Within the next six months Google expects to turn over its work on VP-10 to the Alliance for Open Media (AOM) which aims to craft it into AV1, a mainstream, royalty-free video codec. Founding members of the group include Amazon, ARM, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, Netflix and Nvidia.
The alliance will need to blend Google’s contributions with those from others to create a final royalty-free offering. In addition, the Internet Engineering Task Force is developing in parallel a video codec called NetVC, so “some harmonization will be needed,” Mukherjee said.
Currently, the AOM has defined a process under which Google is putting VP-10 tools into a common code base and getting IP review to determine legal risks. “The process is just starting, we have to see how it works,” he said.
In a Q&A, one audience member challenged the concept of a royalty-free codec, suggesting it could stifle innovation if companies can’t get paid for their efforts through patent royalties.
In an open discussion after the event, others suggested large companies pay hundreds of millions in royalties for video patents and would rather see the industry make money on video enhancements via consumer products and services.
In his talk, Mukherjee suggested patents on video codecs have restricted innovation, sometimes forcing some companies to pay for techniques they didn’t use. “If you work in this area a long time you see some things [that get patented] are obvious…Google tried to shake it up a little bit,” he said.
Microsoft and many others are working both in the ISO and AOM groups on codecs that will and won’t be royalty-free, said Sullivan. “Wanting to make money and making money off a codec is not the same thing,” he said.
Next page: Scanning a virtual, augmented horizon