If the MPEG folks win out and start charging royalties, and it is enforceable, can you imagine the chaos this is going to create throughout business communications and the web? You know everybody else with a codec is going to pile on the perceived gravy train, and it will make the RIAA look like Romper Room. Just as web video is exploding, this comes along and throws a ton of cold water on everything.
In an effort to get away from codecs that cost, will everyone switch to codecs that suck... but are free? Or will some white-knight roundtable of developers be stimulated into creating a new, free codec that's better?
( Will this site debut a COW-dec of its own?:-) )
Google is rumored to be thinking about dropping H.264 in favor of some home-grown alternative, likely one that they can control and monetize. When Google sneezes, the world catches a cold. Meanwhile, will corporations hold off on more video work on the web until things clear up? That would be a huge blow for our industry.
For professional production, I think that there are enough good solutions on the market already that MPEG licensing won't affect us much. For capture and post-production,there already are solid proprietary codecs like ProRes, REDCODE RAW, DNxHD, etc on the market with affordable, usable hardware support.
Licensing fees might make it infeasible for small production companies to legally manufacture BluRay or stream H.264 independently, but I suspect companies like LimeLight, YouTube, Vimeo, etc would use their license purchasing power to offer streaming solutions for small businesses.
I'm not worried at all.
-- Meteor Tower Films
We make music videos, design video for live theater, and build interesting contraptions.
A lot of web video journalists have written that Google/YouTube is also considering choosing Theora as their video standard, which started life as On2's VP3 codec back in the late 90s. On2 released it into the public domain in 2001 and a group has been working on it ever since.
In some recent quality comparisons, most people think it looks as good as YouTube's current H264 at comparable bit-rates. It's also already natively supported on Firefox, SeaMonkey, Chrome and Konqueror (Linux). I don't think it's any accident that Google bought On2, and with YouTube, they probably have as much clout as Apple when it comes to influencing video standards for both desktop and mobile video.