New VLC Player Release Incorporates HEVC Playback

The VLC Player is one of the few programs I have on virtually all computers in my office, because it’s free, it runs on Macs and Windows, and plays almost every format, including H.264 and now H.265. Which is great, because I’ve just started to experiment with HEVC and it’s great to have a player that supports it besides DivX.


VLC Player playing one of my test HEVC clips.

How does VideoLAN, the small French organization that develops VLC Player, afford the royalty payments required on these formats?Well, as I recently wrote in a news story for Streaming Media Magazine, VideoLAN doesn’t pay any royalties, and doesn’t plan to.

According to an article in CNET, VideoLAN does not plan to pay HEVC royalties. As stated in the article, “European and French law does not consider ‘software-only’ patents as valid,” said Jean-Baptiste Kempf, president of the VideoLAN Organization, told CNET. “As we are doing software only, not hardware, and we don’t make money, we don’t license those.”

VideoLAN has shipped VLC player with H.264 support for years without paying royalties, and MPEG LA, who administrates the H.264 patent group, hasn’t taken any action. We’ll see if they do, either for H.264, or HEVC, if they form a group to administrate that patent group as well. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a player to experiment with HEVC playback, VLC is a great choice.

About Jan Ozer

I help companies train new technical hires in streaming media-related positions; I also help companies optimize their codec selections and encoding stacks, and evaluate new encoders and codecs.

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