Friday, January 8, 2010

Why MP3 is bad

Everywhere I look, I see music encoded as either CD-DA or MP3.
So, what's wrong with MP3? I don't care about perfect quality and it has a small filesize, why shouldn't I use it?

It's completely legitimate to have a lossy compression for your audio-files, especially for portable devices. With high bitrates, though not many use them, you often cannot tell a difference from the original, unless you scan the audio-signals with a computer.
But you have to pay for every MP3 you listen to. Why? Many patents on the MP3 codes are held by certain companies. And because their format is tossed around a lot, they thought that they can earn money with that.
So the creator of his music has to pay them, if he sells his music in a MP3 format. Anyone making an application, which encodes or decodes MP3, has to pay for using these algorithms.

You might say "But my music player was free and I never payed anyone for converting my audio CD to MP3". Well, if that is so, then you are culpable. You might never pay anything, since it would cost more to sue everybody just to extract a few dollars from them, but this thought in a free country should not be ignored!
And for any MP3-music you buy, you'll pay them, because it does pay off to sue bigger companies.

Maybe you do not care? Well, by still using that proprietary format you are supporting it. And if it keeps getting support, then it cannot get better, and let me tell you, there are better solutions! Before I go to them, I still have another point to address:

Maybe you have heard of LAME. LAME is a MP3-encoder and you might know it's open source.
Well, this does not make anything better, really. By not shipping out compiled binaries they can narrowly escape the patent and legal issues, but anyone using LAME will have to pay again, open source doesn't really matter.

Now: Solutions.

There is indeed a lossy audio-format, which is completely free from any parent. It provides better quality and smaller filesize. You don't trust me? Hear for yourself!
Even better: It's public domain! You don't believe me? Read for yourself!
If you don't care about the legal crap or any free spirit-stuff, then just use it for smaller filesizes. You can't complain about that, can you?

Not all MP3-Players can play that format though. Well, there's probably no chance for you then. Consider getting one supporting Ogg Vorbis next time!
Since the iPod is quite popular, you cannot natively listen to Vorbis audio, but there is a solution for you: iPodLinux
Don't be scared away by 'Linux'. There's nothing to loose, You can easily install it, You can always go back and It's even completely legal. Just look here if your iPod is supported and then get started and install it!


chaotika said...

But LAME binaries are distributed in binary form. And it is legal here. The patents relevant for lame have not the same implications in all countries. This restrictions especially apply to the USA. In Europe the Rules are less restrictive. Software patents (the MP3-patents are software patents) are a problem indeed. We don't want software patents in Europe! So free the software by banning software patents from law. Vote for Pirate Party!

z33ky said...

Well, that's country specific. Laws may change and then the license will hit there.