MPEG LA, the authority that manages the patents for the MPeg video codecs, will never charge a license fee for Internet videos compressed with the h.264 codec. At the beginning of this year, the agency said that the free period runs until 2015.
The use of the h.264 codec for Internet videos remains free for the entire life of the license, so late MPEG LA know. One condition is that no money may be charged for the video content. The license terms of the AVC Patent Portfolio License were previously established for a period of five years.
In February of this year, MPEG LA had announced that until 2015, no license fees should be paid for the use of the h.264 codec in Internet videos that are distributed for free. It was unknown whether the codec would then have to be paid for.
Open standards proponents often cited the unstable situation surrounding the h.264 license as a reason for not supporting the codec. This is one of the reasons why Mozilla refused to include support for the codec in its Firefox browser. Earlier this year, Google announced WebM, a license-free video format to compete with h.264.
The free use of h.264 for internet videos is an exception, by the way. Companies that want to use the h.264 codec in other ways must pay license fees to MPEG LA.