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MPEG-LA: WebM group may still need to pay royalties

updated 11:15 am EDT, Fri May 21, 2010

MPEG-LA making patent pool to fee WebM

The primarily Google-led WebM group will likely still have to pay royalties, the MPEG-LA group's CEO Larry Horn said late Thursday. In spite of Google insisting WebM was patent- and royalty-free, the video standards group is assembling a patent pool that would let it ask for royalties for WebM and other standards. The costs would leave little reason to adopt the standard for HTML5 movies over H.264 and could result in lawsuits against Google, Mozilla, Opera or others who don't pay.

Horn didn't commit to a strategy when speaking to AllThingsD but did say MPEG-LA was "looking into the prospects" of the plan, which was intended partly to simplify the process of licensing for those fully aware of any patent issues.

The statements mirror those of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who said through indirect methods that WebM's VP8 codec might be subject to the same patent issues as Ogg Theora. He has mentioned that the backing of a large company or open-sourcing a format doesn't exempt it from patent royalties, even when organizations like Google or the Free Software Foundation insist otherwise.

Google product manager Mike Jazayeri has so far rejected the claims and said it had conducted a "pretty thorough analysis" of the patents. The WebM group wouldn't have open-sourced the format otherwise, he said.

By Electronista Staff


  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2004


    this is an advocacy piece

    I don't like when an editorial pretends to be factual. There is no proof that Google is wrong and MPEG-LA is correct. So when you have a dispute you report both sides...this article reports that MPEG-LA's position is fact.

    And macnn, is constantly re-reporting this story, like they are on a mission or something. MPEG-LA does not have all the patents that cover H.264, you are subject to being sued if you use H.264, they do not indemnify anyone.

  1. elroth

    Junior Member

    Joined: Jul 2006



    You are really overly-sensitive. Did you read the last paragraph of the article? It gives Google's response. MacNN is just reporting what people are saying. When it ran the original piece about Google's press conference, it only repeated Google's assertions, without any counter-argument. When Steve Jobs made his statement, it reported on it. Now MPEG-LA comes out with a statement, and MacNN reports it (with a counter-statement from Google).

    The bias seems to be in you, and your selective reading.

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