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Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #25
...successfully circumvented by some ethical software developers...
Interesting use of the term "ethical". In food supply, "ethical" usually means giving more money to the source (i.e. those who actually grow the food), but you think in the world of software "ethical" means giving less money to the source

Ethical as in fair and generous economic activity. It is not, in my opinion, ethical for patent holders to use any means in seeking unreasonable returns. It is however ethical to contribute something back when provided with so much. However it's phrased, I believe taking advantage of others is fundamentally unethical, and in the end, counter-productive. :-)
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  ;~)

Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #26
So, it's 2015, and many of the MP3 patents expire this year. According to http://www.tunequest.org/a-big-list-of-mp3-patents/20070226/, it'll be another two years, until the problems with MP3 and patents become a thing of the past.

Although, how relevant is MP3 these days? I don't use them anymore, really, except for one use case: My car. The car stereo will read MP3 CDs, but nothing else (aside from regular red book audio CDs, of course).
Another use case, is an old and aging DJ-spec CD player, which would also read MP3s off CDs.
And the third use case is online streaming. Back when I was involved with online streaming, streaming MP3 was pretty important, because it's something the listeners trusted. There were competing codecs at that time, too, but MP3 was still the most used, because people could understand it.

How are things now though? (I stopped being involved with online radio in ~2012 or something)


Consumer tech always followed the same evolution: once the quality of commoditized products reaches a good enough level for the mass market, cost and convenience becomes the overriding decision factor. Which explains why standalone cameras, standalone portable media players, high-end Android handsets, traditional audio systems and HDTV sales are a dying market.

Current state of MP3 is already way into the good enough quality category and the convenience is unmatched by any other codec, I bet it will still be in widespread use at least 10 years into the future.

Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #27
Can you download a FLAC from Amazon? iTunes?

The cork sniffing has to stop.

The industry clearly wants to monetize the FLAC file, as media players that supported FLAC due to customer request disappear from the marketplace, and "new" FLAC players appear with inflated prices. But the MP3 is ubiquitous, too ubiquitous to allow FLAC a measurable foothold.

So, where the argument against FLAC used to be size, it is now size AND cost. That's a damn shame. If ever Amazon starts making FLAC files available, they'll charge more for them. Might as well buy a damn CD and make your own.

But what will you listen to them on? A little overpriced FLAC player? Not your car's USB port. Again, we're talking about a ubiquity that's greater than Windows at it's highest point. There's no easy way to get past that. You have to listen to FLAC files on a PC or little media player. Granted, you could connect your little Neil Young Pono to the AUX port of your car's audio system, but you're in a car. With car speakers. And acoustics. You'll look pretty damn silly cork sniffing in your Hyundai, trying desperately to convince yourself that you can hear the quality.

I'm not downplaying the superior dynamics of the FLAC format—any fool with a good set of headphones or sweet audio setup can hear it. But most of the time, it won't matter. Most of the time, you won't be able to detect a difference between a FLAC and a 320kbps MP3. And once you get old enough, the fancy headphones and audio gear won't highlight the difference, either.

How relevant is MP3? How relevant is oxygen? You're trying to dismiss something that is everywhere, while most people have never heard of a FLAC file. What patents are you talking about? When MP3 patents expire, the format will only enjoy MORE popularity. FLAC is open source, so licensing isn't holding it back. The other formats?—they are even less popular, no matter that any handful of supporters may think of them. When their patents expire, it won't matter, because the MP3 format is ubiquitous. There's always that.

The best thing that can happen for all of this is for people to start buying CDs again. The conversion of CD audio to computer and player formats is what made all of this possible and exciting. Without CD audio, we'll be regulating ourselves to whatever crap gets streamed and YouTubed. All the fancy headphones in the world won't matter then.


Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #29
Can you download a FLAC from Amazon? iTunes?


Can you download mp3 from iTunes?

It is the wrong question though. Although Apple has succeeded where Microsoft failed, at pushing a different format, they have not and will not succeed at killing mp3.
They have not succeeded at killing FLAC either, which should be much easier, as a lossless format can be losslessly transcoded.  (ALAC is technically inferior, but what do Apple customers care?)
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Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #30
They have not succeeded at killing FLAC either, which should be much easier, as a lossless format can be losslessly transcoded.  (ALAC is technically inferior, but what do Apple customers care?)

Personally, I also no longer care because Foobar is capable of handling almost any format I've encountered. I've become unconcerned about containers. ;~)
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  ;~)

Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #31
I've become unconcerned about containers. ;~)


I've learnt that some formats aren't do not even support error detection ...
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Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #32
The best thing that can happen for all of this is for people to start buying CDs again.

True, and fortunately the Discogs marketplace is thriving. ;-)


Thank you so much for putting up that link. It's a relief and concern to find so many titles priced at $5 (I stopped buying CDs a few years ago). I find the price on older titles more reasonable, though I fear it only heralds shortages and price gouging. Still, I've bought more CDs in the past two weeks than in the past four years.

Great to have another source.

Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #33
mp3 will remain relevant till car stereos shift to ogg or opus or flac or or or....being supported.

I am slowly making the move to OPUS though my cowon devices still get ogg vorbis as, its quality to size ratio is FAR better then MP3 for audio books if not music(though, personally i find the rare vorbis audio artifact less....irritating then mp3 artifacts....but thats just me being weird i think....

Opus is replacing ogg now that the decoders for mobile devices are decent....(not up to the optimization level of vorbis but...better then they where by far.

also thanks for the link to that site, im sharing it with a few friends....excellent....i got a feeling a few friends over seas may buy some music and have me rip it for them...LOL....

 

Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #34
AAC
MP3
AAC only charges for the encoder/decoder whereas MP3 wants a cut if you sell them.

Just for clarity: They kinda have to stop charging for license fees, once the patents expire, correct? I mean, after that, MP3 virtually becomes public domain, doesn't it?

Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #35
mp3 will remain relevant till car stereos shift to ogg or opus or flac or or or....being supported.

So it seems the general idea is car stereo systems, at least that's what most people seem to bring up here.
It seems to me though, that people kinda not really care about their car stereo player anymore. People seem to be much more concerned to have an AUX-in port.

I am slowly making the move to OPUS though my cowon devices still get ogg vorbis as, its quality to size ratio is FAR better then MP3 for audio books if not music(though, personally i find the rare vorbis audio artifact less....irritating then mp3 artifacts....but thats just me being weird i think....

Opus is replacing ogg now that the decoders for mobile devices are decent....(not up to the optimization level of vorbis but...better then they where by far.

also thanks for the link to that site, im sharing it with a few friends....excellent....i got a feeling a few friends over seas may buy some music and have me rip it for them...LOL....

I never really moved from one lossy format to another. I pretty much only encoded them when I needed them in the then-most-popular format. When I get a new device to play music from, I'd just re-encode from whatever lossless source I have.

I'm using Opus more or less as standard in my projects. To me, licensing issues are the most horrible thing to have to deal with. Usually, the legal department of the institute I work at needs quite a bit of time, to check whether this sort of things don't cause problems down the road. There is a standing guideline to use "unproblematic" libraries and technologies wherever possible.
Opus is simple to use from a programming perspective. But once the MP3 patents expire, will MP3 be as unproblematic as Opus is now?

There is one rather uncomfortable aspect of using Opus for the kind of projects I work on: "Why not just use MP3, or something?" - I often feel my eyes kinda glaze involuntarily whenever I hear this question. I've given the explanation to that at least a million times.

I won't change to using MP3 after the patents will expire. It wouldn't make any sense whatsoever to refactor a project just to switch to another codec, for something that's only used internally.

But what I kinda want, is the freedom to chose it.

Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #36
So after all the years of hard work of various people they just deprecate Vorbis in favour of Opus  ? What was wrong ? Typical open source :

Does Opus make all those other lossy codecs obsolete?

Theoretically, yes.

From a technical point of view (loss, delay, bitrates, ...) it should replace both Vorbis and Speex, and the common proprietary codecs too.


Thats just great for hardware vendors who invested time in vorbis (google and others). It certainly will not replace mp3 / mp4 . At least with MPEG theres backwards compatibility respect.  MP3 while old and somewhat limited is widely supported . Its easier to deal with the cost , patents etc than incompatibility.
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Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #37
Just for clarity: They kinda have to stop charging for license fees, once the patents expire, correct? I mean, after that, MP3 virtually becomes public domain, doesn't it?
Yes as is already the case in countries that don't recognize software patents.

Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #38
For awhile there was some incentive to create new formats that encoded high quality in less space and bandwidth than mp3, but since space and bandwidth have become much less important, the need for other formats has pretty much disappeared. In fact, the trend is now toward lossless compression.
Agreed - for me it's mp3 (because of ease) and FLAC (because of ease). Don't really need anything else anymore. Space isn't as expensive as it used to be. My cell phone has a 128GB chip in it for $70. Seriously, think about that 5 years ago even!

...They have not succeeded at killing FLAC either, which should be much easier, as a lossless format can be losslessly transcoded.  (ALAC is technically inferior, but what do Apple customers care?)
Apple customers do what they are told to do...by Apple...because Apple knows all and is god

Which is why I will never buy Apple stuff. Good quality but I hate their arrogance!

The best thing that can happen for all of this is for people to start buying CDs again.

True, and fortunately the Discogs marketplace is thriving. ;-)

Thank you so much for putting up that link. It's a relief and concern to find so many titles priced at $5 (I stopped buying CDs a few years ago). I find the price on older titles more reasonable, though I fear it only heralds shortages and price gouging. Still, I've bought more CDs in the past two weeks than in the past four years.

Great to have another source.
What, you don't want to spend $20-30 for the new amazing (and completely BS and not worth it - http://people.xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html Hi-Res files when you can get excellent and all you'll ever need lossless cds for $5

Or how about $1 per song, in a lossy format when you have a bunch of songs in Hi-Res audio for $5

Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #39
.

Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #40
Quote
I'm using Opus more or less as standard in my projects. To me, licensing issues are the most horrible thing to have to deal with. Usually, the legal department of the institute I work at needs quite a bit of time, to check whether this sort of things don't cause problems down the road...

...There is one rather uncomfortable aspect of using Opus for the kind of projects I work on: "Why not just use MP3, or something?" - I often feel my eyes kinda glaze involuntarily whenever I hear this question. I've given the explanation to that at least a million times.
If you are a non-profit or you're not selling the MP3s (or only selling a few), licensing shouldn't be an issue.

MP3licensing.com says:
Quote
Note: No license is needed for private, non-commercial activities... not generating revenues or consideration of any kind or entities with associated annual gross revenue of less than US$ 100,000.00



That ONLY applies to MP3 program material.  There is no similar exception for distribution of MP3 encoders/decoders.  It probably would be a good idea to buy a copy of dBpoweramp or otherwise obtain a fully-licensed copy of LAME (or other MP3 encoder).

Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #41
MP3 will be like the XP of Music Formats. There are so many legacy devices as mentioned and even I use it to encode alot of my stuff I do use FLAC sometimes since my S5 can play it. I don't or at least hope MP3 won't be going away anytime soon.

Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #42
So after all the years of hard work of various people they just deprecate Vorbis in favour of Opus  ? What was wrong ? Typical open source :

Does Opus make all those other lossy codecs obsolete?

Theoretically, yes.

From a technical point of view (loss, delay, bitrates, ...) it should replace both Vorbis and Speex, and the common proprietary codecs too.


Thats just great for hardware vendors who invested time in vorbis (google and others). It certainly will not replace mp3 / mp4 . At least with MPEG there's backwards compatibility respect.  MP3 while old and somewhat limited is widely supported . Its easier to deal with the cost , patents etc than incompatibility.

Well, on one hand you're correct. But on the other hand, Opus was never intended as a codec fo embedded stuff as such. As a low-latency codec, it was supposed to replace things like SILC/CELT for low latency needs - things like online telephony, etc. It's just that it turned out to be so good, that it might as well replace AAC.

Now "replacing" is somewhat of a misnomer. Within XIPH, it definitely was basically considered a "replacement" for Vorbis, but that doesn't mean that Vorbis encoders are dropped, and nobody works on them anymore. It's just that the focus shifted elsewhere.

Looking at audio codecs in general, there isn't much "replacing" going on. I think it would be incorrect to think that Opus is a "replacement" for AAC or MP3. It's "competition" at best.

Computational complexity is still a factor on mobile devices though, and is likely to stay one for quite some time. The constraint is not memory or speed, but power consumption.

There seems to be another driving force behind "mobile class" devices for audio playback: cloud storage. On one hand you want your files compressed, so they can be transferred quickly, on the other hand transparent compression should be able to handle that. As soon as lossy compression is needed, things get irrelevant quickly.

One might argue, that the only class of devices that still need lossy compression at all, are use cases with live audio streaming. Things like broadcasts, but also telephony, etc.

The reason why things don't catch on quicker are not really the technical constraints, but people getting used to one thing, and unwilling to switch.

Also, from a developer's standpoint working in for a public institute, I can assure you it's not at all simply to deal with patents and licenses. These kind of things need to be checked and re-checked go through various offices and departments - most importantly the legal department. I have been asked several times: "Can't you just use something else?".

Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #43
MP3 will be like the XP of Music Formats. There are so many legacy devices as mentioned and even I use it to encode alot of my stuff I do use FLAC sometimes since my S5 can play it. I don't or at least hope MP3 won't be going away anytime soon.

I don't really see why anyone should drop MP3 support.
If anything, I hope MP3 support will be added to things like Fedora, where they don't include MP3 support because of legal reasons. The same thing was happening with GIF, where support for it was "avoided" while it was still under patent protection. Once they've expired, GIF support was put (sometimes even put back) into various libraries.

I wouldn't compare it to WinXP, though. I think it's much more similar to things like LZ compression, which kinda still is the bog-standard DEFLATE compression for arbitrary data (text compresses best with it).

Sure, we have things like LZMA2 by now, which also is in wide use, but I don't see why anyone would drop LZ support (or any of its more direct descendants, like LZW, LZO, etc.).

Re: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #44
According to this page (it's author contacted mp3 Licensing and asked about official patents expiration date) mp3 licensing program should officially end in a couple of days - on April 23, 2017.

Re: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #45
MP3 is the poster child for a "more than good enough" technology with no real drawbacks for its intended purpose.  I don't see how patents or not is going to change usage rates anytime soon.

Re: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #46
I'm a big fan of AAC and Opus, but my Volkswagen stereo (2013) and friends cars stereos think otherwise :)
Seriously though, I'm happy with mp3 and see no reasons to drop it. At average bit rates of 190-200 (lame V2) it sounds transparent to me. Yes, Opus can do it with a bit rate of 100 (or even less) but I'm fine with the size of mp3, especially with today's cheap memory.

Re: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #47
MP3 is the poster child for a "more than good enough" technology with no real drawbacks for its intended purpose.  I don't see how patents or not is going to change usage rates anytime soon.
It's not that relevant for the user but it's finally a big deal for companies and mostly for open source companies, they will finally be able to add MP3 to their software, see Audacity, Mixxx (if they didn't have it already) etc.


Re: Lots of patents expiring in 2015 - how relevant is MP3 still?

Reply #49
People don't seem to use media with their cars anymore. Or at least, much less than it was the case even three years ago.

People seem to care much more, whether they can pair their car with their cellphone. And if that's not the case, how they can play back music from their cellphone through the car's stereo via a cable. I don't mind that at all, it's the next logical step.

I wonder when we start seeing wireless charger in cars, actually. There's no reason why a more or less dedicated cellphone cubbyhole cannot have Qi and NFC connectivity in its walls (similar to how some cup holders have cooling).

 
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