In a move to circumvent Google’s WebM video format from gaining traction as the Internet is exploring HTML5 options, the MPEG Licensing Association, also known as MPEG LA, is making its own H.264 format open and available for free Internet videos.
MPEG LA had before extended its grace period before collecting royalties and licensing fees for Internet-based videos using the H.264 AVC format until 2015, but the move today would make extend the grace period indefinitely. However, licensee fees will still be collected for video formats that consumers pay for, such as Hulu content, encoded Blu-ray discs, and other paid downloadable videos.
It is expected that those who use Google’s WebM format will face licensing challenges of their own. Although Google had acquired the VP8 codec from On2, the MPEG LA believes that some technologies found within the VP8 codec is covered by patents owned by its member companies. If that’s true, users may not want to face the headache of trying to sort out patents, licensing issues, fees, and royalties, and may not want to switch from the now free H.264 format to Google’s WebM.