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The Register: MP3 owners get stroppy with open source coders

Jun 27, 2001, 01:53 (72 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Tony Smith)

Fraunhofer and Thomson, owners of key bits of MP3, have decided to flex and demand royalties of developers proprietary and open source with MP3. This item covers the effects of strict enforcement of the patents behind MP3 with two open source projects: 8Hz-MP3 (the developers are shutting down until further notice) and BladeEnc (which is now distributed source-only to avoid legal problems.)

As previously reported, and apropos absolutely nothing in this story, Ogg Vorbis 1.0 RC1 did, indeed, become available for download recently.

"...Fraunhofer and Thomson's ownership of key technologies incorporated into MP3 allows them to demand royalties from anyone using their intellectual property. This despite the fact that MP3 is, nominally at least, an open standard. The fees apply to anyone who produces a commercial MP3 player and all MP3 encoders, be they commercial or freeware.

Hence the message Dutch developer 8Hz Productions ("two students in Amsterdam programming for the sake of learning") recently received from Fraunhofer regarding its open source 8Hz-MP3 software. Says the organisation: "We have received an email from Fraunhofer (as have more developers) to negotiate the licensing for the MP3 encoder. As we are poor students, paying the license is not really a viable option."

Fraunhofer wanted $25,000 a year from the two students."

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