Google kills off VP8 patent pool

The way is clear for Google’s plans to make VP8 the most used web-video standard.

MPEG LA, which is partly owned by Apple and Microsoft, has ended its efforts to form a VP8 patent pool and give Google a licence for its technology. It will let Google sublicence any techniques that may be essential to VP8 and are owned by the patent owners.

It means that Google’s VP8 can be issued on a royalty-free basis in any VP8 product, whether developed by Google or a third party or based on Google’s libvpx implementation or a third-party implementation of the VP8 data format specification.

VP8 techniques will be allowed for one successor generation to the VP8 video codec.

While it seems that everyone is being nice and happy about the deal, there was a lot of pressure on MPG to accept it. The US Department of Justice opened an investigation over MPEG-LA patent pool plans. Watchdogs were not happy that it appeared the royalty-free V8 codec was being undermined.

MPEG-LA licenses the competing H.264 codec on behalf of Apple, Microsoft, and many other patent holders. Both Apple and Microsoft use H.264 for HTML5 video in their Safari and Internet Explorer browsers. Google, Mozilla, and Opera use VP8. Mozilla and Opera has said it will not use H.264 because of the licensing fees.

Google bought the VP8 codec a year ago when it purchased video compression outfit On2 Technologies and it open sourced the codec a few months later at its annual developer conference, saying it wished to create a web video standard unencumbered by licensing fees.

MPEG-LA attempted to form a pool of different licences which could troll the standard to oblivion.

With VP8 now licence free, it will now be a straight fight between the two standards.