MPEG LA have announced pricing for licenses on the Multiview Video Coding 3D codec. It covers everything from hardware that will use it to subscription services and prices range from one cent per disc to $300,000 for big subscription services.
Currently, MPEG LA is dedicating some of its time to undermining Google's VP8 and state that they have 12 patents that apply to that codec. To me that means, no matter what they say about H.264 being free for certain uses, if they win out against VP8, that will probably dwindle over time to a very narrow amount of video or perhaps, none at all.
Now they've got MVC which is also based on H.264/MPEG-4 AVC. It covers both stereoscopic and multi-view 3D. MVC also has free viewpoint in it (where users can change the camera view).
Multiview video contains a large amount of inter-view statistical dependencies, since all cameras capture the same scene from different viewpoints. Therefore, combined temporal and inter-view prediction is the key for efficient MVC encoding. A frame from a certain camera can be predicted not only from temporally related frames from the same camera, but also from the frames of neighboring cameras. These interdependencies can be used for efficient prediction. -Wikipedia
For MVC, there are a variety of ways to pay for the patent license. Each method limited to a maximum of $6.5 million annually:
- A payment of 10 cents per unit for products that include MVC;
- A payment of 1 cent per Blu-ray disc or 1 percent of the price, whichever is lower, though titles shorter than 12 minutes are free;
- Various payments for subscription services to with an unlimited number of titles using MVC, ranging from free for services with less than 100,000 annual subscribers to $300,000 for services with more than 25 million annual subscribers.
Interesting that it was set at 25 million subscribers since, as far as I know, there are very few services reaching that high currently.
It's also strange that they did it this year, when 3D is far from the major push for the TV industry (that was last year, and they pretty much failed). I'm sure there's still a lot of 3D adopters out there but at the end of 2011 I cited a consumer survey that said more were interested in connected TVs over 3DTVs.