H.264 Codec Is Now FREE – for Free Video – MPEG LA Announces Royalty-Free License

H.264 Codec Is Now FREE – for Free Video – MPEG LA Announces Royalty-Free License

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I just ran across this most interesting of items.  MPEG LA has announced that they will not charge royalties on Internet Video using the AVC/H.264 codec, when that video is free to end-users, for the lifetime of that license. This goes beyond the previous December 31, 2015 announcement.No royalties will be charged on freely available Internet Video which uses the H.264 (MPEG-5 Part 10) codec for the duration of MPEG LA’s license to the patent. Video that is pay-to-view either on a per item or a subscription basis will require a license fee. This includes hardware and software that encodes or decodes this video generally used in computer applications, settop boxes, mobile devices, television receivers and Blu-Ray players and yes, even video games and consoles.

Considering the traction that Google’s WebM codec has this is probably a way for them to maintain some market share and, they hope, lay to rest talk about the potential that the codec could become pay-to-use in the future. By doing this they can probably maintain their presence in upcoming devices and applications and not have to worry about WebM replacing them in the HTML5 arena.

For those not following along, earlier this year Google made the WebM codec open source in hopes that it would be incorporated into the HTMl5 protocol as a free alternative to MPEG LA’s H.264 which is in widespread use on the web and elsewhere. It looks like the codec was is going to heat up now.

What this also does, tangentially, is helps bolster free-to-view, ad-supported video on the web since the end-user is not being asked to pay to see the video, only tolerate some advertisements before, during or after it. Of course, it doesn’t really change the already pre-existing situation, merely extends it indefinitely. Well, there’s a definite point when the license will end, but I imagine many of us will have moved on to other things when that comes about. It will be interesting to see how the WebM community responds to this.

MPEG LA’s AVC Patent Portfolio License provides access to essential patent rights for the AVC/H.264 (MPEG-4 Part 10) digital video coding standard. In addition to Internet Broadcast AVC Video, MPEG LA’s AVC Patent Portfolio License provides coverage for devices that decode and encode AVC video, AVC video sold to end users for a fee on a title or subscription basis and free television video services. AVC video is used in set-top boxes, media player and other personal computer software, mobile devices including telephones and mobile television receivers, Blu-ray Disc players and recorders, Blu-ray video optical discs, game machines, personal media player devices and still and video cameras.

For more information about MPEG LA’s AVC License or to request a copy of the License, visit http://www.mpegla.com/main/programs/AVC/Pages/Intro.aspx.

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