First published in 1993, MP3 development began at the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in the late 1980s. Those of a certain age may nostalgically recall the days of dial-up internet when downloading a single MP3 track took what felt like an eternity on that 56K modem.

Such was the popularity of the file format that many non-technical individuals knew it by name. At the end of the nineties and the start of the following decade, the public profile of MP3s had risen even higher, helped partly by the Napster controversy.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits, a German organization that was a major contributor in the development of the MP3 music compression format, announced this week it's terminated licensing for certain MP3-related patents. Though as misleading as this may sound, it has nothing to do with the validity or usage of the file format, but simply that they are no longer able to collect royalties on it.

“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,” reads the statement.

The Advanced Audio Codec family, also known as AAC, is being touted as the “de facto standard" for music and mobile video by Fraunhofer who were also involved in AAC's development. However no doubt this has more to do with the fact that AAC is newer and thus can still be monetized.

Many consumers still enjoy MP3s and now that developers can use the format in projects without having to pay royalties, thereby making it open for use to everyone, it could see a surge in popularity again.