The MP3 isn't dead yet, but it's now on its last digital legs

PHOTO: The Straits Times

Digital file formats don't usually get the rock star treatment when it comes to entering the public's consciousness, but if one ever did, the MP3 format is it. 

But that's all coming to an end - or at least that's what recent events point to.

Just last month, the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, the Germany-based organisation that began developing the audio data compression algorithm in the '80s, ended its licensing programme for the MP3 digital file format.

The move may serve to push the format further into the shadows of internet history as more efficient and better sounding digital file formats, such as Advanced Audio Coding (AAC), continue to rise in popularity.  

"We thank all of our licensees for their great support in making mp3 the defacto audio codec in the world, during the past two decades," a message on the Fraunhofer IIS website reads.

Although the MP3 format is still in relatively wide use for various types of internet-based content, the end of its licensing programme represents a major turn in the history of digital media.

Back in 1998, the format had become so popular as a tool for internet users looking to transform compact discs (CDs) into easily tradable digital files, that the music industry panicked and launched the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI).

The group, composed of major music publishers, record labels, and electronics companies, came together with the goal of fighting the MP3 format and instituting a digital rights management (DRM) standard to protect the work (and the profits) of the artists and the music companies around the world. 

Read the full article here.

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