EU Antitrust Regulators Probing Alliance for Open Media’s Video Licensing Policy, Ahead of Incoming EU Rules


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The European Commission announced Thursday that EU antitrust regulators are looking into the video licensing policy for the Alliance for Open Media. This group includes Alphabet unit Google and Amazon, Apple, Meta, and Meta.

This investigation is not the first to affect the tech industry. Next year, Europe will introduce new rules that will force companies to adapt their business models to address illegal content.

“The Commission confirms that it is conducting a preliminary investigation into AOM’s licensing policies,” a spokesperson for EU executive told Reuters.

“The fact that there is a preliminary investigation by the Commission does not prejudge its investigation into the existence or absence of an infraction,” said the spokesperson, without giving further details.

AOM didn’t immediately respond to an email request for comment. The group, which was established in 2015, aims at creating a standard software to stream 4K video better on all devices, browsers and apps.

The AV1 software is still not widely used. Netflix YouTubeIt has been used for some customers. Google Chrome FirefoxThey have begun to support the new format.

Apple and Google didn’t immediately respond to an email request for comment. Meta and Amazon did not respond to emailed requests for comment. Microsoft, Netflix, BroadcomCisco, and TencentAOM members are also not available for comment.

Intel, Huawei, Mozilla, SamsungAnd NvidiaAOM members are listed on its website as well.

In a questionnaire that was sent to several companies earlier in the year and seen by Reuters the EU watchdog indicated it was investigating alleged anticompetitive behaviour related the license terms for AV1 by AOM members in Europe.

The paper stated that the Commission had information that AOM and its members might be imposing licensing conditions (mandatory royalty free cross licensing) on innovators who were not part of AOM at time of creation of the AV1 technological but whose patents have been deemed essential to (its technical specifications).

It stated that this could limit the ability of innovators to compete with AV1 technical specifications and eliminate incentives for them innovate.

A question was also asked about the effect of an AOM patent licence clause. This clause would cause licensees to lose their patent rights immediately if they filed patent lawsuits alleging that the implementation violates their claims.

For violating EU antitrust laws, companies could face fines up to 10% of their global turnover.

© Thomson Reuters 2022


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