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License release may ease MPEG-4 adoption

After a tumultuous period of haggling over fees, a license for the MPEG-4 multimedia standard has been officially released. Supporters hope it will result in a widespread expansion use of the technology.

The MPEG-4 license, issued by the consortium of companies holding patents attached to the MPEG-4 standard, is essentially identical to an agreement consummated last July. MPEG LA, the licensing arm of the consortium, set a cap of $1 million per licensee, as well as a threshold that exempts MPEG-4 users with fewer than 50,000 implementations from royalty payments.

The original MPEG-4 license, which had no cap or threshold, held up Apple Computer’s adoption of the standard for its popular QuickTime multimedia technology. Apple finally adopted the standard after agreeing to the revised terms of MPEG LA's license.

MPEG-4 patent holders include Sony, Microsoft, Canon, France Telecom, Fujitsu, GE Technology Development, General Instrument, Hitachi, Matsushita, Mitsubishi, Samsung, Sanyo and Toshiba.

MPEG-4 is a video and audio standard developed by the Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG) under the auspices of the International Organization for Standardization. MPEG LA offers one-stop standards licensing of MPEG technologies.

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