[x264-devel] Announcing commercial licensing for x264

Jason Garrett-Glaser darkshikari at gmail.com
Mon Jul 12 22:56:44 CEST 2010

To all prospective commercial users of x264,

I would like to announce the availability of commercial licensing for
x264.  Now the best video encoder in the world -- the undisputed
winner of the 2010 MSU encoder comparison and the magic behind video
systems by Google, Facebook, Avail Media, Vudu, Hulu, and many more --
is available for everyone to use, even commercial software vendors.
No longer do commercial application developers need to rely on
overpriced and inferior competitors.

This is intended to give an option to companies who are unable to use
the GPL version, either due to patent concerns or issues with linking
their proprietary applications to GPL code.

A short summary of the terms:

1.  You buy a number of units of x264, which you can package with your
products.  You can do basically anything you want -- you get a full
license to the source (obviously, since it's open source to begin
with!) and can modify it if you want.  The only restrictions on use
and distribution are those necessary to make the per-unit licensing
fees make sense.
2.  However, you must give your modifications back to us, x264 LLC.
If they're useful, we'll roll them back into the official x264.  No
proprietary forks!  If a change helps you, it should help the
community, too.
3.  We're responsible for dealing with copyright issues.  If someone
comes to you claiming that they own a significant interest in x264
that we didn't acquire rights to, we have to fix it for you.  This
means either stripping out the relevant code or replacing it.
4.  You're responsible for patent licensing if you're based in a
nation where patents are an issue.  This isn't our choice; the rules
of MPEG-LA require that if Company A uses Company B's encoder in their
product, Company A must pay the fees, not Company B.  FYI, MPEG-LA's
fees are zero for the first 100,000 units, 20 cents per unit until 5
million, and 10 cents beyond that, capping at around $5m per year.
5.  Our planned starting price is $1 per unit, with a 10,000 unit minimum.
6.  Our license is LGPL-compatible, so you can use x264 in combination
with libavcodec, libavformat, libswscale, and other popular LGPL
multimedia libraries.

How do you know if you need this license for a use of x264?  Here's a
short rundown, though it is not a substitute for legal advice:

1.  Is your application GPL?  If so, you don't need this license.
2.  Is your application server-side only and not distributed to
customers?  If so, you don't need this license.
3.  Is your application not GPL-compatible (e.g. proprietary),
distributed to customers, and links to x264?  If so, you do need this

Our promise to the x264 community:

1.  We (x264 LLC) are legally obliged, by our own contribution
agreement, to never create a proprietary fork of x264.  Specifically,
if we distribute a modified version of x264, we must open-source the
modifications too.  No exceptions.
2.  The vast majority of all profits will be returned to the
developers of x264 to allow them to dedicate more time to improving
x264.  A small portion will go to paying off legal fees and a
rainy-day fund.  We might also choose to use a small portion of it in
the future for other open source-related purposes, such as sponsoring
useful ffmpeg projects, like implementing 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 H.264
decoding support in ffmpeg.

Some example use-cases for x264-based applications:

1.  Low-latency streaming (videoconferencing, VNC).
2.  Offline video compression (transcoding applications, encoding for
mobile devices and Flash).
3.  Disc media authoring (Blu-ray, AVCHD)
4.  Real-time broadcast (IPTV, cable, Flash, iPhone).
5.  Real-time recording (security cameras, screen capture).

If your company is interested, contact x264 LLC at licensing at x264.com.
 We have a draft license that we're interested in getting comments on
-- the specific terms are still up for negotiation and can be
customize to fit your needs.  We can also take contracts to add
features to x264 and provide support for x264 as necessary.

Jason Garrett-Glaser

Lead x264 Developer

x264 LLC

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