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May 2017 Retro Gaming Article


May 15, 2017 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

The MP3 format has not died regardless of misinformed articles circulating on the web

Long live the MP3 format
Patents on MP3 technology are expiring at the end of this year, making the format open and not encumbered by licensing.
Articles are circulating about the demise (death, even) of the MP3 format. False! Hogwash! Ridiculous! Untrue! And the list continues. If anything should be branded "fake news", this is it.

Patents on the MP3 technology are expiring this year as do all patents after 20 years. You can still buy MP3s, create your own, and freely play them on all the devices you've grown accustomed. If you want to stream Miley Cyrus' Malibu, buy the latest Hey Violet EP, or burn your favorite Black Sabbath tracks to a CD... go for it. MP3 is NOT evaporating!

I'm surprised by the headlines appearing across the web about the overnight demise of the MP3 format. Journalists have somehow been tricked into thinking the MP3 format suddenly died or disappeared overnight. Perhaps these writers weren't actually tricked into believing this story line... they may not have been very smart at the outset.

Why Patents Expire

Patents help protect unique ideas and stimulate innovation by allowing an inventor to benefit from his/her creation for 20 years. By the same token, patents expire after twenty years to remove the ability of a technology to be "permanently" withheld.

Just as protecting an invention stimulates it's creation, future innovations are often based on prior knowledge, thus the expiration of patents allows new innovations to occur as previously protected info is made public. This is what has happened to MP3 technology. It is no longer protected by patents and is open.

We often hear about patents regarding medical innovations, particularly in pharmaceutical areas. Generic drugs are created when the patents on the "real" drug expires. Pharmaceutical companies wait for these patents (like buzzards at a kill) to expire so they can begin producing their own versions of these drugs.

Other audio formats have evolved alongside the MP3 standard and new ones are gaining traction. The expiration of these patents has no effect on the technology or devices using it. The primary change is legal in nature, regarding licensing. Rest easy. Your MP3s are safe and sound. Rock on!

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