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MPEG-4, introduced in 1998, is the designation for a group of audio and video coding standards agreed upon by MPEG (Motion Pictures Coding Experts Group). MPEG-4 is primarily designed to handle low bit-rate content, from 4800 bit/s to approximately 4 Mbit/s. The primary uses for the MPEG-4 standard are web (streaming media) and CD distribution, conversational (videophone) uses, and broadcast television.

MPEG-4 absorbs many of the features of MPEG-1 and MPEG-2, adding new features such as (extended) VRML support for 3D rendering, object-oriented composite files (including audio, video and VRML objects), support for Digital Rights Management and various types of interactivity.

Most of the features included in MPEG-4 are left to individual developers to implement. This means that there are very few complete implementations of the MPEG-4 standard. Anticipating this, the developers added the concept of "Profiles," allowing various capabilities to be grouped together.

MPEG-4 consists of several standards—termed "Layers"—as follows.

See also