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View Full Version : Is H.264 a propriatory codec?


ukb008
10th April 2005, 14:10
Hi, all.

Mr bond's excellent sticky prompted me to ask this question: Is the H.264 a propriatory codec?

Look at this (http://www.dspr.com/www/technology/technology.htm) article that says that H.264 has been the result of two years of development by WWCommunication, Inc. (http://www.wwcoms.com/) The licensing info is available here (http://www.mpegla.com/news/n_03-11-17_avc.html).

Of course, the results of comparisons posted at the first link causes excitement which is toned down by the possibility that the codec may be propriatory and not open-source like the XviD (http://xvid.org).

Regards.

Koepi
10th April 2005, 14:42
That company "abuses" the term H.264 a little. They create a (hardware) codec which seems to follow MPEG4 part10 (AVC) standard, which is an open standard.

Cheers
Koepi

bond
10th April 2005, 15:06
first of all h.264/mpeg-4 avc is a codec standard and not a codec.
the technologies defined in the codec standard are owned by someone and therefore the technologies are proprieatary
the same goes for mpeg-4 asp, as followed by xvid for example

than, still talking about the standard and not a codec, you have to realise that just because someone owns a technology it doesnt mean that you have to pay for using it
an example for this is the ogg theora standard

than you have to differentiate whether a codec (following a proprieatary codec standard or not) is freely given away (xvid) or if you have to pay for using it (divx5, nerodigital (of course they offer trials too) and many others). see even if the technologies of theora are free for any useage you could write a theora-compatible codec and sell it/not give it away for free

last but not least you have totally proprieatary codecs, for which the specs are not publically accessable, like the windowsmedia or realmedia codecs
in contrary to "open standards" for which the specs are publically accessible (eg h.264/avc, asp, theora aso...), these formats are often referred to as "closed standards" as noone different can write a codec compatible to the format, therefore i also wouldnt really call them "standards".

understandable? :D

FoxMan
12th April 2005, 11:55
But if you use MPEG4 ASP or AVC, shouldn't you pay a license fee for using the technology? Doesn't DivX pay the MPEG-group for every encoder they sell? Isn't that why the XviD project doesn't release any binaries?

ac-chan123
12th April 2005, 12:42
propitery mean != (public) Standard.
All JTC 1/SC 29/WG 11 Motion Picture Expert Group (bette know as MPEG) Work are Standards. The Text of the final Standard can be buyed at International Standaisation Organisation(ISO). That you must pay for the docs has the reasen, that they must refinance there work and the printing cost(if you buy the printed version).
Then there are Lizence cost that came because the Organisations, Companys and University that work in MPEG has patend for some part they gave into the MPEG standards. The Lizence cost will be payed to MPEG LA, so that you don't need to pay to all how have padents seperatly.

For a popertery Format like WMV you must pay so that you can use a binary, without the chance to change something on the work of them.

bond
12th April 2005, 17:25
the user never has to pay licenses to the owners of the technology, only the content distributor and the endproduct distributor have to

MfA
12th April 2005, 21:09
It might cost money, but it is still open to anyone to buy ... these sorts of licenses are in general called open. It is of course heavily patented :/

PatchWorKs
13th April 2005, 09:10
user never has to pay licenses

Do you relly think that you don't pay anything when buying a standalone player, for example ?

FoxMan
13th April 2005, 09:29
Originally posted by PatchWorKs
Do you relly think that you don't pay anything when buying a standalone player, for example ?

You do, but indirectly, you don't have to contact the MPEG group and send money to their bank-account. But the manufactorer of your device did do that (perhaps not excectly like that, but they did pay their license fees).

A question about XviD and x264 and alikes: These projects release only source-code so they can say it's freedom of speech and not usable. If the MPEG group wanted to see the money from these projects, could they try to sue koepi or nic for the binaries on their sites? And if so, could they sue people who compile XviD or x264 for private use?

stephanV
13th April 2005, 09:55
I believe you can distribute 0 - 50.000 MPEG4 ASP encoders/decoders without paying licensing fees... for AVC i believe it was up to 100.000. If XviD/x264 exceed those numbers i don't know. x264 probably not i guess.

If you compile the source yourself, I don't think you can be held liable for anything.

FoxMan
13th April 2005, 10:51
Originally posted by stephanV
I believe you can distribute 0 - 50.000 MPEG4 ASP encoders/decoders without paying licensing fees... for AVC i believe it was up to 100.000. If XviD/x264 exceed those numbers i don't know. x264 probably not i guess.

If you compile the source yourself, I don't think you can be held liable for anything.

Ok, so it is legal to supply even binaries, but not unlimited. I think the XviD build of koepi and nic do exceed those numbers, but I don't have any statistics of their sites :).
How can the MPEG group find out if one person distributes more than a number of encoders/decoders? I think DivX does exceed 50.000 downloads, so I guess they do pay the MPEG group?

BTW Are those numbers per year?

stephanV
13th April 2005, 11:22
DivX pays yes, and the numbers are per year.

How they check? Dunno...