libavcodec is a free and open-source[4] library of codecs for encoding and decoding video and audio data.[5]

Developer(s)FFmpeg team
Stable release58.35.100 (included in FFmpeg 4.1)[1] (November 6, 2018; 16 months ago (2018-11-06)) [±]
Preview releaseGit [±]
Repository Edit this at Wikidata
Written inC99
Operating systemAvailable for Windows, OS X, Linux but may be compiled for any other OS[2]
PlatformAvailable for x86 but may be compiled for any desktop computer or supercomputer
TypeMultimedia Library
LicenseGNU LGPL 2.1+ or GNU GPL 2+ or non-redistributable if compiled as such[3]

libavcodec is an integral part of many open-source multimedia applications and frameworks. The popular MPlayer, xine and VLC media players use it as their main, built-in decoding engine that enables playback of many audio and video formats on all supported platforms. It is also used by the ffdshow tryouts decoder as its primary decoding library. libavcodec is also used in video editing and transcoding applications like Avidemux, MEncoder or Kdenlive for both decoding and encoding.

libavcodec contains decoder and sometimes encoder implementations of several proprietary formats, including ones for which no public specification has been released. As such, a significant reverse engineering effort is part of libavcodec development. Having such codecs available within the standard libavcodec framework gives a number of benefits over using the original codecs, most notably increased portability, and in some cases also better performance, since libavcodec contains a standard library of highly optimized implementations of common building blocks, such as DCT and color space conversion. However, while libavcodec does strive to achieve decoding that is bit-exact to their official format implementations, occasional bugs and missing features in such re-implementations can sometimes introduce playback compatibility problems for certain files.

Implemented video codecsEdit

libavcodec includes video decoders and/or encoders for the following formats:[6]

Implemented audio codecsEdit

libavcodec includes decoders and encoders for the following formats:[8]

Legal aspectsEdit

Libavcodec contains more than 100 codecs,[9] most of which do not just store uncompressed data. Most codecs that compress information could be claimed by patent holders.[10] Such claims may be enforceable in countries like the United States which have implemented software patents, but are considered unenforceable or void in countries that have not implemented software patents.

Furthermore, many of these codecs are only released under terms that forbid reverse engineering, even for purposes of interoperability. These terms of use are forbidden in certain countries. For example, some European Union nations have not implemented software patents and have laws expressly allowing reverse engineering for purposes of interoperability.[11]

Libraries that depend on libavcodecEdit

  • libavformat (part of FFmpeg)
  • libgegl (optional part of GEGL)
    • libgimp (part of GIMP)
  • libmpcodecs (part of MPlayer)
    • libmpdemux (part of MPlayer)

Applications using libavcodecEdit

Video playersEdit

Audio playersEdit

Multimedia playersEdit

Video editorsEdit

See also Comparison of video editing software

Audio editorsEdit

Video convertersEdit

Video librariesEdit

Optical disc authoringEdit

Graphic librariesEdit

3D graphics editorsEdit


Multimedia Streaming ServerEdit

Multimedia frameworksEdit

Computer vision librariesEdit


Media CenterEdit

Screen CaptureEdit

Device utilitiesEdit

  • BitPim – utilities for CDMA phones


  • ZoneMinder – video camera security suite
  • Motion – video camera security/monitoring program




  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "Download". FFmpeg. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
  3. ^ libavcodec can be configured to make it a proprietary and non-redistributable library since some optional external libraries are proprietary software and cannot be distributed under the terms of the GPL (e.g. Decklink).
  4. ^ Libav License and Legal Considerations,, retrieved 2013-05-07
  5. ^ libavcodec – AfterDawn: Glossary of technology terms & acronyms, AfterDawn, 2010-07-02, retrieved 2012-01-17
  6. ^ General Documentation,, retrieved 2012-01-17
  7. ^
  8. ^ General Documentation,, retrieved 2012-01-17
  9. ^ "Codecs list". Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  10. ^ "Legal information on FFmpeg's website". Retrieved 2012-01-04.
  11. ^ Council Directive 91/250/EEC of 14 May 1991 on the legal protection of computer programs
  12. ^ Blender for Dummies,, p. 320, retrieved 2012-01-17
  13. ^ Learning OpenCV: computer vision with the OpenCV library,, 2008-09-24, p. 9, retrieved 2012-01-17
  14. ^ whatwg MPEG-1 subset proposal for HTML5 video codec,, archived from the original on 2012-02-19, retrieved 2012-01-17
  15. ^ Open Source Development, Communities and Quality: IFIP 20th World Computer,, p. 167, retrieved 2012-01-17
  16. ^ pulseaudio.git/tree – src/pulsecore/ffmpeg/,, retrieved 2012-01-17[permanent dead link]