Google’s Chrome dropping patented H.264 video

Google said this morning the H.264 video codec will be pulled from upcoming versions of the Chrome browser. Why? The H.264 codec, although an industry standard, is patented. Royalties from the patent licensing go to the consortium known as MPEG-LA. Google and open Web advocates believe it will infringe upon the development of the Web and HTML 5.

Google’s answer to H.264 may be the VP8 codec which Google acquired last year by purchasing On2 Technologies. The VP8 codec is part of the multimedia container format WebM, which is already supported by Mozilla and Opera.

Google’s open Chromium project also supports the Theora video codec and product managers at Google said will also consider other “high-quality open codecs” for future versions of Chrome, according to a blog post.

“We expect even more rapid innovation in the web media platform in the coming year and are focusing our investments in those technologies that are developed and licensed based on open web principles,” said Chrome Product Manager Mike Jazayeri.

MPEG-LA, LLC is a Denver-based company which also licenses the MPEG-2, MPEG-4, VC-1, and ATSC formats. Current licensors include Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, and Sony among other well known brands.

MPEG-LA is not affiliated with the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) who develop standards for audio and video compression.

UPDATE: Backlash over Google’s move? Read this CNET article.

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Jeff Chabot

Jeff Chabot

Jeff Chabot writes about technology, broadcasting, and digital entertainment. You can also find him on Gameverse, Gadget Review, and Google+.

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