H.264 Video License Now Royalty-free for Life

MPEG LA, the organization that controls the h.264 video format patent portfolio, has revised its licensing structure so Internet streaming videos that are free for viewers will never be subject to royalty fees. The change eliminates concerns over whether or not free h.264 formatted videos would be subject to royalty fees starting in 2016.

“MPEG LA previously announced it would not charge royalties for such video through December 31, 2015, and today’s announcement makes clear that royalties will continue not to be charged for such video beyond that time,” the organization said in a statement. “Products and services other than Internet Broadcast AVC Video continue to be royalty-bearing.”

The licensing change may make it easier for companies to settle on a common format for HTML5-based Internet video, although so far the big players seem to be happy to stand their ground. Currently, Apple and Microsoft support H.264, while Mozilla and Opera support Google’s VP8 format.

Adobe is still pushing its dominant Flash format, and based on its current wide-spread use, it won’t be going away any time soon.

The h.264 format is already proving popular with many Web developers. The new licensing terms, coupled with the built-in h.264 support in Apple’s iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, could be just what the format needs to draw in even more supporters.