Machine Logic :

H.264 Opens Up a Free & Clear Video Codec Landscape

Another salvo was fired in the battle for the future of Internet video today. MPEG LA is making permanent, thats forever, the royalty free use of their license portfolio for AVC/H.264 for free Internet video applications.

The moratorium for payment was to be reconsidered in 2014 and recently extended to 2015 but as they say in war, conditions on the ground have changed. Google’s purchase of On2 and the subsequent folding of their technology into the royalty free opensource VP8 standard, threatened H.264 dominance on the web.

If you watch video on the web delivered by YouTube, Adobe Flash, Hulu, Microsoft’s Silverlight or the iTunes Store on your desktop/laptop computer, iPhone, iPad or Android device you are seeing high quality video via H.264 compression. Without compression there can be no web delivered video content.

The way the MPEG LA license works: the individual video viewer does not pay for the viewing then the provider is not charged for the use of the codec, if the individual is charged for the viewing then there is a fee for each view charged to the provider.

Even the highly anticipated arrival and adoption of HTML 5 has been affected by the lack of a clear non licensed video codec. The working group trying to form the standard, made up of Apple/Safari, Mozilla/Firefox, Microsoft/IE, Adobe/Flash and Google. plus others, have not come to an agreement.

Apple would not use Ogg Theora, choosing H.264, as has Microsoft and Adobe, while Mozilla and the Opera browser prefer Ogg Theora as it appears to be free of any license trouble. Google is now likely to push their VP8 but uses H.264 on their Android platform. The W3C HTML Working Group is caught in the middle of the no man’s land.

The bottom line is that video content providers who have a business model based on a no charge viewing to their users will now have a more predictable future in which to create their projects.

For those web users that enjoy viewing their video via the Internet, they can be assured of high quality, ease of us, predictable technology and low to zero viewing costs. After all if the user is king, then this is how it should be.

Originally published in and reedited for WholeThinking.

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