MPEG LA Extends Free Use of H.264

Royalties won’t be charged for free online video through 2015
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DENVER: MPEG LA, the licensing body for MPEG compression patent portfolios, said it would extend free use of MPEG-4/H.264 for online video that’s free to end users. The royalty-free policy will continue through the next licensing term running Jan. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2015.

“MPEG LA’s AVC Patent Portfolio License provides coverage for devices that decode and encode AVC video, AVC video sold to end users for a fee on a title or subscription basis and free television video services,” MPEG LA said. “AVC video is used in set-top boxes, media player and other personal computer software, mobile devices including telephones and mobile television receivers, Blu-ray DiscTM players and recorders, Blu-ray video optical discs, game machines, personal media player devices and still and video cameras.”

These various uses are covered under different categories of the H.264 license, one for equipment makers and another for content distributors. The content distribution category is further subdivided into free TV, Internet broadcasting, title-by-title and subscription. The Internet broadcasting subcagetory includes free streaming.

The fee structure for free TV and for Internet broadcasting is either $2,500 per H.264 encoder or an annual fee of $2,500 to $10,000, depending on the size of the market served. Title-by-title, for videos 12 minutes or longer, is 2 percent of the retail price or 2 cents per title. For subscription, the license ranges from $25,000 a year for up to 250,000 subscribers, to $100,000 a year for 1 million or more, with a cap of $5 million.