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EU Antitrust Regulators Probing Alliance for Open Media’s Video Licensing Coverage, Forward of Incoming EU Guidelines

EU antitrust regulators are investigating the video licensing coverage of the Alliance for Open Media (AOM), whose members embody Alphabet unit Google, Amazon, Apple and Meta, the European Fee mentioned on Thursday.

The investigation is the most recent to hit the tech trade, which shall be topic to robust new guidelines in Europe subsequent 12 months that would power corporations to vary their core enterprise fashions and do extra to deal with unlawful content material on their platforms.

“The Fee confirms that it has a preliminary investigation ongoing into AOM’s licensing coverage,” a spokesperson for the EU govt informed Reuters.

“The truth that the Fee has a preliminary investigation doesn’t prejudge the end result of the investigation on the existence of an infringement,” the spokesperson mentioned, with out offering additional particulars.

AOM didn’t instantly reply to an emailed request for remark. Based in 2015, the group goals to create a brand new commonplace software program for streaming higher-quality 4K video on browsers, gadgets, apps, and gaming, referred to as AV1.

Whereas the AV1 software program shouldn’t be but adopted broadly, Netflix and YouTube have began utilizing it for some clients, and browsers corresponding to Google Chrome and Firefox have began to help the brand new format.

Apple and Google didn’t instantly reply to an emailed request for remark. Meta and Amazon declined to remark. Microsoft, Netflix, Broadcom, Cisco, and Tencent, who’re additionally AOM members, didn’t instantly reply to emailed requests for remark.

Intel, Huawei, Mozilla, Samsung, and Nvidia are additionally AOM members, in keeping with its web site.

In a questionnaire despatched to some corporations earlier this 12 months and seen by Reuters, the EU watchdog mentioned it was investigating alleged anti-competitive behaviour associated to the license phrases of AV1 by AOM and its members in Europe.

“The Fee has info that AOM and its members could also be imposing licensing phrases (obligatory royalty-free cross licensing) on innovators that weren’t part of AOM on the time of the creation of the AV1 technical, however whose patents are deemed important to (its) technical specs,” the paper mentioned.

It mentioned this motion could also be limiting the innovators’ potential to compete with the AV1 technical specification, and in addition remove incentives for them to innovate.

The questionnaire additionally requested concerning the influence of an AOM patent license clause wherein licensees would have their patent licenses terminated instantly in the event that they launched patent lawsuits asserting that implementation infringes their claims.

Firms threat fines of as much as 10 p.c of their international turnover for breaching EU antitrust guidelines.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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