Linked by Eugenia Loli on Sat 1st May 2010 22:17 UTC
Legal We've all heard how the h.264 is rolled over on patents and royalties. Even with these facts, I kept supporting the best-performing "delivery" codec in the market, which is h.264. "Let the best win", I kept thinking. But it wasn't until very recently when I was made aware that the problem is way deeper. No, my friends. It's not just a matter of just "picking Theora" to export a video to Youtube and be clear of any litigation. MPEG-LA's trick runs way deeper! The [street-smart] people at MPEG-LA have made sure that from the moment we use a camera or camcorder to shoot an mpeg2 (e.g. HDV cams) or h.264 video (e.g. digicams, HD dSLRs, AVCHD cams), we owe them royalties, even if the final video distributed was not encoded using their codecs! Let me show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

UPDATE: Engadget just wrote a reply to this article. The article says that you don't need an extra license to shoot commercial video with h.264 cameras, but I wonder why the license says otherwise, and Engadget's "quotes" of user/filmmaker indemnification by MPEG-LA are anonymous...

UPDATE 2: Engadget's editor replied to me. So according to him, the quotes are not anonymous, but organization-wide on purpose. If that's the case, I guess this concludes that. And I can take them on their word from now on.

UPDATE 3: And regarding royalties (as opposed to just licensing), one more reply by Engadget's editor.

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RE[2]: OSNews
by jrincayc on Sun 2nd May 2010 14:43 UTC in reply to "RE: OSNews"
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I think that you actually need to wait until Dec 2012 in the US, since patents can be filed up to a year after initial publication, and the earliest publication that had practically all of MPEG-1 was the committee draft on December 6, 1991.

Note that patents could be delayed and so sometimes the patent lifetime could exceed 20 years in the US, but this does not seem to be the case for the patents I have found publicly listed for MPEG-2 (which should cover MPEG-1 video) and MP3.

If you don't care about MPEG-1 layer 3 audio (MP3), the rest of MPEG-1 may already be patent free or maybe after US 5214678 expires on May 31, 2010.

I have created a summary of this at:
and a fuller article at:

MPEG is also discussing the possibility of a royalty free codec. See:

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