Amazon, Cisco, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla and Netflix today announced that they have formed a new open source alliance — the Alliance for Open Media — with the goal of developing the next generation of royalty-free video formats, codecs and other related technologies.
It’s not often we see these rival companies come together to build a new technology together, but the members argue that this kind of alliance is necessary to create a new interoperable video standard that will work across vendors and platforms. While it goes unmentioned in the announcement, it’s also clear that none of the members involved in this alliance want to have to pay royalties to the likes of MPEG LA.
As Mozilla notes, part of the reason for forming this alliance is not just to share technology, but also to “run the kind of patent analysis necessary to build a next-generation royalty-free video codec.”
There is no dearth of royalty-free next-gen codec projects, of course. Mozilla has Daala, Cisco has Thor, and Google is working on VP9 and 10. It’s no surprise then that the Alliance’s first project is to create a new video codec specification that’s based on the previous work of its members.
This work is part of the larger effort of creating a format that’s open and interoperable, as well as optimized for the web and scalable to any device and bandwidth. The format is also meant to support real-time video delivery and usable for commercial and non-commercial content. This last part is important, because this means the format will offer support for content encryption — something Amazon, Netflix and others have to support in order to be able to get the licensing rights for most of their content.
The group plans to publish its code under the Apache 2.0 license and it will operate under W3C patent rules, meaning the members will waive royalties from the codec implementations and their patents on the codec itself.