WBU-TC expresses concerns about MPEG-4 AVC licensing

June 7, 2004

The World Broadcasting Unions Technical Committee (WBU-TC) has issued several comments on the licensing arrangements for MPEG-4 Visual. The committee objects to the concept of fees based on usage. The committee also hopes that the licensing structure for MPEG-4 AVC would not be a barrier to massive global adoption.

Last November, MPEG LA issued a news release entitled "MPEG LA announces terms of joint H.264/MPEG-4 AVC patent license" www.mpegla.com/news/n_03-11-17_avc.html which indicated that free-to-air broadcasters would be required to pay participation fees amounting to $10,000 per year for markets of greater than 100,000 households. On May 18, MPEG LA announced www.mpegla.com/news/n_04-05-18_avc.pdf that the terms of this license will be modified to include the option of paying a one-time fee of $2500 for each encoder used in transmitting MPEG-4 AVC video for free broadcast television.

Despite this concession, the WBU-TC has unanimously concluded that the MPEG-4 AVC licensing terms remain extremely onerous for free-to-air broadcasters. The WBU-TC suggests that free-to-air broadcasters should be exempted from charges for use of MPEG-4 AVC. In the absence of such an exemption, the WBU-TC may recommend that the world's major broadcasters should not use MPEG-4 AVC.

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