MPEG LA announced earlier today that they would make H.264 permanently royalty-free, to keep business and consumers' minds at ease.
The codec standard was developed to reduce bit rates over the previous codec standards, and is widely used in web applications, software and even hardware. H.264 is found in a variety of things from YouTube, iTunes, Blu-Ray discs and supported software such as Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Flash Player.
Many developers worried that the H.264 standard would eventually start collecting royalties just to use it, but MPEG LA assured developers that it would permanently make H.264 royalty-free.
Today's announcement means that Opera and Mozilla Firefox will now be able to adopt the video codec standard without worrying of paying royalties, joining browsers like Internet Explorer 9, Safari 5 and Chrome in using the codec standard. This change could make H.264 the video format standard for HTML5. Both Opera and Mozilla announced they would be supporting the open-source Ogg Theora video codec.
Both Microsoft and Apple own patents in the H.264 standard, while Google owns and develops VP8/WebM, another royalty-free video codec standard.
Thanks to +Mephistopheles for the news tip!