Good article, but a little off
You make it sound like those in the MPEG-LA H.264 patent pool are getting rich on licenses. Even if there are millions in income from licensing each year, look at how many members are in the pool. Then look at those members' revenues. If Apple made $1 million a year from its membership in the patent pool, they would hardly notice, or care. Smaller shops might benefit from licensing fees, but companies like Apple and Microsoft aren't looking to get rich on codec licenses.
The reason Apple and Microsoft and others promote H.264 is because they fear patent litigation. It is much more costly to fight a long, drawn out patent battle once they start earning revenues from the codec when they can spend a couple million a year on licenses and have peace of mind. Just imagine how terrified Apple would be if they used an "open" codec for iTunes and then, after billions of videos had been sold, some patent troll took them to court. The cost might be enormous. It's much easier to just pay the licensing costs and avoid the headache. They just want legal clarity. That's it.
And the only reason the open source community opposes H.264 is not because of some idealistic vision of "freedom" but because they don't want to pay any licensing costs to produce open source software that does H.264 encoding/decoding. I agree that the patent system in the U.S. is ridiculous and should be revised, but this is not a battle of good versus evil. It's a simple game of economic stakes. Big companies stand to lose much more in patent litigation than do open source advocates, who are likely to use the codec without paying royalties anyway.