Dean Hachamovitch from Microsoft wrote in a blog post on HTML5 video:
Of course, developers can rely on the H.264 codec and hardware acceleration support of the underlying operating system, like Windows 7, without paying any additional royalty.
In a comment Robert O'Callahan from Mozilla said (reformatted):
Dean, I think it's quite dangerous for you to saydevelopers can rely … any additional royalty.when the Windows 7 H.264 codec is licensed only for non-commercial use:
THIS PRODUCT IS LICENSED UNDER THE AVC, THE VC-1, THE MPEG-4 PART 2 VISUAL, AND THE MPEG-2 VIDEO PATENT PORTFOLIO LICENSES FOR THE PERSONAL AND NON-COMMERCIAL USE OF A CONSUMER TO (i) ENCODE VIDEO IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE ABOVE STANDARDS (“VIDEO STANDARDS”) AND/OR (ii) DECODE AVC, VC-1, MPEG-4 PART 2 AND MPEG-2 VIDEO THAT WAS ENCODED BY A CONSUMER ENGAGED IN A PERSONAL AND NON-COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY OR WAS OBTAINED FROM A VIDEO PROVIDER LICENSED TO PROVIDE SUCH VIDEO. NONE OF THE LICENSES EXTEND TO ANY OTHER PRODUCT REGARDLESS OF WHETHER SUCH PRODUCT IS INCLUDED WITH THIS PRODUCT IN A SINGLE ARTICLE.
Dean Hachamovitch then wrote another blog post responding to the various comments on his earlier HTML5 video post. The part where he addresses the comment from Robert O'Callahan reads as follows (reformatted):
There were many questions about royalties, and a lot of speculation in the comments about licenses and payments. The majority of H.264 video content on the web today is royalty-free. MPEG has said that individuals can create video files in the H.264 format and distribute them and play them over the internet for non-commercial purposes without further obligation on licensed platforms like Windows. We are aware that this commitment is set to expire in 2016, but fully expect to commit to supporting the extension of this license and associated terms beyond that date. In general, distributing encoders or decoders or offering sophisticated pay-for-video requires a license from MPEG-LA. Third-party applications that simply make calls to the H.264 code in Windows (and which do not incorporate any H.264 code directly) are covered by Microsoft’s license of H.264.
I am none the wiser.
Well, that made sense.
Given whatever Dean Hachamovitch has to say on the subject keeps sounding like it's been processed by the Windows marketing department for extra advertising power before being published, I'm gonna disregard what he says as being pure PR BS.
I came across this interesting blog posting about this subject: http://crisp.tweakblogs.net/blog/4090/the-real-reason-apple-and-microsoft-are-embracing-html5.html
I don't really trust "promises" that non-commercial usage will the royalty free after 2016. The only thing MPEG-LA has to do is come back to this promise with some lame excuse and we all have to take out our wallet. Please just pick a format and make sure free usage is available within the HTML 5 specification.