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'Final' MPEG-4 Patent License Released

MPEG LA, a group of patent holders pushing for the adoption of the MPEG-4 digital media distribution standard, has released the Visual Patent Portfolio License, officially setting the pricing terms for use of the technology.

Less than six months after controversy erupted over royalty rates set by a consortium of patent holders, the MPEG-LA group released the licenses which officially sets the fees at 25 cents per subscriber or 2 cents per hour, subject to a $1 million annual cap.

MPEG-LA spokesman Larry Horn told internetnews.com the licensing terms were very much the same as those released in July. "We are putting this out the door now with all the legalities and signatures affixed to it. MPEG-LA now has full authority to issue and license the technology," Horn said, noting that licenses can be obtained at the consortium's Web site.

Those terms also set the minimum threshold so that content owners with fewer than 50,000 subscribers aren't subject to royalties. The fees are applicable to Web site operators that benefit commercially from use of the technology, through either paid advertisements, pay-per-view services or subscriptions.

Even as industry watchers continue to question the pricing structure to license the technology, MPEG-LA is pushing ahead with what it calls a "fair, reasonable, and nondiscriminatory access" to the MPEG-4 Visual Portfolio License.

The MPEG-4 standard allows a single form of compression on all media players and it has become quite popular among the developer crowd because of the ability to add text, animations and graphics in an object-based setting.

It competes directly with proprietary formats from tech heavyweights like Microsoft and RealNetworks .

Just last week, the group announced it would adopt aacPlus, a component that enables the delivery of high-quality audio codecs at half the bit rate of existing technology. The new aacPlus technology, from Swedish firm Coding Technologies allows audio codecs to deliver streaming, as well as download, CD-quality stereo at 48 kbps and excellent quality stereo at 32 kbps.