MP3 patent issues?

Andrew Hunter andrewm_hunter at
Wed Aug 3 15:51:46 MDT 2005

>I have heard that the MP3 encoding is patented.  Is this correct?
>What does a patent protect?  If I were to encode a WAV to MP3 and NOT
>sale the MP3 does this violate a patent?
>How about if I take a WAV file, encode it with LameMP3 and send it to a
>client?  Would this violate the MP3 patent?

Forgive my lack of links... I am dredging this up from deep down in the
brain.  As I understand, there is a patent on MP3.  The folks that hold the
patent never enforced it, with the exception of a half-hearted,
too-little-too-late attempt to profit from the explosive proliferation of
the format.  In many cases, courts will not allow an entity to suddenly
start crying foul if they ignored patent violations for a prolonged period.
So, in the case of MP3, it is highly unlikely that a legal challenge by the
patent holders would succeed.  It would be a case of giving the appearance
of offering an item for free and then suddenly slapping down fees.

As mentioned elsewhere, the only possible target of such a (probably DOA)
lawsuit would be the developer, not the user.

If I recall correctly, the point of MP3Pro was partially to compete with OGG
and similar superior encodings, and partly to have an MP3-based format whose
patent could be realistically enforced.


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