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136 comments

Very bizarre outcry from the techies... (4, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#16823672)


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:Very bizarre outcry from the techies... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16824030)

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.

Why did people submit data to cddb? (5, Insightful)

leehwtsohg (618675) | more than 7 years ago | (#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:Why did people submit data to cddb? (2, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824134)

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 because the demand dictated it. If they left it up to the public, it would wither away from a competitor -- and then all your "hard work" would be gone. Your information is still helping the public (how many of us pay directly to use Gracenote), but now someone is charging in order to keep that information there for as long as there is demand for it.

If you wrote free e-books that anyone else could write in 5 minutes, and someone hosted them and then said "we have so much demand that we have to charge for downloads" would you rather have your e-book deleted forever, or have it still exist and have someone charge for the services they provide -- the ongoing labors that are worth money, not the one-time-gimme-money mentality of the pro-copyright crowd. (Note, the e-book isn't a just comparison, but I'm simplifying it)

Re:Why did people submit data to cddb? (1)

Bootsy Collins (549938) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824406)

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:Why did people submit data to cddb? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16824818)

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 public creation, and that the data was in the public domain and/or free of copyright. But it was not, and when the database got big enough, Gracenote locked it all up and told people that they had to pay for it if they wanted to access it any more.

In order to have a free version, the *entire* database had to be re-created from scratch under a license that made it clear that it could not be locked up again.

Re:Why did people submit data to cddb? (0)

dada21 (163177) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825510)

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 "lock them down" by buying out slashdot, how fast do you think someone would put a new slashdot up, and promise not to resell the information or lock it down? I'd say nearly instantly. Yes, some past information, maybe a lot, might be locked down forever, but is there value in that old stuff? Was there value in what people gave to CDDB that couldn't be replaced in a new open system?

Problem solved, by the market, not by the law. Love it.

Re:Why did people submit data to cddb? (1)

el americano (799629) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825784)

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.

Re:Why did people submit data to cddb? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16826910)

If I take all the slashdot posts (let's pretend that copyright doesn't exist) and "lock them down" by buying out slashdot, how fast do you think someone would put a new slashdot up, and promise not to resell the information or lock it down?

Bad analogy. CDDB had useful information.

And you can argue all you want, but you're still wrong about Gracenote, as everyone else here has pointed out to you. Sorry.

Re:Why did people submit data to cddb? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16828036)

Bad analogy. CDDB had useful information.
Sometimes there's useful info here. Like, when there's articles about old videogames, somebody can post links to ROM/ISO sites... for example...

- http://www.planetemu.net/ [planetemu.net]
- http://snesorama.us/board/archive/index.php/ [snesorama.us]
- ftp://87.252.2.163/ [87.252.2.163]

See? Useful information!

Re:Why did people submit data to cddb? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16827190)

This post will probably never see the light of day since it's so late, but I just want to state that the fact that market sorted things in the end has nothing to do with why people were angry at Gracenote, and that was not the point I was addressing in my post.

Your original post indicated that you didn't really understand why people were up in arms against Gracenote -- I got the impression that you thought they were just reselling freely available content. If that was all they did, few people would have cared. What people got angry about is that they essentially pulled a bait-and-switch.

Someone else mentioned Wikipedia in this thread. Think about this: If the Jimbo stated tomorrow that there was a hidden clause buried in the legalese of his site that allowed him to change the license on the Wiki content at any time (ignore for the moment that this is not actually possible), and he closed it all off and started charging a subscription to anyone that wanted the content, a lot of people would be very pissed off. Regardless of whether or not the market eventually corrected this by creating a new Wikipedia -- which I'm sure it would -- all of the Wikipedia contributers would be quite justified in their anger.

This is the same thing as the Gracenote situation. The people who made it what it was had every reason to be angry at them.

Re:Why did people submit data to cddb? (1)

kelnos (564113) | more than 7 years ago | (#16828268)

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. That's assuming this guy is telling the truth, anyway.

Re:Why did people submit data to cddb? (4, Interesting)

leehwtsohg (618675) | more than 7 years ago | (#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).

Re:Why did people submit data to cddb? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16827158)

But but but, It _is_ freely available. Every public post into CDDB was duplicated into FreeDB. And FreeDB is running, functional, and your software can access it.

So, again, what _exactly_ is it you're complaining about?

Simply not true. (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#16827900)


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 wrote the software that provided it? They still made all the publically created information freely available, so what's the issue here?

I'm just amazed that so few people in this discussion can understand the difference between information, and a service that provides that information in a nice way. I don't know the licensing/copyright for wikipedia operates, but for the sake of argument assume that the following scenario is perfectly legal: Would you be all pissed off if they took the information in wikipedia, polished it up a bit, and created printed textbooks or e-books for schools?

I just don't understand how people can be perfectly fine with a company like Redhat that takes open source contributions of thousands of developers, packages it nicely and supports it, and charges a fee for that. But when Gracenote does basically the same thing they're deemed "unethical".

Re:Why did people submit data to cddb? (5, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824178)

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.

Re:Why did people submit data to cddb? (1)

Andrew Kismet (955764) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824256)

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?

Re:Why did people submit data to cddb? (5, Informative)

Quaryon (93318) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Why did people submit data to cddb? (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825642)

"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 would be that shitstains dont wash out of the corporate clothing without a pretty serious detergent. Fancy words from some guy arent it.

Re:Why did people submit data to cddb? (1)

unDees (116113) | more than 7 years ago | (#16828150)

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:Why did people submit data to cddb? (2, Interesting)

MasterC (70492) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824678)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Database_do 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 foundation to stop this from happening. Heck, places like answers.com already take the dumps and use them.

Re:Why did people submit data to cddb? (2, Insightful)

ronanbear (924575) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824712)

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).

Re:Why did people submit data to cddb? (1)

DrJimbo (594231) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825198)

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 your 5 minutes.

I think your valid complaint is not your investment in a public database but rather your investment in, and support of, the CDDB business model of a free and open database. The freely contributed data is still freely available so the real problem is that the free and open CDDB business is temporarily defunct. The obvious solution to this business-model problem is to get a group of like minded souls together, take the existing free and open data, and then use it in a free and open way much like the old CDDB.

TFA mentions that freedb [wikipedia.org] already made a fork like this but from the article it sounds like there are some problems with it. It also sounds like the creator of CDDB prefers a non-open development model. IMO, that is both his choice to make and also his loss. Perhaps you know more about freedb than I do so I am seriously asking: what's wrong with throwing our efforts behind freedb and then seeing which development model (free vs. closed) works best?

Are you sure data is available? (1)

leehwtsohg (618675) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825480)

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?

Re:Are you sure data is available? (1)

DrJimbo (594231) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825686)

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.

Re:Why did people submit data to cddb? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16825316)

Some of the best companies around are able to get their customers to be employees or workers. I guess the better of these companies do not allow those customers to feel cheated. I am not sure where Gracenote falls. But looking to Wikipedia or Netflix you can easily see the value.

Your error... (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825490)


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 "we're all in this together", but CDDB never actually said they'd provide. The real world doesn't work like that. If you want those kind of re-assurances they should be backed up by a legal agreement so no one is confused and assumes a relationship that doesn't exist.

Are you equally pissed off that Redhat decided to stop supporting the free (as in beer) versions of Redhat Linux? It's basically the same situation, since Centos has since popped up providing free as in beer copies and updates to what's essentially RHEL.

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.

It's really nothing like that at all. You provided a resource to a company, and the company then went public and gave back all the resources that were given to them freely to anyone that wanted it. The problem with your analogy is you can't copy money, but you can copy information.

Re:Why did people submit data to cddb? (2, Insightful)

arodland (127775) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825580)

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:Very bizarre outcry from the techies... (2, Funny)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824106)

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.

Re:Very bizarre outcry from the techies... (1)

NDPTAL85 (260093) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824238)

You are aware that Slashdot is a for-profit site aren't you? With the ad banners and all?

Re:Very bizarre outcry from the techies... (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824522)

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.

Re:Very bizarre outcry from the techies... (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 7 years ago | (#16826002)

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 in the process.)

Second, to the extent that there is any protection on the song titles and track order, it would belong to the copyright holders, not the CDDB contributors. That is, if there is indeed any protection on this work, then the CDDB contributors are infringing. My personal call is that to the extent it is factual, it isn't infringing, as the average song title is too short to be considered "copyrighted" in the strict sense, and track order is almost certainly just factual information. But lawyers could profitably argue about this.

This isn't really about legal issues; none of the "State-run ways to try to protect content or ideas" apply to track listings entered into a database, and to the extent that they do, they don't apply to the contributors to CDDB. This is about community relations and ethics.

What's wrong with the world? I agree with dada21 (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#16826316)

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 like kind of a dick move though as they knew there was a lot of software that relied on CDDB. All business relies on relationships, so this move by Gracenote was basically shooting themselves in the foot.

From the article... (3, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16823718)

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.

Re:From the article... (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825206)

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 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.
(page 3 - where he even tells you how to access it).

In fact, the Gracenote software is closed, but the original client can never be taken out of GPL, so even that's still available to use for free.

Even today, there's nothing stopping anyone from using the source code to start a business. But just because I released the code to the public up to a point does not mean that I am obliged to build this code for the rest of my life and hand it over to whoever wants it.


So just because something is GPLed doesn't mean it doesn't have an owner - the owner is who puts it under GPL and protects the license. At this point, Scherf hands the license over to (ultimately) Gracenote. But every version released up to that point is still GPL, you can't just yank the licesne away.

It was good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16823720)

Really, I could have sworn CDDB uses a horrid format obviously designed by retards. Sure, it might be better than nothing, but that still doesn't make it good.

Re:It was good? (2, Funny)

ari_j (90255) | more than 7 years ago | (#16823802)

I think that the blurb was more of a failed attempt at invoking a bad cliche than it was factual. Face it - the writing and editing here have always sucked and will always suck in the future. You just have to tune out the bad cliches, bad grammar, bad spelling, and bad humor. That usually leaves you with a link to an article, and if you use Google you can usually find the actual information that the article is re-reporting. That said, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em: never RTFA and post lots of comments. Doing anything else will grind the system to a halt. :P

What's there to set straight? (5, Interesting)

Roadmaster (96317) | more than 7 years ago | (#16823774)

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.

Re:What's there to set straight? (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#16823860)

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:What's there to set straight? (2, Insightful)

Roadmaster (96317) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824490)

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 of all your contributions so far, feel free to use it for whatever while I become a billionaire". Legal? yes. Feels right? nope.

Like you (and I) said, Gracenote were completely within their rights to do what they did. However they pissed off a community which helped them in good faith only to see access to community-generated data become commercial and closed. A lot of work had to be duplicated (freedb didn't come out of thin air you know). Community is not going to sue or anything, just don't expect us to have any sympathy for Gracenote.

Re:What's there to set straight? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16824716)

But the difference is, with CDDB, at least some of the data is accurate.

Re:What's there to set straight? (1)

Roadmaster (96317) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825036)

+1 funny :)

Re:What's there to set straight? (1)

kelnos (564113) | more than 7 years ago | (#16828712)

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 choices, I think he made a best-faith effort to take everything that had been done up to that point, and keep it in the community (that's where FreeDB [freedb.org] came from).

Really, I just don't understand the sense of entitlement many people have. I submitted many CD track lists to the old CDDB, and while it's a shame I can't access the newer service for free, everything I submitted (well, unless it was improved) is still available for free. If you're going to give away your time for free, why should you expect anything in return? Perhaps I'm just overly cynical, though.
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 of all your contributions so far, feel free to use it for whatever while I become a billionaire". Legal? yes. Feels right? nope.
Actually, no, that wouldn't be legal. Or at least, there's probably a way to do it legally, but it wouldn't be practically feasible. All Wikipedia contributions are required to be licensed under the GFDL [wikimedia.org] . Wikipedia could certainly "go private" as you describe if they wanted to, but they couldn't prevent future "subscribed" users from taking all new content from that point and releasing it back to the community. Wikipedia could potentially change the terms under which new submissions are accepted (though the old submissions would still be GFDL-licensed), but that would create a legal mess, and enough negative feeling in the community that I doubt many people would care to contribute.

That actually brings up a good point, though. Under what terms were submissions accepted into the old pre-privatised CDDB? If CDDB required submissions to be put into the public domain, or copyright to be assigned to CDDB, or licensed to CDDB under terms that basically say "you still own it, but you give CDDB the right to do whatever they want with it," then really, what do you expect? If you contribute to something, make sure you know what the receiving entity is allowed to do with it. If you're not happy with the terms, don't contribute. The guy in the interview mentioned that the bulk of CDDB data still comes from user submissions, so clearly there's a large body of people who have no problem with what they're doing. (Or who don't know, and don't care.)

On the other hand, if the original CDDB submission terms kept most rights in the hands of the submitter, people might have a case against present-day Gracenote...

Re:What's there to set straight? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16824762)

"I may be wrong but it sounds like everything they got for free is still freely available"

It is NOW, but at the time they took it, it wasn't. CDDB got built up by the people, then Gracenote stole it and strongarmed all the application developers who wanted their app to connect to CDDB. They were real dicks about it.

People got pissed at this action and developed FreeDB. So basically everything had to be done all over again because of some unethical assholes.

Uh, don't you mean... (-1, Offtopic)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 7 years ago | (#16823822)

"Gracenote Defends Its Intelligent Design"?

*runs aways*

there's a classification for this ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16823868)

Organisms that take from the host without contributing to the host are called parasites.

Enough parasites and the host dies. Witness, for instance, commercial music.

Well (1)

thejrwr (1024073) | more than 7 years ago | (#16823870)

If all else fails use C4
(Think about it for a minute and you'll get it)

Re:Well (1)

PrescriptionWarning (932687) | more than 7 years ago | (#16823886)

i don't think suicide bombing them will help anyone, ya craaaaazy

Sounds like (-1, Offtopic)

shirizaki (994008) | more than 7 years ago | (#16823884)

They might get screwed in the Monkey Hole.

Don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16823936)

some people still use 8-track

The gift is a blessing to the giver (2, Insightful)

uab21 (951482) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824016)

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 giving it away. Anyone concerned that their data is being used has a problem with the entire concept of 'donate'

Re:The gift is a blessing to the giver (2, Informative)

FroBugg (24957) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824090)

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.

Re:The gift is a blessing to the giver (1)

uab21 (951482) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824310)

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 clickthrough EULA - 'if you accept my data then you are bound by my own ideas about how to use it'. That's not giving or donating data, that's unannounced barter - which rarely works, as it requires some form of telepathy to determine intent (anyone had a gf that worked like that? oh, sorry, /., nevermind).

If you are truly giving something, it matters not what is done with the gift. You are responsible for your own actions. Everyone else is responsible for theirs. The fact that some people act differently than you think they should has no bearing on your gift...unless that's not what it is (in which case you should have said so in the first place).

Re:The gift is a blessing to the giver (1)

Cookie_Monster_Troll (854586) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824436)

If you are truly giving something

That where your argument go awry. Contribution to CDDB not giving. It contributing to community. It sharing.

Re:The gift is a blessing to the giver (1)

uab21 (951482) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824614)

Contribution to CDDB not giving. It contributing to community. It sharing.

Interesting. We have had to go over this with our kids too. Sharing doesn't have limits anymore than giving. If I share my cookie with you...I don't expect it back (especially from you). If I share my truck with you, I probably do expect it back when you are finished with it, but if I don't ask for it back and you walk out of the house with it...then if I'm upset, I'll be sure to ask for anything back in the future. Perhaps I won't share anything else with you again, but the truck would be a lesson - be up front with your expectations and let people know. There are implications far beyond trucks and cookies and CD information, the world would be a less violent place if people communicated and took responsibility for what they have done. And moreso if they could learn to truly give without strings.

Re:The gift is a blessing to the giver (2, Insightful)

StillAnonymous (595680) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824890)

I'm absolutely apalled that you can turn this around on the people that were duped in this situation. I really don't know what to say...

So I share something with you in good faith, you turn around and now try to charge me for the very thing I gave you, *I* am the one in the wrong because I am upset with your actions???

If you ask me to pass you a knife at the dinner table, you're damned right I expect you not to stab me in the back with it. I don't think things like this need to be spelled out in contract ahead of time.

That's a very twisted set of morals you have, there.

Re:The gift is a blessing to the giver (1)

uab21 (951482) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825414)

I'm absolutely apalled that you can turn this around on the people that were duped in this situation. I really don't know what to say...

I'm not really trying to 'turn this around', I don't think. When people do things 'in good faith', what does that mean? Is it "in good faith" that XYZ will or will not be done with the contribution? If XYZ really matters to you, it needs to be communicated, in the open. I'm not trying to say that Gracenote should or should not have done what it has done...if people don't like what they have done, they will not likely be getting any additional assistance, but that said, those that feel 'duped' should take something good out of the situation and either decide to set their gifts free...or make sure that everyone understands precisely what is expected when they accept their gift.

*I* am the one in the wrong because I am upset with your actions???

Absolutely not. You can be upset, or grateful, or apathetic as you wish... but you are reacting to an unspoken expectation of another's behavior being false. Down that path leads much miscommunication, disappointment and despair...which can be avoided.

I don't think things like this need to be spelled out in contract ahead of time.

...and that is why things like this happen. Because you don't think it does...but they do, and you can't know the difference until you tell them.

I'm not trying to place blame or spread invective - I just see that, at the root, unspoken assumptions have caused the pain here...perhaps it can be avoided in the future.

Flawed analogy (1, Insightful)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824990)

This is not about giving or sharing cookies.

In my neighborhood, a bunch of parents got together recently and donated a bunch of money to upgrade a schoolyard playground beyond what the local government would have put there by default. Now let's pretend the school is a private company. If we follow your line of reasoning, it would then be just fine for the school to sell the new playground to the highest bidder?

My answer is: of course not. Yes, the school would have the legal right to sell the playground. But just because something is legal doesn't make it moral.

Re:Flawed analogy (1)

uab21 (951482) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825618)

If the school were a private company when the donation was made...of course they could sell it. You say that just because something is legal doesn't make it moral., and you are absolutely correct. And I'm sure that Gracenote will have some difficulty in the future, should they need help from some of the previous contributors - that is a consequence of their actions. But the contributors should also take away a consequence of their actions - do not be surprised if someone fails to abide by your uncommunicated assumptions on their behavior. Either be up front with your expectations...or better yet, do not have those expectations. You will always be eventually disappointed by people if you don't tell them what you expect. Which is true whether not we are talking about cookies, playgrounds, or personal relationships.

Re:Flawed analogy (1)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 7 years ago | (#16826372)

I agree with all of that. And, Gracenote is still a bunch of jerks.

Re:Flawed analogy (1)

uab21 (951482) | more than 7 years ago | (#16826836)

I agree with all of that. And, Gracenote is still a bunch of jerks.

Perhaps I should have started my initial comment with that last sentence... on the assumption that the Gracenote execs acted as they did out of malice, greed, or any of the other generalized nastiness that they are being accused of. I do not know.

The world will always contain people who do not act in everyone's best interest. We should do what we can to discourage such behavior... but we should also be sure that we do not give them unecessary opportunities to cause despair.

You can't copy money. (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825914)


In my neighborhood, a bunch of parents got together recently and donated a bunch of money to upgrade a schoolyard playground beyond what the local government would have put there by default.


The analogy breaks down because information can be copied, but money can't. Also money is a fluid resource that can buy other resources.

It's be more like your community got together and bought sand, tires, playground equipment, etc to build a playground. A private company decided to donate land to put the playground on, and pays other people to install all the equipment and maintain the playground. Later on the company decides to charge for usage of the playground, but also gives you back all the sand, tires, and playground equipment, etc that you contributed. (This is some strange world where sand, tires, and playground equipment can be copied perfectly).

You're a bit peaved, but obviously you can still move the playground elsewhere as you still own everything you put into it. You and your neighbors find some inexpensive land next door and put all the playground equipment in yourself on the weekends.

This is really a lesson for people that assume relationships that don't exist.

Re:You can't copy money. (1)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 7 years ago | (#16827276)

People can never get back the hundreds (thousands?) of hours of data-entry effort they invested, and will now need to reinvest in another service. There's more to this than the information itself.

Re:You can't copy money. (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#16827688)


People can never get back the hundreds (thousands?) of hours of data-entry effort they invested, and will now need to reinvest in another service.

Why would they need to re-invest it when the information is (and has been for years) freely available for anyone to use (and I'm assuming FreeDB did exactly that).

There's more to this than the information itself.

There's the sofware that was created by CDDB, but that belongs to CDDB and only certain versions of it were released under the GPL. The main complaint people seem to have is essentially "You made money off of our work, and we don't like that.". My response to that is "welcome to freedom". Freedom doesn't mean others only get to do things with your work that you gave away that you like. AFAIK CDDB never made any claims that they'd always provide the service for free, never go commercial, etc. If people really had a problem with what CDDB might do with their work, then they shouldn't have contributed, or found some other service that puts more restrictions on what can be done with the collective work.

Re:The gift is a blessing to the giver (1)

dosquatch (924618) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825898)

Interesting. We have had to go over this with our kids too. Sharing doesn't have limits anymore than giving.

This isn't about giving, or sharing... and I feel sorry for your kids.

This is about Rock Stew [soltakss.com] , or something akin to that. Everybody brings to the pot what they have, for the benefit of all, not just the owner of the pot. That is why Gracenote's actions pissed everybody off. I can't say it any more clearly, and I fail to understand why this simple truth eludes you.

Say a bunch of kids want to play baseball. Everybody has something, a bat, a ball, some gloves, but no one person has all of the equipment for a game. The kids realize that they can pool what they have together and they all benefit - all they need now is a place to play.

The guy down the street says, "I love baseball! You can come play in my field!"

After a while, people start coming to watch the games, and volunteering their own time and efforts - somebody builds some bleachers, somebody else donates some uniforms, somebody volunteers to mow the grass - analogous to the software projects that spoke with CDDB. These are essentially free capital improvements to the guy's field, and to the baseball games themselves. All is good, everybody's happy.

Now imagine, if you will, the guy with the field turning on the kids and saying, essentially, "All your balls are belong to us." You can't come play ball anymore unless you rent your own equipment back from me.

It's his field, so I guess it's his call if he wants to roll that way, but how can you with a straight face act surprised that this pisses people the fuck off?

Re:The gift is a blessing to the giver (1)

uab21 (951482) | more than 7 years ago | (#16826590)

It's his field, so I guess it's his call if he wants to roll that way, but how can you with a straight face act surprised that this pisses people the fuck off?

*sigh* I'm not surprised. I wish that they weren't pissed off, but I'm not surprised. People assumed a certain set of conditions when they contributed to the DB, different people assumed different things - Gracenote assumed something else. Nobody communicated their assumptions. People are now pissed off. Would the community be happier had Gracenote not done what they did? Most likely. Perhaps everyone would all be able to sit around the campfire singing kumbya along to a properly identified CD recording. But the road to that outcome goes through a full communication of expectaions. IF everyone had had that communication first, then there would not be people pissed off for this reason (probably for some other reason instead, people are evidently really good at getting pissed off). It's sad that Gracenote, CDDB, and the various contributors could not play nice, and I empathize with the pissed off multitudes... but I see no harm in attempting to point out how the situation could be avoided in the future. You are correct that this has nothing to do with giving or sharing except in passing - the true problem is lack of communication, which we all could do better to avoid.

Re:The gift is a blessing to the giver (1)

Monkeyman334 (205694) | more than 7 years ago | (#16826858)

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.

Re:The gift is a blessing to the giver (1)

uab21 (951482) | more than 7 years ago | (#16827046)

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?

Re:The gift is a blessing to the giver (1)

Monkeyman334 (205694) | more than 7 years ago | (#16827796)

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 claimed to be?

Re:The gift is a blessing to the giver (1)

uab21 (951482) | more than 7 years ago | (#16828076)

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 Gracenote acted with just as much malice aforethought as is attributed to them (in which case perhaps they will reap the whirlwind). If someone lies, the world knows them as such, and reacts accordingly - but should you not also be sure that whatever conditions are assured beforehand if they mean so much?

Was it good? (4, Informative)

amightywind (691887) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824120)

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.

Jamie Zawinski... such a stupid astroturfer! (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824680)

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 an astroturfer, and a particularly inept one, he is so rabid one feels repulsion to everything he says.



Re:Jamie Zawinski... such a stupid astroturfer! (1)

jschrod (172610) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825544)

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 obviously don't know the background of him. But then, the involvement of jwz in free software is well known and widely documented; mangu isn't. I searched on Google for you and found nothing. What are your free software contributions?

Re:Jamie Zawinski... such a stupid astroturfer! (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 7 years ago | (#16826312)

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 than CDDB, a position unlikely to be considered supportive of free software.

But then, the involvement of jwz in free software is well known and widely documented; mangu isn't. I searched on Google for you and found nothing. What are your free software contributions?

This is irrelevant. Seriously, mangu is not criticizing the quality of jwz's code, he's criticizing jwz for essentially political views. Whether mangu is an author of any code at all is offtopic and flamebait.

If you intend to demonstrate jwz's commitment to free software you can do that by referring to jwz's comments supporting free software, not by attacking someone for questioning that commitment.

Re:Jamie Zawinski... such a stupid astroturfer! (1)

jschrod (172610) | more than 7 years ago | (#16826698)

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 project colleagues about different project goals, thus his mozilla.org code contributions weren't so many anyhow.

Actually, if this is a serious exchange and not some name-calling as the GGP did; I would even agree that it is arguable that jwz is a supporter of free software, he was always more in the Open Source camp. He consistently maintained that this is a way to produce better software; but if any OSS projects did not succeed in that, he wasn't the one not to use better proprietary software if needed and available.

And I disagree with you if it's relevant that mangu is a contributor to free software or not. If somebody starts name-calling for a well-renowned, but confrontational, OSS developer; to ask for that person's credentials is OK -- it is the initial question to see if it's worth my time arguing with him at all. After all, we're on /. here. :-)

You must not forget that mangu didn't criticize jwz about the content of his CDDB rant (which I think, as a kind of a blog entry, is quite valid as a technical critique, if expressed harshly). Instead he started to make ad-hominem attacks on his viewpoint concerning free software without obviously knowing his respective contributions at all. My approach for that kind of people is to ask them if they know what they're talking about, to see if I'll spend my `copiuos spare time' to answer them. If not, I'm better off working on CTAN, or xindy, or XEmacs or whatever else.

PS: I didn't want to write my question to mangu in bold; it was not so relevant. This should have been a <p> tag, and without using preview I didn't catch that typo... That's why there is no closing </b>-tag in my post. But now I will ``Use the Preview Button!'', as recommended...

Re:Was it good? (1)

Sax Maniac (88550) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824724)

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.

Gracenote SUCKS! (0, Redundant)

fury88 (905473) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824248)

They never validate ANY of the entries.. All too many times I go to get the information and rip and realize the track names are wrong and out of order. I thought the whole purpose of these databases was so you don't have to do any work!!

Unpaid employees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16824384)

Seems like Gracenote employed people to create a product and failed to paid. Since they seem to happy to profit from this I'd assume a request for payment would be a good start. I don't see ehere they have refused to pay for the data their profiting from? Of course, I don't see anyone sending them a bill either. Whining? Complaining? Sure. But, asking for what is due, I must have missed that part.

If you have requested to be paid for your work, and they have refused it's time for a lawyer. I seem to recall the unpaid admins for AOL won such a suit, but I'm too lazy to look it up.

Again, if they have profited from your work, just ask for your share. I can't say what they did was legal, but I'm sure it was not polite. I'd stay away from people that act this way.

Good luck.

 

irrelevant (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824428)

> 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... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16824508)

...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?

Ha ha (1)

Grimmreaper74 (1014291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824520)

What's Gracenote, is it money from Graceland???? :^P

Don't bother... The questions are never answered. (4, Interesting)

dozer (30790) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.

Re:Don't bother... The questions are never answere (2, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825044)

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.

Profit is ok, but screwing your supporters is not (2, Informative)

haggie (957598) | more than 7 years ago | (#16824694)

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...

I always wondered if it was based off my idea.. (4, Interesting)

Renesis (646465) | more than 7 years ago | (#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.....

Re:I always wondered if it was based off my idea.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16828444)

That was you? I remember using this very briefly in the mid 90s. Thanks, and rock on.

Useless === Worthless (1)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825050)

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.

Re:Useless === Worthless (1)

Renesis (646465) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825186)

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 track instead.

Of course, a lot of these problems would be solved with a proper XML format for media information. Something that is badly overdue. Right now, most meta-data formats only have one text field called "Artist" against a track. This really needs to be a collection of "Artist" nodes, etc.

Re:Useless === Worthless (1)

Baricom (763970) | more than 7 years ago | (#16827202)

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 secondary artist, but that artist doesn't show up in the interface. I should check iTunes support more thoroughly, but I'm not expecting much better.

Some libraries for reading tags understand multiple values, but others don't. The ones that do invariably get used by lazy programmers who do things like $track->artist[0] instead of a proper for loop.

iTunes plays a big part as well (2, Informative)

TobyRush (957946) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825288)

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 FreeDB would stay on the sidelines. When the CDDB was free, there was no need for FreeDB; during the short time after Escient bought the CDDB and before iTunes came out, FreeDB was growing steadily but hadn't achieved enough fame to move ahead of the CDDB. When iTunes came out, Joe User, when asked where the track names were coming from, would answer "iTunes puts it there." The CDDB (and FreeDB) was nurtured by geeks and hobbyists; Escient's (and Gracenote's) version was/is used and abused by consumers.

It's a bit late, isn't it? (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825406)

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.

he doesn't deny anything (1)

SkunkPussy (85271) | more than 7 years ago | (#16825904)

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 some early drum'n'bass cds into this public database, in return for the effort it saved me. I never thought for one second that some chap would start charging for access to this information and I certainly wouldn't have bothered typing any information in had I known it would become a commercial outfit within a couple of years. If only I could remember the cds that I entered into the database, then I could demand that Gracenote remove my info from the database.

This is why GPL license > BSD license.

Full interview text (1)

sscherf (1026666) | more than 7 years ago | (#16826298)

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.

Ugh! Grey text on white background (1)

edbob (960004) | more than 7 years ago | (#16826500)

Please use black text. The grey text on white is nearly impossible to read!

What about legal threats and patent trolling? (1)

Vince (4999) | more than 7 years ago | (#16826998)

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.

Patent abuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16827210)

Gracenote filed for patents on techniques that had already been published as open source, then threatened other companies with those patents. That's what I'd like their official representatives to explain in a Wired or Slashdot interview.

Bastard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16827222)

Nothing this bastard could say would make me feel any different. He stole my work and profited from it. I hope he gets scammed by a Nigerian or something - he scammed us all.

CDDB is dead (2, Informative)

3dWarlord (862844) | more than 7 years ago | (#16827392)

MusicBrainz [musicbrainz.org] is the future.

I'm curious.... (1)

da (93780) | more than 7 years ago | (#16828114)

...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...
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