The MP3 is dead, long live the MP3

The MP3 is dead. So says its creators. But that may not actually be the case.

music MP3

Hold on to your iPods, because we have some news.

Rather, the developers of the MP3 do -- they have announced that the music format is dead. But just because they said that, is it actually true? Perhaps not.

In IT Blogwatch, we listen to some music. 

So what is going on? Rhett Jones has the news:

The developer of the [MP3] announced this week that it has officially terminated its licensing program...The actual ownership history of the various patent rights involved in MP3 technology is complicated...But the Fraunhofer Institute has claimed the right to license certain MP3 patents to software developers who want to “distribute and/or sell decoders and/or encoders” for it.

But why is this important? JR Torres has some background on the MP3:

MP3 is the file format that changed the whole world beyond the music industry. It eventually affected the entire entertainment industry, gave Apple a new mandate...and made digital the media to beat. But now its creators are saying that it is dead. That, however, is...only a technicality and a legality...MP3s will undoubtedly live on for years to come, even when better alternatives are around.

If the MP3 will continue, why is the Fraunhofer Institute saying it is dead? Andrew Flanagan explains:

Bernhard Grill, director of that Fraunhofer division and one of the principals in the development of the MP3, told NPR...that another audio format, AAC -- or "Advanced Audio Coding," which his organization also helped create -- is now the "de facto standard for music download and videos on mobile phones"...AAC is "more efficient than MP3 and offers a lot more functionality."

But don't people love old music formats? Andrew London reminds us of the power of nostalgia:

The Fraunhofer Institute...has released a statement that the licensing for patents and software relating to the MP3 have been terminated.
...
Defunct music formats are an interesting proposition; vinyl, CD and even MiniDisk still have loyal followers...While MP3 is undoubtedly going to join the hall of fame in the history of music, the likelihood of music aficionados hanging on to the format is low as the quality of music is greatly affected by being converted into MP3.

But why isn't MP3 really dead? Jerry O'Connor‏ points out what happens when something is no longer under patent:

If the patents have run their course wouldn't we see a surge in MP3 now that it is free to use?
  
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