Been studying a little bit the codec market and how it the whole thing hangs together. There are clearly folks who are doing open source development that doesn't involve licensing. The two that strike me right away are "Lame":http://lame.org and "Vorbis":http://vorbis.org.
I'm wondering what the other ones are. Here are some links based on a quick google search:
* Thomson IP Licensing overview. Buried in this general presentation on licensing or some words about MP3 and MP3Pro licensing.
* "MP3 Licensing Background":http://mail.sarai.net/pipermail/reader-list/2001-June/000178.html. _A good summary of how we got MP3._ In 1996, U.S. Patent no. 5,579,430 was granted to Fraunhofer
Gesellschaft in Munich for a "digital encoding process for transmitting and storing acoustical signals and, in particular, music signals." (Fraunhofer Gesellschaft is the parent company of the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, creator of the core technologies incorporated in the MP3 standard.) One of 18 MP3-related patents held by raunhofer and patent partner Thomson, this is the basis of their current claim to a "fair share" of MP3 revenues. However, Thomson did not assert its claim until the fall of 1998.
* "Fraunhofer IIS":http://www.iis.fraunhofer.de/amm/legal/. All their licensing terms. Boy, they hold lots of patents on MP3, MPEG4, MPEG2. How do they get these things standardized and minting money. Pretty interesting.
* "MP3 Royalty Rates":http://www.mp3licensing.com/royalty/index.html. Nice to have all your royalty rates just published on the Internet. Says the list prices are $0.75/decoder for MP3 and $1.25/decoeer for MP3Pro.l True for whether it is hardware or software. 2% for MP3 streaming of revenue and 3% for MP3 Pro.
* "VIA Licensing":http://vialicensing.com. A Dolby Laboratories subsidiary doing all kinds of licensing. Dolby is another good analog to this kind of codec licensing. Make something standard then charge for it. THX is the same. Their big license is for "MPEG2 AAC":http://www.vialicensing.com/products/mpeg2aac/standard.html used in XM and in Japan. Their sliding scale is $0.45 to $0.10/decoder with $0.25 being the middle range.
* "MPEG4 Visual":http://mpegla.com. Yet another licensing group. They have a good "overview":http://www.mpegla.com/mpeg4v/6 on what they are doing, but basically rather than per device, they want a cut of revenue. But for devices, it is about $0.25/device and only for big guys with a $1M minimum commit that buys you 50K devices