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Gracenote Defends Its Evolution

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  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Monday November 13, 2006 @11:21AM (#16823672) Homepage Journal

    I've never really understood why people are angry at GraceNote. If you put information out into the world, expect others to copy it. Expect some to take it and make it profitable. Expect someone to get some gain out of it that you might not be able to or even want.

    Yes, there are various State-run ways to try to protect content or ideas (copyright, trademarks, patent, etc). These are useless for everyone but the ultra-powerful who can afford to litigate copyright infringement. Don't believe me? Try to battle someone copying your music, art or words.

    My own sites ALL repudiate copyright -- I release it into the public domain, and even tell people to stick their own name on it. I make my profit two ways: I gain incredible information from the replies on slashdot or on my blogs or forums (that's free information from you to me), and I leverage that information into my "real life" of consulting and speaking engagements.

    If you reply on slashdot, theoretically you own the content of your post. But how many people take your post and use it to form their own opinion? Who owns the newly formed opinions? In my mind, no one, ever. Sure, you may have submitted some CD information to CDDB, but who is to say that the information is unique to you -- and even if it was, who cares what CDDB did with it if you gave it away freely. Even if you put a restriction on it, how are you going to stop CDDB from changing its business model? If Linux all-of-a-sudden was ripped off completely by a big company and sold commercially, how would you fight it? With what funds?

    What Grace Note did might seem mean or wrong, but I don't see a problem with it. People volunteer information for free all the time (see slashdot or any blog's comments). Other people use this and work hard to find value out of that information for others. It is the continued labor of working that is valuable to the market, not the one-time work that someone hopes to make repeated profits on.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, it's hardly bizarre at all. Please, consider that we contributed our time, in some cases for years. What did we receive from CDDB in return? Nada. Nor was our input sought or our positions considered. As well the transition from CDDB to freeDB was far from painless.

      Personally I've yet to hear a single positive benefit to the public from the privitization of CDDB.
    • by leehwtsohg (618675) on Monday November 13, 2006 @11:51AM (#16824062)
      I submitted data to cddb. Why did I do it? Why take the time to type in the tracks?

      Because I thought that I am submitting my data to the public. I thought that if I submit my data, so will others, and we'll have a public resource that everybody can use. But suddenly, that public resource turned private - I could not use it freely as before. They tricked me into giving them a resource, and then treated it as if it is their own property.
      It is as if I gave a dollar to a public project - say a server to run slashdot on, thinking that if everybody contributed a dollar to that resource, then the public will have a resource - slashdot will have a fast server. And then slashdot suddenly turned around, took the $100k that people contributed, added another $100k from their own money, and said that now you can only access slashdot under certain conditions.
      It is true that what they did was legal, but I think it was highly unethical. They for sure tricked me out of 5 minutes of my time.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by dada21 (163177) *
        Are you being funny or serious?

        There's a lesson to be learned -- when you share your information, expect others to take advantage of it if they can find a way to make a gain that doesn't hurt you. You admit you spent a whopping 5 minutes submitting something for others to use. Someone decided to use it. The information that you submitted is probably still there in FreeDB, or was perfected by someone else. It doesn't go away.

        Gracenote decided they had to move CDDB from a public resource to a private one
        • There's a lesson to be learned -- when you share your information, expect others to take advantage of it if they can find a way to make a gain that doesn't hurt you.

          The part in bold is the part you're not getting.

          The information that you submitted is probably still there in FreeDB, or was perfected by someone else. It doesn't go away.

          Actually, some did. A lot of user-contributed content had to be replaced as a result, and it's not clear that all of it ever has been.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Dada, you are usually a pretty reasonable person, so I think you must not understand what Gracenote did, or else you wouldn't be defending them so vigorously.

          All the CDDB data that users contributed was *locked up* by Gracenote. You seem to be thinking that Gracenote started selling freely available content, but you are wrong. They took what everyone *assumed* to be freely available content, locked it up, and started charging people for it.

          Many people contributed to CDDB under the assumption that it was a p
          • by dada21 (163177) *
            Thanks for calling me usually reasonable -- that's rare :) I even think I am unreasonable at times, ha.

            In comment to your post, it looks like the market fixed what many people here think was broken. People realized that the original CDDB didn't really promise not to use the information and lock it down, so the market provided a second product that DOES promise not to lock it down.

            To me, that's the free market at work. If I take all the slashdot posts (let's pretend that copyright doesn't exist) and "loc
            • To me, that's the free market at work.

              If you mean the free market is all about misrepresentation, then you are exactly right. By the time the free market catches up with them, they'll have made a tidy sum off all of those who mistakenly thought it was a cooperative effort.

          • by kelnos (564113)

            All the CDDB data that users contributed was *locked up* by Gracenote.

            No, it wasn't. If you RTFA (yeah, I know, no one does), when CDDB went private, all of the data that was in the database was released to FreeDB. Of course, further additions and improvements to Gracenote/CDDB weren't released.

            Now, I don't remember what the original submission disclaimer for CDDB was, but I don't see anything legally -- or morally -- wrong with what Gracenote has done. At least, after RTFAing, I don't anymore. Th

            • by Rakarra (112805) on Monday November 13, 2006 @06:34PM (#16830310)
              Now, I don't remember what the original submission disclaimer for CDDB was, but I don't see anything legally -- or morally -- wrong with what Gracenote has done.

              I see something ethically wrong with one thing Gracenote has done.

              Gracenote has sued other companies (such as Roxio) that have used FreeDB, saying Gracenote owns software patents to CD-identifying technology. That so many people worked to contribute to a freely-available resource, only to have that resource closed and then have the closer use lawsuits to attempt to stifle competition came as a slap in the face. Now, this was five years ago, and maybe Gracenote has behaved themselves since then, but after that I chose to use FreeDB instead.

              And no, Gracenote did not "release the database to the FreeDB," FreeDB copied a two-year-old mirror that had been made before Gracenote was formed, before it closed the database. Gracenote's position has been that the data was owned by them. In fact, they used the arguement that XMCD added copyright tags to each submission setting the copyright to the CDDB maintainer, copyrights which then passed to Gracenote when they were formed and said maintainer was an employee.

        • by leehwtsohg (618675) on Monday November 13, 2006 @01:22PM (#16825280)
          I have no problem with them using the info that I contributed for their own cause. I have no problem with people selling linux, or the wikipedia on a DVD. My problem is that they do not make the public part of their database - the part that was contributed by 1000s of users - freely available to the public. The fact that they only stole 5 minutes of my time doesn't make it any less of a theft.

          If they had announced ahead of time "please contribute to our database, and eventually we will change the access rights so that only qualified clients can access the database.", I am not sure that I and other people would have contributed our time (i.e. money) to them. (and I mean client in the sense of computer program, not customer).


          • My problem is that they do not make the public part of their database - the part that was contributed by 1000s of users - freely available to the public.

            Excuse me, but that statement is at worst wrong, and at best extremely misleading.

            As others have pointed out, CDDB DID make all the data that was entered in before they became a private company freely available.

            Maybe you're referring to the service of providing CD lookups? Why should they be obligated to privide that for free, as they're the ones that wrot
            • I am sorry - it seems I am over my head here, and can not get hold of "the facts". If Gracenote did release all the public data before closing the door, then I don't have a problem with what they did. But it seems that there are people who claim that they did not. E.g. Rakarra said:

              And no, Gracenote did not "release the database to the FreeDB," FreeDB copied a two-year-old mirror that had been made before Gracenote was formed, before it closed the database. Gracenote's position has been that the data was

      • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:01PM (#16824178) Homepage Journal
        Exactly. It's comparable to Wikipedia and other public knowledge infodumps. In the case of Wikipedia, the whole thing is run by a nonprofit foundation with all its policies, including all the legal terms you're releasing your contributions under, out in the open for all to see. It's a pretty safe bet that the Wikimedia foundation won't all of a sudden charge mandatory access fees and get rich off of what its users have spent years building up in good faith.
        • I don't remember Gracenote ever charging me a penny for my usage of their database to label my music. What are these mandatory access fees you speak of?
          • by Quaryon (93318) on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:47PM (#16824794)
            I don't know how it works now, but if I recall correctly the big change that happened when CDDB became Gracenote was that they started insisting on a fee to be paid by application developers wishing to write code that would connect to their database. You would need some kind of unique developer key to connect, which cost money. This immediately meant that all the open source software that was previously able to use CDDB was suddenly without an information source for some of their functionality. It took some time for freedb to be set up with servers that could handle the required load, and for all the end-user application software to be able to redirect to those servers. This is the fundamental reason why a lot of people got very upset with Gracenote, because there was a time when all the information freely submitted to CDDB was unusable, as none of the pieces of OSS that people were using were able to access the data.

            So, you may not pay money yourself, but that doesn't mean that money is not changing hands in order for you to be able to use that feature.

            Q.
            • by Znork (31774)
              "This is the fundamental reason why a lot of people got very upset with Gracenote,"

              Not only that; the fact that Gracenote also sued customers who tried to switch to CDDB, as well as their attempts to hinder any and all competition through frivolous patent trolls suits drew a rather seedy picture.

              The guy in tfa may not have had anything to do with it, and the people responsible for those actions may be gone, but a fact that behooves any profit-at-all-costs buisnessmen to remember before pissing everyone off
              • by unDees (116113)
                And they changed their access method from an easy-to-implement wire protocol to a mandatory, ActiveX-only API (blech!). And they kept flooding developers with junk snail-mail, so they could brag to us about how great the new Gracenote was.

                Things seemed to have improved somewhat since the bad old days, though. For one thing, they've got a non-ActiveX way to query their database from non-Windows machines.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MasterC (70492)
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Database_d o wnload [wikipedia.org]

          follow the links or

          http://download.wikimedia.org/ [wikimedia.org]

          It's a pretty safe bet that the Wikimedia foundation won't all of a sudden charge mandatory access fees...

          The very content they'd lock up under fees is currently downloadable so if what you "propose" happens then things boil down to two questions: who's got the latest dump and who's gonna host it? It's all GFDL (ignore the whole image/fair use thing) so there's nothing legally there for wikimedia foun

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ronanbear (924575)
          Personally I'd prefer if Wikipedia had a small few (maybe adsense) ads so that I could support them by viewing ads.

          Wikipedia could even have it set to logged in users don't see ads or have an opt-in ads system. Instead what I see are dozens of sites which copy wikipedia content, add ads and make it more difficult to search Google (Google is less relevant if 5 of the top 20 searches are just rehashed wikipedia articles further down the list).
      • by DrJimbo (594231)
        According to TFA, all of the information that was submitted before they went private is freely available to the public. Therefore I don't think your server analogy is accurate. A better server analogy would be if they left the publicly funded servers behind and started a new company with new servers.

        I think you still have a valid reason to gripe, but I don't think it was the reason you gave. All of the public submissions are still freely available to the public which means your were not tricked out of
        • If what you said is right, then I have no problem with what cddb did. But I think the public data is not freely available, and that freedb was not a fork, but that instead all the data had to be gathered from scratch.

          Can you maybe give a link to where the data can be downloaded freely? Is it used by freedb?
          • by DrJimbo (594231)
            TFA said:
            As for the data, I can only point out that all of the data ever submitted to CDDB before it became "privatized" has been released to the public. You can go to freedb.org any time and download [freedb.org] that entire database, including all the data that users entered before CDDB became commercial.
            Note: the word "download" is a link to the freeDB download page.

      • Because I thought that I am submitting my data to the public.

        And you did submit it to the public, as the information is still available. Is this not true?

        But suddenly, that public resource turned private - I could not use it freely as before.

        There's a difference between the information you submitted, and the service to provide that information to your music player. It's your error in not seperating those two different things. You seemed to assume an agreement that never existed based upon some idea of "w
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by arodland (127775)
        If you thought you were submitting your data to the public then you weren't thinking very hard. It should have been more than obvious that you were submitting your data to a private party and permitting them to do whatever they felt like with it. If you weren't happy with those terms you should have demanded different, or not made your submission at all. Since you didn't do either, your actions gave Gracenote full permission to take your submission and sell it. Don't like it? Act differently next time.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by geoffspear (692508)
      I, for one, will drag you into a protracted legal battle if you try to turn my Slashdot comments into a book and sell it for a profit.

      As for influencing opinions, I hardly think even the most fascistic copyright fanatics in the RIAA, MPAA, or BSA would argue that a changed opinion is a derivative work.
      • by NDPTAL85 (260093)
        You are aware that Slashdot is a for-profit site aren't you? With the ad banners and all?
        • Yes, and I'm happy to license my copyrighted comments to them for free, but that doesn't mean I'm giving them away to anyone and everyone for free.
    • by Jerf (17166)
      Copyright really doesn't come into play here, at least not in favor of the contributors.

      First, track information is basically factual data, so what protection there is will be pretty weak. (It is true that having no copyright due to a purely-factual nature is a pretty high bar in our legal system, but certainly one can't argue there's much creativity going into a CDDB description; and to the extent that creativity is involved and two people enter different information for the same CD that's probably a bug i
    • Strangely enough, I agree completely. People in this discussion seem to assume that anyone making money off something freely contributed by the community is in the wrong. They also can't seem to seperate the service of providing CD lookups from the information they contributed.

      I will say that Gracenote sure didn't win any friends by suddenly switching to a paid model without warning. I won't even call it unethical behaviour, since they weren't under any obligation to provide the service. It does seem li
      • by dthree (458263)
        I don't know how accurate the stuff the guy from the article was saying, but it does seem logical that if you are trying to maintain a service on university and donated servers, you really can't have commercial applications using it. Also, if the freeware access reaches critical mass, you will cripple your donated servers, and probably piss off a few friends/IT contacts in the process. Nobody wants to burn bridges.

        So would you rather have Gracenote or Microsoft dominating this area. Or the RIAA.
    • by bug1 (96678)
      "What Grace Note did might seem mean or wrong, but I don't see a problem with it."

      The first part of that statment tells me that deep down you know its wrong, the second part tells me that you dont want to accept that its wrong.

      Just listen to your conscience....
  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Monday November 13, 2006 @11:25AM (#16823718) Homepage

    This may sound hypocritical when you consider that Gracenote's own client software is closed source. To be frank, I have had little say in the matter of open-sourcing Gracenote software, so my opinions on the subject don't necessarily reflect that of the company.

    How can the company be adequately defending itself if these pleasant comments are coming from a guy who's not really in charge at all? Having read the article, I have some respect for this employee, but it hardly means that Gracenote the firm no longer merits blame.

    • by gfxguy (98788)
      He's not defending Gracenote, he even complains about some of the things that happened for Gracenote/CDDB to get some well deserved scorn. Yes, he sugarcoats it by saying things are different now, but he doesn't deny problems.

      Still, the cruxt of the complaint is that we (yes, I've submitted data to CDDB) submitted data, for free, for the world to use, and now CDDB/Gracenote is closed....

      Or is it? You read the article... he implies that all that data that was entered for free is still freely available.

      As f

  • I like the tone of "we did nothing wrong, it was the investors' fault, and besides, all our functionality and data are already available through freedb".

    Yeah right, so the community had to duplicate a lot of the work that was "donated" to CDDB, while Gracenote profited from it without giving back. His point that the data before CDDB went commercial can still be downloaded is flawed; we're interested in what happened *after* you took all that hard work that you got for free and started charging for it. Besides, that's not "giving back"; that's "whee, we're making a boatload of money here, but hey, have some leftovers of the WORK YOU DID FOR US which we happened to leave behind!".

    That's ok, I think the community did a good-faith effort and look how things turned out. I'd say no hard feelings, but I also don't think CDDB can expect a lot of community support or understanding in the future, pretexts and explanations nonwithstanding.
    • by CmdrGravy (645153)
      I don't know the ins and outs of this situation but by the sounds of it Gracenote haven't really done anything wrong.

      I may be wrong but it sounds like everything they got for free is still freely available and had anyone else at the time wanted to do what they did with the data they would have been able to.

      The fact that, apparently, this didn't happen and Gracenote went on to build a profitable business seems perfectly reasonable to me.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Roadmaster (96317)
        While you're right that legally Gracenote did nothing wrong, morally their actions were pretty nasty, because they took all the information that the community input into their database *for free* and then started making a profit out of it without giving back to the community. And "all the data you input up until we went commercial is here for you to use" doesn't count. Imagine if Wikipedia suddenly said "well, so long and thanks for all the fish, we're going commercial, oh and by the way, here's the archive
        • by kelnos (564113)

          While you're right that legally Gracenote did nothing wrong, morally their actions were pretty nasty, because they took all the information that the community input into their database *for free* and then started making a profit out of it without giving back to the community. And "all the data you input up until we went commercial is here for you to use" doesn't count.

          Why not? They had a choice to make: become irrelevant and possibly have to shut down, or go private. Given the better of the two choice

  • by thejrwr (1024073)
    If all else fails use C4
    (Think about it for a minute and you'll get it)
  • Why should someone be upset that Gracenote is using community donated data commercially? It's all still out there free (freedb? don't have linky). If you give something away (CD information, $5 to the bum on the street, winning lottery numbers), what the recipient does with it isn't your problem or responsibility. Either you are giving it away, or you are trying to elicit payment of some kind (without specifying what you want - should you be surprised that you don't get it?), in which case, you aren't g
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by FroBugg (24957)
      Freedb only exists because people built it from scratch after CDDB started charging. What would you say if Freedb suddenly locked down and started charging? When people contributed to CDDB in the first place, it was with the understanding that they were contributing to a free service that would help them, their friends, and everybody. Gracenote took advantage of them.
      • by uab21 (951482)

        What would you say if Freedb suddenly locked down and started charging?

        What would it matter? Either you are giving the information away, or you are attempting to exchange it for something else. In this case, it sounds like in exchange for a promise that they won't attempt to make money off of it. Unfortunately you aren't explicitly telling the other party what it is that you expect, so why are you surprised they don't hold up their end of the 'bargain'? You're trying to use your own version of a clickt

      • by kelnos (564113)

        Freedb only exists because people built it from scratch after CDDB started charging.

        RTFA. FreeDB is based on a snapshot of the CDDB database taken when CDDB went private (all the current data was released to the public at that point), and the FreeDB query engine and software started off as CDDB's software (new versions of which were released under the GPL until CDDB went private). FreeDB was most definitely not "from scratch." If you read FreeDB's about page [freedb.org], they even give credit to Steve Scherf, th

    • If you give $5 to a bum after he says "I'm hungry," then it's assumed he's going to buy food. If the bum uses the money to buy more wine, then I have a reason to be pissed. If Gracenote had said "I'm going to take your info and sell it, and not even give you access to it for free. Hey, at least I ain't bullshittin' ya." Then people might not be as upset.
      • by uab21 (951482)

        If you give $5 to a bum after he says "I'm hungry," then it's assumed he's going to buy food. If the bum uses the money to buy more wine, then I have a reason to be pissed

        Why would you be pissed? If you want him to have food, then give him food. If you want to give him $5, why does this give you some power over his actions? It's not a gift then. Should people give charity because they wish to share their good fortune? or because they wish to purchase power over peoples lives?

        • Because a bum getting something to eat is something I would donate to, but not the same bum buying booze. So, if the bum said "I want to get drunk" I wouldn't pay him, and other people wouldn't either. So the bum stops being honest, and says "I need money so I can buy food." That's what makes him a jerk.

          "If you want him to have food, then give him food." So if I want to give people information on the CDs they are playing, I should donate to an organization that collects and shares CD info? Like CDDB was cla
          • by uab21 (951482)
            If you have expectations on how that information is to be used, then yes you should donate it to an organization that states that they will abide by those expectations. Putting something 'into the wild' and expecting that everyone else with access to the net thinks/feels the same as you do about what to do with what you put out there is lunacy. I see lots of "I assumed..." and "we understood that...", and "they should have known that we...."

            I'm sorry that everyone is so upset at the situation, and perhaps

          • by kelnos (564113)
            So the bum stops being honest, and says "I need money so I can buy food." That's what makes him a jerk.
            I don't disagree that he's a bit of a jerk, but that also makes you a gullible fool. I'm not trying to be insulting, but rather to make the point that it's foolish to hold expectations about the use of something you give to someone else if those expectation aren't made clear, and (more importantly?) enforced by some means.
  • Was it good? (Score:4, Informative)

    by amightywind (691887) on Monday November 13, 2006 @11:56AM (#16824120) Journal
    In the beginning was a music recognition database called CDDB, and it was good.

    Anyone who has worked with CDDB would disagree. Jamie Zewinski provides a detailed summary [jwz.org] of its shortcomings. That someone steps forward as its "architect" makes me chuckle.

    • I read the summary you mention and, although some of the technical details he describes may be true, that page is just a rant without any constructive value. I also read some of the other pages in his site, the guy is nothing but a raging flamebaiter. He seems to hate everything related to free software.

      In another page in his site, he claims to have created an mp3 jukebox software, which is no longer maintained, and he recommends people to use iTunes instead. In other words, this Zawinski guy is nothing but

      • by jschrod (172610)
        jwz is well known as somebody who is harsh in his assessments, and he is also well known to hate bad software and especially bad software designs. He's very outspoken on the deficiencies of Unix, too, since he worked with better environments in the past. So you have your point in naming him a flamebaiter.

        But to tag the person who was instrumental in bringing us mozilla.org, XEmacs, and a load of other free software as somebody who "hates free software" is a statement that speaks of ignorance. You obviousl

        • by jdgeorge (18767)
          But to tag the person who was instrumental in bringing us mozilla.org, XEmacs, and a load of other free software...

          Hmmm... "the person who was instrumental"? That overstates jwz's (admittedly substantial) contributions, and completely ignores the contributions of many others. ...as somebody who "hates free software" is a statement that speaks of ignorance. You obviously don't know the background of him....

          To be fair, the post to which you respond specifically accuses jwz of being supportive of iTunes rather
          • by jschrod (172610)

            Hmmm... "the person who was instrumental"? That overstates jwz's (admittedly substantial) contributions, and completely ignores the contributions of many others.

            I wasn't thinking about his code contribution, I was thinking about his political work inside Netscape after they were taken over by AOL. And, AFAIK, there he was instrumental in the struggle to create mozilla.org, i.e., to convince middle and upper management that it can be done to free that code. Later, he had the well-known run-ins with his proj

        • by mangu (126918)
          the involvement of jwz in free software is well known and widely documented

          Irrelevant and immaterial. I wasn't commenting about his other work, only about the website linked in the GP.

          to tag the person who was instrumental in bringing us mozilla.org, XEmacs, and a load of other free software as somebody who "hates free software" is a statement that speaks of ignorance. You obviously don't know the background of him.

          No, I didn't. I don't have to know his background. I was commenting on the statements in hi

    • by Sax Maniac (88550)
      Give the guy some credit. FTFA, Steve took an existing identification protocol and worked on the server and database to make the updates happen faster. From what I remember, there is also another revision of the protocol to address those shortcomings. You just don't see it, since it's not free code.
  • > We lost a lot of sleep over the situation (I did, at least), because it was clear we had to change
    > or become irrelevant.

    So what? An open source project is as popular as its users want it to be. I'm never going to pay to use that sort of service, because there's a free one out there, and it just isn't worth any money to me. Becoming closed-source and non-free is surely more likely to make it irrelevant, not less.
  • The REAL issue... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ...is not so much that Gracenote took CDDB and closed it. The REAL issue is that Gracenote's contractual agreements with vendors like Apple (f.e.) preclude Apple (f.e.) from implementing a choice in track databases for iTunes.

    You use Gracenote in your software, you're prevented by your license from allowing users to choose freedb.

    That's suck turned up to 11.

    What good is the original db being available, open, free if no one can realistically use it in the real world?
  • What's Gracenote, is it money from Graceland???? :^P
  • by dozer (30790) on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:38PM (#16824676)
    Wired: You built your business upon data donated in good faith by your users.

    Steve: blah opnion blah done before Ti Kan blah.

    Wired: To charge them for the data that they sent in? Doesn't that seem wrong?

    Steve: blah blah investors market blah FreeDB still exists..

    Wired: But you forced the community to produce FreeDB as a last-ditch resort. It was a needless duplication of a huge amount of work.

    Steve: blah not greed blah GPL blah blah.

    I read that whole smarmy article hoping that we'd finally get a decent answer. No dice. It's just a bunch of wandering by a guy who has gone to the McNamara school of interviewing ("don't answer the question you were asked, answer the question you wish you were asked"). But it's easy enough to counter this trick: just keep asking the question that you want answered.

    Wired, you let him off the hook easy.
    • What, did you expect him to say:

      "We screwed our customers over big time, but it is perfectly legal so everything's fine. Also, we really don't care about investors either, and anything that goes wrong is their fault. We have a bad business model and are just trying to profit from other people's misery instead of innovating."

      If he had actually answered the question truthfully he would have been fired.
  • I wish Gracenote all the best in making a profit off the data they collect. What I find disappointing and a betrayal of its own users/data providers is Gracenote's latest for-profit initiative to use its database to pursue those that the RIAA and labels very loosely (or often inaccurately) define as copyright violators. So, it could be possible that data I provide to Gracenote could be used against me by Gracenote to assist the RIAA or their cohorts in one of their heavy handed copyright suits. Nice...
  • by Renesis (646465) on Monday November 13, 2006 @12:48PM (#16824796)
    In 1995-1996 I was running a popular web site I set up called The CDPLAYER.INI Project.

    It worked with the Windows CD Player / Media Player application which identified CDs as long as the tracks and titles were in an INI file in your WINDOWS folder.

    People would e-mail in their albums as text snippets and I would add them to the INI which users could download. There would be a new version practically every day.

    It hit the buffers when the file got to 64K, which was the maximum size of an INI file in Windows 95 - then it had to start being partitioned and the need for a custom application became apparent.....
    • by GrahamCox (741991)
      In 1995-1996 I was running a popular web site I set up called The CDPLAYER.INI Project.

      Ummmm... well, in 1992/3 when Apple had their first CD-ROM units out and the System 7 version of the CD Audio Player utility, me and a number of other Mac users at university were sharing around our local copies of the track listing data file. At first we'd merge these by hand using ResEdit, but then we put together a little utility to do that for us. Then somebody (oh ok, it was me) said, hey this newfangled "interne
  • CDDB/FreeDB, and their ilk are essentially useless becuase they have allowed any jack-ass to submit their version of song titles, artists names, genre, etc..

    One need only query one of these databases to see the huge variety (hardly any free of major errors) of entries for a single album - I recommend U2's "The Joshua Tree" as a case in point.
    • by Renesis (646465)
      I totally agree :(

      There needs to be editing and moderation on the entries.

      Most of the data looks like it was input by a 5-year-old hammering away on a Dvorak keyboard.

      Another thing that annoys me is that even on Windows Media Player which buys in the CD track information from Muze and AMG, there is no consistency between those 2 companies on the formating of the track names. For instance, one company might have "(featuring Mya)" in the track name. Another might just add "Mya" to the Artist list against the
      • by Baricom (763970)
        I really don't think the metadata is the issue. MusicBrainz [musicbrainz.org] actually supports multiple artists and many other features to enable deep metadata about music. We also have standards that support multiple pieces of identical metadata - FLAC and OGG explicitly define it, as do ID3 2.4 and, to a lesser extent, 2.3.

        The problem in my view is the tag libraries and the players. UI for handling multiple artists or other information is usually abysmally poor. Winamp kind of supports it - you can search for a second
  • I wrote a little freeware app for the Mac (NetCD) which used the then-free CDDB, and its development ended as I watched the MacWorld Keynote where Steve first announced iTunes. I wasn't bitter and still am not... iTunes did it right, and I was happy to see it (and know it was free).

    The fact that iTunes used CDDB (and they actually managed to engineer a different agreement that was better than what the rest of us developers had... probably because Apple paid Escient to do so) was what really ensured that F
  • There was an appropriate time to apologize and explain Gracenote's side of the story. It was when Gracenote took all the information we had put into the database, locked our client programs out of using the servers, and made deals to get rich from our data. It's really far too late to do anything about Gracenote's reputation now.

    FreeDB sucks (everything is 'Folk'), but I'll take it over Gracenote any day.
  • The chap completely accepts that he took user contributed information, then locked it up in a private database. How is this setting the record straight? He has explained his motivation for doing so, but the fact is he still took the user contributions to build his product. He had no moral right to do this. Once you are accepting contributions from users, you have to accept that users feel a sense of ownership and entitlement. Many years ago (while I was still at school in fact) I put the effort to type in
  • At the risk of being slashdotted, the full text of the interview can be found here [moonsoft.com]. I appreciate Wired putting out this story, but they (quite understandably) edited the interview very heavily. There's a lot missing, so some of the points don't really make it through.
  • I think the biggest problem with gracenote is that they will threaten any company using freedb in their product with legal action based on their evil patent portfolio where they basically patented databse lookups over a network. He tries to point out that they've let freedb go on, but really they've worked hard to take it down.
  • CDDB is dead (Score:2, Informative)

    by 3dWarlord (862844)
    MusicBrainz [musicbrainz.org] is the future.
  • ...as to when this Frox thing referred to in the article came out. I helped my then pal Ian Giblin implement his idea for CD recognition and track storage in 1993/4 when he wrote his RiscCD application for the ARM-based Acorn Achimedes running RISC OS. I don't think he, and certainly not I, was aware of anyone else doing this at the time. Does Ian deserve some recognition (that I can vaingloriously bask in ;)? A quick google for frox just seems to refer to some transparent caching ftp proxy software...
  • by gmezero (4448) on Monday November 13, 2006 @05:07PM (#16828720) Homepage
    "More importantly, the focus and dedication required for CDDB to grow could not be found in a community effort. If you look at how stagnant efforts like freedb have been, you'll see what I mean."

    FreeDB has had problems from day one because Gracenote sued companies who tried to use alternate lookup systems. They sued FreeDB at one point over the database's content and raised questions over patent ownership and copyright ownership of the database. They've been complete bastards and he can go F himself over a 100% disingenuous statement like the one above.
    • by tuxlove (316502)
      This is pretty typical /. FUD. Show me a link to anything that indicates they ever sued freedb or anyone associated with the development of freedb. And why not RTFA and the link he gave to the full interview too before you spew uninformed garbage like this?

      He also says that freedb stagnated because they didn't develop the technology further, not because they were sued or nobody would use freedb. Those are both bullshit. How would that have stopped freedb from developing the technology? Like fixing the f(
  • Steve who? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rich Klein (699591) on Monday November 13, 2006 @10:15PM (#16832798) Homepage Journal
    I started using CDDB in the mid-90s, but I don't know Steve Scherf from a hole in the wall. The name I associate with CDDB is Ti Kan, and even wikipedia lists Ti Kan as the inventor of CDDB [wikipedia.org]. It doesn't say anything about Scherf being the "co-creator". IIRC, Ti Kan also had a really nice Audi Coupe Quattro that was featured in european car.

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