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Apple in dispute over MPEG-4 royalty payments

A dispute over proposed MPEG-4 royalty payments has forced Apple to put its new streaming media software on hold, according to a statement issued by the company.

A dispute over proposed MPEG-4 royalty payments has forced Apple to put its new streaming media software on hold, according to a statement issued by the company. Apple unveiled QuickTime 6 last month, the latest version of its media player. However, the company said it is delaying the product’s release, “until MPEG-4 video licensing terms are improved.” MPEG-4 is described as an, “open specification for encoding and decoding video that enables interactive applications.”

According to the Yankee Group, the Motion Picture Experts Group Consortium, which developed two previous standards known as MPEG-1 and MPEG-2, designed MPEG-4 to use less bandwidth while allowing more interactivity.

The problem, according to Apple, is licensing terms proposed by MPEG-LA, which the company describes as the largest group of MPEG-4 patent holders.

Apple said it agrees companies that ship MPEG-4 codecs (including Apple) should pay “a reasonable royalty for including MPEG-4 codecs in QuickTime.” The company is unhappy with MPEG-LA’s proposal that content providers should pay royalties for using the technology to stream video.

Apple said it, “does not believe MPEG-4 can be successful in the marketplace if content owners must also pay royalties in order to deliver their content using MPEG-4.”

Philip Schiller, Apple’ senior vice president of worldwide product marketing, praised MPEG-4 as, “the best format for streaming media on the Web.”

“MPEG-4 is poised for great success once the licensing terms are modified to allow content providers to stream their content royalty-free,” Schiller said in a prepared statement.

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