MPEG LA have come out and declared that the H.264 codec will remain royalty-free for Internet broadcast videos.

This has been one of the blocks for wide adoption on the standard with both Mozilla and Opera opting not to support the format in the past citing royalty concerns.

“MPEG LA announced today that its AVC Patent Portfolio License will continue not to charge royalties for Internet Video that is free to end users (known as “Internet Broadcast AVC Video”) during the entire life of this License. MPEG LA previously announced it would not charge royalties for such video through December 31, 2015, and today’s announcement makes clear that royalties will continue not to be charged for such video beyond that time.”

Safari, Chrome, and Internet Explorer 9 already support videos encoded with the H.264 codec.

Mozilla and Opera are yet to comment on the move.

Tags: , , , Categories: Browser Watch
3 Responses
  1. Avatar

    Just to clarify on the title, it’s not strictly royalty-free. It’s royalty free to distribute H264 encoded videos for free, but it’s not free to distribute paid H264 videos, and it’s not free to distribute decoders. So Apple, Google and Microsoft still need to pay 5 million dollars per year (that’s the exact amount) to have H264 support on their browsers. Opera apparently can’t afford that kind of money, so unless that changes, there will never be any H264 support on Opera. Mozilla can’t support H264 because Firefox and all its components are open source and Mozilla is legally oblige to forever distribute Firefox and all its components as such, forever, both because of its tri-licence (EULA) and because of its (Mozilla Foundation’s) status as a non-profit, public service entity. Remember that while it’s Mozilla Corporation that employs many of Firefox’s developers, Firefox itself, and all the Mozilla platform, is developed my Mozilla Foundation, which is more than the Corporation, and is non-profit.

    That said, it’s not that Mozilla Foundation can’t afford the 5 million a year, it’s just that since they are legally obliged (by their own EULA) to distribute Firefox for free and as a FOSS, they can’t support it.

    A third party plugin is still perfectly feasible, in any case, or even a plugin made by Mozilla themselves (since it wouldn’t be covered by Firefox’s EULA). But that’s hardly an ideal solution.

    At the end of the day, WebM is the best solution for web video distribution, since it’s a better codec, it’s free, and it’s very powerful.

  2. Avatar

    Also, here’s what Mozilla had to say:

  3. Avatar

    Thanks for posting that Tiago. I didn’t realise all this was so useless. More of a PR stunt than anything else really.