[whatwg] On the use of MPEG-4 as baseline codec

Kevin Marks kevinmarks at gmail.com
Mon Apr 2 14:08:24 PDT 2007

On 3/31/07, Asbjørn Ulsberg <asbjorn at ulsberg.no> wrote:
> I've investigated a bit on the use of MPEG-4 as a baseline codec in the
> proposed <video> element, and my conclusion is that it can't be used with
> the current licensing terms. From the AVC/H.264 Agreement[1]:
> # For branded encoder and decoder products sold both to end users
> # and on an OEM basis for incorporation into personal computers
> # but not part of an operating system [...], royalties (beginning
> # January 1, 2005) per legal entity are 0 - 100,000 units per
> # year = no royalty [...] US $0.20 per unit after first 100,000
> # units each year; above 5 million units per year, royalty =
> # US $0.10 per unit.
> I'm no lawyer, but I think this provides the necessary information to
> conclude that MPEG-4 is unsuited as a baseline codec for the <video>
> element, unless browser vendors (A) find the licensing terms reasonable or
> (B) manage to restrict downloads of their application to 100.000 units per
> year. I doubt both, but I'd love to be proven wrong, of course.
> I find it quite disappointing that the MPEG Licensing Authority doesn't
> distinguish between royalty and royalty-free distributions of the codec,
> of which most web browsers would fit in the latter group.

Well, you missed the cap clause, which would mean that large
corporations could do this for a known cost, which is how Apple and
Micosot can distribute this:

"The maximum annual royalty ("cap") for an enterprise (commonly controlled
legal entities) is $3.5 million per year 2005-2006, $4.25 million per
year 2007-08, $5
million per year 2009-10 "

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