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09 December 2011, 09:40

ISO/IEC MPEG to select from two options for royalty-free video

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MPEG logo The ISO/IEC MPEG (Motion Picture Experts Group) has announced that it will be selecting from two proposals for a royalty-free internet video compression technology. The process, which formally began in January, is seeking what the ISO/IEC calls a "Type-1 licensing" standard, with no royalties or other IP issues. At the 98th meeting of the MPEG group in Geneva, the group decided that, from the responses to its calls for proposals, it would now pursuing two standard tracks, IVC and WebVC, to fulfil the role of a royalty-free internet video codec standard.

IVC (Internet Video Coding) is based on MPEG-1 technology with non-patent-encumbered enhancements from MPEG-2, JPEG and other research, and was backed by HKUST, Peking University, Tsinghua University and Zhejiang University. WebVC, on the other hand, is based on the 2003 standard for baseline AVC/H.264. The proponents of this proposal – Apple, Cisco, Fraunhofer, Magnum Semiconductor, Polycom and RIM – say they hope to convince stakeholders to grant a royalty free licence. The MPEG group says that it hopes, "depending on the progress of the two tracks", to select one of the two proposals during 2012 to become an international standard.

The IVC proposal is designed to use technology which has seen the patents covering it expire. By the end of 2012, this would include half of the MPEG-2 patents. The WebVC proposal is a royalty-free licence to the baseline specification of an existing patent-encumbered standard, which, although already widely supported, would limit any future enhancement of the standard.

If an ISO/IEC MPEG standard is selected in 2012, it could well be a candidate for incorporation into web standards such as HTML5's video, as it would be an international royalty free standard. The HTML5 specification currently avoids selecting between royalty-encumbered h.264 and Google's royalty-free but not ubiquitous WebM/VP8 codec.


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