[Libav-user] Using DNxHD decoder in commercial software

Robert Krüger krueger at lesspain.de
Mon Jan 11 19:05:15 CET 2016

On Mon, Jan 11, 2016 at 4:57 PM, Info || Non-Lethal Applications <
info at non-lethal-applications.com> wrote:

> On 11 Jan 2016, at 12:47, Carl Eugen Hoyos <cehoyos at ag.or.at> wrote:
> Info || Non-Lethal Applications <info at ...> writes:
> I have a question about the DNxHD/VC-3 decoder included
> in libavcodec. I’d like to use it in a commercial product
> and I’m not sure if this is allowed.
> What makes you think that we distribute software that we
> don't want you to use?
> My point is not that I’m not allowed to use it at all but the part
> It was my understanding that the VC-3 codec is open
> source so I thought I could use it.
> libavcodec is open source software distributed under the
> terms of the LGPL: Usage is not limited (except for "no
> warranty") but distribution is only allowed under the
> terms of the LGPL.
> I read this: https://lab.apertus.org/T91 which is reportedly an AVID
> original email.
> An excerpt:
> "A patent license is required for use of VC-3 as it falls under the DNxHD
> patents. The patent license grants you the right to use and even distribute
> the technology but, in no way can you reference the technology in the
> product as Avid, Avid DNxHD, DNX, etc. when it is from an open source. The
> use of VC-3 falls under the same schedule of royalty reporting under the
> patent license. In order to market your product as DNxHD from VC-3, Avid
> would need to test the product and a $10,000 fee for testing would be
> applied.”
> Can you or anyone else tell me how this “patent license” is handled with
> FFmpeg and LGPL?
> Also, this doesn’t differentiate between encoder/decoder as well as open
> source or commercial.
> This led me to think that all use of VC-3 might possibly be restricted.
> It also specifically names FFmpeg:
> "Any ffmpeg implementation is considered a subset of Avid DNxHD and would
> be subject to testing verification in addition to the royalties.”
> What ‘royalties’ are they talking about?
> Any insight is much appreciated!
> Best,
> Flo
I do not know exactly who handles royalties for VC-3. For mpeg2, vc-1 and a
few others this is done by the MPEG Licensing Authority (
http://www.mpegla.com/). Regardless of the implementation (probably
depending on where you want to sell it) you have to comply to patent
regulations which in many cases means paying a patent fee. For many use
cases this may be very little money (for h264 there is a huge number of
copies of your software that you can distribute without paying, for mpeg2
it was something like 5$ per copy, iirc). If you license a commercial
third-party library, they in some cases have already done that for you but
in other cases (e.g. licensing x264) and for non-commercial open source
software you have to do that yourself to stay legal.

IANAL but probably somewhat in the same boat, so doublecheck anything I
wrote. It may all be wrong. Don't consider it sound legal advice. If you
find out, who's handling VC-3/DNxHD patents, please post it (probably best)
or mail me privately.


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