H.264 to be royalty free forever

Mike Halsey MVP
Aug 27, 2010
Updated • Dec 5, 2012
Music and Video, Video

The H.264 video codec has been proving extremely popular of late, enabling all of us to watch quality, high-definition video on the web and in our homes.  Microsoft and Apple have also both come forward to announce ongoing support for H.264 HD video in HTML5 in their new browsers.

Now, the MPEG LA standards organisation responsible for the codec have answered the concerns of business and consumers by announcing the standard will remain royalty-free forever.

In the past some companies have decided to cash in on the popularity of standards they introduce, as was tried with JPEG, and this news will come as a relief to software and hardware makers building the standard into their programs and devices.

The announcement also means that browser makers, Opera and Firefox, who would not have money to pay such a royalty, can safely introduce H.264 video support into their browsers, following Microsoft, Google and Apple.

In the breaking story from Business Wire, it was said that...

MPEG LA announced today that its AVC Patent Portfolio License will continue not to charge royalties for Internet Video that is free to end users (known as “Internet Broadcast AVC Video”) during the entire life of this License. MPEG LA previously announced it would not charge royalties for such video through December 31, 2015 (see http://www.mpegla.com/Lists/MPEG%20LA%20News%20List/Attachments/226/n-10-02-02.pdf), and today’s announcement makes clear that royalties will continue not to be charged for such video beyond that time. Products and services other than Internet Broadcast AVC Video continue to be royalty-bearing.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.

This is excellent news for everybody going forward.

Source : NeoWin and Engadget


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  1. Gunman said on August 27, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    I may be mistaken but as far as I understand the announcement the only thing that is free of charge are (H.264 encoded) videos which are free to the end user. Any software used to decode and encode (including browser, set-top boxes, mobile devices, …) is not included in this lifetime free use.

    So I would say that is not really a big step especially for open source browser projects rather a desperate act into luring companies like google(youtube ) back into the herd so they don’t develop a different codec free of charge which would be a competition.

    Correct me if I’m wrong though.

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