Photo: Scott Barbour / Getty Images

It’s the end of a digital era as Gizmodo reports that the German company Fraunhofer IIS, which currently holds the right to license MP3 patents, have decided to just let that leaky boat sink by terminating the audio coding format’s licensing program. It’s largely a symbolic gesture, as the MP3’s successor format, the still-lossy-but-not-as-bad AAC, has been the standard for a while now. So while the format didn’t become obsolete overnight—existing technologies will still support it—this is a big step towards phasing it out. Although audiophiles will tell you that due to its compression, the sound quality of MP3s is garbage—a sentiment supported by recent studies saying MP3 compression lessens the emotional impact of music—the format’s role in the rise of digital music (and file sharing) has been profound. Having been English majors, we won’t even attempt to explain how the format works, but you can read more about it here.

[Note: Gizmodo, like The A.V. Club, is owned by Univision Communications.]

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