Overhype

by Leigh Beadon


Filed Under:
audio codecs, media, mp3, overhype, patents

Companies:
fraunhofer



The MP3 Is About As 'Dead' As Pepe The Frog

from the reports-have-been-greatly-idiotic dept

Last week, there were two widely reported "deaths" on the internet: Pepe The Frog and the MP3 audio codec. Most people seemed to understand what was meant by the former headline -- that you cannot in fact kill a meme, no matter how distasteful its use, and the death of Pepe in an official cartoon strip was a symbolic disavowal of the character by its creator. But on the MP3 issue people seem a bit more confused.

Here's what happened: in late April (not sure why there was such a big delay in the explosion of blog posts) Fraunhofer IIS, the research company that holds the patents on MP3 encoders and decoders, announced that it had terminated the licensing program for those patents, for the stated reason that the format has been surpassed by alternatives like AAC (which is also patented and licensed by Fraunhofer). For some reason, a whole lot of media outlets have accepted this at face value and reported that the format is now officially on its way out. "The MP3 is Dead" headlines abound, with only a small few bothering to add qualifiers like "according to its creators" or the classic rejoinder "long live the MP3":

Most of the articles buried some attempt to call the move "symbolic" or clarify that the files would still exist towards the end of their coverage, after much eulogizing, but almost none took the time to understand anything about the patent situation, or expose Fraunhofer's huge lie of omission in its announcement.

Because here's what really happened: the last of the patents related to the MP3 format expired (or will very soon -- more on that later), so Fraunhofer has nothing left to license. The termination of the licensing program was not a choice, nor was it suddenly motivated by the ascendence of another format that has itself been around for 20 years. Most importantly, despite what many people have reported, this does not mean the death of the MP3. Of course, Fraunhofer's statement didn't contradict any of these things, it just omitted them all and left people with the implication that this move ensured the decline and eventual death of the format -- when in fact it likely means the exact opposite.

Prior to this, developers wishing to include MP3 functionality in their software needed a license to do so. If you use Linux, or open source audio tools like the excellent Audacity, you already know this: open-source software doesn't ship with MP3 encoding and decoding capabilities built in, but requires you to separately download and install the codec so as not to pollute the FOSS package with proprietary, patented code. That's no longer the case, and indeed Red Hat has already announced that Fedora will now ship with MP3 capabilities built in (hat tip there to one of the few blogs that is reporting this story properly). Expect Audacity and countless other FOSS apps to follow suit soon. As for non-open-source software, it's one less patent number on the long lists of licenses that live on loading splash screens and About dialogues, and a little bit of saved cost. All around, it's the removal of a barrier to building apps and tools that work with this ubiquitous audio format.

Does that sound like death to you?

So does Fraunhofer's announcement actually mean anything? Well, a little bit: as noted, it actually hasn't been 100% clear when all the patents would expire, due to the size and complexity of the patent thicket in the overall MPEG ecosystem. It was generally agreed that all patents covering MP3s would expire this year, and many had pegged the date as the end of April, but this was much harder to confirm. Fraunhofer's announcement does not offer any specific information to make this determination easier (since it doesn't admit that this has anything to do with patent expiry at all), but developers like Red Hat are taking it as a sign that the patents are officially expired and the format is free to use.

While it's frustrating that Fraunhofer issued such a misleading statement, it's even more frustrating that so much of the media uncritically parroted it. Some also decided to throw in some scattershot links to various questionable studies claiming MP3 compression has negative effects like stripping out the "emotion" from music (that particular study was conducted on just 20 college students, and used MP3s encoded at a bit-rate well below the modern norm for music distribution) to bolster the idea that MP3 compression must be replaced by the still-patented AAC codec. I'm sure Fraunhofer was grateful.

So, no: the MP3 is not dead. Its creators have not killed it. Like Pepe the Frog, it's alive and well and probably isn't going anywhere for a long time -- except in this case we can actually be happy about that fact.


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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 15 May 2017 @ 11:52am

    But if we don't let them keep profiting off of it, how will they be encouraged to make new mp3 codecs!!!!

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2017 @ 7:39pm

      Re:

      nice sarcasm...

      same is said by copyright pursists, nobody paying for music (aka piracy) will kill the industry, nobody will make music anymore...but youtube and soundcloud, et al have a different opinion

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 16 May 2017 @ 1:17am

        Re: Re:

        "nobody paying for music (aka piracy) will kill the industry"

        Fortunately, in the real world, nowhere near 100% of music is pirated, there's huge numbers of ways to make money that didn't exist before and easy ways to gain exposure and fans that weren't available in previous eras. Sure, most artists aren't getting the money they used to when major labels dominated everything and people had to pay $20 for an album with 2 tracks they wanted and filler they didn't. But, most artists didn't make that money back then either.

        "nobody will make music anymore"

        Nothing says "I only listen to the music spoon fed to me by major corporations" like the belief that people will only make music if they're paid obscene amounts of money. Even many of major artists you're exposed to now started their careers making music for the love of it for no payment.

        "youtube and soundcloud, et al have a different opinion"

        Because they provide tools used by a huge number of musicians and have a better handle on the entire music industry than those who only obsess over the outdated recording distribution part of it?

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        • identicon
          x, 16 May 2017 @ 2:04am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Of course, the outdated distribution part of it paid more than the new channels. You can call it bad because it paid the nasty capitalist companies (not that Google et al are that nice) but it did mean that musicians could earn a living from it. How many YouTube ad supported views for a worthwhile income?

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          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 16 May 2017 @ 2:27am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "it paid more than the new channels"

            "It" being that people *bought* an album for $20 to play as much as they wanted vs. renting a single track for a single play. Well, duh, of course it paid more. The question is that if one is far less in aggregate, is it because YouTube are doing bad things now to reduce their income? Or, was it that fans were getting massively ripped off in the past?

            "You can call it bad because it paid the nasty capitalist companies"

            No, I call it bad because it's a dated business model that depends on market realities that no longer exist. Per item sales are not ever going to be as lucrative as they were in the early 90s, and rental income is never going to match sales income. That's reality, and it's not YouTube's fault most people prefer to rent nowadays. There's many other income streams available, though.

            "it did mean that musicians could earn a living from it"

            Very few did. Some actually came out record contracts still in debt after several albums and never recoup anything from future royalties.

            Touring, merchandise, etc. have always paid more to musicians than record sales and radio play. That's not magically changed because people go to YouTube instead of MTV.

            "How many YouTube ad supported views for a worthwhile income?"

            How many musicians supported themselves solely on radio airplay royalties? Most definitely needed to do something other than sit around waiting for that income to roll in. What's changed, other than the fact that the public has more choice as to whether or not to listen to a specific artist on their broadcasts?

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        • identicon
          Andy, 16 May 2017 @ 3:26am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I remember wanting one song on an album when pricing I found the album was a few pence higher than the single, so I was paying almost as much for an album as I was for a single song I wanted. I do not remember what I ended up doing I may have just recorded the song from the radio or a friend.

          The reason I do not support copyright at all is that I was forced to spend money on crap I did not want due to it being bundled or overpriced..Every time I download a song from the multitude of legal sources online i think of how i am taking money back from the money i was forced to pay, still a few decades of downloads until i belive i break even.

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          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 16 May 2017 @ 3:41am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Hmmm... If I saw a single for nearly the same price as an album, I'd usually buy the album since that would be a bargain. Unless the single was priced at a normal album price, in which case I'd question the store's sticker placement above all else!

            But, I've maintained for years that the industry's woes aren't mainly to do with piracy or lower per unit pricing, etc. The main reason is that unbundling is the norm. Sure, people can buy the album if they wish, and some still stick to making certain tracks album only in a desperate attempt to force album sales. But, it doesn't take a genius to realise that if a customer wants track X, and they used to have to pay $10 for a CD, but now they can pay $1 for just the track they want, the revenue might drop by a factor of 10.

            That doesn't mean that iTunes is ripping labels off with the $1/track (as they used to be priced). It means that the labels built their business around being able to rip customers off by forcing them to buy a $10+ product when they didn't want most of it. That's why they get no sympathy - customers knew they were being ripped off for a long time, they just didn't used to have a choice about it.

            Same with streaming - if people choose to rent rather than buy, you're going to get less money. If you can't work out how to get people to buy full albums again, that doesn't mean the companies allowing rentals are evil or that they need to pay you the same as you used to get when you could make everyone buy albums.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2017 @ 8:06am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Yes, me too.
            But back in the day the strategy was to put an "unreleased" song in the single, so if you really wanted to listen to that baby you would have to pay for the single too (almost as much as the LP as you mentioned)...for an unreleased ONE song and another one or couple songs already found in the album.
            This and many other greedy practices is why NOW people don't want to pay.

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            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 17 May 2017 @ 3:12am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Don't forget the re-releases of albums and regional variations. Want that new track that they put on a re-release or the bonuses they put on the Japanese release? Sorry, you've got to pony up the whole album price again, since you bought the first version when it came out because you were already a fan.

              So, yeah, completists might have to buy 4 copies of the album and 4-5 singles to get all the track from their band. Record labels are then somehow shocked at lower income now that people can buy the album plus a few individual songs, and aghast at the fact that people who used to do this dared to download the tracks that weren't easily available to them.

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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 15 May 2017 @ 12:00pm

    It will be very interesting to follow the next chapters. I wonder if the format can be optimized someway to give it further longevity? If new implementations of it can be developed? Stay tuned (pun not intended)!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 15 May 2017 @ 12:24pm

      Re:

      I don't know that it needs to be. When you hear about the poor quality of MP3, people are usually talking about 96kbit/s recordings. But most people are storing their MP3s at much higher bitrates. The quality is fine.

      The other argument is that AAC can store the same quality music in a file a few percent smaller. But so what? Music files are tiny compared to HD movies. It's not an issue, even on a phone, even for thousands of songs.

      I'll stick to MP3 for compatibility. If there's a newer, optimized implementation, I'll stick to the old implementation for compatibility.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 15 May 2017 @ 3:43pm

        Re: Re:

        When you hear about poor quality mp3, you're talking about poor encoders. Like many other formats, mp3 is a PERCEPTUAL encoded format - the encoder attempts to throw away info that the mind doesn't recognize, or info that isn't as critical to quality, then outputs that data in a specific bitstream. The key to good quality is in those parts that recognize what can be thrown out/minimized, and what must be retained.

        Mp3 encoders have gotten far better over the years, especially at low bitrates. An mp3 encoded TODAY at <128kbps sounds far better than one done at the same rate a decade ago.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2017 @ 7:41pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          and lets not forget all ears are different...as well as most setups...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 16 May 2017 @ 1:23am

          Re: Re: Re:

          There's also the playback issue. It doesn't matter how perfect and losslessly a song is being played if someone's listening to it on standard earbuds on a busy street, a car stereo on moderate volume in traffic or listening on their Echo Dot's built in speaker. The people obsessing over this aspect don't seem to realise that the majority of people aren't listening to all their music in a perfectly acoustically set up listening room.

          That's how it's always been, of course. No matter how some people fetishise vinyl, lots of people decades ago were listening of a lower quality cassette or through AM radio. The masses will take convenience and portability over quality every time.

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          • identicon
            Thad, 16 May 2017 @ 7:45am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Yeah, I remember seeing an article with Neil Young railing about inferior audio quality and thinking "Jesus, Neil, earlier today I went to take a piss and Old Man was playing in the restroom at work."

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 16 May 2017 @ 8:32am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Yeah, I see the same argument about movies all the time when people are whining about people watching their films on a phone.

              Look, I appreciate the artistry, but people who are going to choose what's best for them, not your product. David Lean might have created astonishing widescreen colour cinematography for Laurence Of Arabia, but lots of people first saw the film on TV, panned & scanned on an 11" black & white portable TV. Some guy watching your modern movie on a tablet on a bus might not want to go to a cinema. That's perfectly OK, though.

              It's only now that people think they can control every aspect of how the art is consumed that i hear so much whining about it.

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              • identicon
                Thad, 16 May 2017 @ 9:44pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Oh, there've been media snobs as long as there's been media. It's nothing new; it's just repackaged.

                It's still nice to see movies in the theater, or at least at 1080p with a 5.1 surround system in my living room. And it's nice to hear music in the best version possible, whatever that may be. (Pono was too rich for my blood, but I do own a FiiO.)

                But I'm still going to listen to the radio on my commute. And while I can't really relate to wanting to watch Laurence of Arabia on a phone, hey, if somebody wants to watch Laurence of Arabia on a phone, my hat's off to them.

                I don't really have a problem with Neil Young pushing for a high-quality music listening experience for people who want that. But if he doesn't want people listening to his music in less-than-optimal acoustic circumstances, I've got some bad news for him.

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                • icon
                  PaulT (profile), 17 May 2017 @ 3:05am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  "while I can't really relate to wanting to watch Laurence of Arabia on a phone, hey, if somebody wants to watch Laurence of Arabia on a phone, my hat's off to them."

                  In this day and age, I'd prefer people to be watching films like Laurence Of Arabia and appreciating it whatever its format to them just blindly accepting whatever this week's new product is. 4K and 70mm projection is still available for the purists, but if the guy watching it on the phone is at least interested enough to do that, that's what matters.

                  The comment I made about watching it on an 11" B&W TV wasn't random, by the way, it's the way I first watched it as a kid. I've seen it "properly" since, of course, but that first viewing was great even if Lean would not have approved.

                  The fact is, while it's understandable that artists have optimal experiences in mind, once the art is public they have no control, nor should they. It's when they try to exact control that this becomes problematic, but as long as they just whine about it that doesn't matter. Sorry, if I have X time to consume media and Y devices to play back on, I'm going to be doing it in the way that suits me at the time.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2017 @ 8:11am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            and lets not forget all ears are different

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2017 @ 12:41pm

      Re:

      I wonder if the format can be optimized someway to give it further longevity?

      Not likely. Projects like LAME (which basically ignored the patents) have pushed it pretty far already, and new codecs like Opus don't seem to be hurting due to a lack of any specific patented technique (they've already surpassed MP3 in everything but compatibility).

      So does Fraunhofer's announcement actually mean anything? Well, a little bit: as noted, it actually hasn't been 100% clear when all the patents would expire... but developers like Red Hat are taking it as a sign that the patents are officially expired and the format is free to use.

      It's possible they want to introduce more uncertainty so people will license AAC instead of using MP3 freely. It would've worked better if they'd done it last year.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Bergman (profile), 15 May 2017 @ 11:33pm

      Re:

      I use an MP3 software player on my computer, that dates back to the days when even operating systems were distributed on floppy disks. It's almost as bare bones as an MP3 player gets, but it still runs on modern computers.

      Takes up a little over 400 kilobytes of hard drive space, and consists of two files. All it does is play MP3s. And it sounds as amazing today as it did almost 20 years ago.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2017 @ 8:12am

        Re: Re:

        link?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Seegras (profile), 16 May 2017 @ 3:13pm

        Re: Re:

        Could. But probably it's a miserable piece of assembler targeted at 32bit x86 MS-DOS.

        Only tell me what it is if there's source code available and compiles with a contemporary compiler (because that is the definition of "runs on modern computers") .

        If it qualifies, it's probably good.

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        • icon
          JoeCool (profile), 19 May 2017 @ 7:54am

          Re: Re: Re:

          We had even smaller programs on the Amiga (all 100% assembly, of course) that played mp1, mp2, and mp3 audio files. For a while, it looked like mp2 was going to be the dominant audio format as mp3 took a magnitude more processing power for a minor increase in quality, and then processing power just starting soaring and it was no longer a consideration.

          By the way, to be pedantic, the labels we give these audio formats are not strictly accurate. MP1/2/3 are actually MPEG-1 Layer 1/2/3 - there were three different ways to encode audio as part of the MPEG-1 specification. However, at the time file extensions were limited (on MS systems) to three characters, so the extensions for the three formats were shortened to fit, becoming .mp1/.mp2/.mp3.

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  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 15 May 2017 @ 12:20pm

    MP3 is not dead, it's just resting

    While there may be better formats that mp3, the one thing mp3 has going for it is that it is deeply entrenched. Universal support. Show me an audio player device, phone, tablet or software application that doesn't support mp3. Similarly mp3 audio support is near universal in software that supports video playback.

    I would go back and re-rip everything in Flac now. If I cared enough. Disk space is a lot cheaper today than in the mp3 heyday.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2017 @ 12:49pm

      Re: MP3 is not dead, it's just resting

      Show me an audio player device, phone, tablet or software application that doesn't support mp3.

      As mentioned in the post: Audacity or anything in Fedora (before this week).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        jupiterkansas (profile), 15 May 2017 @ 1:02pm

        Re: Re: MP3 is not dead, it's just resting

        Audacity would, you just had to add the codec yourself - a minor annoyance.

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      • identicon
        Thad, 15 May 2017 @ 2:23pm

        Re: Re: MP3 is not dead, it's just resting

        Audacity's not a player, Anon, it's an encoder. Fedora's included MP3 decoding in its default install since v25 was released in November.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          JoeCool (profile), 15 May 2017 @ 9:43pm

          Re: Re: Re: MP3 is not dead, it's just resting

          It's not an encoder, it's an editor. Any decoding or encoding is done by a plugin chosen from a list. The purpose of the program itself is to edit the sample data.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Thad, 16 May 2017 @ 7:47am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: MP3 is not dead, it's just resting

            You are correct; good catch.

            But in the context of saving your audio in MP3 format, we're talking about encoding.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2017 @ 7:42pm

        Re: Re: MP3 is not dead, it's just resting

        before this week...hole in your foot

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 16 May 2017 @ 1:25am

        Re: Re: MP3 is not dead, it's just resting

        They would absolutely support MP3, you just had to install something extra as they couldn't do so out of the box. It was the same with DVD playback in Windows.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2017 @ 12:26pm

    Pepe has always been a good thing. Shows who's too stupid to live, by their reaction to a cartoon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 15 May 2017 @ 2:25pm

      Re:

      Boy, if I had a nickel for every time I'd seen a comic book fan praise a creation and then immediately turn around and disrespect the person who created it...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2017 @ 12:40pm

    poor Pepe

    Just an innocent little cartoon frog who was the victim of identity theft. It wasn't his fault that people imbued him with thier own ideology. Leave Pepe alone. Sad face.

    Love,

    Kek

    PS mp3s rock, mp4s suck. Throwing away a perfectly good listening device that plays mp3s just adds to the planet's garbage piles. Save the planet, keep mp3.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Cdaragorn (profile), 15 May 2017 @ 2:53pm

      Re: poor Pepe

      mp3 is an audio format. mp4 is an audio and video format. It's actually a really good video format, too. Certainly not the best, but comparing it to mp3 is like comparing a cd player to a tv. Sure they both play sound, but what exactly does that have to do with why you think they're the same?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2017 @ 3:44pm

        Re: Re: poor Pepe

        a lot of podcasts are available in mp3 many are only available in mp4 even though audio only.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Thad, 15 May 2017 @ 4:44pm

        Re: Re: poor Pepe

        Strictly speaking, MP4 is a container format. It supports a wide variety of audio, video, and text formats, such as H.264 or AAC -- or even MP3.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2017 @ 8:28pm

          Re: Re: Re: poor Pepe

          Some animations that should really remain in .gif format have been appearing as .mp4, which Firefox mobile seems to be pretty dumb at handling linking to.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Seegras (profile), 16 May 2017 @ 3:17pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: poor Pepe

            Can't help. But .gif should have died years ago. No reason to shun .mp4 containers just because firefox is bad at it. Download it, mkvtoolnix fixes those pesky .mp4-containers into shiny .mkv.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), 15 May 2017 @ 1:04pm

    Looks like a great way to know which press is reliable on tech issues. Techdirt and Red Hat wins of course.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2017 @ 8:15am

      Re:

      honestly i never heard before of couple of those websites, and one is form pakistan i guess, so i seems kind a bit political to me

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 15 May 2017 @ 1:06pm

    It will take more than the expiration of a mere patent license to kill the most ubiquitous and widely-used digital audio format in the world.

    Corollary: Does the Trump administration have anyone looking into this?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2017 @ 1:28pm

    This shows that many reporters don,t understand
    technology or they just rewrite press releases
    they recieve from companys.
    without looking into the real story.
    if you look into the history of mp3 it was offered to big companys as an effecient audio format for films and tv production.It became popular as a format for downloading and storing files on the web
    when broadband speeds were slow .
    How can a format be dead when millions of users
    use it to store files and download podcasts every day.
    If you want to see a dead format see
    HD DVD or betamax video.
    no one is producing new content in betamax video.
    With the patents no longer being licensed it will
    be used in more programs and versions of linux
    since its free to use .
    big companys cant force people to use new formats ,
    The public has lost interest in 3d tv.
    since the patents have expired no one company has the right to say mp3 is dead.
    Ordinary users and media companys will continue to
    use the mp3 format for the forseeable future .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2017 @ 1:45pm

      Re:

      This shows that many reporters don,t understand technology or they just rewrite press releases

      It's not specific to technology. This story is more about law anyway.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2017 @ 1:32pm

    Should take note from Happy Birthday "owner"

    Fraunhofer IIS should have just sat quietly and kept charging for the rights ala the Happy Birthday song and Mickey Mouse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 15 May 2017 @ 1:45pm

      Re: Should take note from Happy Birthday "owner"

      Someone would have eventually noticed and taken him to court over it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 15 May 2017 @ 2:36pm

        Re: Re: Should take note from Happy Birthday "owner"

        (Attempting) Not to be too cynical but... And?

        While yes Warner/Chappell were eventually faced with a $14 million settlement, with estimates of $50 million profits in 'licensing fees' they still came out way ahead.

        Sure someone would have eventually noticed and taken them to court, but unless the penalty was more than the profits it still would haven been highly profitable fraud, and if the happy birthday case was anything to go off of then the odds of a penalty high enough for said fraud not being worth it would have been fairly low.

        (To be clear, I in no way endorse, condone or support such fraudulent activity, I'm just noting that for the profit-centered sociopath with the system we currently have in place it's very profitable.)

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Thad, 15 May 2017 @ 4:53pm

          Re: Re: Re: Should take note from Happy Birthday "owner"

          I think there's a pretty significant difference between how you can expect a German research organization and an American music publisher to operate.

          Even if you consider Fraunhofer to be a purely mercenary organization (and I've certainly got some opinions on the subject of software patents), it's got plenty of incentive to move on and focus on pushing H.264/AAC.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thad, 15 May 2017 @ 2:26pm

      Re: Should take note from Happy Birthday "owner"

      Yeah, worked out great for Warner.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2017 @ 8:33am

      Re: Should take note from Happy Birthday "owner"

      theres too many people in the know already...wouldn't work

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anon, 15 May 2017 @ 1:53pm

    Interesting

    I wondered when all these limiting tech patents would start to die.
    It's about time, and good that this one is still relevant.
    Yes, all my music - 65GB - is MP3. Until the 60's, 70's, and 80's come back, I don't see my music files changing to any other format.

    (Do you think Apple will stop playing MP3's on iPhones? I suspect Jobs might have done so, but not Cook...)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2017 @ 2:35pm

    MP3s sound like ass and are for tweens.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 15 May 2017 @ 3:19pm

      Re:

      Just like AAC and any other lossy codec when you record at a low bitrate.

      Reasonable people record their MP3s at higher bitrates.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JoeCool (profile), 19 May 2017 @ 8:03am

        Re: Re:

        The first time I ripped all my CDs, I did so at 192kbps MP3 to make them all fit in the limited storage I had available. The next time I ripped all my CDs (about a decade later, and I had probably three times as many to rip), I ripped them at 320kbps in Ogg-Vorbis format. 320kbps oggs are close enough to lossless that you'd need an expert on high-quality equipment to tell the difference. I'm not such an expert, nor do I have that quality of equipment, so I don't see the need to rip to lossless, so I have very few FLAC rips.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anon, 15 May 2017 @ 6:12pm

      Re: Spoken like...

      >MP3s sound like ass and are for tweens.

      Spoken like someone who never listened to pops, ticks, and the sound of the needle sliding through the groove on the quiet bits of the record. Or the wow from a stretched tape. Cd and MP3 were head and shoulder above previous options, and MP3 allowed me to collect a massive amount of the music I remember.

      Too bad that by the time the record companies figured this out, I had already gotten what I needed from Napster. I bought several hundred records; then I bought several hundred CD's. (I still have over 600 CD's in the basement, can't think of the last time I listed to music on a CD.) When I wanted stuff from iTunes, it would only play on a few devices; half my players were MP3 not I-Whatever. Thank you Napster from making me pay the music companies all over again.

      Now, how long before the book publishers figure out that people will not always pay hardcover prices for a data file download? So far, Pirate Bay is winning.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      techflaws (profile), 15 May 2017 @ 9:43pm

      Re:

      Said the guy who definitely hasn't done any proper ABX testing in his life.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2017 @ 8:41am

      Re:

      snobs are tweens

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2017 @ 8:47am

      Re:

      sure, it is really useful to have all your musics on 32 bit flac or whatever despite the fact that many recording from the 2000s and before were originally done at much smaller bitrates and no other "remastered" version was ever made....sure...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ed (profile), 15 May 2017 @ 2:36pm

    mp3 alive and well, critical reporting may be on its last legs

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    David (profile), 15 May 2017 @ 2:42pm

    slashdot had it right.

    Their article was via Fedora Magazine, where the focus was that Red Hat was enabling MP3 support as the licensing program was terminated thus removing the restriction for including it in their various product/projects.

    But as Linux people already knew that and we have all been waiting for this day.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Leigh Beadon (profile), 15 May 2017 @ 2:47pm

      Re: slashdot had it right.

      Yup, the difference in headlines between the Linux/GNU communities and the rest of the web has been amusing. One side is all "MP3s are now free!" and the other is all "MP3s are now dead!"

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Tobias Harms (profile), 17 May 2017 @ 5:31am

        Re: Re: slashdot had it right.

        Don't you know? Nothing gets created unless you have to pay for it. Now that mp3 is free noone will ever again produce anything using it again.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 17 May 2017 @ 7:01am

          Re: Re: Re: slashdot had it right.

          It's genuinely sad that some people actually seem to think like that - that nobody will ever create anything unless they're specifically paid to do so.

          Such a person must have had a depressing childhood devoid of joy and creativity, while doomed to only consume the most soulless production line manufactured "art. All because they can't think of anything worthwhile not pre-approved by a corporate board and injected into moulds by drones. What an empty existence that must be.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2017 @ 3:53pm

    Sounds like...

    Sounds like a good topic for the Techdirt podcast. Which, incidentally, happens to be distributed as MP3. Much like most of the other 60+ podcasts I listen to regularly. Yep. Dead, except for the places where its usage is flourishing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2017 @ 11:13pm

    Fraunhofer may have stopped is licensing but Sisvel and Thompson also still have patent which may still be active.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Seegras (profile), 16 May 2017 @ 3:24pm

      Re:

      Any such patent may be active, but illegal anyway.

      When will you realize that software patents are illegal? Even in the US? And it doesn't matter whether anyone has it, because as soon as somebody challenges it, the lawsuit will be withdrawn. An illegal, but presumed active, patent is still worth something to make gullible people pay.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2017 @ 12:22am

    It's dead, Jim

    One thing many seem to ignore in their reporting that is mp3 is old, and as better algorithms have been created, it has become obsolete. Only reasons it keeps haunting us are legacy hardware (for which the licensing fees have already been paid yet remain use) and the audio files you already have but don’t want to transcode to more efficient format at the cost of a slight loss in audio quality.

    Any newly released content should use opus which is the current de facto standard for lossy audio codecs.

    Interesting to note is that modern “standard” codecs (opus, flac, vp8, av1) are open and free to use. Content creators, distributors and tech companies don’t want put up with ridiculous licensing fees, so they decided create their own free codecs. Companies like Dolby, THX and their ilk are facing same fate as cable TV. For now they still have cinema business, but in decade or two? I don’t think so.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Seegras (profile), 16 May 2017 @ 2:26am

    These patents have been granted illegally anyway

    I can't see what the deal is, and frankly, I can't see why anyone bothered. The reason is that " (2) The following in particular shall not be regarded as inventions within the meaning of paragraph 1: (c) schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business, and programs for computers; "

    https://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/epc/2016/e/ar52.html

    In other words, all these patents to Fraunhofer have been granted illegally by the EPO. The trouble with the EPO is that it's not a government body, but only exists as a result of the EPC treaty, and THERE IS NO JURISDICTION. So you can't actually hold them responsible for criminally granting patents.

    On the other hand if you ever challenge such a patent, it will immediately become void, as there is no legal base for it's existence in the first place. And of course Fraunhofer and all beneficiaries of these illegally granted patents try to avoid any challenge to its patents, so they actually don't enforce them at all. They just try to convince people that they could enforce them, and have them pay voluntarily. It's fraud in essence.

    And that is why you completely ignore any and all patents on software in Europe.

    (Be advised that the situation in the US is slightly different, as some courts have actually upheld illegally granted patents on software, due to a different definition of algorithm in patent law than in mathematics. Actually, patent courts have defined algorithms as something not belonging to mathematics. You can't argue with such nutcases).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Ariana Johnson, 16 May 2017 @ 4:56am

    MP3 is dead

    RIP MP3!

    MP3 Is Dead & We Have Lost The Most Legendary Audio Format That Changed The World
    by Sanchi Gupta

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Ariana Johnson, 16 May 2017 @ 4:59am

    MP3 is dead

    RIP MP3!

    MP3 Is Dead & We Have Lost The Most Legendary Audio Format That Changed The World

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Al, 16 May 2017 @ 5:11am

    Now Stallmann can convert his OGG files

    Or which reasons do you see to keep OGG, or replace MP3 with OGG?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2017 @ 5:27am

    Mickey Mouse is dead

    film at 11

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 May 2017 @ 5:41am

    MP3 is dead?

    So to sum up, this was a LAME announcement by Fraunhofer

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jigsy, 16 May 2017 @ 12:00pm

    mp3 isn't dead. It's just liberated.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Misho, 16 May 2017 @ 2:24pm

    I on my site to download music noticing an increase in users

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Domainforsale, 19 May 2017 @ 3:15am

    MP3 is far from DEATH

    Most of us will still use mp3 in the next few years. But it is true that MP3 is at disadvantage comparing with AAC. Audios in MP3 is larger and the quality is compromised. I found an article introducing AAC and MP3. You can take a look http://bit.ly/2rypx5B

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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