MPEG LA: No Charge for H.264 Video Streams Ever
As we barrel headlong into a future of HTML5 video online, many have wondered aloud if the closed H.264 video codec is the way to go. The company that manages the patent pool for the video compression standard, MPEG LA, has made an announcement today aimed at quelling those fears. According to MPEG LA, they will never charge for the use of the codec in free video streams.
The open source Firefox browser has refused to include the closed H.264 codec this far. Google itself has been developing an open alternative called WebM. HTML5 is not tied to H.264, and could theoretically use any codec, but H.264 has the early lead. More than likely, any HTML5 video you’ve ever seen has been H.264.
The announcement from MPEG LA is certainly good, but it leaves a lot of wiggle-room. Paid streams might still need to pay licensing fees down the road. Companies using H.264 encoders/decoders would also have to pay up. MPEG LA has also made noise about assembling a patent pool to go after anyone using WebM. So even that standard may not end up royalty free. What do you think should be the format of the future?