Standards group MPEG LA announced that the AVC video format, otherwise known as H.264, will remain royalty free.
The standards group represents a number of companies that own patents involved in the H.264 video codec which is widely utilitised in digital television, Blu-Ray, consumer electronics such as video cameras and streaming web video standards.
The ever present threat of the licensing agencty collecting feels for the AVC patent pool had driven Google to implement a royalty-free video codec known as WebM or formerly VP8. Google acquired VP8 from code developer On2.
The Opera, Chrome and Firefox browsers have built in support for the VP8 codec while Apple has thrown its weight behind the AVC codec. The move to ensure AVC remains free for use (excepting paid-content) is very likely a response to the building momentum behind the WebM standard.
The WebM codec itself is in relative infancy compared with AVC, particularly regarding extremely high quality implementations of AVC such as the free x264 encoder library utilised in a great many applications to provide H.264/AVC support.
Thie move to guarantee the H.264/AVC video standard remains free of charge, coupled with the fact that WebM isn’t particularly competetive in quality/compression stakes, looks set to swing at least some developers back to H.264 standard.