Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 30th Oct 2013 23:33 UTC, submitted by drcoldfoot
Multimedia, AV

Remember the whole H.264 thing? Cisco just solved it for us - more or less.

The industry has been divided on the choice of a common video codec for some time, namely because the industry standard - H.264 - requires royalty payments to MPEG LA. Today, I am pleased to announce Cisco is making a bold move to take concerns about these payments off the table.

We plan to open-source our H.264 codec, and to provide it as a binary module that can be downloaded for free from the Internet. Cisco will not pass on our MPEG LA licensing costs for this module, and based on the current licensing environment, this will effectively make H.264 free for use in WebRTC.

Cisco will release the code of its H.264 codec under the BSD license, and will also make binaries available for just about every possible platform. Cisco will pay all the licensing costs - over the coming decade, this will cost them a whopping $65 million, illustrating just how expensive H.264 is, and how unrealistic it was to expect it to become a standard without a free implementation being available for everyone to use. It has to be noted that both end users and developers can make use of this.

Mozilla has already announced it will implement this codec into Firefox. All this is great, but it doesn't really address the issue in the long term - the next generation of codecs is coming, and once they arrive, this whole process starts all over again. Will another sugar daddy step up by that time?

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The binary blob should be trustable
by benoitb on Thu 31st Oct 2013 01:08 UTC
Member since:

Copy/paste of an official answer in the comments on the Cisco website anouncement:
"Yes. We plan to open source the build scripts as well, so that third parties can replicate it and do their own verification on signatures at the time of installation of the module. This will allow them to be certain that the binary modules is exactly the compiled version of the source code in the repository. – Nadee Gunasena, Cisco PR"

I'd rather see a truely free codec without stupid patents attached get popular.

Edited 2013-10-31 01:13 UTC

Reply Score: 7

galvanash Member since:

I'd rather see a truely free codec without stupid patents attached get popular.

There is still Daala, but it isn't quite there yet. And there is still webm. Maybe with this all the h.264 proponents will quite feeling like these other options are trying to take something away from them (something that most of them never had to begin with, but whatever)...

Reply Parent Score: 2

shmerl Member since:

It's also interesting that Cisco participates in Daala development (at least they claim they do). I hope it won't introduce any potential hidden patent problems.

Reply Parent Score: 3

darknexus Member since:

I'd rather see a truely free codec without stupid patents attached get popular.

As would I, but let's face it none of the available patent-free options come even close to what H.264 can achieve, let alone H.265.

Reply Parent Score: 3