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The MP3 has officially been terminated by the format’s developers

While the developers have bid farewell to MP3, the format remains popular for those using retro iPods and MP3 players.

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The creators of the MP3 have declared the music format obsolete, closing the lid on the iconic audio files that popularised the iPod.

More than two decades after its inception, the German research institute that funded MP3 has dropped ownership of it. The Fraunhofer Institute of Integrated Circuits said in a recent filing that its “licensing program for certain MP3 related patents” had been “terminated”. Although MP3 remains popular for music sharing, the institute said there were “more effective audio codecs with advanced features available today”. Most modern devices use formats such as advanced audio coding (AAC) while there are plans for MPEG-H, a new audio standard being developed for more efficient storage and immersive 3D audio.

“Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to MP3,” the institute said. “AAC is now the main format for services such as iTunes and Youtube files.”

While the developers have bid farewell to MP3, the format remains popular for those using retro iPods and MP3 players.

MP3 was developed during the 1980s and 90s, becoming the standard file type for audio and proliferating online music downloads. While the initial aim had been for a way to deliver music signals over telephone lines, the team of six researchers ultimately developed the widely proliferated MP3 code. The format later became popular for music players such as Apple’s iPod on its 2001 release, selling millions of copies. MP3 took up 10 per cent of the storage space of files, a massive reduction at the time.

As well as leading to major product breakthroughs, MP3 also saw the proliferation of peer-to-peer file-sharing sites such as Napster and was a major catalyst in the rise of illegal internet downloads and digital piracy.

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