Frequently Asked Questions

Developers & Manufacturers FAQ

1) I want to support mp3 in my products. Do I need a license?
2) What does it cost?
3) How do I get a license?
4) Do you have SDKs for mp3 encoders and decoders?
5) I have my own/third party mp3 software. Do I need a license?
6) I want to make a hardware player. What are my options?
7) Do I need a license to stream mp3 encoded content over the Internet?
8) Do I need a license to distribute mp3 encoded content?
9) Do I need a license to use mp3 in games?
10) Where can I read more about mp3 ?
11) What about other audio compression technologies?


I want to support mp3 in my products. Do I need a license?

Yes. As for practically any important technology (and particularly for publicly established standards), you should know that patent rights for mp3 exist. Both Fraunhofer IIS and Thomson have done important work to develop mp3 audio compression (before and after it became part of the ISO/IEC MPEG standards). This work has resulted in many inventions and several patents, covering the mp3 standard. Although others may also hold patents, Fraunhofer IIS and Thomson have an important portfolio of patents related to mp3.

Patent licenses under the combined patent portfolio of Fraunhofer IIS and Thomson are granted by Thomson exclusively.

In case your business does not involve the manufacture of relevant products, but importation or purchase of such products from a third party manufacturer, you are advised to check whether the manufacturer is duly licensed by us, as the trade in unlicensed products may expose your company to liability for patent infringement. Accordingly, you are advised to obtain licensed products only.

Links:

Licensed Companies
List of Patents
About Us


What does it cost?

A per unit royalty is taken on mp3 products and applications, such as ripping software, jukebox applications, mp3-enabled CD/DVD players and portable mp3 players. For companies broadcasting, streaming and distributing mp3-encoded music, the royalty paid is based on the revenue generated.

Links:

Royalty Rates


How do I get a license?

The rules of ISO/IEC determine that licenses have to be granted on fair and reasonable terms. For identical applications, we add that the terms are non-discriminatory. The details depend on the application and the specific business model.

On the basis of the information provided by a potential licensee or upon its own initiative, Thomson determines which type of license agreement is applicable and forwards it to the potential licensee.

In order to speed up the process, please include the company name, complete address, business model and expected use of the mp3 technology in your inquiries.

Links:

Contact


Do you have SDKs for mp3 encoders and decoders?

Yes. In addition to granting licenses under our patents, we also license the mp3 software developed by Fraunhofer and Coding Technologies. SDKs are available for Windows, MacOS and Linux, as well as for several hardware platforms.

Links:

Royalty Rates - Overview


I have my own/third party mp3 software. Do I need a license?

Yes. Use of our patents is not related to a specific implementation of encoders and decoders, which means that a license under our patents is needed.

Links:

Royalty Rates - Overview


I want to make a hardware player. What are my options?

We decided to license the manufacturers of mp3 encoder/decoder ICs/DSPs and not the manufacturers of finished hardware products as far as possible. Users of a licensed mp3 encoder/decoder ICs/DSPs do not have to conclude a separate license agreement with us for the use of such ICs/DSPs since the respective patent royalties will be paid by the licensed IC/DSP manufacturer.

A license is needed, in case you need to develop your own mp3 decoder/encoder software for the DSPs/ICs you are using in your hardware products.

Links:

Licensed Companies - ICs/DSPs
Royalty Rates - Hardware Products


Do I need a license to stream mp3 encoded content over the Internet?

Yes. A license is needed for commercial (i.e., revenue-generating) use of mp3 in broadcast systems (terrestrial, satellite, cable and/or other distribution channels), streaming applications (via Internet, intranets and/or other networks), other content distribution systems (pay-audio or audio-on-demand applications and the like) or for use of mp3 on physical media (compact discs, digital versatile discs, semiconductor chips, hard drives, memory cards and the like).

However, no license is needed for private, non-commercial activities (e.g., home-entertainment, receiving broadcasts and creating a personal music library), not generating revenue or other consideration of any kind or for entities with associated annual gross revenue less than US$ 100 000.00.

Links:

Royalty Rates - Electronic Music Distribution


Do I need a license to distribute mp3 encoded content?

Yes. A license is needed for commercial (i.e., revenue-generating) use of mp3 in broadcast systems (terrestrial, satellite, cable and/or other distribution channels), streaming applications (via Internet, intranets and/or other networks), other content distribution systems (pay-audio or audio-on-demand applications and the like) or for use of mp3 on physical media (compact discs, digital versatile discs, semiconductor chips, hard drives, memory cards and the like).

However, no license is needed for private, non-commercial activities (e.g., home-entertainment, receiving broadcasts and creating a personal music library), not generating revenue or other consideration of any kind or for entities with associated annual gross revenue less than US$ 100 000.00.

Links:

Royalty Rates - Electronic Music Distribution


Do I need a license to use mp3 in games?

Yes. Games using mp3 encoded content are licensed on a per-title basis.

However, no license fees are due if less than 5 000 copies of a particular game title are distributed.

Links:

Royalty Rates - Games


Where can I read more about mp3 ?

Check out our section about mp3.

Links:

About mp3



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