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Apple Purchases Rights to MP3 Codec 99

Wolven Spectre writes "AppleInsider has said and MacNN revealed that at over the weekend Apple purchased the rights to the MP3 Codec from Frauenhofer, the creators of the format, so theat the new Quicktime 4.0 will have a quantum leap up in audio quality, in an attempt to become a leading media standard again.
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Apple Purchases Rights to MP3 Codec

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    You guys really know how to overreact. Apple has licensed the MP3 format. That is all. I don't know enough about MP3 but it was said that it would provide better sound, which it does. Apple did not buy MP3. Detroit probably got it right.

    In other news, www.macintouch.com has a note that Shoutcast is looking for some machines so that it can work on porting the Server to OS X and a small client.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Fraunhofer still owns the rights to the MP3 patents. Check out this link for licensing details:

    http://www.iis.fhg.de/amm/legal/index.html [iis.fhg.de]

    Now I hope you appreciate what Apple had to invest in order to incorporate MP3 technology into Quicktime.

  • It's just you. MP3 has never been a free standard; Fraunhoefer has been after people for making free implementations of encoders for a long time.

    I'm not sure of their stance on MP3 players anymore (I seem to recall a recent decision to allow players without a license), but you must pay Fraunhoefer a certain amount of money if you make an MP3 encoder.

    MPEG standards are certainly "open", but there are very few ISO (and similar) standards that are also "free".

    What does a CD ripper have to do with MP3 encoding?
  • That's a better AppleInsider article to link to, in my opinion.

    So, according to the article, Apple has purchased the rights to use Fraunhoefer's actual reference code for use in QuickTime as opposed to using someone else's implementation or creating their own.

    OK, I can believe that. I mean, why not get the best?

    But, I don't think that this is meant to imply that Apple is now the sole owner of Fraunhoefer's reference implementation.
  • by ximenes ( 10 ) on Tuesday April 27, 1999 @09:03AM (#1913438)
    I haven't found any mention at AppleInsider or MacNN about Apple buying the Layer 3 stuff from Fraunhoefer.

    I have seen mention of Apple incorporating Layer 3 support into QuickTime, which would imply that they have purchased a license to use Fraunhoefer's stuff (which is what EVERYONE has to do, hence Fraunhoefer shutting people down through litigation).

    Conclusion: Fraunhoefer still owns the Layer 3 stuff that they developed. Apple is a new licensee. Nothing has changed otherwise.
  • I've seen several posts that point out the fact that the linked AppleInsider report has no mention of Apple purchasing rights (or licensing or whatever you want to call it). When I first read the AppleInsider article last week, it *DID* have a reference that said Apple bought the MP3 patents from Frauenhaufer (sp?).

    Now that the info is gone, I suspect that the were corrected on some incorrect info and decided to edit the article.

    It WAS there, but now it's not, so it must be a non-issue right now. Perhaps the correct info was that Apple purchased a license of the CODEC, which really isn't very newsworthy, so they removed that bit of info.
  • Fraunhofer only holds the patent on the encoding technique, decoding is not covered by the patent, so they can't do anything about players.
  • way to plug yourself, Mr. Connor ;)
  • To clarify QT4's streaming: It's not a new codec, it's a new track type and delivery protocol. *Any* file Quicktime can play can become a streaming movie, including (I assume) MP3s. The main disadvantage is that right now they must be served off a Mac OS X machine.

  • Actually, there is a streamer for the Mac, called MacAmp Antenna--it dumps the stream into a file, which can then be played by an external program. Despite its name, however, MacAmp is not the program to use to listen to these--its mp3 engines aren't quite up to snuff. For this reason, Antenna was banned from MacAmp servers (it's not good to show up the flaws in the program), so good luck finding it.
  • Before you guys get ready to kill Apple, look at the sites, there's nothing about Apple buying the format. Wouldn't it be great if people would check the links before posting a news item?
  • Have you ever been to Sweden? I have and if I had the chance, I would stay there forever...

    Nick

  • And why the kid wouldn't stay in Sweden forever?

  • I suspect that has nothing to do with the MP3 codec, but the Mac OS and QuickTime libraries themselves, where playing in the background is not exactly a Good Thing. I suspect it may be possible to write a program using QT for MP3, and have your program dominate more CPU in the background as SoundApp and MacAmp do so the play is more smooth in the background.
  • It looks as if Apple's become a patent licensee. It does not look as if they bought the patent!

    Some people are going off the deep end here thinking that Apple's the new MP3 patent cop. I see no evidence of that so far - all I see is that they bought a license, as many other companies have, from the Frauenhoffer Institute.

    Bruce

  • Um, a little math, oh arrogant one:

    CD Frequency Range
    FIXED RANGE 20 Hz - 20 KHz

    LP Frequency Range
    Roughly 10 Hz through 22 KHz

    Is there a difference? You bet! Is it noticable? Depends... can you tell the difference between MP3 128/44 (a crappy resolution BTW) and and a REAL CD? If your equipment is 18 years old, probably NOT! lol.. :-D

    Not to mention CD's are only 16-bit audio, and higher frequencies are sometimes noticably "jaggy" or stairstepped. Can you see the difference between a .tiff image and a .jpeg? The average person is not going to notice this, just like the average person until recently bought tapes (the WORST!).

    Most of the improvement people attribute to CD's comes from the fact that they used cassettes or maybe 8-track. Another contribution came from better mastering processes and less generation loss during editing. I've heard vynal on GOOD equipment and nothing else comes close.

    Mind you, *I* won't pay $100 to $1,000 for a record needle, but some people do. I'm busy enough re-encoding all my CD's to MP3 for a home media intranet.

  • I wonder if people will even actually BUY MP3 files.

    Hmm... mp3.com is doing well.

    I have two computers

    ...do you see the problem with this line, that sets you out of the ordinary already?

    , and this PII400 can
    handle anything, but my old P133 with 32MB of RAM slows down,
    and often skips, when I connect to the net while playing
    MP3s. Not everyone who listens to music has a good computer.


    ...and not everyone who listens to CDs have decent systems to listen to them from. So?

    And very few people have Portable MP3 hardware. At the same
    time, MANY MANY people have stereos with CD drives, and many
    people have portable CD PLayers.


    ...and how many people now work in front of computers with CD drives & speakers? Now many computers sold now have the bare minimum to handle MP3 (233MHz P-MMX?) easily? So what that portable MP3 players are a small segment of the market... portable CD players were, as well. Yes, I have a Diskman. But I never use it anymore. I have a separate stereo here in my office. My office mate & I alternate between him (or me) playing his MP3s & me playing CDs on my stereo. That I could make my own playlists from HIS music to listen to is way cool... good thing we have overlapping musical tastes...





    Plus, playing CDs on a
    stereo puts no strain on the computer, so one can do work
    on a slow computer while listening to music (unlike MP3;
    that's my experiance).



    ...unless you need to use the CD drive for something...

  • Hmm... your playstation doesn't run Civilization.

    Game over.
  • Now apple will be chasing around everyone with a CD-ROM and an encoder. Just peachy.
  • Hopefully, they won't be as nasty towards people who make encoders as Frauenhofer was. But, given that this is Apple, historically the king of nasty proprietary (read: QT, Serenson codec) schemes, I'm not holding my breath.


    --Bitscape

  • 'mpg123 http://address:port/' should work.

    --Bitscape

  • It's pretty cool that quicktime 4 supports mp3. seems like it'll make mp3 even hotter than they've been yet since the install takes care of the dirty work of setting up the browser to play them. thats a first for the mac, as well as playing a mp3 from a url. hopefully them owning the codec will expedite shoutcast support, which mac users still don't have. correct me if i'm wrong on that, please! think it'll pop up under apsl?
  • X11amp does.
  • I'm not sure I like this idea. I don't like the thought of having mp3s play out of Quicktime. Hell, I'm not even fond of the idea of mp3 being 'owned' by a company like Apple. Granted, the new Windows Media Player (Tries to) play mp3, and it decodes HORRIBLY, and this gives Apple an edge.....but I'm not sure I want Apple to have that edge. Mp3 is the type of thing that shouldn't belong to a corporation, be it Apple or Microsoft (Thank GOD Microsoft didn't get it.) or anything of the sort.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • There's a difference. Frauenhofer are the original DEVELOPERS of the mp3 codec. For a corporation (like Apple) to come and just buy it outright isn't the same as spending time and effort to develop it.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • "AppleInsider has said and MacNN revealed that at over the weekend Apple purchased the rights to the MP3 Codec from Frauenhofer, the creators of the format..."

    Purchasing the rights, and licensing are two different things. Apple now OWNS mp3 technology. They didn't license it. And judging by your snide response, I'm not sure I'm the one who needs to get a grip.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • And their CDROM will come in 5 Exciting Flavors!

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • Ummm, forgive me, but mp3 already has streaming technology. :P

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • http, of course. Would MP3 streaming perform better if it could be wrapped in RTSP ?
  • Is it just me or does this sound like a bad thing? MP3 has been one of the better examples of the freedom of the net comming through and forcing the corps to see a new paradigm for music distribution.

    But now, a corp - ok apple is once again "cool" but where is qt4 for linux? - own the "free" codec. Actualy I'm surprised, I had assumed the mpeg codecs to have been an open standard, which is why all the record companies were going ape over since they couldn't "Buy it out and shut it down"

    So does this mean that once apple corp makes a deal with the RIAA in a move to collect licnce fees from manufacuers of things like RIO? Are they going to file injunctions against all distributors of software that reads/writes this codec? For example CD rippers?
    --
    James Michael Keller

  • Why do they need to be streamed off of OS X? The source code to the streaming server is available and I understand that a port to FreeBSD has already been completed. I'm sure a Linux port couldn't be that far behind!
  • I thought the Sorenson compression wasn't owned by Apple and thats why it is proprietary...

    clifyt
  • I have an officially posted request on their cursed internal support lists.

    No answer.

    The message has simply been removed.

    Make your conclusions.

  • MP3 = Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG) 1 layer 3
  • um, isn't civ out for the psx?
  • Agreed. That headline totally unhinged my jaw until I read the articles and realized that they have only licensed mp3.

    =-ddt->
  • i have been using the mac version of QT4 beta, and the mp3 support needs some serious work. It doesn't like playing in the background. Try to do _anything_ while the mp3 is playing, and it will skip like a record player installed in a car.

    I did notice the sound was much nicer than on any other mp3 player, but i suspect that's just because QT4 has bass amplification.

    Someone told me it doesn't cache, or double-buffer, or some such term. Whatever it is, it earns the title "beta".
  • If you just open QuickTime 4's About dialog (in Windoze it's under Control Panel|QuickTime), you'll get all the codec copyrights and logos scrolling by.

    For the MP3 codec it displays a Fraunhofer link and the text:

    "MPEG Layer-3 audio compression technology licensed by Fraunhofer IIS and THOMSON multimedia."

    This seems pretty clear to me. ;-)
  • I heard that the problem was that apple stopped the Sorenson codec from being sold to others. I am not sure of the details though.
  • QT 4.0 will already play mp3's, but more support is always better. Now if QT would only play *streaming* mp3's then that would be so cool. There currently is no streaming mp3 player for the mac. :(



    "There is no spoon."
  • Exactly... The MacNN site doesn't even have ONE reference to MP3 on it's current page, and the only references to MP3 in the last week say that Quick Time 4 plays them (and badly, from what I read.)
    And AppleInsider just mentions that QT4 will play MP3's, it says absolutely NOTHING about Apple buying, or even licensing, the MP3 format. Just like MacNN, it only says that the QuickTime 4 player will play MP3 files.
    I'm curious what drugs Wolven Spectre was on when he submitted this story.

    People, READ the articles before you submit them.
  • The codec has NEVER been free. It was owned by the Frauenhofer institute. Apple bought it from them. Why the RIAA didn't buy it first and shut it down is beyond me. My only guess is that Frauenhofer had some ethics.
  • With the cost of cd burners being so low now, you really don't even need to have an mp3 player. I decode tons of mp3s from approved bands and burn them to cds so I can listen to them in the car. This is where I see mp3 technology. I really don't need a portable player. Hell cdr's are only 2 bucks a pop.
  • QT 4.0 will already play mp3's, but more support is always better. Now if QT would only play *streaming* mp3's then that would be so cool. There currently is no streaming mp3 player for the mac. :(

    I have never seen one for Linux, either. The only one I know of is WinAmp, and its platform is obvious

  • I think the article may just have been badly worded. It seems they were just trying to say that QT4 plays MP3s. If they were trying to imply that Apple owns MP3 now or something I think they're wrong. MacNN didn't have anything regarding this and the stuff on Apple Insider wasn't anything earth shattering. I thought everybody already knew about QT4's mp3-playing abilities. AFAIC, the only thing this is good for is playing an mp3 in the browser (which, itself, I find rather useless). I still intend to use SoundApp (the long-standing king of audio on Mac) and/or MacAmp. QT doesn't have a playlist or a shuffle or a tiny mode like MacAmp or SoundApp, so I'll be sticking with the prettier ones.

    On the topic of whether Apple owning MP3, I don't think anybody should own it. It should be a standard. I thought that if it has MPEG in the name it means it was made by the MPEG, and is a standard, like JPEG. I never really understood why the Frauhofer people "owned" it in the first place. I don't know about codecs or anything, but it seems to me that if it's a standard then people ought to be free to use it, and if they're not, well then it isn't really a standard. Why can't somebody make something like mp3 that's really free?

    -----BEGIN ANNOYING SIG BLOCK-----
    Evan


  • So if QuickTime 4 will only stream MP3s from OS X (or FreeBSD, as someone mentioned) and MacAMP won't sream from anything, is there any way to stream MP3s from a Windows machine to a Mac?
  • Rasca is an mp3 player for KDE that has support
    for streaming over http and ftp. Shoutcast client and server support is also being added.


    [penultima.org]
    http://www.penultima.org/~rasca
  • i haven't fooled around much with quicktime 4 since it causes my computer to crash ( i love beta ). however my friend tells me it will stream qt4 audio with no problem. i am sure in the future, mpg3 will stream. will it stream in the final qt4 build?
  • Having watched this thread for a number of posts i decided that some more info might be useful.

    First of all, MP3 isn't owned by anyone. The fact that it is says "MPEG" means that it is a standard and thus available to everyone.

    "Fine" you ask, "So where do Fraunhoser and Apple come in ?" Well, Fraunhofer wrote a piece of software to encode en decode MP3. All the stories of Fraunhofer taking legal steps against ppl over MP3 encoders came into existence because ppl were too lame to write their own encoding software and decided to include Fraunhofers software in their own encoders. Fraunhofer, making a profit by selling its encoding software, acted on this to protect their interests.

    "Okay" you reply, "But what about Apple ?"
    Apple simply decided to pay Fraunhofer for a license to incorporate this codec in QT4.

    What's the big deal ?
  • i don't know if this really counts, but, i have opened mp3 files and started listening to them while they are downloading by hotline or ftp...

    of course, it crashed my machine, but...
  • The codecs for the encoder portion is free in that they published and known. They are not free in the sense that they are in the public domain, the algorithms are patented. The decode portion is not patented from what I understand. Fraunhofer hasn't been terribly successful in stopping people from creating their own encoders, the RIAA would be even less so since anyone thinking of creating an encoder would be more motivated out of contempt for them.
  • But Frauenhofer -already- owns MP3. And they're a corporation.
  • With the exception of two or three posts so far, everyone is talking about how evil apple is. QT4 server is apsl software, you can stream anything QT to any QT client, you can re-compile the server for whatever platform you like, all good things. Having seen QT4 streaming in action from an OS X server, I have to say, it beats the crap out of netshow or realplayer. Plus it has a lot more options, like bookmarking a spot in the middle of the stream and being able to open the stream from that point, and having the server side option of making the stream non-transferable. (ie, if you are serving a stream of stuff that, for one reason or another, you don't want being copied, you can stream it that way). Apple really isn't that bad. They're pretty responsive lately, which is a Good Thing.


    itachi
  • Did you read any of the above before posting? They only licensed the codec, they didn't buy it.

    Jeez,

    mjr
  • If Apple did INDEED purchase MP3, what happens to all my
    music? Will it still be okay for people to make their own
    MP3 players? Or will we have to use QuickTime if we want
    the latest MP3 technology?

    What does this do for illegal MP3s, if anything?

    I don't know about others, but I'm getting a little paranoid
    about this sudden comercial interest in MP3. I think I'm
    going to start looking into other technologies, just in
    case. I'm not sure, but I hear that other formats exsist
    which are better compressed, and have higher quality (true?).

    I wonder if people will even actually BUY MP3 files. I can
    see the advantage, but it's actually more expensive than
    ordinary CDs, when you account for the cost of a portable
    MP3 player, plus a computer, and one fast enought to play MP3s
    in the background, while other things are happen, like
    browsing the net. I have two computers, and this PII400 can
    handle anything, but my old P133 with 32MB of RAM slows down,
    and often skips, when I connect to the net while playing
    MP3s. Not everyone who listens to music has a good computer.
    And very few people have Portable MP3 hardware. At the same
    time, MANY MANY people have stereos with CD drives, and many
    people have portable CD PLayers. Plus, playing CDs on a
    stereo puts no strain on the computer, so one can do work
    on a slow computer while listening to music (unlike MP3;
    that's my experiance).

    So is there really an MP3 market as big as the CD and tape
    market? I dunno ... maybe there is.

    But back to the original point, does this make a difference
    to people who use MP3s but no Apple software and hardware??


  • If Apple did INDEED purchase MP3, what happens to all my music? Will it still be okay for people to make their own MP3 players? Or will we have to use QuickTime if we want the latest MP3 technology?

    I don't know about others, but I'm getting a little paranoid about this sudden comercial interest in MP3. (I don't purcahse MP3s ... like many other ppl, i'm sure :P ). I think I'm going to start looking into other technologies, just in case. I'm not sure, but I hear that other formats exsist which are better compressed, and have higher quality (true?).

    I wonder if people will even actually BUY MP3 files. I can see the advantage, but it's actually more expensive than ordinary CDs, when you account for the cost of a portable MP3 player, plus a computer, and one fast enought to play MP3s in the background, while other things are happen, like browsing the net. I have two computers, and this PII400 can handle anything, but my old P133 with 32MB of RAM slows down, and often skips, when I connect to the net while playing MP3s. Not everyone who listens to music has a good computer. And very few people have Portable MP3 hardware. At the same time, MANY MANY people have stereos with CD drives, and many people have portable CD PLayers. Plus, playing CDs on a stereo puts no strain on the computer, so one can do work on a slow computer while listening to music (unlike MP3; that's my experiance).

    So is there really an MP3 market as big as the CD and tape market? I dunno ... maybe there is.

    But back to the original point, does this make a difference to people who use MP3s but no Apple software and hardware??
  • I am stating that Apple, according to AppleInsider, has bought the rights to the codec, which is supposedly the best quality one, and has plans to incorperate it.

    This is to say that Apple owns the rights to the codec outright, if this is indeed true.

    The more accurate URL would be http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/9904/apple-at -nab.shtml . MacNN just refers to the story but on a second look it looks like they simply linked to AppleInsider. If you wish you can search MacNN with the Keyword AppleInsider and it should top your list.



  • The ironic thing is, as I understand it, QT's audio layer is better in sound quality and compression than MP3's. As for the implication of full purchase I was wrong and simply misunderstood the story's wording. I mean it doesn't sound so far off with all the aquisitions Apple has made of late... you'd think it was Microsoft or something!

    Oh god, perish the thought... I can't believe I actually said that!!!

  • Hmmm... There are tools for every job. The computer is a multi-purpose tool. It will do the job of your stereo, playstation, and umpteen other things.
    Most people could care less about the slight difference between your 18-year-old stereo and a computer output.
    And I personally would take my computer over a playstation any day. More inputs, more options. And two words: Multiplayer Starcraft.
    If that doesn't spell it out for you, lets try this - internet connection. Or would you prefer a web TV?

    The end. (officious sounding, isnt it?)
  • Vitals on CD vs. LP:
    CD bandwidth: DC-22KHz
    LP bandwidth: varies with amplitude. Low frequenzies cannot be reproduced loudly. Upper limit can start out as high as 50KHz, but will be worn down to 16-18 KHz during the first few playback sessions.

    CD dynamic range: 96 dB
    LP Dynamic range: starts around 85 dB, but is quickly worn down to 65-75dB.

    (This makes LP equivalent of at most 14-15 bit resolution)

    Regarding MP3: I agree it is easy to tell the diffrence between the CD original and MP3 encoded versions even on modest equipment.

    Personally I wiew mp3 as a potential replacement for MDs for portable use. Portable players with at least 256 Mb storage need be availible first though. Given the current state of affairs that should take 3 years (moores law), by that time hopefully most of the dust have settled. (and a better standard than MP3 hopefully have been chosen)
  • You are right, QuickTime for Java still requires a native installation of QuickTime on your system...and of course these are only available for Mac OS and Windows.

    Maybe if Apple opens the MOSX[S] QT player code, someone can port it to Linux, but I won't hold my breath. Lots of third-party codecs will still be closed, unless Apple loosens up with them too. (Again, I'm not holding my breath...)

  • GAAAAAAAAARGH.

    MP3 doesn't necessarily stand for MPEG-1 audio layer 3. MPEG-2 streams (uh-oh, conflicting terminology) can also include layer 3 audio. Hell, either MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 can contain audio layer 1, 2, or 3 encoded streams, or no audio at all.

  • Agreed. I think someone dropped the ball on this one. According to the main sources, the linked articles, there is no implication that Apple now owns the standard, just that they licensed it. Will someone just shoot this one in the head already? =)

  • QuickTime Player will play MP3 from a URL so it looks a bit like streaming but I imagine it's using the FastStart trick.
  • Fraunhoffer still has their grubby little hands all over mp3. Apple simply paid for the right to add mp3 to Quicktime.
  • okay Apple threw on a nicer skin, and made it a cuter client. But for all the money Apple spent on buying the codec they don't even let you know you can play mp3s... he he heh. and i guess i got a little bit better sound quallity than usual but it skipped almost everytime I switched windows, and I had to jump out of bed each time I wanted to play a different sound (thats right no niffty play list) however with QT4 TPM trailer picture quality is sharper.
  • If they purchase the damn stuff does this mean that you can't get opensource projects for MP3 players anymore.

    I mean MPG123 is a Linux based mp3 player and pretty nifty too but what if Apple owns the mp3 codec? Is it then forbidden to use it in software that you have written.

    It is a great thing for sound in games, it would be a bummer if only Apple could henceforth use it.
  • Better Apple than some other crazed companies that I don't wish to mention.
  • records have died out my ass. . .

    any dj worth his anything uses vinyl...

    all of the best new "electronic music" ([side rant] why is there not a better term for this? cause it ain't techno (i'm talkin about trance and jungle, too), and electronica is the dumbest word that ever came out of rolling stone magazine[/side rant]) is on vinyl.

    all the raver kids (and adults :P) agree: vinyl is yummy. That doesn't keep me from owning several hundred CDs and gig upon gig of mp3, but vinyl is certainly not dead.

    and you still can't scratch a cd :)

    erik

"Dump the condiments. If we are to be eaten, we don't need to taste good." -- "Visionaries" cartoon

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