A truly open-source may be on its way thanks to major tech and media players.
Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, Mozilla, and Netflix recently announced they are working together towards a next generation royalty-free video format under a new open source, known as the Alliance for Open Media.
“The Alliance’s initial focus is to deliver a next-generation video format that is interoperable and open, optimized for the web, scalable to any modern device at any bandwidth, designed with a low computational footprint and optimized for hardware, capable of consistent, highest-quality, real-time video delivery and Flexible for both commercial and non-commercial content, including user-generated content,” the Alliance declared during a press-release.
The very existence of the Alliance is testament to the necessity of not only a royalty-free video format, but a reform of the patent industry when it comes to electronics.
End users of any certain video formats never have (and hopefully will never) pay royalty fees for using certain video formats when making their own videos. The vendors and commercial users of many current video codecs, however, have to pay royalty fees to the developers whenever they use a certain video format. Larger companies that are using these formats thousands if not millions of times could have to end up paying a pretty penny over time.
Not only does the Alliance for Open Media stand to get rid of the financial burden of using these other file formats, but it has to dance around many of the current patent licensing rules. Companies such as Google and Microsoft have both made efforts many years ago to produce royalty-free video formats, but failed when over a dozen companies defended patents on the foundations for their new video types. The Alliance was made to tackle the problems that their predecessors faced in a whole new light.
“We have been very vocal about our desire to deliver a royalty-free codec and we believe that joining the forces of the designers of the Daala, Thor and VPx codecs in AOMedia will multiply our collective efforts to deliver next-generation media codecs, formats, and technologies,” says Jonathan Rosenberg, CTO of Cisco Collaboration Technology.
The Alliance will likely have to build up their format from the ground up, and must avoid basing the framework for their new codec on the patents of others. This spells out a lot of innovative work from the colossal group that will not only benefit each individual company in the Alliance, but many other organizations looking for a royalty-free video format.
What will this mean to the end user? If the Alliance for Open Media accomplishes what it has set out to do (and can finally beat the previous patent holders) then a format that can run on any type of device, video optimized to be played on the internet, and optimized to run using less computational power will be on the market. The next-gen format is currently in the early stages of development, with no foreseeable release date in sight.