What's New 06/26/98

CDDA32 Version 1.1 Beta is now available

The next release of CDDA32 is now available in Beta format. There are a lot of changes from Version 1.0, and there are still a few small bugs to fix before the final release. Highlights of the changes:

Free copies of CDDA32 Ver 1.1 (final) to be given away

We are serious about distributing bug free programs. For this reason we have decided to offer a free copy of the CDDA32 to people who find, and help us debug serious problems in the Beta release. The free software will go to the first person who identifies a particular bug, and to start we are going to have a limit of 10 copies available to be given away.

One example problem that we are having with the beta release is that the sound card playback doesn't work on machines that have MediaVision soundcards and Adaptec SCSI controllers. Anyone who solves this particular problem will definitely be getting a free copy of the software.

MP3 licensing trouble

Since late last year we have been working with the MP3 source code released by the ISO. We produced a command line compressor program based on that source, and spent over a month optimizing the code until it ran 3 times faster than the original. We even went as far as preparing a beta test and had even signed up testers. Then we got the email from Thomson, one of the main companies who hold the patents used in MP3. Our understanding is that royalty is in the neighborhood of $25 per copy even if the software is sold for less (or given away). The following is an excerpt from the email we received from Thomson:

"... the royalty for the software encoder depends on the quantities....the distribution of fully capable encoders for free, is also subject to royalties. As for the sale of encoded music, the royalty is 1 % of the net sales. If the distribution is for free, no royalty."

Because of this statement, we chose NOT to release our MP3 encoder. We had to scrap our project to integrate that encoder directly into our CDDA32 product as well. It has taken until now to finally have an integrated MP3 solution using the Xing MPEG Encoder. We also made the decision not to support the Fraunhofer ACM encoder because of the royalty issue and the apparent 'support' for piracy.

There are a number of programs out there that use the ISO source code, and they are either free or inexpensive shareware. It is clear that NONE of them (except for Xing and Opticom) is paying any royalties to either Thomson or Fraunhofer. This means one of two things. Either they are all violating the patent rights of Thomson and Fraunhofer, or these companies don't really care that this is happening, or both. We are hoping that Thomson and Fraunhofer continue to do nothing to protect their patent rights, that way all the developers who have spent time and money developing MP3 encoders won't either be sued or be forced to pay royalties. We understand that legally, failure to enforce rights to a patent can be grounds for that patent being revoked. Any lawyers out there know about failure to protect patent rights and the loss of those rights?

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