MP3 patent issues?

Michael Torrie torriem at chem.byu.edu
Wed Aug 3 11:04:59 MDT 2005


On Wed, 2005-08-03 at 10:46 -0600, Kenneth Burgener wrote:
> I have heard that the MP3 encoding is patented.  Is this correct?

Yes

> 
> What does a patent protect?  If I were to encode a WAV to MP3 and NOT 
> sale the MP3 does this violate a patent?

The mp3 patent covers the encoding and decoding of a file.  So all
hardware players, for example, have had a royalty payed to the patent
holder.  All non-OSS encoder programs and hardware are similarly
licensed.  Lame and other OSS encoders are purely gray-market and
survive by simply being under the radar.

It does indeed violate the patent if you use an unlicensed encoder to
create the mp3.  (or playback for that matter.)

> 
> How about if I take a WAV file, encode it with LameMP3 and send it to a 
> client?  Would this violate the MP3 patent?

Technically this does violate the patent since LameMP3 is not a licensed
encoder.

It is extremely unlikely that this would ever cause you problems, using
mp3 as you have described.  However many companies would rather be safe.
For example, RedHat will not ship mp3 tools with any of its
distributions, since it would be hard to negotiate a license for mp3 use
in a freely distributed program.

> 
> Does anyone know where to find some good information on this?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mp3#Licensing_and_patent_issues may be a
starting point.

> 
> Thanks,
> Kenneth
> 
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Michael Torrie <torriem at chem.byu.edu>



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