Wednesday, 5 May 2010

h264 shenanigans

Engadget has an excellent article that attempts to clarify the muddy waters of licensing and patents surrounding the h264 video codec. One of the snippets from the article, important enough that they list it in a side-box, is "using H.264 to distribute free internet video to end users doesn't cost a thing, and won't cost anything until at least 2015. After that, it's up in the air, and that's a bridge we'll have to cross when we come to it — there's a chance the MPEG-LA could start charging a royalty for free video in five years."

Two parts of that sentence should cause any sane person cause for concern:

...won't cost anything until at least 2015.

That's only five years away. Just enough time to generate an awful lot of content that would take a lot of effort to get away from.

After that, it's up in the air...

That's not exactly something to be happy about. There's no point making extensive use on h264 and then hoping that it'll turn out ok, especially when there are perfectly workable alternatives.

The article does do a good job of dispelling a lot of the scaremongering that's been going on, but what's left is still distinctly unpleasant.

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