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Google open video codec faces second challenger

VP8 v MPEG v MPEG LA v acronym chaos

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Google's royalty-free video codec is facing yet another challenger.

The MPEG standards body – not to be confused with the MPEG LA patent-pool organization – has announced plans for its own royalty-free codec. At its annual meeting in March, the organization will begin accepting proposals for a new video-compression technology designed to provide better performance than MPEG-2 under a royalty-free ISO/IEC Type-1 license.

In May, Google open sourced its VP8 codec under a royalty-free license, hoping to create completely open standard for web video. But in addition to competition from a new MPEG standard, it's facing a patent attack from the MPEG LA, the organization that handles the (not royalty-free) licensing for the widely used H.264 codec.

Last week, the MPEG LA officially called on patent holders to submit patents they believe are essential to VP8. The organization hopes to create a patent pool for Google's codec, challenging the company's efforts to make it royalty-free.

MPEG and MPEG LA are two wholly separate organizations. MPEG defines standards. MPEG LA handles licensing for standards on behalf of patent holders. Speaking with The Reg recently, the latter organization was quick to point out that it does not control standards.

So, VP8 faces two obstacles. It appears that the MPEG LA will eventually try to charge for the codec, and now MPEG is working on an alternative that carries no charge. But Google does have some momentum behind it. Mozilla and Opera have already rolled VP8 into their browsers, and various other software and hardware manufacturers have put their weight behind the codec as well, including Adobe, AMD, and nVidia. ®

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