Probably nobody never really thoiught about this, but it had to happen... so, now, MP3 has been declared dead. Indeed, as NPR reports, The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits – a division of the state-funded German research institution that funded the MP3’s development in the late ‘80s – has announced that its “licensing program for certain MP3 related patents and software of Technicolor and Fraunhofer IIS has been terminated”.
The official statement reads:
On April 23, 2017, Technicolor's mp3 licensing program for certain mp3 related patents and software of Technicolor and Fraunhofer IIS has been terminated.
We thank all of our licensees for their great support in making mp3 the defacto audio codec in the world, during the past two decades.
The development of mp3 started in the late 80s at Fraunhofer IIS, based on previous development results at the University Erlangen-Nuremberg. 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. Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to mp3.
By the way, there's no need to worry. As Jeff Gamet at "Mac Observer" argues that the MP3 now follows the example of the GIF. The patent for GIF expired over 10 years ago, he says, but the format is now arguably more widespread than ever. Without a doubt, MP3 is still very popular amongst consumers and the fact that The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits terminated licensing programs for the format, it doesn't mean it won't work anymore.
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