MP3 is not free anymore!?!

Ok. Now, I guess somebody is soon going patent the air I breath! I have kind of grown to think of mp3 as my birth right 😛 . This does look like some kind of good news for the anti-piracy guys in the music industry.

Some key points from the whole story – Analysts say Alcatel-Lucent poised to sue others over MP3.

Microsoft on Thursday was ordered to pay more than $1.5 billion to Alcatel-Lucent after a federal court in California ruled that the software giant infringed two Alcatel-Lucent patents in using the MP3 format for playing digital music on its Windows Media Player device.

If the ruling stands, Apple (AAPL) and hundreds of other companies that make products that play MP3 files, including portable players, computers and software, could also face demands to pay royalties to Alcatel.

In its defense, Microsoft argued that it was authorized to use the MP3 audio technology based on an agreement with the Germany-based Fraunhofer Institute. Microsoft said that it paid the Institute $16 million to legally use the disputed MP3 technology. The Institute was involved, along with the French electronics company Thomson and Bell Labs, in the format’s development.

“We contend that there was no infringement of any kind and that we have paid the appropriate license fees for any technology that is used in our products,” Microsoft said in the wake of the verdict. Other companies licensing the technology from Fraunhofer include Apple, Inc., Cisco Systems, Corp. (CSCO) and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) .

The decision could not have come at a better time for Alcatel-Lucent, which recently deepened planned job cuts after posting a fourth-quarter loss and forecasting slumping sales in the first quarter. Nomura’s Windsor said the damages “would go a long way to paying the massive 1.7 billion-euro cost of restructuring.”

Ok. Lemme get this straight. On one side is Alcatel-Lucent going through some really difficult times. So, the buddies decide to go and file a lawsuite against our friendly neighbourhood target- Microsoft. Who pays them enough money to get through their current financial crisis. Wow! Thats a nice strategy! 😉 Recently, the trend seems to be that any tom, dick or harry can file a lawsuite against micro$oft and walk away with a truck load of green bills.

Jokes apart. I think its crap! How can they patent a format thats so widely in use? Looks like if they really want, they can create real problems for the apple guys!

Note: What other use would an iPod be if mp3 is not free anymore? Paper-weight? Well, I guess iPod supports more formats other than mp3. Even otherwise i dont think it would be long before we see mp8 or mp9 round the corner 🙂 .

[ Read the complete story ]

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  1. #1 by roshan on February 28, 2007 - 12:23 pm

    i read this in the paper.. sounds so stupid rt.. time to start hoardin all the mp3s i have in safe places before they come and get me

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