The Gstreamer team at Fluendohas licensed the MP3 codec for use on Linux! From the article:
Why are we doing this ? Quite simple. mp3 is a very widespread format, and the fact that Linux could not legally play it out of the box in countries where patents apply is posing a lot of problems for adoption. It is one of the most commonly heard complaints about distros these days. Fluendo still fully supports open formats, and we hope people move to using them. Part of that move is being able to play your legacy formats, where you have no choice over the format. Remember, we are not giving away a free encoder.
What does this mean? That one of the biggest oversights in all Linux distributions has been fixed – Distro’s can bundle in MP3 decoding support out of the box, and not have to worry about patent issues.