MPEG-LA has pledged to "never" charge for serving "free of charge" content over the web right now. That doesn't mean they're not going to charge for it in the future, they revisit the question over and over.
Ok, that's wrong, and despite multiple accounts of being corrected, people here keep perpetuating this myth. They're not going to revisit it. The decision is final.
But the question comes down to what constitutes as "free view" over the web? If you look at major hits such as RayWilliamJohnson, people like that "profit" off of making videos on the internet. He's got t-shirt deals that now have his stuff being sold in Hot Topic stores across the country. He's a pretty big Youtube phenomenon as a result of videos being posted on the internet "for free".
MPEG LA's defines non-free view as "AVC video sold to end users for a fee on a title or subscription basis". So it's very simple: can you view the entire video without being required to purchase it? It's free. If you need to buy it/rent it/subscribe for it, it's not free. Having ads or merchandise or other indirect profit models around or over or in the video is irrelevant.
You're right that everything "costs money" and some things have direct and indirect costs. The difference is that to ensure the internet remains open and competitive for everyone, we need to make sure that as much driving force behind the technology standards used by the vast majority of it are for the public good.
Right, and who gets to decide what is good here?
1) A wide consortium of companies working together on creating H.264, academia, guided by respected standards organisations: ISO, IEC, Apple, DAEWOO, Dolby Labs, France Telecom, Fraunhofer, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Philips, LG, Microsoft, Panasonic, Bosch, Samsung, Sharp, Siemens, Sony, Ericsson, Columbia University, Toshiba and more...
2) Google. Which bought some small company making codecs.
And yet, the automatic assumption is Google has singlehandedly pulled a rabbit out of their hat, because all some people need to know is that it's "free", and may any other annoying details and facts be ignored.
On one side, we have H.264 designed with the feedback of a wide consortium of experts, companies and respected standardization organisations, and very clear and apt licensing rules.
On the other side, Google and their technically inferior, buggy H.264 clone with an untold number of IP violations. But don't take just my word for it.
In layman's terms, we call what the MPEG-LA doing as a "bait and switch".
The above clarifications renders this remark baseless. The problem in this debate is some people prefer to arm themselves with an ideology fueled narrative and a set of outdated or outright wrong talking points about supposed "bait and switch" threats and preserving "freedom", and don't bother to even check what they're talking about.