Google and MPEG LA Agree, Free VP8

Today Google and the MPEG LA jointly announced a licensing agreement with 11 companies to protect all users of the VP8 video codec. With the agreement in place, developers can make great sites with WebM without fear of legal retribution.

As a quick refresher, MPEG LA licenses the patents needed for many common, proprietary video codecs, like H.264. Meanwhile, Google has been promoting the VP8 video codec as part of its WebM project to produce unencumbered video technology for the web.

Firefox already ships VP8, and we hope VP8 will be adopted for new and emerging technologies like WebRTC. With a free and open video codec, we can focus on ways to use it to make the web even more awesome.

About Timothy B. Terriberry

Timothy B. Terriberry is a long-time volunteer for the Xiph.Org foundation, working on codecs such as Theora, Vorbis, CELT, and Opus. He has been contributing to Mozilla's media support since 2008 and hacking on WebRTC since 2010.

More articles by Timothy B. Terriberry…


  1. Faisal

    Google always come up with something and this time for VP8

    March 8th, 2013 at 00:43

  2. Cloudream

    WebP please.

    March 8th, 2013 at 03:28

    1. Omega X

      WebP is not a standard yet. They’re better of going with JPEG-XR which surprisingly is a royalty free standard.

      March 8th, 2013 at 08:05

  3. John

    Now that VP8 isn’t patent free, is Mozilla going to remove it?

    Personally I prefer if they dump it and just put in a h.264 decoder.

    For a time there was a really good chance to get rid of flash but that its built into ie10 and and chrome’s share is rather large, its probably too late now.

    In the end Mozilla’s stance did nothing but hurt users.

    March 8th, 2013 at 06:35

    1. Timothy B. Terriberry

      > Now that VP8 isn’t patent free, is Mozilla going to remove it?

      We probably didn’t do a good enough job of explaining this in the article:
      “The agreements also grant Google the right to sublicense those techniques to any user of VP8, whether the VP8 implementation is by Google or another entity.”

      See Greg’s comment below for a link to Google’s promise that they will sublicense to anyone under terms compatible with the W3C royalty-free patent policy.

      The W3C policy is the same one used by all browser vendors to make sure that web standards are available royalty-free for everyone.

      > In the end Mozilla’s stance did nothing but hurt users.

      This is almost certainly not true. The availability of a credible, royalty-free alternative puts downward pricing pressure on the MPEG LA, which makes even using H.264 cheaper for everyone. The terms for using H.264 on the web are a lot better than the terms for making set-top boxes.

      March 8th, 2013 at 09:12

      1. John

        Can’t say I noticed any material savings for h.264 for any of my gear.

        On the other hand years of having to continue to put up with flash crashing and updating and worrying about its security flaws are very noticeable.

        As for Google’s promises, doesn’t Motorola continue to sue using h.264 patents? They gone evil a long time ago.

        March 8th, 2013 at 09:42

  4. Guest

    at this point let’s just consider MPEG LA a patent troll -_-

    March 8th, 2013 at 07:26

  5. tom jones

    i know you are not a lawyer (and neither am i), but how is this a “win”, or how is this “unencumbered video technology” when it still must be licensed or sub-licensed to everyone shipping/using the format?

    even if no money is required, and even if google grants a distribution sub-license to mozilla, that leaves anyone using firefox(os) code downstream, liable to mpeg-la, unless they too can negotiate another license.

    that doesn’t sound neither scalable nor compatible with open source, and even less with “the open web”.

    March 8th, 2013 at 08:12

    1. Greg Maxwell

      The sublicense will be available to all under under terms that are in line with the W3C’s definition of a Royalty Free License. Like the initial Google VP8 license this is a open grant to the public, not something specific to particular parties— which as you note wouldn’t be acceptable.

      It’s also important to note that this is a security blanket: Some people (e.g. MPEG-LA) alleged that parties they represent /MAY/ have rights and people used that as an excuse to dismiss VP8/WEBM. Now that argument can’t be made, though you’ll note that the joint release was careful to not claim that they’d actually found anything applicable only that if anything were it’s now licensed.

      March 8th, 2013 at 09:05

  6. k

    WIN! This is really great. When WebM was first announced, you’d hear so many critics say “oh but MPEG-LA will probably find some patents that it infringes on” – now even that possibility is gone :)

    *goes and watches a movie*

    March 14th, 2013 at 03:45

    1. John

      You missed the fact Nokia is suing HTC due to VP8.

      March 14th, 2013 at 06:36

  7. a

    > *goes and watches a movie*
    And in what format is that movie?
    theora thus zelda or x264?

    March 14th, 2013 at 03:56

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