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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Getting to the root of the issue
by galvanash on Sun 2nd May 2010 17:03 UTC
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I think your article fails to explain the underlying issue very well - it focuses on camera use and by doing so makes it hard to understand the real problem.

h.264 usage requires a license. Period. People need to understand this clearly. Any and all usage of h.264, no matter how it is used or by whom, no matter if there is a profit motive involved, requires a license. The camera makers have negotiated a "free for non-commerical use" license for their end users, but regardless by using a product that includes h.264 you are entering a licensing agreement for its usage. If your usage of the codec is not covered by the manufacturers license, you have to negotiate your own license - its as simple as that.

I'm trying to clarify that, because it seems a lot of people are interpreting this as if the license is limiting them by taking something away that they already had. It isn't - what it is doing is explicitly describing what you CAN do - because by default you can do NOTHING. Without a license with MPEG-LA, ALL use of h.264 is restricted.

MPEG-LA, to my knowledge, does not under any circumstances do 3rd party licensing of its codec - with the exception of the "free for non-commercial use" license. There is no product of any kind that you can buy which grants you commercial rights to use h.264 - none. To use h.264 commercially you have to negotiate a license directly with MPEG-LA.

I have posted many times on the issue of h.264 and its usage on on the internet. I am violently opposed to it - the primary reason is because of the above. I'm not posting this because I want to somehow reduce the impact of your article - Im simply trying to clarify the problem. If you want to be able to use a codec in any manner you see fit without legal concerns, h.264 is not the codec you want to use...

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