EXCLUSIVE EU antitrust authorities are investigating the video licensing policy of technology group AOM

European Union flags flutter in front of the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 17, 2022. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Sign up now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

to register

BRUSSELS, July 7 (Reuters) – EU antitrust authorities are investigating the video licensing policy of the Alliance for Open Media (AOM), which includes Alphabet’s Google unit (GOOGL.O), Amazon (AMZN.O), Apple (AAPL. O) and Meta, the European Commission announced on Thursday.

The probe is the latest to hit the tech industry, which will face tough new regulations in Europe next year that could force companies to change their core business models and do more to tackle illegal content on their platforms.

“The Commission confirms that a preliminary investigation into AOM’s licensing policy is ongoing,” a spokesman for the EU executive told Reuters.

Sign up now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

to register

“The fact that the Commission is conducting a preliminary investigation does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation into the existence of an infringement,” the spokesman said, without giving further details.

AOM did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Founded in 2015, the group aims to create a new standard software for streaming higher quality 4K videos across browsers, devices, apps and games, known as AV1.

While the AV1 software isn’t widely available yet, Netflix (NFLX.O) and YouTube have started using it for some customers, and browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox have started supporting the new format.

Apple and Google did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment. Meta and Amazon declined to comment. Microsoft (MSFT.O), Netflix, Broadcom (AVGO.O), Cisco (CSCO.O), and Tencent (0700.HK), which are also AOM members, did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment .

Intel (INTC.O), Huawei (HWT.UL), Mozilla, Samsung (005930.KS) and Nvidia (NVDA.O) are also AOM members according to their website.

In a questionnaire sent to some companies earlier this year and seen by Reuters, the EU regulator said it was investigating alleged anti-competitive behavior related to AV1’s license terms by AOM and its members in Europe.

“The Commission has information that AOM and its members may impose licensing terms (mandatory royalty-free cross-licensing) on ​​innovators who were not part of AOM at the time the technical AV1 was created, but whose patents are deemed essential to (its) technical specifications” , says the newspaper.

It said this measure could limit innovators’ ability to compete with AV1’s technical specification and would also remove incentives for them to innovate.

The questionnaire also asked about the implications of an AOM patent license clause in which licensees would immediately terminate their patent licenses if they file patent lawsuits alleging that the implementation violates their claims.

Businesses risk fines of up to 10% of their global turnover for breaching EU antitrust rules.

Sign up now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

to register

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Additional reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm; Edited by Chris Reese and Jan Harvey

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Comments are closed.