What might seem like a boring announcement on the surface, is very important for the future of the web, and more specifically, 4K video. MPEG LA, the group that handles licensing for H.264 -- and now the HEVC codec -- have worked with major companies on a new licensing agreement to settle any royalty issues for using the codec. While the agreement isn't 100% final yet, at least there are now guidelines going forward about who will be asked to pay for the usage of the codec. Click through for more on this announcement and how it may affect you.

Here is Streaming Media on the announcment:

The terms are better for content publishers. Specifically, there are no content-related royalties; if H.264 video is sold via pay-per-view or subscription in sufficient quantities, royalties will apply. With HEVC, there will never be any content-related royalties.


The terms are more expensive for encoder/decoder vendors. Both H.264 and HEVC excepted the first 100,000 units, and both charge $0.20 per unit after the first 100,000. However, with H.264, the royalty dropped to $0.10 after 5 million units and is capped at $6.5 million through 2115. The HEVC royalty never drops, and is capped at $25 million.

This means that HEVC is going to be more expensive in general for those who sell software/hardware that encodes or decodes H.265. In the long run it may not make too much of a difference, but it could mean that H.265 is slower to get off the ground because of the added expenses. The codec at its best should be 50% more efficient, but it's going to come down to who really needs it in the beginning. For HD it's not going to be as important to switch over, but 4K really benefits from the added efficiency, especially as streaming is going to be the first way that most people get 4K content.

The issue in the past regarding H.264 was that at the end of 2015, the MPEG LA group was set to start charging anyone and everyone who used the H.264 codec to upload or distribute video online. That includes anyone uploading videos on the web to sites like Vimeo and YouTube. While being impossible to enforce in the first place, MPEG LA did respond by extending the 2015 deadline indefinitely (which also means that they can essentially revoke it at any time). Now with the new H.265 codec, that will never be something content creators will have to worry about.

We'll just have to wait and see how H.265 adoption rolls out -- which in the end could mean money saved on bandwidth for everyone, especially mobile devices. To read more about the announcement head, on over to the Streaming Media and MPEGLA sites.

Link: MPEG LA Announces License Terms for High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC/H.265) -- MPEG LA Website

[via Streaming Media]