EU decides not to take action against AV1 creators

Mike Wheatley

Regulators from the European Commission have decided not to take any action against the Alliance for Open Media over its licensing policy for the AV1 video format.


The case dates back to July 2022, when the European Commission announced it had received information that the AOM and its members might be “imposing licensing terms” on innovators that were not part of the organization at the time the AV1 code was first introduced. It said at the time that these imposed licensing terms could harm the ability of companies to compete with the AV1 format, and thus launched an investigation into the matter.

AV1 is a royalty-free code that competes with formats such as MPEG4 and HEVC, which do charge royalties. The AOM’s members include technology giants such as Google, Amazon, Meta Platforms, Microsoft and Netflix.

It’s thought that the EU investigation was kicked off following a complaint by Roku in 2021. At that time, Roku publicly accused Google of engaging in anti-competitive behavior, saying it was forced to adopt AV1 by Google subsidiaries such as YouTube.

However, the European Commission has come to the conclusion that no harm was done, and quietly ended its investigation without taking any further action, according to a report by FlatPanels HD.

In a statement, the AOM said it welcomed the European Commission’s decision to close its preliminary review without taking the matter further.

"Royalty-free licensing forms a foundational element for technological standards and the open internet, fostering innovation, choice and competition in the interests of businesses and consumers in the European Union and worldwide,” the AOM said in a statement. “This is why AOMedia’s members developed and offer the AV1 video standard royalty-free to implementers.”

Despite today’s victory, AV1 is still rarely used. Currently, both Netflix and YouTube have adopted the format, but only for select devices and specific video streams. Meanwhile, MPEG4 is still the most widely used video format, while HEVC is the most popular for 4K and HDR encoding.