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Also Real against the MPEG-4 licensing scheme

Real aligns with Apple on the issue of concession rights for the use of the MPEG-4 standard and launches an alarm cry. If a more flexible and economical formula is not found than its current one, its large-scale adoption may never arrive.

Speaking about the thorny issue of MPEG-4's licensing costs, yesterday at a press conference, RealNetworks CEO Robert Glaser in the context of Streaming Media West.

According to Glaser, the license costs, 25 cents of a dollar for each player capable of decoding the content in MPEG-4 and 2 cents for each hour of content, are too high for those who work on large volumes of data and distribute a large number of tools for digital content. According to Glaser, the MPEG-4 licensing scheme 'is putting this technology on a path that makes it irrelevant in the context of the PC industry'.

Real recently decided to embrace the standard, creating an interoperability system between its players and multimedia content encoded with MPEG-4.

Larry Horn, president of MPEG LA which groups the companies that hold the technologies behind MPEG-4, said he did not agree with Glaser because the MPEG-4 licensing scheme is still in a preliminary phase and cannot be judged at the moment.

Horn also said that MPEG LA held a meeting last week to discuss the licensing aspects of the standard.

Among the proposals under discussion, a scheme that provides for payment for those products that require royalties or costs for the end customer, such as software for encoding in MPEG-4.

According to some observers, it is becoming increasingly difficult for MPEG LA to ignore the pressures it receives from some of the major players in IT and to be forced to change its positions.

Among the most critical of the licensing scheme there is also Apple, which first released a player capable of reading MPEG-4 content but blocked its diffusion due to the non-acceptance of the current license schemes.