H.264 free streaming for 5 more years

February 25th, 2010 - Posted by Mihaela in Video broadcasting news

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Here is some good news for the consumers: MPEG LA stated that H.264 licenses for video streaming will remain free at least for the next 5 years. Seems like this is the answer to what YouTube and Vimeo made (implementing the HTML5 video player about a month ago, which seems to win against H.264).

MPEG LA policy which is about to expire is not to charge the streaming websites using H.264 if they offer free content to their viewers.

HTML5 player works on the newest browsers without additional plugins as on Flash or Silverlight but one of the biggest issues is that a lot of these modern browsers don’t support H.264. It’s the case of Firefox and Opera not being able to do it that is why 75% of the end users can’t watch HTML5 based videos encoded in H.264.

Currently Mozilla is not using H.264 fearing that MPEG LA may charge for streaming when the actual license expires and provides video support using Ogg Vorbis format. Actually John Lilly (CEO at Mozilla) replied to MPEG LA’s news on his Twitter account.

Have a look here:

Some important companies using a H.264 license are Apple and Microsoft. Here is a full H.264 FAQ from MPEG LA website.

Even if the free period is extended with 5 years MPEG LA made no annoucements regarding their future pricing. What will be the situation of companies and video sites using H.264 for a long time? They may be forced to pay very high fees to keep the license. One of these cases may be YouTube with MPEG LA taking advantage of their popularity to charge an enormous fee.

Not paying the license will affect their traffic and their customers as the website won’t be able to stream H.264 legally. Ogg Theora may have a chance here to develop a very strong solution as an alternative.

Mike Hudack (CEO at Blip.TV) explains in this video the differences between H.264 and Ogg Theora:

More about H.264 can be found in this article.

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