I know this isn't a law site. I am not looking for law advice or how to get around the law. I just don't understand the licensing around mp3/4 (and yes I know these are different).

Our use case:

  • very big corporation
  • creating demos/videos/Captivates/Articulates for helping clients out
  • all of the tools that we use to create is licensed and we are paying for it per license agreements
  • we are mainly concerned about the mp3/audio segment. We currently do not offer audio directly but the audio files help create the video (think Camtasia and similar things) or are used in Captivate/Articulate.

So where I am confused is do how-to videos (non-revenue generating) need licensing support? Then if we are already using a tool to create the audio/video isn't the fact that they are supporting mp3 and allowing output already conforming to the licensing?

And then if we do need licensing - how much? And what is the easiest way to assure that we don't need licensing given the how-to outputs we are creating? (we have talked about moving to .wav files but those are HUGE)

  • IANAL but my understanding is the encoder and decoder are what need to pay a license fee (not the file itself).
    – paparazzo
    Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 8:38
  • @Frisbee - My confusion is that I am absorbing an Operations team into mine. And they were concerned about mp3 usage on our site. I have never even heard of not being able to build things using mp3s without a license. How would youtube exist? When I look up licensing information everything is really hazy and of course if you go to the Technicolor site there isn't a good explanation other than buy a license from us.
    – blankip
    Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 18:19
  • What? This is a law site. Encode, decode, and file are all different. You don't build things using mp3 - mp3 is the thing. Never, not, without - I don't follow you and cannot help you.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Nov 11, 2015 at 18:32
  • IANAL but did you check this summary ?
    – malat
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 8:59

1 Answer 1


Both .mp3 and .mp4 use patented technologies, and would require a license. Your customer most likely uses an audio player or video player on their computer where the computer manufacturer or the OS manufacturer has paid license fees so that you can play anything for free. And the same is most likely true for the tools that you are using to produce the files.

Youtube is possible because Google pays license fees for all encoding that you are doing, and if you play Youtube on your Mac or Windows PC, then Apple or Mirosoft pays license fees for the playback. Actually, a very small fee for each copy of the player.

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