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Escient (CDDB company) trying to monopolize market? 195

Well, upon opening my inbox this morning, I found a delightful letter detailing the license agreement that Escient, the company that "owns" the CDDB format sent out to everyone. Click below if you want to read it, but it appears that they are making a play to get the monopoly of the disc database market. *sigh*.
Escient, the company that currently "owns" the CDDB protocol for online disc track lookup, has just contacted cd-player developers with a very disturbing license agreement. If you want to use the CDDB protocol in your player, you must agree to display their logo and use their services exclusively. Looks like they are trying to get a monopoly on the disc database market. Perhaps it is time for a free protocol? Here are exerpts from the license agreement. Not all of the typos are mine...

4. Grand Conditions and Terms

a. You agree to perform the following, which are conditions of the license grant to you:

i) You shall program and design the Player such that, by methods stated in the CDDB protocol:

(1) For a minimum of 2 seconds or during the time the Escient-CDDB Database or Internet Server is being accessed, whichever time is greater, each copy of the Player shall display the CDDB logo as specified by Escient from time to time;

(2) Such CDDB logo graphics will be provided by Escient. The display of the CDDB logo shall be of a size of at least 20 pixels high by 33 pixels wide. The display shall include the phrase "Accessing CDDBtm" or other similar phrase specified by Escient.

(3) Each copy of the Player shall include on its user interface a readily visible "CDDBtm Link" icon button that, when clicked, will launch the user's web browser and link to Escient(R) CDDBtm Web site at;

(4) Each copy of the Player shall include on its user interface a reasonably legible mail icon (preferably a letter or mail box icon) that, which clicked, will cause the Player to email CD-related artist, title, track length and track name information that has been entered and/or corrected by the end user to CDDB at the address stated in the CDDB Protocol;

(5) Each copy of the Player when accessing the CDDB Server to obtain Data or when sending Data, shall do so directly, without first accessing any other site;

(6) The Player's functionality with regard to accessing the CDDB Server will fully conform to the specifications of the CDDB Protocol; and

(7) Each copy of the Player will include the Proprietary Legends in the "About Box" and "Help File" of the Player. The Help File on the Player will also provide to the end user an explanation of the CDDB functionality, as specified the CDDB Protocol.

(8) You agree to use the CDDB Database as the exclusive source for CD information whenever the access to such DATA is initiated by a process within your CD player application that reads CD TOC Data and retrieves Data via the Internet that is related to the CD. The term of your exclusive use of the CDDB Database will be for the term of this Agreement.

6. Negative Covenants and Restrictions

a. You further agree as follows:

i) You will not use or exploit the CDDB Database. Data derived from the CDDB Database, End User Data, or the CDDB Server, except as expressly permitted herein.

ii) The Player under this Agreement may permit the End User to aggregate Data only (a) in his or her personal computer (b) only in response to the CDs placed in his or her computer.

iii) You agree that your Player shall not have or enable functionality that uploads or permits the transmission of Data to anyone other than Escient. You agree not to upload, aggregate or collect Data derived from the CDDB Database or End User Data.

iv) You will not use the Data derived from the CDDB Database or End User Data to enable or direct the routing of linking of End Users to content or services accessed on the Internet that are related to particular CD titles, tracks, artists or music categories.

v) You may not use or permit the use of the trademarks, trade names or other designations of Escient except as specified herein, or as may be stated in Escient-supplied trademark use guidelines that Escient may issue from time to time.

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Escient (CDDB company) trying to monopolize market?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'm not sure about the legality, but this seems VERY unethical. All the data was entered by end-users, under the guise of a freely distributable forum. Not to mention that the database originated with a free software program, XMCD.

  • I've done a lot of network programming, including a variety of protocols. I can honestly say that CDDB was the dumbest, nost bloated networking protocol I've worked with, yet it's still such a great idea. I think we need to develop an open alternative that provides similar functionality, yet is owned by no one. Think what it'd be like if someone owned the rights to the telnet protocol!
  • If this is true, then why do they mandate that you can't use the data (which is public information, much like telephone numbers) for any other purpose, can't retransmit, can't use a proxy, etc.

    Furthermore, they're mandating what every CDDB enabled CD Player must look like. The only way I use the CDDB is through a script, and so these restrictions are completely meaningless to me.

    Also, why do they mandate that the CD Player can't use any other source of information? I think this is the clause that worries the most people, because it raises the barrier to entry for any competitor so high, that Escient is creating a monopoly on the CD database market.

    Escient doesn't really own any part of the CDDB except perhaps the servers that it resides on. The data is public information, and the format, protocol originated in a GPLed program. I say we start a new project and shut these guys down.
  • Heh.. They must be from the Windoze world -- that's the first thing I started wondering about..

    Perhaps Mozilla's Open Directory or whatever should be put up to the task of having a new CD database.. You could 'integrate' it with the directory system and allow users to go to a page about the artist that made the CD or something..

    just a thought..
  • You're forgetting that people like you and me *created* that database *for* them, thinking that it was a free service. At best, they've exploited us. The least we can do is throw the shit back in their face. I'd love to see a completely free clone of the cddb, and I'd love to see it dwarf the now-payware one in popularity.

    - A.P.

    "One World, One Web, One Program" - Microsoft Promotional Ad

  • really, it doesn't... what could they do, cut and paste all the stuff you entered into their database? ooh, big payback.

    - A.P.

    "One World, One Web, One Program" - Microsoft Promotional Ad

  • This just goes to show that there are still stupid people out there. CDDB was great because it was free and open. I guess now someone will have to create a new CD database.
  • Posted by Xenophon Fenderson, the Carbon:

    I would be more than willing to donate some of my resources (server space and bandwidth) to a free CDDB-like service. I'd even be happy to help write a server and come up with a protocol. Something similar to POP3 or IMAP for the network interface (but not too chatty), and a regular old database on the back end, maybe MySQL or PostgresSQL (or even DBM). It'll probably take longer to install the database than it will take to code up a prototype daemon (which I'd do in Perl or Java, then rewrite in C). Heck, we could probably submit the protocol as an RFC, if we wanted to.

    My only problems are disk space and available bandwidth. I think I'm down to around 3/4-gig free on my file server, and I only have a 128Kbps ISDN into my network. But still...

    Any takers? I'm game. I'm certain we could hammer something out in a few days, maybe even have a working prototype by the end of the week.

    Rev. Dr. Xenophon Fenderson, the Carbon(d)ated, KSC, DEATH, SubGenius, mhm21x16
  • I was dubious about the Escient takeover from the start, particularly for the way it put the actual database off-limits. There's now no UK mirror, because the one using an academic server has been taken down. And slowly but surely, Escient is squeezing those who make use of its resources: resources that were freely donated.

    Time to fork the tree, folks.
  • It'd be good to put together a protocol that integrates the track-listings of CDDB and the fields of ID3, so that you can keep together your list of MP3 and CDs...
  • Same here.. I wrote some software to read data from their database, bit hard to put a logo up when its used tho!

    The copy of their demon software I have is GPL'd though, so we could use that as a starting base..

    I'd personally like to see some changes though, because the data format is pretty awful at the moment..

  • OK, straight question --

    The Id numbers on the CD's are unique right?

    Why do we need to map them to some unique ID
    number -- a database could easily use the ID
    as a key.
  • Basically, we need to look at the license provisions of previous licenses granted for software to use the CDDB database.

    If you have a CDDB program, and a license to use
    the CDDB data without the terms prohibiting archiving, redistribution etc. then you could probably use the software, archive data and retransmit it to a new CD database.

    In any case, what is needed is SWIFT action -- get a project underway, and get a simple format out of the door -- it needn;t make the service easy to use at first (give it a few weeks to sort that out -- it should allow users to submit CD details, and have an OpenContent license drawn up (or cloned) so that people know that their work wont be abused and exploited like escient are doing.)

    Maybe someone could get Rob to host one temporarily bolted onto the side of slashdot, using a separate MySQL database?

    A CD database server placed here with an explanation as to why not to use CDDB should get a lot of attention in the FSC -- and that would make a very good start.
  • I'm not sure if they can do this or not. AFAIK, there's no way they can restrict a protocol. Once it's documented, anyone can write an implementation of it. (This probably wouldn't hold if they had a patent (ick), but I don't think they do.) It seems that they're trying to restrict access to their database. That database, however, is composed of entries voluntarily submitted by users of CDDB-aware CD players. Can they claim ownership of data collected from such a wide array of sources?

    For the people re-creating the database--please take a look at workman. The reason I don't use CDDB is that workman is far more flexible that the CDDB protocol allows. I can set separate authors for different tracks, which is a lot nicer than having a CD of songs performed by "Various Authors". I can also tell it about musical pieces that span multiple tracks, as is common with classical CDs. I can throw a classical CD in the drive, tell it to play the pieces in random order, and workman will do the Right Thing.

    --Phil (I don't develop workman, I just really, really like it.)
  • CD-LDAP? Cool, I like LDAP. Do you have a URL for the CD-LDAP Project (if there is one?)

    Need a mirror server?

  • This service is really simple to implement. why can't someone write a RFC suggesting it? There could be a network of servers, etc..

    Or is it patented?
  • It's a large database of CD's on the internet. Stick your new CD in the computer, load a player (most are free/cheap) and it goes to the database and finds the artist/track names, and sometimes lyrics, based on the CD's serial number. It works great.

    Er, Go get a player, less your already using linux, then I think the cdplayer in X does it.
  • by tjones ( 1282 )
    We're Escient, and we've purchased this wonderful user supported database of CD contents and other info and well...

    We'd like to kill it.

    We mean really rip it's heart out and leave it quivering on the floor as it gives out its death rasp.

    If you would like to help us, just agree to our new license.
  • OK, Steve, either you're a) lying, and don't work for Escient, b) mis- or uninformed about the restrictions this places on developers and users alike, or c) stupid.

    Since I have no reason to believe you don't work for who you say you do I'll have to discount a.

    Since it's obvious that Escient wants to have their database as the exclusive source of CD information on the net, and should have gone to great pains to educate their employees as to their intentions before turning this loose on the world, and you would have had to fail to read the relevant portions of the license extracted here before you posted you reply, I will have to discount b as well.

    Which leaves c.

    Now, I doubt you're really an imbecile, since I haven't seen you at our meetings.

    Please re-read the license, or at least the relevant portions that are here. We want to have the option of choice, the new license removes that from us. That's what we're all pissed off about.
  • Design into the system a mirroring system, and code to find the closest host (net time wise).

    But make sure you patent the algorithm, even just to make it free!

    Have servers be forward requests they don't know to higher up servers like what is done for DNS queries. Another thing to design into it is a language selection feature. This is for internationalization. One would be able to download titles in the language of their choice.

    I was initially thinking a HTML/CGI front end would have some advantages. Use existing running WWW servers, but dedicated servers would be fastest for processing requests.

    No, better use HTTP for access to the DB, because then you can use existing caches and proxies, *in addition* to that DNS like hierarchy.

    One thing to think about is making sure your data is unique. This is to cover your ass copyright wise in case they try to assert copyright. Adding new fields not included in their data, and the internationalization may both help with this.

    Well, afaik CDDB already uses most (if not all) available data. You'd have to devise a way to uniquely identify the disks (disc ID is not enough!) and transmit/store/access that data in a compact and fast way. Ok, if you add new fields, like language, make sure the whole thing doesn't get too complicated! Probably one new feature is the transmission of the lyrics... :-)

    From the beginning have a copyleft on the DB contents.

    Fine with me :-)

  • This CDDB thing really makes me angry. The database that is used by these people was built up by ordinary users of programs like QCD who wanted to help out other users of the system by entering CD details. The CDDB people are now trying to sell the product of that good will. It is cheeky at best, and downright immoral at worst.
    I second the call for a free CDDB-a-like which is protected from potential future exploitation by a GPL-like licence. I am happy to come up with an interface spec (email if anyone has a nice server and some programming time!
    Alternatively, would it be possible to use some kind of clean-room method to "re-discover" the CDDB interface protocol, and circumvent these idiots.


  • I work for a record company. I've written to Escient and told them to remove all of our intellectual property from their database until they are prepared to compete based on the quality of their service rather than restrictive licensing techniques.

    I've also sent copies of my correspondence to other independent record labels, suggesting a similar course of action. The 800 pound gorilla in this game is RIAA-- if they lean on Escient, then Escient will crack. But we all hate RIAA, right??

    Intellectual property can be used for good as well as for evil, kids. Think about it.
  • If we design a new protocol, we better make it distributed. Like the IRC. This way there's no one person that needs to donate *all* the bandwidth needed for the project, and there could be local mirrors. So there needs to be a client (player) - server protocol, and also a server-to-server protocol for synchronization.
  • you know when you hit the track list on your cd player on your computer, and the names of the songs appear - along with the artist and album title? Well, none of that data is actually stored on the cd. All of that is gotten from a CDDB. There is a number (or some similar defining characteristic) on your cd that CDDB looks up for you and retrieves that info.
    Joseph Elwell.
  • I can't believe these fucking pricks. I say we should write scripts that send them fake/random data so as to destroy the usefulness/reliability of their database in protest. If we cause alot of trouble for them, maybe they'll reconsider these annoying restrictions.
  • That's fair enough. The proxy only has to work on localhost which would remain on the user's personal computer. The command send from a player to the proxy could be 'tell me about the cd in /dev/cdrom now' which satisfies ii A and II b.

    As for iii, it's arguable that the data is not being transmitted - it remains within the one computer. The data certainly isn't upoaded, aggregated, or collected. Though that would seem to prevent caching.

  • Why? Take a good look at section 6, paragraph a, subparagraph 1, the first sentence:

    You will not use or exploit the CDDB database...

    Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but this essentially makes it illegal to access the database, right? After all, when one accesses the database, one is using it.
    Even if it's not quite that way, it makes a great reason for a boycott of CDDB. That'll shut these profiteering bastards up.

    Come to think of it, I've never even seen the need to use that database, anyway.
  • I knew the guy who was implementing a similar project, called DISCO []. The author is a Mac guy, and may be the person of whom you're thinking. I don't know the current state of development, but the web page is still up.
  • So we should form a working group and submit the
    first drafts then :)

    -- Jochen
  • I wonder if they're going to have an ASCII-art logo... what if my cdplayer application isn't graphical?

    CDDB isn't that complex, and what its doing isn't that complex. I assume they don't have a patent on it, someone should just duplicate the service...

  • This is exactly the same problem I had with DIVX, except in that case the technology keeps you from using another DIVX provider if one is available, rather than this questionable license agreement.
  • Its not possible to "own" a format. They can, as some one else pointed out, have a trademark on name "CDDB," but unless the format entails use of some patented process (like the use of LZW in Compuserve's GIF format) the format itself can be used by anyone who can decode it.

    When last I looked, CDDB was a simple text format describing a CD's title and track info.

    Also, the trademarks cannot be too general and are granted for use of terms used in a specific industry or market. That's why you cannot call your new computer company "Apple Computer," or most variations that could cause confusion in the marketplace, but "Apple Bank" (here in NY) can operate without infringing on Apple Computer's mark.

    So, in a nutshell what these sleazy weasels are attempting is a simple land-grab.

    The OSS community should start "outting" outfits like ths with press releases that (in a politely worded fashion!) let the press know exactly what kind of liars and cheats these companies are and how they are attempting to steal the work and ideas of others.

    Its time to take back intellectual property from the intellectually disingenuous...

  • Unfortunately, That isn't the case. The CDDB evolved from an open source project I believe. They used to distribute just a flat file of all entered titles, and then moved on to developing the CDDB Protocol. Reverse engineering would be simple, you can do lookups with telnet. As a matter of fact, I have a perl script I wrote to do just that. They base the uniqe value for lookups on track length I believe. I have some C code to generate that for Windows (adopted from the example they (used to?) give out on their page. I seem to remember, that all the servers are run by volunteers as well. They may own the protocol, but i doubt they own the information. It wouldn't be terribly hard to write a script to rip down all the information and populate it into a "new" database.
  • First of all, you make us all look bad. My opinion is most people are upset their license prevents you from linking to "other" CD databases. Not that anything else is even close to cddb.

    Second, you could get yourself into legal trouble. Threats won't sway ANYONE.

    Thirdly, supposing the above were not true, would you be willing to "clean up" CDDB's database which you took part in breaking? I thought not...

  • All you idiots who are surprised at this should not have been mocking me when I was talking about freedom on the Qt thread. While that problem appears to have been solved (even if I still don't like the QPL), the fact remains that we should get guarantees of freedom before supporting a basic protocol or library.

    The GPL, LGPL, QPL, NPL, MPL, X, and BSD licenses are examples of licenses guaranteeing freedom. The GPL, additionally, is copyleft, so freedom is forced. If you don't understand the differences between these licenses, READ THEM instead of posting ignorant comments.

    A new free CDDB-like format should be developed, and a standard library under LGPL (or some other non-viral license) should be distributed making it extremely easy for current CD player authors to replace their current CDDB support with a new format.

    When will these companies realize that this "bait-and-switch" tactic just isn't going to work in the software community? We'll just go to something else. Of course, what would be nice is if we didn't start using their crap in the first place, unless freedom was guaranteed.

    Incidentally, isn't mandating exclusive-use agreements illegal under trust laws? I honestly don't know, so it would be helpful if someone with greater legal knowledge in this area could respond...

    Okay, so here are some defined goals as to what we need:

    1. A new CDDB-like format (hey, maybe even make it BETTER!) created under a free-use license. Let's call is BDDC for the moment.
    2. A BDDC library licensed under some non-viral license like LGPL or X or BSD.
    3. A conversion program to convert the CDDB databases to BDDC. I don't recall there being a license on CDDB when I last added track information, so that information is still © me, and everyone else who entered it.
    4. A PR machine to notify both the current CDDB servers (who are now going apeshit) and CD player manufacturers/authors of the new format and its guaranteed freedom. A task force to identify possible new CDDB server locations would be great.

    If anyone wants to discuss this with me personally, remove the SPAM from my email address (krose@Stheory.Plcs.Amit.Medu). Things like this really piss me off, and they should piss you off too.
    Kyle R. Rose, MIT LCS
  • ..
    Kyle R. Rose, MIT LCS
  • \{*GPL\}\subseteq copyleft, not viral.

    Not enough caffeine this morning. D'OH! Naturally this kind of mistake would occur when I was bitching at others to post correctly about licensing issues.
    Kyle R. Rose, MIT LCS
  • Two lists have been created:

    freecddb-developer and freecddb-announce Send mail to with "subscribe " in the body.
    Kyle R. Rose, MIT LCS
  • those are © the respective authors. They can own a copyright to the anthology of titles, but considering it was a community submission effort that created it, and there was no restrictive license during most of its lifetime, I really doubt it would stand up in court.

    I'm currently trying to coordinate a development effort for a new free protocol. Please send an email with "subscribe freecddb-developer " in the body to "" if you are interested in development. Do not send subscription requests to the list, as majordomo will bounce them. (In fact, majordomo seems to stupidly bounce any message containing \bsubscribe\b. Duh.)

    And no quips about majordomo being non-free, either... =)
    Kyle R. Rose, MIT LCS
  • > What is CDDB, and what is it used for?

    CDDB is a database that programs can access over the internet to get the title of a cd, the track names and such using a serial number (or something related) that differs amung different cd titles. Programs like the Windows 98 PLUS cdrom player, or there is one called (spelling not included -- its close to it anyways) Quatrosum CD player do this. Music Match 3 (also for windows) will take the track names right before you copy the track to mp3 from the server. It just makes it easier for you to get the cd name and track names instead of having to enter them yourself.

    >How can a company "own" a format? Sure, a company can own a *trademark* (like IrDA) and charge for use of the trademark; but I've never heard of anyone "owning" a data format. This is bizarre.

    Maybe theyre talking about owning the system that it uses to gather whatever it uses to reference the cd names. Dunno.
    Stan "Myconid" Brinkerhoff
  • Hey Casady,

    I say go for it. Design a protocol and write a simple app for your platform. How hard could it be? You could probably get pretty far in one afternoon. Other people will write the apps for other platforms, if the protocol's simple.


  • From what I've seen of the CDDB protocol and features, they are shite. Personally, we'd be better off as a community creating a brand new, well featured and free system for everyone to use, and let them screw with CDDB as much as they like. Just my two cents.
  • by Booker ( 6173 )
    Check your facts []. Escient did NOT invent this protocol. They bought it - it used to be free and open. The guys who invented it sold it, unfortunately, and now Escient wants to exercise some control.
  • I'm not familiar with the cddb data format... but it does seem that if a new format was developed, the new database could be populated quickly from the data stored on users' hard drives... if there's any cddb/escient specific data, you'd have to ignore that, but it seems to me that disk ID, name, tracks, and track names would be free for use. I mean, how could you tell the difference between a user re-entering the data for the new format, and simply retrieving it from their local database subset?

    How long 'til the music label folks sue to get a piece of this action? They probably own the rights to the band and song names, eh? >:(
  • From the web site: "DISCO is technology for sale." That might get us right back into the situation we're in.
  • Hey, I tried to send you mail but your address (bigboss@my(dot) bounces.
  • Let's establish an Open CD Base then. It's
    unbelievable (although we saw ago that CDDB
    became comercialized, which was as bad as this,
    IMHO), since what do they think they got their
    data from? I entered dozends of CDs to their
    database before it became comercial. Will they
    pay me?
  • I have absolutely no problem with a company setting up (maybe expensive) servers to serve the data to people, but as long as they don't own the data, it should be allowed for everyone to grab the whole bunch of data and make his/her own CDDB server.

    Yes, such a huge collection of CD data is money. But it cannot be anybody's property.

    (Actually, I think it can, but only of artists or record companies, but not of somebody who just gets it from others.)

  • The last time I looked at this thing, it was about a million 1k files and it took something like an hour to de-archive! If you're going to port this information to a new system, do yourself a favor and put the info into a relational database -- heck, I'll write a script to upload the year-old-files into a mysql database if you want...


  • Catch some of the earlier posts.. there is another guy who mentioned it first.. we should work together to form this thing.

    As for resources. I have a gig or two available (since the last known size I'm aware of on that database is 50Meg it's not a big problem). I also have 256K DSL I'm willing to use for this. I sugest we think up a way to distribute the load so that one server doesn't have to carry the entire burden.
  • If all they wanted was to be sure credit is given to the CDDB when lookups are performed the license would have said something simple. Such as: Durring all lookups of CDDB information the user will be notified in a conspicous manner that CDDB is the source of Album/Title information.

    Restricting re-distribution of data they don't own as well as the other things people have allready commented on is what has people upset.

    Even if, for the sake of argument, it has not yet become an "ugly corporate monster", the writing is on the wall, so to speak. A license like this one tells OSS people that this company plans to become an "ugly corporate monster" and this bothers us becuase WE created that database! It came, at least in part, from user submissions.

    Also, those players and utilities that support lookups are ALLREADY telling users about it! The only ones I've used that support it make a big deal out of it because it's so nice! Not to mention people like myself that use it mostly in scripts, we can't display logos or hyperlinks to your WWW site! You do remember text mode, don't you?

    That is why there is a call right now to produce a free, open spec that anyone can use in any way they want. No companies restricting the uses or forcing people to display logos and such. I, and many others, find such restrictions horrid and refuse to support those who would use them.

    You may want to look in on the other side of the fence and try to see why people are upset.

  • Oops.... I typed it wrong on SlashDot. I'll get ti corrected. It's I notice I had an underscore in there.. if that bounces for some reason use
  • Although the vast majority of CDDB players are for Windows, CDDB got it's start about 3 years ago with Ti Kan's xmcd player. He invented the format. xmcd is the X11 Motif Cd Player. Definatey a UNIX program.

    It's sad that the corporate World has Win-ified such a good system. Your probably right though. This could mean the death of CDDB. :(

  • Heh. The cddb software I'm working on HAS no gui. Heh.
    I agree that it's time to start a new db protocol. CDDB has been getting a bit too weird lately. The problem with starting a new DB is that the cddb license prohibits us from building a new DB using data from theirs. Starting a new one would be very, very slow. Plus, there are issues with patents owned by Escelent. Are there any? Even a new ID calculation method was developed, would it still be in violation of Escelent's intellectual property? I'm interested in starting such a project... it wouldn't be that difficult. Anyone interested?
  • I'm not sure. I _KNOW_ from the license, that we can't write software that checks a new database, then checks CDDB if the entry isn't found, then puts that entry into the new db. What MIGHT be legitimate, is an application that does nothing but connect to the cddb database, then stores that info locally, then a seaparate app to upload that data to the new DB.
    The more I think about this, the easier it sounds, and the more practical it seems. Their protocol is simple. A clone, and a much BETTER clone, would be simple. The only trick is coming up with a ID algo that generates unique IDs, and is nothing like the CDDB algo.
  • OK, so as far as I know, the algo. is free. If that's the case, and I/we can get our hands on the most recent copy of the database that was publicly released, I don't see any reason why a new database couldn't be started. Am I missing something? As far as I can tell, the database shouldn't be more than a few hundred megs...
  • There are a few problems : One, not all CDs that are identical have the same stamped ID. Example : Pearl Jam Verses. Not all Stamped IDs are unique. Example : White Zombie Astrocreep 200 and other delusions of the electric head and a crappy bach remix I bought a while back. The discid algo that xmcd and others use is guaranteed to be unique, or at least, pretty damn close. The search engine that CDDB uses checks not only the discid, but the frame length of every track. It can generate "fuzzy" matches, which the user then chooses from.
  • Just because the code is available doesn't mean it's free (like beer, or like OSS,) The fact that it was once GPL'd, though, means two things. One, it's free (like beer, and like OSS,) and two, Escient is violating the GPL whenever it derives a licensing fee from commercial players (as are the authors of the commercial players.)
  • CDDB is used so people dont have to type in the song names for their CDs, it looks up the times in the database and then usually asks the user to pick from a number of titles and assigns the correct song name to the tracks. its pretty trivial, but alot of people use it.
  • Ugh. Read the license again. :( It says basically, you can do lookups only in response to a CD in your machine's drive, and then only upload data back to Escient. (i.e. No lookups on a proxy request, no data relayed to anyone but Escient.)

    ii) The Player under this Agreement may permit the End User to aggregate Data only (a) in his or her
    personal computer (b) only in response to the CDs placed in his or her computer.

    iii) You agree that your Player shall not have or enable functionality that uploads or permits the
    transmission of Data to anyone other than Escient. You agree not to upload, aggregate or collect Data
    derived from the CDDB Database or End User Data.

  • This does not address one of the problems with the new licence, viz that the logo etc is required to be shown and this is not possible for a text-mode player. So does this mean that only graphical players are allowed under the new licence?
  • Under the GPL, they don't have to release
    source code unless they distribute it.

  • I will not "pop up" any damn window in a background job from a command-line utility. they don't provide the service, they require going through them exclusively. No compromise.

    byebye cddb, hello cd-ldap
  • Hey cool, I'm glad you're here.
    Allow me to introduce my concept of the new Open CD Database. Three letters for you: RDF. I'd really love to see you try to sue me for all the zero money it makes and the couple grand that is my entire net worth. Hope your lawyers work for cheap.

  • it's something i made up. LDAP as access method, RDF for the format. Seems a little odd, but LDAP's just another access protocol like HTTP, really.
  • It's too late now. Remember ARC? I didn't think so.
  • And it's being done:

    They're hosted by GoodNoise -- GoodNoise might want to put real sponsorship this if they get mention on *voluntary* placement of blurbs.

    This could be the quickest demise of a format in history.
  • Sure we hate RIAA. That's why we want to set them and Escient in the ring for a good old fashioned cockfight. Set them against each other nice and good.
  • Can someone setup a mailing list or a web site to get people willing to work on an alternative protocol/database together?
  • nothign else is even close to cddb, but it only got there because people volunteered to type their stuff, and if they did it once they could do it twice. esp. considering that the db was donwloadable and reusable until a while ago. I don't personally use cddb nor care the very least about this kind of service, but if I were using it, I"d sure as hell stop and join a ML wiht people interested in re-creating a free alternative. tehcnically it's not that hard; just put the whole thing into a mysql db with a bit of C code to read the network and do the queries. and people have already offered to host the thing.

    as for dirtying up cddb's database, I don't think it's such a bad thing either; at least it would drive the point home that, when you run a service that depends on its users, you don't want to piss them off, and that the users and the app developpers don't quite belong to two separate, unrelated works. and you could always make it easy (but not trivial) to clean up by including a fixed string in all your bogus entries.

  • I don't have a lot of resources to donate (I'm over a 56k connection, and I use all of that as it is), but I would be more than willing to enter all of my cd's (130+) into a new database. Hehe. Probably about 5 or 6 a day, however. Not all at once. ;-P

    Combine that with an old copy of the cddb, we could probably come up with a sizeable amount of data. *shrug* That would probably be plenty to motivate people to move over to a new standard.
  • Why don't you give me back all the disks I typed into "your" database then?
  • Yeah, I got a better idea (Jim Kinney, are you listening)? If you're so damn worried about recouping the money for the servers and staff, etc etc etc ad nauseum, why not turn the database back into the public domain (like it was to begin with) and I'm sure you'll get tons of people willing to maintain distributed copies.
  • A place we might be able to find a ready-made database of albums and tracks in the WWW music database at Lotsa albums, track info, etc. Or, if anyone has older copies of the DB. Or, if somebody (like, say, end users) downloads the full DB somehow (if they haven't been presented with the terms, and are acting under the terms that came with their app, who's to stop 'em?)
  • Coming from a pre-GNU time when shared "open" source code came on DECUS tapes, this CDDB issue sure smells like the initial stages of the ARC/ZIP conflict.

    Who uses ARC to package original content anymore? ARC won their lawsuit hoping to hijack the market. ZIP won the market with better support and technology.

    It would be nice if everyone could get along and be happy--however, it seems like a gaggle of lawyers have already piled onto a CDDB litigation train that is starting to pull out of the station.
  • What do these people think they are going to accomplish, other than forcing someone to either reverse engineer their client, or write an entirely free CD database client and server. I can't imagine it's all that difficult.

  • I think has every right to make a god damn good living. They don't make their money off of software "sales" so I don't think that they're required to distribute any mods per GPL. Basically, they hold the card - the data. They provide the online links, service, and maintain the database!! Go ahead and start another cddb from cddbd. They arn't saying don't. (And infact competition ain't so bad afterall).

    People would be ALOT happier if they removed the exclusive lookup license bit. And they should include a provision for non-graphical programs and scripts. Other than that, we are just reciprocating links just as if it were web pages.

    Also, they are not making money off the sales of cddb software, just the data. So, the gpl arg is pretty dumb. However, if they ever get a partner which they license the software too, they have GOT to release the code.

    So change the license already, are people in agreement? (It's alot worse than what we pay for in eyeball time on ANY day of the week!)

    Panaflex, the incredible thinking cube.
  • I'd rather not. I'm assuming you work for Escient. Your company is trying to profit off of other people's work. I really can't see much of anything you did do. Somone else came up with the idea and implimented it. Thousands of users populated the database. You bought it. Now you are trying to bully the writers of aplications which use CDDB. I really don't see how you didn't expect that this would cause a revolt against you.
  • people will ignore this locquacious ``licencing'' agreement, or this company will get very serious about enforcing their restrictions and everyone will flee this format.

    In any case, this announcement is going over like a lead balloon; no serious company will put up with these restrictions or pay these CCDB ``owners'' licencing fees.

  • Maybe I'm more clueless than I'd like to believe, but I just "discovered" the CDDB a few days ago, partially because I haven't exercised my upgrade privilege on CD Wizzard since 1994.

    Now I've been feverishly adding CD tables - of - contents over the weekend, and now I find that the CDDB owners are scum.

    So, we've got to scramble, come up with an alternative free standard, and convince all the freeware and shareware authors to support it instead of succumbing to the draconian licensing terms of Escient.

    And we need some sort of upgrade utility that will read the cache of CDs on everyone's machines and load them to the new databases, so that our database gets populated quickly. Or would grabbing all that data violate a previous license with CDDB?

    Until now, I've been a consumer rather than contributer in the open source movement; this may get me off my ass.

    Bravery, Kindness, Clarity, Honesty, Compassion, Generosity

  • I used to work for Escent's CEO, Scott Jones, back when he'd just taken Boston Technology public. He's a nice enough guy (although at the time he had no idea how to manage growth, and people at BT worked their butts off and most got shat upon in the end -- not Scott's doing).

    Anyway, it's interesting to hear about his hometown. And that is one scary motto!

    Bravery, Kindness, Clarity, Honesty, Compassion, Generosity

  • The CD player I use thanks Steve personally in the "About..." box, for his "knowledge, helpful nature, and devotion to duty", so don't accuse him of trolling (unless someone simply created an ID with the name of a CDDBer).

    Bravery, Kindness, Clarity, Honesty, Compassion, Generosity

  • It says I have to connect directly to the CDDB server. Does this mean I have to dial in directly? :-) I can't use the firewall at work, can't use my masquerading linux box at home. Can't use the routers inbetween here and there.

    Also what counts as a "personal" computer. Is my work machine a "personal" computer...even though it's not owned by me and it is technically a "workstation"?

    What if a player doesn't have an "About Box" a "Help File" or a GUI interface to display the icon? What if they don't provide an icon in a format that you can read?

    Is it your responsibility to write your program such that it can read an icon in a format they provide or do they have to provide the icon in a format you can read? I mean, what if I use PNG and they don't give me a PNG?

    If Escient doesn't provide an icon in a format you can use then have they failed to live up to their side of the license? Can you sue them? Use the the database however you want (e.g. copy and redistribute it)?

    Just curious about these things....
  • Escient can't restrict use of the protocol. Its been published in many forms for years, and they can't make a license retroactively apply to it. The only way to do that is make incompatible changes to the protocol (which is not out of the question).

    Their real value is that they have lots of information about lots of CDs. Redesigning the protocol is easy, but pointless without the CD info.

    Escient's real option, therefore, is to say something like "CD data free to users using a licensed player", but that's impossible to enforce. Their emphasis on players also ignores lots of other uses for the information.

    The real question about this license is "why would you agree to it?" It only makes you give things up without giving you anything in return (the exclusivity clause is particularly onerous, and probably not legal). There's no reason to consider agreeing to it.

    Where's the full text again?

  • I don't know what's worse about Kinney's post. The fact that he thought that we rate a reply that appears to be nothing more than a cut and paste job from a press release or that he insists on lying to us about the reasoning behind the changes.

    "We didn't do this to try and make gobs of money from your work, we did this to (patriotic music swell) [enter children, puppies and grandmothers in wheelchairs] protect your access to this service. [wipes tear]"

    Bah-loney. After this post, there's no question that I'm ditching CDDB for the new services and encouraging others to do the same.

  • When I get an MPEG player into my car, I'm planning on using an object database to store the music information. The database will allow me to store arbitrary fields with each recording and piece.

    This way, I can make up a new category for music and rate everything on a 4 or 8 bit scale of how well it matches that category. Plus, I can store comments on the stuff, prefered track orderings (force several tracks to be played in a given order), volume and equilizer settings, etc . . .

    Of course, a database like this will include many fields that different people will customize differently, but it will also include common info, like who made the music (multiple artists should/can be supported). It'll be far more useful than CDDB.

    Now I just need a free object database and some time . . .
  • 3 reasons:
    1. Folks, if we're going to copy their databases and put them in the new-improved versions, then let's not fill them with bogus data!

    2. We don't have to thrash cddb's databases (even if they are full of our info) because they will be rendered moot and unusable very soon.

    3. If we thrash them, they'll thrash us back. Really. It won't take rocket scientists to screw up our bddc2 db's. Nobody wins a pissing contest, everybody just ends up stinking.

  • by Fizgig ( 16368 )
    The only cddb-enabled program I use is the bash script ripenc. I think the author will have some trouble fitting a splash screen and a mail icon into it :)
  • As the designer in me pops out...

    Design into the system a mirroring system, and code to find the closest host (net time wise). Have servers be forward requests they don't know to higher up servers like what is done for DNS queries. Another thing to design into it is a language selection feature. This is for internationalization. One would be able to download titles in the language of their choice.

    I was initially thinking a HTML/CGI front end would have some advantages. Use existing running WWW servers, but dedicated servers would be fastest for processing requests.

    One thing to think about is making sure your data is unique. This is to cover your ass copyright wise in case they try to assert copyright. Adding new fields not included in their data, and the internationalization may both help with this.

    From the beginning have a copyleft on the DB contents.

  • Did anyone else notice how Conditions and Terms, section 4, more or less precludes the possibility of accessing the database through a proxy or firewall?

    Additionally, unless I'm reading this incorrectly, they're only saying that you can't access another database while you're accessing theirs. So all you have to do is make sure that your database queries aren't concurrent.

    the Fork
  • Beyond that it's not like this data is even irreplaceable. I mean jeez a list of songs on CDs. If someone made a free server someone would pick it up and the community would as usual contribute the data.

    While this doesn't mean that we'll see CDDB die overnight, it would die eventually.

  • I'm glad they've decided to do this. We've needed a new protocol for a while. They'll be routed around quick fast and in a hurry.

    FYI, Escient is located [] in Carmel, Indiana. This is a very wealthy community full of people who believe in equality as long they can be a little more equal.

    Escient's catch phrase on their home page says "We make technology behave."

    Bad technology! Go to your room! I don't want to see you out here until you wipe that ugly GUI off your face!

    Jason Dufair
    "Those who know don't have the words to tell
  • I've had a brief discussion with Jim at Escient. Here is the gist:

    JK>>Anyone could set up a CDDB-like server or service. The issue is that "CDDB" is a trademark of CDDB, Inc. Versions of the CDDB server code have been copyrighted now for over a year. If someone wished to compete with our service, that's OK. Certainly, any application that advertised "CDDB" submissions and routed the submissions anywhere else than our servers would be encroaching on our trademark.

    JK>> The protocol is Open Source just like HTTP. What we hold copyrights to is the server code and the aggregation of data.

    JK>> Patents will be announced later this year. The CDDB name and logo are trademarked. We hold copyrights to the server code and that database.

    It appears they are mainly concerned with the use of the actualy "CDDB" term. Since the name doesn't have a huge amount of brand recognition, it would behoove us to come up with another name, use the GPL'ed protocol and brand it like heck. In the interest of using what we have while building a new protocol, I suggest we simply call the service something else and set up servers elsewhere.

    Jason Dufair
    "Those who know don't have the words to tell
  • >The day CDDB turns into some ugly corporate monster is the day I'm gone.

    Check your calendar, Steve.

    >CDDB is *free* for users, and will remain *free*.

    In the sense of "free beer," not "free speech." (Yuchh, I hate quoting RMS.-) 6.a.ii specificaly requires player authors to restrict the actions of the player's users.

    >The licensing agreement mostly seeks to ensure that CDDB is given credit for the fact that a CD lookup is being performed ...

    Then why does 4.a.i.8 prohibit CDDB players from using any other Internet-based databases?
  • Gotta love that. Thought this database thing was for CD info, not graphic display.

    I guess this means I always have to have a GUI running to access their CDDB. Yeah, right!
  • You ridiculous person.

    Xmcd was and IS GPL'd. The information in your database was provided FREE to that repository by users.
    Setting it up to be a money making proposition with intrusive advertising is a slap in the face to all the people who uploaded data.

    I'm strongly urging ALL the cd player authors to get together and write a competing GOOD standard and leave your fledgling idiot idea in the dust.
  • I think there was some (admittedly hazy) licensing of the CDDB protocol which says you agree that any data you submit becomes property of the CDDB people / person. Surely somebody must have smelt a rat at this stage if they did make their commercial intentions clear earlier?

    Still, I think whatever their intentions they've screwed up their PR something chronic, and I hope they get rewarded with a better, faster, free protocol and network of enthusiast-run CDDB-alike servers :-)
  • They're stupid. We've got the power,
    the technology and the people to design,
    implement a new format and populate databases.
  • But, it was the best of the given options. It is:

    a) distibuted
    b) free
    c) open source (anyone can add cddb to their player/whatever)

    Possibly the main reason they are doing something like this is that commerical products are starting to use it. Xing AudioCatalyst has CDDB lookup for example..

  • Can they do this? Yes, I'm pretty sure they can. Let me first say that I'm not a lawyer. I haven't been able to ask our resident intellectual property expert yet either. However all historical facts I can see point in their favor. Microsoft, for example, has come up with quite a number of "standard protocols" that they sucessfully hold the rights to, although I can't recall any of their names at the moment. Also I believe that Novell holds the rights to IPX.

    As I recall from the previous version of this particular agreement, they did explicitly reserve the rights to the protocol and said they could change it if such pleased them. I guess it did. It sounds very similar to Miribillis and ICQ.

    And yes. I would gladly support a free alternative. I personally believe that protocols should be commodities, not revenue sources.

    Now this begs the question, will they actually enforce this? Well... I'll state my opinion on that in a seperate posting.

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman