MPEG-LA Makes Its H.264 Codec Royalty-free to Content Producers (Mozilla Says It Doesn’t Change a Thing)


h264 vs on2 vp8 quality sample

The MPEG-LA has just announced that they will never collect royalties from video producers who distribute MPEG-4 content online for free to end users encoded in the H.264 codec. As you can imagine this declaration brings a huge sigh of relief to video podcasters, budding film makers, and the like who were warned earlier this year by the MPEG-LA that after December 31, 2015 someone might come a knockin’. Of course, if you require a subscription to access your content online, that’s a different story.

In any case, many of the news outlets automatically assumed that this news would persuade H.264 dissenters, like Mozilla and Opera, to reconsider supporting Apple and Microsoft’s preferred codec (note: both companies are MPEG-LA members) in their web browsers for HTML5 video instead of opting for the royalty-free, open source WebM/VP8 codec made available to the world this past May by Google. Remember, their primary beef is that they don’t want to be charged a licensing free to support the H.264 codec in their web browsers (among other reasons).

Now we have confirmation, thanks to The Register, from Mozilla’s VP of Engineering that the announcement doesn’t change a thing for Mozilla. And, in fact, points outs that H.264 may not even be relevant after 2014.

The MPEG-LA announcement doesn’t change anything for the next four years, since this promise was already made through 2014,” he says in the statement shared with the The Reg. “Given that IEC [International Electrotechnical Commission] has already started accepting submissions for patents in the replacement H.265 standard, and the rise of unencumbered formats like WebM, it is not clear if H.264 will still be relevant in 2014.

FYI, MPEG-LA’s licensing changes does not apply to applications that encode and decode video.




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