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THOMSON TWINS
MP3’s Little Buddy MP3PRO Starts Teething

Thomson Multimedia, home to the good consumer electronics folks who brought you the MP3 format and are now making you pay for it, has good news. MP3PRO, an enhanced version of MP3 that is said to deliver better-sounding audio in smaller song files, has gained allies in the digital audio world, meaning the new format may soon gain a foothold among consumers.

And very soon, Thomson will be happy to bill everyone for the privilege.

Thomson’s announced allies in its attempt to launch MP3PRO include MP3.com, which will make MP3PRO-encoded songs available on a joint website, which will also feature a demo encoder and access to an MP3PRO plug-in for AOL’s popular Winamp media player. German developer Ahead Software will release a new version of its Nero software, which will include an MP3PRO encoder. And finally, those nutty digital-rights-management knuckleheads over at Intertrust have announced the integration of MP3PRO compression into their Extensible Media Audio Framework, whatever that is. Word has it this move will allow artists and content owners to protect their rights while rendering song files unusable by most of the known universe.

Thomson is the licensing agent for patents and software owned by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute, Sweden’s Coding Technologies (originators of the MP3PRO codec) and Thomson itself. To date, Thomson has successfully licensed 15 million portable MP3 players, 250 million personal computers with MP3 software and 130 companies that use MP3 technology.

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