Monday, May 24, 2010

Google's New VP8 Video Codec Free, Right? (Not If MPEG LA Can Help It ...)

Google last week announced -- with great fanfare -- its new royalty-free WebM/VP8 video codec initiative in an effort to accelerate the proliferation of video over the Internet. We at Sorenson Media supported it with our entire suite of products.

All good, right? A high quality video codec that is available to all -- for free!

Whoa! Not so fast. MPEG LA -- the licensing body that oversees the current high quality video codec H.264 -- is making waves. Big waves (for a good discussion of this, click on this link to CNET). The rumblings are ominous -- VP8, in its view, likely impacts patents not owned by Google. And, you know what that means. MPEG LA is setting the stage to seek its pound of flesh from those unwitting souls who plan to use VP8. At a minimum, the organization is sowing the seeds of uncertainty and doubt in order to keep H.264 in its place as the high quality video heavyweight.

And, who is a member of MPEG LA? Well, there are many -- but, perhaps most interesting in this case, are our good friends at Apple. That's right, Apple.

And, as everyone is painfully aware, Apple and Google aren't exactly friends these days, as Apple feels that Google is starting to invade its turf (with Google phones, Google TV ... and on, and on).

So, just when you thought you were out of the spectre of royalty-bearing codecs, they pull you back in!