My e-mail to the mpeg-4 people. Opinions sought before I send it.
I'm writing as a concerned computer user concerning the licensing issues impeding the adoption of MPEG-4 technology as a industry wide video standard. From what I understand, your current stance on licensing of MPEG-4 would require that not only distributors of MPEG-4 reliant software pay a fee, but also providers of content using MPEG-4. This is, in my opinion, a big mistake if you want MPEG-4 to be a widely used video standard. It seems analogous to JVC charging a fee to all producers of analogue video due to their invention of VHS media. This move would make the standard prohibitably expensive for parties interested in using it. At the fast pace that digital media is evolving, MPEG-4 could soon be eclipsed by a standard that does not tie content providers down with fees, and depending on the openness of this standard, this could be detrimental to the industry as a whole. However, openness and freedom from licensing hassles can drastically lengthen the longevity of even a technically inferior standard; a good example of this is the continued popularity of the mp3 audio format, in spite of new formats that have been developed that do a better job of audio compression. MPEG-4 could definitely be the mp3 of digital video, as long as it remains free for users and content providers.