The group responsible for licensing the h.264 video codec has officially extended their royalty-free licensing indefinitely. The group initially only promised royalty-free use of codec until 2016.
“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.”
This extension of the licensing agreement for the h.264 codec is seen by many as a response to Google’s recent announcement of their own WebM format. Many have been in favor of the WebM format since Google has promised to make it royalty-free and open. However, its not quite clear that this has changed much in the eyes of the industry.
Vice President of Engineering at Mozilla, Mike Shaver, made the following statement questioning the relevance of h.264 in the future:
“The MPEG-LA announcement doesn’t change anything for the next four years, since this promise was already made through 2014…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.”