Google called the MPEG-LA's bluff, and won


No wonder, then, that the announcement of an agreement between Google and the MPEG-LA comes as a surprise - it's a massive about-face for an organisation with such a long history of patent threats. While an agreement between the two is reason enough to be surprised, an even bigger surprise lies within the agreement press release: not only does Google get a license to use VP8 itself, but also a license for the next generation of VPx, as well as the ability to sublicense to all users, whether they use Google products or third party VP8 products.

Why is this surprising? Well, because this means that VP8 is a hell of lot safer and more free from possible legal repercussions than H.264 itself. What many H.264 proponents do not understand, either wilfully or out of sheer ignorance, is that those H.264 licenses embedded in Windows, OS X, iOS, your 'professional' camera, and so on, do not cover commercial use. If you shoot a video with your camera in H.264, upload it to YouTube, and get some income from advertisements, you're in violation of the H.264 license (and the MPEG-LA made it clear they had no qualms about going after individual users). The extension the MPEG-LA announced (under pressure from VP8 and WebM) changed nothing about that serious legal limitation.

This makes it clear that Google won big time with this agreement, since the restriction on commercial use does not seem to apply to VP8; there's no mention of it in the press release, and the proposal mentioned above affirms it, so it's pretty safe to assume that VP8 is now far safer and better protected than H.264.


Google called the MPEG-LA's bluff, and won