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MP3 music format end is near

Licenses to use MP3 patents are no longer being issued as of last month, but the encoding technology will live on

Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, a German foundation that owns the patent for the MP3 audio file format, recently revealed that it would stop licensing it, which is about as close as it gets to an official death warrant in the tech world.

However obsolescence is a slow disease, and the MP3 will live on for a long time. It helped usher in the music-ripping subculture in middle schools and high schools around the country in the 1990s, and the large collections of digital albums that lots of people amassed-- and often shared illegally online-- aren't going anywhere.However the decision of the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits to end its licensing program is still notable as a recognition that MP3s are like a number of the Pentium III processors that first encoded them-- antiques.