Apple previewed QuickTime Broadcaster yesterday, its new product for live webcasting. However, its release has been delayed by a licensing dispute with the largest MPEG-4 patent holder's body, MPEG-LA.

The same snag has hit the launch of QuickTime 6.

When released, the product will be made available as a free download. It will capture and encode QuickTime content, including MPEG-4, for live streaming over the Web. Effectively, the introduction of this product means Apple now offers an end-to-end solution for producing live QuickTime streams.

The product is ready to roll, but its release has been delayed while Apple negotiates licensing terms for the product's MPEG-4 feature. The problem is that MPEG-LA wants companies using the MPEG-4 codec (such as Apple) to pay a royalty. However, MPEG-LA also wants individual content creators employing the codec to pay a royalty, which Apple feels will damage market acceptance of the standard.

“QuickTime Broadcaster will make it incredibly easy and affordable for businesses, educational institutions or individuals to produce high-quality, live Internet or Intranet broadcasts,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing. “When combined with a free QuickTime Player and a free QuickTime Streaming Server, QuickTime Broadcaster is the most cost-effective Internet broadcasting solution offered anywhere.”

Both QuickTime Broadcaster and QuickTime Streaming Server 4 are built to run stably on an iBook or PowerBook, so the combined solutions effectively become a mobile broadcast unit.

Broadcaster's features include: Live encoding with a real-time preview; The ability to record in real-time to the Macs hard drive for fast video-on-demand posting; Support for all QuickTime codecs; AppleScript support; The ability to create custom settings; support for reliable communication using TCP between Broadcaster and Server and auto configuration between those two products.

The solution will be available as a free download, and will require QuickTime 6 and Mac OS X 10.1 or later. It will work with any compatible server solution, including Mac OS X Server and QuickTime Streaming Server.