The MP3 Is Officially Dead, According To Its Creators

“The death of the MP3 was announced in a conference room in Erlangen, Germany, in the spring of 1995.”

So opens Stephen Witt’s How Music Got Free, an investigation into the forced digitization and subsequent decimation of the music business, from which it has only very recently started to recover. That ironic conference room eulogy actually took place just before the compression algorithm caught on (don’t worry, we’ll explain in a bit). Soon, the MP3 not only upended the recording industry but, thanks to the iPod, also contributed to Apple’s late-’90s transformation into one of the most successful companies in history. (On Tuesday, the tech giant passed $800 billion in market capitalization, the first U.S. company to do so.)

But now, 22 years later, the MP3 truly is dead, according to the people who invented it. The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, a division of the state-funded German research institution that bankrolled the MP3’s development in the late ’80s, recently announced that its “licensing program for certain MP3 related patents and software of Technicolor and Fraunhofer IIS has been terminated.”