MPEG 4 is go (licence fees capped)

Apple dances Quicktime 6 gig

A few weeks ago Apple effectively signalled that it had agreed licensing terms over MPEG 4, when it released a 'preview' of Quicktime 6.0 (which incorporates the video standard) in advance of any public accord with the MPEG-LA.

Now, the full version is out, to coincide with the publication of the definitive license terms, and definitive prices for MPEG 4.

MPEG-LA, the collective of patent holders for MPE4 video streaming standards, has published, has devised a new set of tariffs, following much wrangling with boycott-threatening content producers.

Fees are capped at a million dollars a year, and companies which pay this upfront do not have to audit their streams to MPEG-LA. The license fees apply also only to fee-charging streaming services and no charges apply for the first 50,000 subscribers per year. And then? For Internet users the price is $0.25 per viewer per year or $0.000333 per minute of MPEG-4 video.

Also "where the content provider’s remuneration is not directly from subscriptions (e.g., advertiser-supported services), MPEG LA will work directly with Licensees to come up with a consistent method of counting subscribers that works with their business models".

Higher charges are applied for cable TV and stored video apps. Previously, no pricing distinction was made, much to Apple's disquiet.

But is it all too little, too late, the EE Times asks?

The MPEG 4 codec faces challenges from Divx, Real Networks and H.264. And the standard is not exactly cutting edge anymore, it reports.

Rob Koenen, president of the MPEG4 Industry Forum, said: "It's make or break for MPEG4. The standard was frozen three-and-a-half years ago, and licences should already have been available."

Related stories and links
MPEG-LA press release
EE Times: MPEG4 licence may have come too late
Apple outs Quicktime 6 - without MPEG 4 deal