Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, the government-funded German research group that developed the MP3 file format, has announced that it is ending licensing contracts on "certain MP3 related patents and software." Fraunhofer announced the news in a statement released on its site

"The development of mp3 started in the late 80s at Fraunhofer IIS, based on previous development results at the University Erlangen-Nuremberg. Although there are more efficient audio codecs with advanced features available today, mp3 is still very popular amongst consumers. However, most state-of-the-art media services such as streaming or TV and radio broadcasting use modern ISO-MPEG codecs such as the AAC family or in the future MPEG-H. Those can deliver more features and a higher audio quality at much lower bitrates compared to mp3."

Fraunhofer helped develop the AAC, or "Advanced Audio Coding," which is now the standard file type on iTunes. In an interview with NPRFraunhofer's Bernhard Grill explained that AAC is "more efficient than MP3 and offers a lot more functionality." Streaming services use the smartphone-friendly format "Master Quality Authenticated."