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The MP3 is dead, say creators after terminating licensing

In this photo illustration a woman listens to an Apple iPod Nano on October 2, 2006 in London, England.
Getty Images
In this photo illustration a woman listens to an Apple iPod Nano on October 2, 2006 in London, England.

The MP3 is dead, according to its creators, who say that the digital audio encoding format has lost relevance in a world of new technology.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, part of the German research body which funded the technology, has terminated its licensing program for certain MP3-related patents after almost two decades.

The institute said that while the MP3 is still popular with consumers, it has been outpaced by "more efficient audio codecs" with more advanced features.

Users will continue to be able to listen to MP3 files, however, without industry support for the format, a shift away from the technology to more progressive alternatives looks inevitable.

"Most state-of-the-art media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs such as the AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) family or in the future MPEG-H," said Fraunhofer IIS in a press announcement.

"Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to mp3."

Fraunhofer IIS also helped create the more advanced AAC files, which are now predominantly used by iTunes, YouTube, Nintento, Nokia and other music audio systems.

The successor of the MP3 format, AAC is seen as providing improved sound quality within the same processing time.

The MP3 rose to prominence in the late 1990s and is credited with revolutionizing the way we listen to music by reducing file sizes by as much as 95 percent, allowing music listeners to fit dozens of albums on compact digital devices, instead of lugging CDs around with them.

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