MP3 Format Is Now License-Free

MP3 Format Is Now License-Free
MP3-format digital music is now so old that developers can now use it without the need to license the technology.

(CCM) — The MP3 format used in Apple's original iPod is now so old that it is now available without any licensing restrictions, the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits has announced. The Institute developed the format in the late 1980s and owns the patent rights for MP3 encoders and decoders. However, developers will now be able to implement them freely because these patents have expired.

The MP3 format has been superseded by better sounding formats that offer higher audio quality at much lower bitrates, such as the Advanced Audio Coding format, also known as "AAC." But MP3 decoders are likely to be in demand for many years to come as people who acquired digital music in the early years of the iPod are likely to have significant quantities of MP3 music files that they want to listen to or convert to AAC format.

The first MP3 player was launched in 1997, but it was only with the advent of Apple's first iPod in 2001 that use of the format became widespread. The original iPod had a capacity of 5 GB — enough storage space for about 1000 songs or 100 albums.

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