Feeds

Mozilla shrugs off 'forever free' H.264 codec license

Uh, will H.264 even be relevant in 4 years?

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Update: This story has been updated to show that the MPEG-LA's license change applies to free video broadcasts, not applications that encode and decode video.

Mozilla vice president of engineering Mike Shaver has questioned the importance of the forever free H.264 license introduced this morning by the MPEG-LA, the organization that oversees the web video codec on behalf of patent holders such as Apple and Microsoft.

The patent-pool organization now says that for the H.264 license used by free video broadcasts, it will continue to waive royalty fees through the entire life of the license. Previously, the license was royalty-free only through the end of 2015. The move is an apparent answer to Google's new WebM media format, which was open sourced under a royalty-free license this spring, but Shaver doesn't think the move makes all that much difference.

With WebM in play, he's, well, not sure if H.264 will even matter in four years.

"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."

It should also be noted that the MPEG-LA's license change does not apply to H.264 products and services other than free video broadcasts.

Mozilla and Opera have backed WebM, saying they won't use royalty-encumbered codecs in their browsers, while Apple and Microsoft have stuck with H.264. And this isn't likely to change anytime soon — though Microsoft has said it will allow IE9 netizens to use WebM if they install it on their own machines.

Though WebM uses a royalty-free license, the MPEG-LA has said it's "looking into" a patent pool that would challenge its royalty-free-ness. And apparently, this jibes with the thinking of Apple CEO Steve Jobs. But Google is confident that WebM can stand up to pressure from patent holders — and clearly, Mike Shaver is too. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Premier League wants to PURGE ALL FOOTIE GIFs from social media
Not paying Murdoch? You're gonna get a right LEGALLING - thanks to automated software
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
XBOX One will learn to play media from USB and DLNA sources
Hang on? Aren't those file formats you hardly ever see outside torrents?
Class war! Wikipedia's workers revolt again
Bourgeois paper-shufflers have 'suspended democracy', sniff unpaid proles
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.