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The Almighty Buck

Fraunhofer's response to free MP3 encoder writers

My eagerly awaited copy of C'T has arrived, and in it there is a short interview with Martin Sieler, multimedia software lead at the Fraunhofer Institute. The topic was Fraunhofer's demand for patent license fees on free MP3 encoders. In it Sieler disputes that the encoders were free because the internet sites distributing them made money on the banner advertisements. He also discusses the newest MPEG standard (MPEG-2 Advanced Audio Coding -- also to be in MPEG-4): a refinement of the MPEG-1 layer 3 technology (MP3), it will provide even higher compression rates for the same audio quality. As with MP3 unlicensed encoders will be illegal, but unlike MP3 no free decoders will be tolerated... S: I find the ISO's current trend of accepting standards which cannot be implemented without violating patents worrisome. While I agree with some readers that a lot of work goes into this type of research I disagree that the key elements are inventions: they are discoveries about how human perception works. As a result, an unrestricted alternative (like gzip was to pkzip) should not only be possible, but encouraged. What do you think?
I've corrected MPEG-3 to MPEG-1 Layer 3. Thanks manuka for your correction. I've also corrected the "like gzip" statement to "like gzip was to pkzip" since it seems to be causing some confusion. Finally thanks to Christian who pointed out I forgot the u in Fraunhofer. Oops.
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Fraunhofer's response to free MP3 encoder writers

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