The present principles relate to a hypothetical reference decoder (HRD) for a Scalable Video Coding extension for a compression algorithm. One such implementation proposes to modify the H.264/AVC HRD for use with the SVC of AVC. That implementation defines HRD constraints for each interoperability point of SVC. One implementation in particular is described, but other implementations are possible and are contemplated by the present principles. The changes for spatial, temporal, and SNR scalability are shown. There are also changes to the related HRD parameters followed that are shown. The several mentioned implementations provide rules for an HRD for SVC. At least one implementation proposes the SVC-HRD rules as modifications to the AVC-HRD rules. A user may use the proposed SVC-HRD rules to build an SVC-HRD and test a bitstream for SVC compliance.