Here's a surprising fact: It costs money to watch video online, even on free sites like YouTube. That's because about 4 in 5 videos on the web today rely on a patented technology called the H.264 video codec. From a report: It took years for companies to put this complex, global set of legal and business agreements in place, so H.264 web video works everywhere. Now, as the industry shifts to using more efficient video codecs, those businesses are picking and choosing which next-generation technologies they will support. The fragmentation in the market is raising concerns about whether our favorite web past-time, watching videos, will continue to be accessible and affordable to all. Over the last decade, several companies started building viable alternatives to patented video codecs. Mozilla worked on the Daala Project, Google released VP9, and Cisco created Thor for low-complexity videoconferencing. All these efforts had the same goal: to create a next-generation video compression technology that would make sharing high-quality video over the internet faster, more reliable, and less expensive. In 2015, Mozilla, Google, Cisco, and others joined with Amazon and Netflix and hardware vendors AMD, ARM, Intel, and NVIDIA to form AOMedia. As AOMedia grew, efforts to create an open video format coalesced around a new codec: AV1. AV1 is based largely on Google's VP9 code and incorporates tools and technologies from Daala, Thor, and VP10. Mozilla loves AV1 for two reasons: AV1 is royalty-free, so anyone can use it free of charge. Software companies can use it to build video streaming into their applications. Web developers can build their own video players for their sites. The second reason we love AV1 is that it delivers better compression technology than even high-efficiency codecs -- about 30% better, according to a Moscow State University study.
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