The issues surrounding the nature of content created using the AVC/H.264 video specification, which includes the video produced by most camcorders, digital cameras, and cell phones in use today, have confused many people. In fact, people on both sides of the issue have made contradictory claims and rarely, if ever, were such claims based on actual facts, but rather, either speculation or misunderstanding of the issues that come into play.
One notable mention that came-up during the heated debate of which codec should be used in the HTML5 <video> tag was Ben Schwartz‘s posting, No, you can’t do that with H.264. Ben avoided the mistakes committed by most by explicitly referencing the legal terms found in the documentation of professional products, including Final Cut Pro as well as Windows 7 Ultimate.
In the interest of clarifying the ambiguous claims regarding the licensing terms of using the AVC/H.264 video technology, Libre Video has taken the time over the past few weeks to contact the MPEG-LA directly, the licensing authority responsible for administering the patent pool for the H.264 specification. We have asked them various questions related to what we feel are important issues surrounding the terms under which normal people are permitted to use hardware products that they have purchased and the resulting multimedia content created with them. This communication happened via a series of e-mails over a little more than one week that we have compiled together here. They graciously answered our queries to the extent that we can draw some concrete conclusions related to what users can and cannot do according to the licensing terms they are generally granted.