What's New 10/31/98

DAT2WAV alpha release

It has been a long time coming, but we have finally released a Beta version of our new program DAT2WAV. It is a program that will allow you to read the digital audio directly from a DAT (digital audio tape) in a drive installed in a PC. The big trick to getting this to work in having the right drive. Most DAT drives for computers do not support reading the audio data.

CDDA32 Version 1.1 Beta 2 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:

MP3 licensing trouble

Since late 1997, 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."

Recently Fraunhofer has been sending emails to other companies who are distributing encoders without having licenses. Here is an excerpt from that message:

"As you may know, both the Fraunhofer Institute and THOMSON have done important work to develop MPEG Layer-3 audio compression (before and after it became part of the MPEG standards). This work has resulted in many inventions and several patents, covering the MPEG Layer-3 standard. From your publications and your web-site we learn that you distribute and/or sell decoders and/or encoders that use the MPEG Layer-3 standard. Our files do not show that you have a valid license agreement with us. This means that the products infringe the patent rights of Fraunhofer and THOMSON. To make, sell and/or distribute products using the standard and thus our patents, you need to obtain a license under these patents from us. In the past, we have licensed several companies under different models for different products, e.g.: - Software encoder licenses against a per unit royalty starting at $ 25,00 and decreasing for high volumes; and - Pay-audio licenses against a royalty of $ 0,01 per song or 1% of the selling price. At least the Software encoder license seems to apply to your products and we would appreciate if you could send us some more details about your activities, in order to discuss what would be the right royalty structure for your company."

Because of these statements, 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.

To top off all of this, the RIAA is now trying to file an injunction against Diamond to prevent them from shipping their new RIO product which is a hardware MP3 player. Have a look at the RIAA site for more information: http://www.riaa.com/press.htm

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