updated 03:15 pm EDT, Thu August 26, 2010
MPEG group makes free H264 use permanent
The MPEG-LA video standards group today revised its AVC License to permanently exempt free H.264 and AVC video Internet use from any royalties. It had previously planned to start charging companies for streaming H.264 at the start of 2016 but now will allow free use indefinitely as long as viewers aren't charged. Paid video, as well as corporate use of offline video, will still carry a licensing cost.
The deal effectively sanctions the use of H.264 for HTML5 video as well as within Flash containers at YouTube and other sites. Google co-developed its WebM standard in part to guarantee a royalty-free standard for HTML5 and would still have an advantage for paid content, but much of the regular use would be negated.
Apple and Microsoft have both sided with H.264 as they believe its legality and licensing are clearer than with WebM. MPEG-LA has warned that WebM may violate patents in spite of Google's claims and that anyone who used it could face a mandatory change in the long term.