The recently formed Media Coding Industry Forum (MC-IF) held its first public event in Sunnyvale, CA, on January 7. The event consisted of an open MC-IF members meeting and a workshop under the title “Future of Video Codec Licensing; avoiding the tragedy of the commons” with a reference to the concept that individual actions in a group, while individually rational or even optimal, might result in an outcome that is far from optimal, or generally undesirable, for the group as a whole (the “commons”).
The workshop touched on several difficult but important questions. How can the tragedy of the commons be avoided in the context of video codec licensing? What does a well-functioning licensing landscape look like and how can it be achieved? To what extent is it possible to change guidelines and regulations to help foster a licensing market with substantially improved characteristics for the industry as a whole, and consequentially, for consumers? These were only some of the questions that were discussed at the workshop, which also included presentations of alternative approaches for addressing licensing issues.
One of the key takeaways from the discussion was that increases in clarity and transparency around license availability, economics, and terms may result in significant increases in market acceptance and adoption. Unknown risks related to patent licensing are real concerns and can lead to adoption being delayed or cancelled altogether. These takeaways are informing the future of the MC-IF’s activities, and its efforts to drive adoption of technologies currently being developed and beyond.
The workshop was held at the CableLabs premises in Sunnyvale and was sold out, with more than 70 participants involving the entire media ecosystem representing over 50 different companies. The workshop consisted of three sessions with speakers from AT&T, Intel, Divideon, Tencent, Beamr, Harmonic, MPEG-LA, HEVC Advance, Velos Media and Nokia, with moderators from Streaming Learning Center, Unified Patents and CableLabs.
With the takeaways and lessons learned from today’s licensing landscape, the MC-IF is working on creating paths towards solutions to reduce the obstacles towards adoption in future technologies. Future MC-IF events are being planned around the Licensing Executive Society International Annual Conference in Yokohama, Japan, in May 2019 and at IBC in Amsterdam, Netherlands, in September 2019. For more information, or to join the discussion and become a member of MC-IF, go to www.mc-if.org. We hope that participation in these activities and MC-IF Working Groups will result in faster adoption of standardized technologies, and thus quicker technology benefits to consumers.
MC-IF is an open international forum that works on the non-technical aspects of deployment of media coding standards, including issues related to licensing. Member companies / organizations include Apple, Ateme, b<>com, Bitmovin, CableLabs, Canon, Divideon, Dolby, Ericsson, ETRI, Fraunhofer, Harmonic, HEVC Advance, Intel, InterDigital, MediaKind, NGCodec, Nokia, OP Solutions, Orange, Sony, Technicolor, Tencent, Unified Patents, Velos Media, and Zetacast. For more information, visit www.mc-if.org.