Patents Expire For The Popular mp3
As 'Richer' Audio Format Arrives ...
June 1, 2017
By Dave Courvoisier
Voice Actor and TV News Anchor
Few established technologies can match the ubiquity of the mp3 music format. For more than 20 years it's been the defacto standard of audio engineers, music aficionados, and certainly most aspects of the voice over industry.
When the mp3 format came along, even audiophiles had to agree that only the most discerning human ear could detect the difference between the sound of an mp3 file and the more data-rich .wav file.
And back then, the space savings for early digital storage made mp3 the hands-down choice.
But the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits that developed the mp3 format under a German research agency recently released the following statement:
"(the)...licensing program for certain MP3 related patents and software of Technicolor and Fraunhofer IIS has been terminated..."What exactly does THAT mean?
NEW FORMAT ARRIVING, BUT ...
The Germans are now backing the newer AAC format (Advanced Audio Coding), which they also developed. No question, it's a better algorithm than the mp3. Here's why, according to a recent NPR article:
"...The engineers who developed the MP3 were working with incomplete information about how our brains process sonic information, and so the MP3 itself was working on false assumptions about how holistically we hear.But we have only to look at a similarly entrenched technology - ISDN - to see how long it takes for obsolescence to really find full flower.
Even in the face of less expensive, more technologically advanced, and easier-to-use products, most production houses and audio engineers will stay with the tried and true of ISDN. It's just part of their well-established work flow, and its reliable.
Getting that to change takes an act of God. Just ask voice talent Joe Cipriano, who years ago tried to get ABC Network engineers to even trySource-Connect technology as an ISDN alternative. They all agreed it worked as promised, then went back to their Musicam Codecs. Hmph.
CHANGE IS COMING
All that being said, when Fraunhofer makes this kind of a statement, it's probably best to start looking ahead.
They sounded serious.
More than likely, advances in smartphone technology are also a reason for this development.
An Extreme Tech article claims there might even be a political/economic reason for Fraunhofer making this move:
"...What actually happened is this: As of April, the last patents on MP3 encoding that Fraunhofer could still validly enforce and collect royalties on expired in the United States. As a result, the institute has terminated its licensing program, because licenses are no longer necessary..."Regardless, change is constant, and in this case, after 20 years it may well be time for a shift to something even better.
Dave Courvoisier is an Emmy Award-winning broadcaster, writer, producer, voice actor, and the main weeknight news anchor on KLAS-TV, Channel 8, the Las Vegas CBS affiliate. He also writes Voice-Acting in Vegas, a daily blog of voice over adventures, observations and technology, and is author and publisher of the book, More Than Just A Voice: The Real Secret To VoiceOver Success. And (when does he sleep?) he is also current president of the World-Voices Organization, the non-profit association of voice actors.
More Than Just A Voice: http://courvo.com/more-than-just-a-voice
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