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AAC Licensors (via-corp.com)
116 points by zoobab on May 19, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 46 comments

Except Fraunhofer did not promote MP3 as “dead". They put out a press release announcing the "termination" of various MP3-related patents[1].

As Marco noted[2] news orgs took that original announcement and twisted it into a "creators announce MP3 is dead" story, presumably because there are more clicks to be had there than a story about patent expirations.

[1] https://www.iis.fraunhofer.de/en/ff/amm/prod/audiocodec/audi...

[2] https://marco.org/2017/05/15/mp3-isnt-dead

The press release from Fraunhofer is extremely misleading:

> mp3 licensing program for certain mp3 related patents and software of Technicolor and Fraunhofer IIS has been terminated

This gives the impression that the patents are valid but will no longer be available for licensing, and you can't buy licensing rights to build your mp3 player - in reality, the patents expired, making them free.

> ...there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today

Assert that mp3 is dead today

> However, most state-of-the-art media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs such as the AAC family or in the future MPEG-H. Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to mp3

Reiterate that mp3 is dead today

I'm not surprised that the media took this as "mp3 is dead" and ran with it. The blame lies as much with Fraunhofer for their misleading statements as with the rest of the media.

Pity they couldn't have the imagination to write a more positive headline then.

How about - "MP3 music tech finally freed from license limitations"

Your audience is asleep before they even got to "limitations."

Exactly, Fraunhofer is blameless in this. They did in no way even suggest that MP3 was dead. Maybe the press release was a bit lacking in detail so that complete doofuses with no knowledge of the matter could misinterpret it, but that’s more on them.

Maybe it's just me, but I think "MP3 is patent-free" headline would get just as many clicks.

For the "standard" consumer, saying mp3 is dead will provoke more reaction as in "OMG what will happen to muh pirated music library?", while they do not care about patents.

I'd really like to live in that world.

I'm afraid I don't.

how is that headline not slander, false advertising or sumsuch?

This is literally just a link to the AAC licensing page. Of course, Fraunhofer originally invented MP3 and got licensing fees from its patents instead.

<strikethrough>The real WTF is how readily news organisations will just print a press release put out by Fraunhofer saying "MP3 is dead".</strikethrough>

Fraunhofer never said that. Not in the press release, no anywhere.

We changed the submitted title from "Fraunhofer promoted MP3 as "dead", because they get money from AAC patents" which is an egregious case of editorializing, violating the HN guidelines (https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html) and the sort of thing that will get your story submission privileges removed here.

One can see plainly from this thread how bad an effect polemical titles have on discussions.

It just so happens there's no real reasons to use AAC over OPUS.

There's few real reasons to use anything other than MP3 for audio files. I don't care about having DRM, or conserving bandwidth/space by encoding things at low bitrates. I just care that my music/sound recording will work everywhere.

The arguments people make for more "advanced" codecs are mostly completely spurious especially now that MP3 is patent-free. I'm probably just crazy though, after all I still use wired internet whenever possible. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

AAC has widespread support, Opus does not.

Unless you know what you're doing (have to use the Ogg container and a .ogg extension and use Android >= 6.0), you can't fill an Android device with Opus files and play them back like you can AAC or MP3. I don't believe you can play them back at all on iOS. Mobile devices also often have a hardware codec that allows them to save on battery somewhat, when playing other codecs.

Plus desktop support is limited. Browsers support it but widespread desktop apps like iTunes generally don't.

Better then mp3 and embedded devices (e.g. cars) almost never have support for opus (or even ogg)...

Almost true. Even Microsoft's Edge supports Opus now, but Safari still does not.

chicken and egg, without people using opus, safari users will never notice Safari not supporting it.

Get a library for a low-powered device that supports OPUS

And support is available in new Android versions (since 5.0).

The harder task would be to get an ASIC that accelerates decoding. Know of any?

Is ASIC audio decoding really common these days? I assumed it would be handled on "general purpose" DSPs most of the time, not hardwired ASICs.

Audio decoding is really not a challenging task nowadays in my experience, when your average "embedded" processor runs at hundreds of MHz. There's still power consumption to factor in but that's never really been a limiting factor for me in the past decade at least. Maybe I've just been spoiled with powerful SoCs.

That's the main issue ;) Either an ASIC or that uses HW Accel in the processor

And yes, the industry is stupid in standardizing in proprietary formats

Apple's devices have no support for OPUS(or Vorbis, or VP8/9).

Apple's part of the group pushing AAC.

They do of course deliberate sabotage open codec efforts.

Expecting the headline to be changed soon, original headline was:

  Fraunhofer promoted MP3 as “dead”, because they get money from AAC patents

"AAC Licensors" as a new title does not tell much.

A better title would have been:

"MP3 promoted as "dead", Fraunhofer will get money from AAC patents now"

This is same click baiting as the tech news "MP3 is dead" stories.

There is no proof that Fraunhofer did what they did because they are also a licensor of AAC.

from what i've read they bought several other patents that kind of covered mp3 but expired later to stretch out their hold on them, i wish i'd saved them since google is just returning hundreds of articles about whether mp3 is dead or not

I didn't follow this whole mp3 story deeper than headlines, so can somebody explain to me, how expiring patents and becoming royalty free, public format equates to dead? In my book, that's pretty much the opposite as everyone can use it now.

I would have been more interested to read a story that told me which software should be cheaper now that it doesn't have to bake the MP3 license into its selling price.

Is this one of those "Fraunhofer lines" I keep hearing about?

Not a surprise. 90% of news is PR of some sort, you just need to ask with any story who has paid to put it there.

The real problem here is discount journalism that doesn't have the time nor inclination to figure out the real story.

Of course Fraunhofer would frame it this way, but when tech blog writers don't even understand what patents are, it's pretty sad.

Sorry but this is just nonsense.

MP3 became irrelevant the second Apple made AAC the premier codec for iPods and the iTunes Store back in 2003. And given that it was the dominant player/store combination for the following decade it's not hard to see why AAC became popular. The fact AAC sounded so much better was just the cherry.

MP3 officially became dead when everyone moved to streaming.

You mistaken "everyone" with "my bubble". Pretty much everyone in my circle still collects and listens to mp3 as the primary format. Furthermore, if you have more obscure music taste, it's a rare find something interesting on the streaming services.

What you're missing is that collecting mp3's is your bubble. The vast majority of people is streaming, not collecting mp3.

That's my whole point: you can't say "everyone" as it's not accurate description. OP and my examples use different "everyones" to prove this point and both are valid. Saying that mp3 is dead just based on your own anecdote is wrong.

As I already wrote the last time: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14348158

But don't villify Fraunhofer over this — as a public nonprofit research institute, they're expected to finance their research with patent licenses.

If you want to be angry at someone, look at all the for-profit entities on that list, who absolutely have no need to collect AAC license fees, as they've got more than enough profit, but still do.

In fact, I'm also a bit disappointed that Google entered this fight with VP8 and VP9 — with their free products it means that only companies with already large budgets will be able to create such standards in the future, and research institutes will be unable to do so, giving even more power to companies. I'd prefer a world where such standards are designed by impartial nonprofit research institutes. A similar issue exists with the WHATWG standards, which are dominated by Google, Apple and Microsoft, which is part of why we now have EME.

> as a public nonprofit research institute, they're expected to finance their research with patent licenses.

Though they are not really a shining example of frugality either. Another institute they merged with was locally known as the "institute for lunch and business trips" (GMD[1], Gesellschaft fuer Mittagessen und Dienstreisen).

[1] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/GMD-Forschungszentrum_Informat...

"they're expected to finance their research with patent licenses"

Why they cannot be funded 100% with public money? At least the "public" would get some free technology back.

We did that in the past, and it ends with those research institutes then wasting money for everything, as another commenter mentioned.

This model is to ensure Fraunhofer only develops technology that has practical applications (for more theoretical research, there's other research societies).

Also, if it was free, it'd be the German taxpayer subsidizing foreign companies — that wouldn't work in the long term, as German taxes would pay for tech that Google f.e. would use, but Google wouldn't give anything back.

One could make the license fees tax deductible in Germany, though, that would be a good solution.

What could go wrong with turning universities in money making machines?

The research institutes are entirely separate from the teaching part of the universities, funded entirely separate (which is why nothing of this is counted in university rankinds).

And this decision was done intentionally.

There's also research societies that work without any income (Max Planck, Leibniz, Helmholtz), but the whole point of the Fraunhofer society is to take science and turn it into something that companies can apply, use, and would pay for.

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