MP3 founders terminate licensing programme

16 May 2017

MP3, the digital audio coding format, is now officially dead. The developer of the format announced this week that it had officially terminated its licensing programme.

The actual ownership history of the various patent rights involved in MP3 technology was complicated but Fraunhofer Institute had claimed the right to license certain MP3 patents to software developers who wanted to ''distribute and/or sell decoders and/or encoders'' for it. 

Along with the announcement that the company will end its licensing programme, it issued a statement that partly read, ''Although there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today, mp3 is still very popular amongst consumers.

However, most state-of-the-art media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs such as the AAC family or in the future MPEG-H. These can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to mp3.''

There would be some laggards supporting the MP3 but newer formats will be the standard. AAC - or ''Advanced Audio Coding,'' developed in part by the Fraunhofer Institute is considered the standard today.

MP3 widely revolutionised the music world by allowing digital audio to be compressed without significantly impacting the quality of the sound.

According to commentators, the move to terminate the licensing was symbolic as one could still use MP3 files if one wanted to. Better quality formats that offered more efficient compression and more functionality were now the standard and there was streaming, which was a popular way many people listened to music and other audio files.

Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, part of the Fraunhofer Institute that created MP3 in the late 1980s, helped create AAC.

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