the traffic cones collected by École Centrale's Networking Students' Association. The cone icon design was changed from a hand drawn low resolution icon to a higher resolution CGI-rendered version in 2006, illustrated by Richard Øiestad.

After 13 years of development, version 1.0.0 of VLC media player was released on 7 July 2009. Version 2.0.0 of VLC media player was released on February 18, 2012. In 2011 and 2012, large parts of VLC were relicensed to the GNU Lesser General Public License. As of 2012 VLC topped the sourceforge.net overall download count; as of 2013 more than 1.3 billion downloads had occurred.

VLC is available for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch on Apple's App Store. Previously it had been withdrawn due to a licensing conflict between the GPL and the iTunes Store agreement, but was then resubmitted under the Mozilla Public License. Work began on VLC for Android in 2010 and it is now available for Android devices on the Google Play store.

A version for the Windows Store was released on 13 March 2014. Support for Windows RT, Windows Phone, and possibly the Xbox One are also in development.

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