Folks questioning the future of H.264 can rest easy. MPEG LA announced today that it has no plans to charge royalties for videos shared freely online -- ever. The codec has been free to use for years under certain conditions, and MPEG LA's agreed not to charge free videos until December 31, 2015, after which it was unclear what the situation would be.
Naturally, with services like YouTube using the format, many wondered whether they'd eventually have to shell out massive royalties to MPEG LA, a consortium of 26 industry titans, including Apple, Microsoft, LG, Sony and others. Mozilla CEO John Lilly was among the skeptics, saying the previous terms were "like 5 more years of free to lock you in [forever]."
Given those concerns -- and the growing support for Google's open alternative, WebM -- MPEG LA has permitted the royalty-free distribution of non-paid streams using H.264 for eternity. Or so they say.