H.264 for Internet video to be royalty free till 2016
MPEG LA, the patent license pool which collects royalties on MPEG video standards, has announced that Internet Video encoded with H.264/AVC that is provided free to end users will remain royalty free until 2016. It had been expected that the authority would announce some level of license payment as the previously announced royalty free period was coming to an end. All other uses of H.264/AVC, including media players, encoders and decoders, will continue to require royalties to be paid to MPEG LA.
The move will allow internet broadcasters, including YouTube and Vimeo, to continue providing H.264 encoded content. H.264 became an issue recently when the Firefox developers decided not to support it in Firefox's implementation of the HTML5 <video> element, due to concerns about licensing and patents. Firefox only supports Ogg Theora encoded video in HTML5. Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari both support H.264 in HTML5 and do not support Ogg Theora.
The announcement from MPEG LA does not address those issues, but does mean that there is less motivation from the big internet broadcasters, who have been experimenting with replacing Adobe's Flash with HTML5 based video players, to move away from using H.264 for online video.