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End of the MP3: What does it mean?

The MP3 standard is for the first time free worldwide. The world’s last patent expired at the end of April, it was part of the licensing program of the Institute for Integrated Circuits (IIS) and the US company. The MP3 is one of the most important successes of German digital history. What exactly does the expiration of the world’s last patent for users mean?

For years it had been standard: the MP3 format. Now the Institute for Integrated Circuits (IIS) has announced the end of the licensing program for the MP3 format. In Europe, MP3 has been patent free since 2012 – now also in the USA.

What does the patent end for the user? No panic – you can still listen to or edit MP3 files. However, the experts at the Fraunhofer Institute advise the use of more modern codes such as AAC. The AAC files are about a quarter smaller than MP3 files with the same quality. The ISO MPEG methods of the AAC family offer, for example, expandable settings and better audio quality at lower bit rates compared to the MP3 format. Apple’s iTunes Store has been using the AAC format since the beginning of 2003. Other streaming services, TV and radio are more likely to be based on ISO-MPEG methods of the AAC category.

MP3: Engraving for the Music Industry

Between 1982 and 1992 the researchers of the Institute had developed the format. In July 1995 the ending .mp3 was adopted for files with MPEG-Audio Layer III. The format was able to compress uncompressed audio files for the first time without a perceptible loss by a factor of ten. For users a real relief.

The music industry, however, was less enthusiastic about this development: MP3 files can be copied and distributed more easily.

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