November 25, 2002 5:58 PM PST
License release brings MPEG-4 closer
The license released Monday is essentially the same as one proposed by the consortium, MPEG LA, in July. That proposed license set a cap of $1 million per licensee, as well as a threshold that exempts MPEG-4 users with fewer than 50,000 implementations from royalty payments.
"As I understand it, nothing has changed except that it's available right now with all the legal language," Rob Koenen, president of the MPEG 4 Industry Forum, said in an interview. "I look forward to seeing...people start taking up the license. Because the proof of the pudding is in the eating."
MPEG-4 is a video and audio standard under development by the Moving Pictures Experts Group (MPEG) under the auspices of the International Organization for Standardization . The MPEG group, founded in 1988, created MPEG-1 for the video compact disc and for MP3 audio, and MPEG-2 for DVD and digital television set-top boxes.
Companies claiming patents related to MPEG-4 include Microsoft, Canon, France Telecom, Fujitsu, GE Technology Development, General Instrument, Hitachi, Matsushita, Mitsubishi, Samsung, Sanyo and Toshiba. A plurality of the patents belongs to Sony.
Concern about the original MPEG-4 license, which included neither a cap nor a threshold, threatened Apple Computer's adoption of the standard. Apple agreed to license MPEG-4 a month before MPEG LA's license terms were finally made public.
Apple declined to comment on Monday's release, saying it had not yet had a chance to examine the license.
The new license can be requested through MPEG LA's Web site.