Less than a year after its introduction, Koushik Dutta has pulled the Vysor extension from the Chrome web store due to licensing demands from the company that owns the H.264 codec license.
Vysor, announced in August 2015, lets users mirror and control Android devices in a Chrome window. The app supports ADB access, which makes it great for developers, but it’s also one of the most compelling ways to interact with an Android device from a PC.
Dutta announced on Google Plus that he “voluntarily unpublished” the Vysor Chrome extension, due to a letter from MPEG LA, the consortium that holds licenses for many video encoding-decoding patents, including H.264.
To transform the screen capture into video, Vysor uses a decoder called broadway.js, which is a version of H.264. Because of this, MPEG LA demanded $0.20 for every download of Vysor, a free app.
Rather than incur more potential losses due to this licensing issue, Dutta pulled the Chrome extension from the web store. However, it looks like users who already installed the extension on their PCs can continue to use it.
To give you an idea of the magnitude of the problem, Koushik Dutta’s apps have millions of downloads. Even a relatively low number of Vysor downloads could result in a hefty patent bill.
It’s not clear what will happen with Vysor going forward, but Dutta said he’s looking at his options. We can speculate that the app could return as a paid download or in a form that somehow sidesteps legal issues. Or it could be gone for good, or at least until a free alternative to H.264 becomes widely supported on Android.
Anyone here using Vysor?