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14 February 2011, 10:39

MPEG calling for royalty-free web video codec

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At the 95th Motion Pictures Expert Group (MPEG) meeting, held at the end of January in Korea, the group announced it plans to issue a call, in March, for proposals for a video compression technology. This call will be for what is known as an ISO/IEC "Type-1 licensing" standard which would mean the new standard would be intended to be royalty-free. The MPEG working group is looking for a new compression standard which would be "in line with the expected usage models of the internet". It would like the new standard to achieve "substantially better compression performance" than MPEG-2 and is hoping it may be comparable with the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC baseline profile.

The issue of video codecs has been particularly controversial over the last year with the emergence of Google's royalty free WebM/VP8 codec taking on the MPEG groups's royalty encumbered H.264 codec. Last week, MPEG LA, a patent pooling company not connected to the ISO/IEC MPEG group, announced that it was beginning a search for patents essential to VP8 with an eye to creating a patent pool and charging royalties. Royalties for the use of H.264 for video on the internet were dropped in August 2010, but are still required to be paid by the makers of web browsers and video encoders.

Currently, it is unknown how many of, or how enthusiastically, the participants in MPEG will rise to the call for proposals. The March meeting of the MPEG group will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, over the 21st to the 25th.


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