Skip to main content
Dublin Library

The Publishing Project

Quick Note: HEVC and Apple. What does it mean?


Apple announced support for HEIF and HEVC high-performance video and image formats in macOS High Sierra at WWDC in 2017. While you can create content and share it free of charge all other users require content producers to license content for distribution.

Unlike h264 there are multiple patent pools for HEVC, each with its own royalty schemes and cost for developers and, eventually, end users.

The HEVC patent pools I'm aware of are:

Other patent holders are not joining pools and want to license their technologies individually

I know that Apple has licensed the technology but I have no idea what the terms for Apple's license are, if any other OS vendor has licensed the technology and whether the h265 open source codec available for tools like FFMPEG are completely free of patent encumbrance.

Unlike the AVC/h264 codec, if MPEG-LA promises not to charge a royalty for projects that don't charge users, it will not eliminate the risk to users and content creators, only reduce it.

As much as I like HEVC as a technology, the licensing conundrum makes it hard for me to adopt it for work-related projects. How expensive is the license? how many people do I have to pay for each? What exceptions are there? If one licensing pool decides not to charge royalties for some part of their pool, do we still have to pay the others?

As usual, I'm not a lawyer and this should not be considered legal advice, just a heads up of what minefields may lay ahead.

Edit on Github