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H.264 video codec standard to stay royalty-free


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The MPEG Licensing Association—the group responsible for handling the necessary patent licensing for use of MPEG video codec standards—has announced that it will not charge royalties for AVC/H.264 encoded video that is made available to view via the Internet for free. The group earlier this year had extended its limited moratorium on licensing fees for free Internet video until the end of 2015.

Today's announcement by the MPEG LA extends the time period of the moratorium for the life of its "AVC Patent Portfolio License," effectively making free-to-view H.264 encoded video royalty-free indefinitely. The MPEG LA noted that licensing fees will still be in effect for video that consumers pay for, such as AVC-encoded Blu-ray discs, on demand services like Hulu+, and pay-to-download services like iTunes.

The move to effectively eliminate licensing fees for free Internet video is likely an effort to prevent Google's new WebM standard, built with technology it gained from acquiring On2 last year, from gaining any serious traction as a de facto Web standard for video. Despite Google's backing and support planned for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers, the MPEG LA has suggested that the VP8 codec used by WebM is likely covered by patents held by its member companies. If WebM does prove to be encumbered by the same patents as H.264, which is already widely used for online video, there would be little reason to switch away from H.264 in its favor.

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MPEG LA announced earlier today that they would make H.264 permanently royalty-free, to keep business and consumers' minds at ease.

The codec standard was developed to reduce bit rates over the previous codec standards, and is widely used in web applications, software and even hardware. H.264 is found in a variety of things from YouTube, iTunes, Blu-Ray discs and supported software such as Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Flash Player.

Many developers worried that the H.264 standard would eventually start collecting royalties just to use it, but MPEG LA assured developers that it would permanently make H.264 royalty-free.

Today's announcement means that Opera and Mozilla Firefox will now be able to adopt the video codec standard without worrying of paying royalties, joining browsers like Internet Explorer 9, Safari 5 and Chrome in using the codec standard. This change could make H.264 the video format standard for HTML5. Both Opera and Mozilla announced they would be supporting the open-source Ogg Theora video codec.

Both Microsoft and Apple own patents in the H.264 standard, while Google owns and develops VP8/WebM, another royalty-free video codec standard.

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They say H.264 can get same quality at half the bit rate. Is it true? I converted a wmv game video file to H.264 .mkv at half bitrate in Mediacoder. And found some fast action frames a bit blur.

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There are various setting to achieve what you want, and I say it's possible. Never heard of Mediacoder. Try MeGui. First install AviSynth. After that install MeGUI. After you install it, do the update of the program. MeGUI now supports 64-bit h264 encoding. I sow at least 10% conversion improvement on my system. There are various presets in this tool. Try some preset which has 2 passes encoding and you'll get excellent quality for sure.

Cheers ;)

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