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Microsoft, Google, Netflix and Amazon Join Forces to Create Royalty-Free Codec

Posted by: , 16:42 AEST, Fri September 4, 2015

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Tech giants join Intel, Mozilla and Cisco to create royalty-free next gen video, audio and image formats
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Image/Photo Credit: tomsun @Flickr, CC

Tech giants Microsoft, Google, Netflix and Amazon, along with browser maker Mozilla, Networking specialists Cisco and hardware kings Intel have joined forced to create a new consortium, the Alliance for Open Media, with the goal of creating royalty free next-generation media format. The group will focus on creating a truly royal-free next next generation video codec to go head-to-head with the industry accepted HEVC/H.265, but will also work on creating audio and image formats that are also royalty free.

The issue of royalty payments, particularly for video codecs, has become a much bigger problem since the introduction of HEVC/H.265. While the royalty situation for HEVC's predecessor, H.264, was already an issue, a dramatic increase in licensing costs, up to 16 times more than H.264, has prompted the need for a much cheaper alternative.

This spurred companies like Google (with their VP9/VP10 codec) to come up with their own royalty-free alternatives, only for these to also run into trouble with patent claims. 

Others like Mozilla (Daala) and Cisco (Thor) have opted to create new codecs from scratch with the sole intention of avoiding royalty and patent issues.

Now these companies, along with hardware giant Intel, software giant Microsoft and content delivery powerhouses in Netflix and Amazon, have joined forces to try and unify their work and to produce and promote media format that won't become a hindrance to innovation due to high royalty payments. And the goal is to not only produce a free codec, but also to offer improvements in terms of quality and efficiency compared to commercial solutions like HEVC. The companies hope to pool their technical knowledge, as well as existing IP and patent rights owned by these companies, to create the new codec and to offer it as a truly royalty free option.


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