MP3 patents expired; Fraunhofer/Technicolor end licensing program

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MP3 patents expired; Fraunhofer/Technicolor end licensing program

Mike Brown
http://mp3licensing.com/ now redirects to
https://www.iis.fraunhofer.de/en/ff/amm/prod/audiocodec/audiocodecs/mp3.html

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Re: MP3 patents expired; Fraunhofer/Technicolor end licensing program

Thomas Orgis
Am Wed, 3 May 2017 17:03:07 -0600
schrieb Mike Brown <[hidden email]>:

> http://mp3licensing.com/ now redirects to
> https://www.iis.fraunhofer.de/en/ff/amm/prod/audiocodec/audiocodecs/mp3.html

I am not sure what this means. Sure, the last patent I know of (in the
US) is expiring sometime this year, so I expect things to calm down
finally, but the Fraunhofer site still contains a form to query
licensing conditions. I would like to see a more clear statement about
no licenses being demanded anymore …


Alrighty then,

Thomas

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Re: MP3 patents expired; Fraunhofer/Technicolor end licensing program

Rogério Brito-4
Hi there.

On Thu, May 4, 2017 at 5:49 AM, Thomas Orgis <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Am Wed, 3 May 2017 17:03:07 -0600 schrieb Mike Brown <[hidden email]>:
>
>> http://mp3licensing.com/ now redirects to
>> https://www.iis.fraunhofer.de/en/ff/amm/prod/audiocodec/audiocodecs/mp3.html

That is a very nice page that I didn't know about. Of course, they are
now downplaying the role of MP3 saying that there are superior
alternatives that people can license. Of course, that's ignoring the
huuuuge installed base of players that only understand MP3 and,
perhaps, WMA.

> I am not sure what this means. Sure, the last patent I know of (in the
> US) is expiring sometime this year, so I expect things to calm down
> finally, but the Fraunhofer site still contains a form to query
> licensing conditions. I would like to see a more clear statement about
> no licenses being demanded anymore …

Do you happen to know which one? If you want to, you can e-mail me privately.

On the other hand, some Linux distributions are now providing
precompiled versions of LAME, after (supposedly) consultation with
their laywers.

In particular, Debian has been officially providing binaries of LAME
for a few years now (and I think that Ubuntu does the same) and, now,
another high-profile distribution that is based in the US will provide
MP3 support (I'm not sure if only *decoding* or both encoding and
decoding), which is Fedora, owned by RedHat.

Hope this helps with a question that Alexander sent me also regarding this.


Rogério.

--
Rogério Brito : rbrito@{ime.usp.br,gmail.com} : GPG key 4096R/BCFCAAAA
http://cynic.cc/blog/ : github.com/rbrito : profiles.google.com/rbrito
DebianQA: http://qa.debian.org/developer.php?login=rbrito%40ime.usp.br

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Re: MP3 patents expired; Fraunhofer/Technicolor end licensing program

Thomas Orgis
Am Fri, 5 May 2017 15:50:09 -0300
schrieb Rogério Brito <[hidden email]>:

> Do you happen to know which one? If you want to, you can e-mail me privately.

I some time ago stumbled over this list of patents and expiry dates
someone compiled a long time ago:

        https://www.tunequest.org/a-big-list-of-mp3-patents/20070226/

The latest two patents mentioned there are:

US Patent #: 5,924,060
Application #: 08/821,007
Filed: August 29, 1997
Granted: July 13, 1999
Expires: August 29, 2017
Digital coding process for transmission or storage of acoustical signals by transforming of scanning values into spectral coefficients

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=07%2F640,550&OS=07/640,550&RS=07/640,550

US Patent #: 5,703,999
Application #: 08/751,456
Filed: November 18, 1996
Granted: December 30, 1997
Expires: December 30, 2017
Process for reducing data in the transmission and/or storage of digital signals from several interdependent channels

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=8&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=5703999&OS=5703999&RS=5703999


But I am confused by the information on the uspto links. The patent
numbers don't match those in the list for several entries and the last
one I cited is shown as being filed in 2009, not 1996. But the binaural
cue coding is not implemented in lame anyway (or is MP3 surround support
hidden somewhere?).

The more relevant patent is the first one of the two, though, which
somewhat reads like „This is the idea of MP3“. On the USPTO page, the
filing data is given as March 20 1997, even. Where did August 29 come
from?

Do you consider this patent to be expired?

I presume the surround sound (BCC) stuff has some time left, still, but
stereo MP3s are in the clear since April? Can we actually agree on that?


Alrighty then,

Thomas

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Re: MP3 patents expired; Fraunhofer/Technicolor end licensing program

Thomas Orgis
Am Fri, 5 May 2017 23:40:30 +0200
schrieb Thomas Orgis <[hidden email]>:

> The more relevant patent is the first one of the two, though, which
> somewhat reads like „This is the idea of MP3“. On the USPTO page, the
> filing data is given as March 20 1997, even. Where did August 29 come
> from?
>
> Do you consider this patent to be expired?

I guess a better treatment of the topic is

        http://www.osnews.com/story/24954/US_Patent_Expiration_for_MP3_MPEG-2_H_264/

So … is the consensus that MP3 is patent-free since 2017-04-16? A
definite answer from all the (former) licensing bodies would be so
nice. This would reduce the critique on the format to it being rather
outdated and better alternatives existing … while it happily chugs
along as a practical standard format for compressed audio because it is
good enough™.


Alrighty then,

Thomas

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Re: MP3 patents expired; Fraunhofer/Technicolor end licensing program

Mike Brown
On Sun, May 07, 2017 at 03:47:16PM +0200, Thomas Orgis wrote:
> So … is the consensus that MP3 is patent-free since 2017-04-16? A
> definite answer from all the (former) licensing bodies would be so
> nice.

My direct inquiry to FhG was apparently ignored, but the licensing page was
recently updated to include a link to this new press release:
http://www.audioblog.iis.fraunhofer.com/mp3-software-patents-licenses/

It is only slightly more helpful. It confirms that "The licensing program
coming to an end is due to the fact that the last patent included in the
program expired" on April 23rd.

However, it says the program only covers "core" mp3 patents, and it cautions
that "there might still be some implementation–specific patents (or patents
for other functional enhancements) that have not expired."


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Re: MP3 patents expired; Fraunhofer/Technicolor end licensing program

Thomas Orgis
Am Sun, 21 May 2017 14:51:44 -0600
schrieb Mike Brown <[hidden email]>:

> It is only slightly more helpful. It confirms that "The licensing program
> coming to an end is due to the fact that the last patent included in the
> program expired" on April 23rd.

Hm, April 23rd. They didn't say which one so that we finally could
compare estimated dates of expiry.

> However, it says the program only covers "core" mp3 patents, and it cautions
> that "there might still be some implementation–specific patents (or patents
> for other functional enhancements) that have not expired."

I guess we are talking about things like surround sound or MP3pro. The
surround feature with the extra channels as auxilliary info and the
natural backwards-compatible stereo downmix is actually really neat,
but given the lack (or interest in) surround music, 5.1 sound is
attached to movies, where there is a plethora of codecs that support it.

What I really perceive as a strange twist of media reality is the
general message in the headlines abount MP3 being dead. Are people's
minds so poisoned? When you don't have to pay anymore to use a certain
technology (idea/algorithm, at that!), you have to stop using it?! I
was surprised to read such misrepresentation in tech media. I have the
suspicion that all the years of  preaching about free software, free
ideas, free algorithms had little real impact apart from getting
companies to use open source software to build walled gardens.

I wonder if the LAME website could drop a note about the freedom of
MP3, anynow. I will mention it in the release notes (website news) of
the next mpg123 version.


Alrighty then,

Thomas

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