Dunno your email, so here's their response. First, my email:
Sent: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 5:51 PM
Subject: Free and Open Source implementations of MPEG-4 Visual?
I read through the FAQ and can't find out if Free and Open Source
developers and products need to license the MPEG-LA patents for
MPEG-4 Visual. It was alleged (http://lwn.net/Articles/370985/)
in a comment that royalties are only necessary for products sold,
not for free products. Is this correct? Could you please comment
on the licensing options for Free (e.g. GPL) and open source
implementations of MPEG-4 Visual, specifically h.264? What about
downstream users/developers/distributors of Free and open source
I'll post your reply to the above comment list when I've received it.
Thank you very much,
Subject: RE: Free and Open Source implementations of MPEG-4 Visual?
Thank you for your message. We appreciate you contacting MPEG LA
regarding our Licenses and I will be happy to assist you.
By way of background, I would like to point out that the Licenses
offered by MPEG LA are provided as a convenience and an alternative to
negotiating direct licenses with many individual patent owners. While
MPEG LA offers the Licenses to the marketplace, it is the patent owners
participating in our Licenses (not MPEG LA) who establish the License
terms and royalty rates.
Our MPEG-4 Visual Patent Portfolio License includes 29 patent owners
contributing more than 900 patents that are essential for use of the
MPEG-4 Visual (Part 2) Standard. Our AVC Patent Portfolio License
includes 25 patent owners contributing more than 1,000 patents that are
essential for use of AVC/H.264 Standard ("MPEG-4 Part 10").
Under the Licenses, coverage is provided and rights are granted for (a)
manufacturers to make and sell MPEG-4 Visual/AVC Products and (b) for
such MPEG-4 Visual/AVC Products to be used to deliver MPEG-4 Visual/AVC
Video content. The Licenses were set up this way so as to apportion the
royalty at points in the product/service chain where value is received,
and also to not place the full royalty burden on one party in the chain
(e.g., an encoder maker).
In response to your specific question, under the Licenses royalties are
paid on all MPEG-4 Visual/AVC products of like functionality, and the
Licenses do not make any distinction for products offered for free
(whether open source or otherwise). But, I do note that the Licenses
addresses this issue by including annual minimum thresholds below which
no royalties are payable in order to encourage adoption and minimize the
impact on lower volume users. In addition, the Licenses also include
maximum annual royalty caps to provide more cost predictability for
larger volume users.
I would also like to mention that while our Licenses are not concluded
by End Users, anyone in the product chain has liability if an end
product is unlicensed. Therefore, a royalty paid for an end product by
the end product supplier would render the product licensed in the hands
of the End User, but where a royalty has not been paid, such a product
remains unlicensed and any downstream users/distributors would have
Therefore, we suggest that all End Users deal with products only from
licensed suppliers. In that regard, we maintain lists of Licensees in
Good Standing to each of our Licenses at http://www.mpegla.com.
I hope this explanation is helpful. If you have further questions or
would like additional information, please feel free to contact me
Director, Global Licensing
5425 Wisconsin Avenue
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
Email: email@example.com http://www.mpegla.com