A license is required before you can use open source software like x264, x265, and similar. The developers of the open source software we represent offer their products under two different licenses:
1) the open source GNU General Public License (GPL); or
2) a commercial license.
Each license has specific terms and requirements.
Under the open source license your company must automatically grant other companies a license and access to your product source code. You must also contribute back (assign) any modifications you make to the software to the community. With commercial licensing you usually avoid these requirements.
The x264 website has a licensing resource page which provides information on x264 licensing. Not only the full text of the GNU General Public License 2.0, but also great explanations, use cases, general information, and an FAQ section. Click here to access it.
Most of the products we represent offer open source licensing or commercial licensing. The open source codecs which also have commercial licensing available include x264, LLC's x264 (AVC) codec; MulticoreWare's x265 HEVC codec; and MulticoreWare's upcoming x266 (VVC) codec.
MulticoreWare also offers commercially licensed products including the UHDkit encoding library and the UHDcode HEVC Decoder.
The ZPEG Engine is a commercially licensed product but it integrates into an existing open source compression codec like x264, x265, AVI1, or FFmpeg.
Your best bet is to talk to us about licensing so we can advise you about the specific legal requirements relevant to your own business model.
The cost of X264 licensing (and all other products) varies widely, depending on your intended use and your business model. Different companies use the products we license for very different purposes. This is why you won't see a "Pricing" tab available on many websites with information about the types of products we represent. We suggest you contact us for guidance.