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Music Technology

Amazon AutoRip — 14 Years Late 215

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-5113-dollars-short dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Amazon just debuted a new service called Autorip, which grants you MP3 copies of music when you purchase the CD version. This is a technology people have been trying to introduce since 1999, but only recently have the record labels — and the courts — seen fit to allow it. 'Robertson's first company, MP3.com was one of the hottest startups in Silicon Valley when it launched what we would now call a cloud music service, My.MP3.com, in 1999. The service included a feature called "Beam-It" that allowed users to instantly stock their online lockers with music from their personal CD collections. ... Licensed services like iTunes were still years in the future, largely because labels were skittish about selling music online. But Robertson believed he didn't need a license because the service was permitted by copyright's fair use doctrine. If a user can rip his legally purchased CD to his computer, why can't he also store a copy of it online? ... the labels simply weren't interested in Robertson's vision of convenient and flexible music lockers. So MP3.com was driven into bankruptcy, and the "buy a CD, get an MP3" concept fell by the wayside.'"
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Amazon AutoRip — 14 Years Late

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 12, 2013 @05:58PM (#42570113)

    Is that I now have mp3s for CDs I gave as gifts. Unfortunately, my friends and relatives seem to have different music taste than I do, so now I have the Chicago soundtrack and Hannah Montana mp3s.

  • by geminidomino (614729) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @05:58PM (#42570115) Journal

    Why can't we get copies of our ebooks when we buy the dead-tree version?

    • by Marcion (876801) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @06:08PM (#42570201) Homepage Journal

      Why can't we get copies of our ebooks when we buy the dead-tree version?

      Because you they want you to buy it twice. (Unless your smart like Cory Doctorow who lets you have the ebook free to try before you buy the paper one).

      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by Marcion (876801)

        Because they want you to buy it twice. [I should try the preview button :)

      • by kamapuaa (555446)

        Usually I'd let this sort of thing go, but that should be "unless you're smart."

      • Why can't we get copies of our ebooks when we buy the dead-tree version?

        Because you they want you to buy it twice. (Unless your smart like Cory Doctorow who lets you have the ebook free to try before you buy the paper one).

        Also, they're just another beast altogether (if designed with any care for the user at all): many books are published with MS Office: even complex ones. It's the de facto standard for a dead-tree industry (book publishing), and writers know its features: I remember huge reviews on how

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      They're out to pillage your pocketbook that's why. How else can they justify selling an ebook at the same price as a paperback.

      • by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @10:04PM (#42571649) Homepage Journal

        Exactly.

        In an interview in the mid 1980s, an RIAA exec admitted that they were trying to get away from "selling" music and wanted to go to a "pay-per-listen" model. Mot even pay per format - they want pay per listen.

        This was in the same article that he justified continued high prices for CDs, which were twice that of LPs (they were later found guilty of price-fixing) DESPITE the fact that CDs cost far LESS than LPs to produce.

        His justification for colluding to fix prices to make a CHEAPER product to produce more EXPENSIVE to purchase was that it was a better value due to sound quality.

        So apparently a massive increase in profit margin due to illegal activities = "a better value."

        In short, the content cartels are scum.

    • Why can't we get copies of our ebooks when we buy the dead-tree version?

      Well, you [technically] can.... the question should be why can't we legally get a copy of the e-book, when we pay full price for a dead tree book.

      Also, why are e-books still so expensive? The amount saved by avoiding regular distribution channels should knock more than 10% off the actual book cost ...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CNeb96 (60366)

      Why can't we get copies of our ebooks when we buy the dead-tree version?

      I bought a book on machine learning from Manning - they do the popular "In Action" computer series http://www.manning.com/catalog/by/subject/ [manning.com] and they do give you a free non-drmed ebook (includes PDF, ePub, and Kindle) with every physical copy of the book you buy. http://www.manning.com/about/ebooks.html [manning.com] "If you did not buy the pBook from manning.com, you can still get the free eBook in all available formats by setting up a Manning account, and registering your copy."

    • by mrstrano (1381875)

      I don't think it's a fair apples to apples comparison. Making an ebook requires additional effort. There no automatic "ripping" for books, and they require specific formatting and typesetting. Similarly, a remastered version of a movie at a different resolution is technically the "same movie", but you wouldn't claim a right to the higher definition work because you probably realize that additional work went into the creation of that content.

      On the other hand, if you could scan and convert your books automat

      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        I don't think it's a fair apples to apples comparison. Making an ebook requires additional effort.

        Only for books that don't already have an electronic version available.

        Simlarly, some CD purchases from Amazon don't give you the free MP3s in your cloud drive. Sometimes it's a licensing issue, but sometimes the MP3 doesn't exist for sale at all (even though the CD does), and Amazon isn't allowed to just grab a CD and rip it for you.

        Or, for some of my CD purchases, not every track from the CD was available as an MP3, even though most were.

    • "Why can't we get copies of our ebooks when we buy the dead-tree version?"

      You can, if you buy from Pragmatic Programmers. It costs a little extra for both versions... but it also takes more work to produce both versions, so it's hard to bitch.

    • by xigxag (167441)

      Google is attempting to do something like that now with magazines [google.com]. If successful (in the sense that it encourages more people to subscribe), I'd imagine books would be next.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      You're free to scan your own dead-tree books for your own personal use.

    • by Mitreya (579078)

      Why can't we get copies of our ebooks when we buy the dead-tree version?

      You would be lucky if you can buy an eBook for less than a dead-tree version.
      If a higher (or even comparable) eBook price does not demonstrate boundless greed, then I don't know what does.

      • by MaskedSlacker (911878) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @07:44PM (#42570839)

        Actually it demonstrates the flaws (from the publisher's perspective) of the traditional bookselling business model. Books (dead-tree format) are sold on consignment. They are shipped to retailers, without payment, and money comes in as retailers sell them. Unsold copies get shipped back and destroyed (which costs money). Because returns are a cost it is sometimes cheaper to discount the book just to get rid of it (even at a slight loss) without having to return it. Ebooks don't have this flaw, so there is no reason to discount them.

        Not that you should be sympathetic (I'm not), but it's a little more complicated than boundless greed.

        • ebooks are also subject to tax in some jurisdictions, where paper books are not, the UK being one.

        • by lahvak (69490)

          Ebooks don't have this flaw, so there is no reason to discount them

          There is a very good reason to discount ebooks: there is very little cost involved in selling additional copies. Lets say I print 1000 copies of a book and sell them $20 a piece, I have $20,000 revenue. To sell more than that, I have to print and ship more, which will significantly increase my cost, so I only do it if I have a good reason to believe they will still sell for a good price.

          With ebooks, let's say I publish an ebook, sell it fo

          • With ebooks, let's say I publish an ebook, sell it for $20 a piece, and sell 1000 of them during the first two weeks. Then, during the next two months, I sell 5. That means nobody is willing to pay $20 for my book anymore. But there could be another 1000 people willing to pay $10, giving me additional $10000 revenue, with only a little increase in cost. Then I can sell another 2000 of them for $5 a piece, and finally I let people name their own price and sell 1,000,000 for $1 each on average.

            The problem with your scenario is a marketing/awareness one. Do sales drop off after two weeks because no one wants to pay $20, or because none of the people who want to know about it? If none of the people who want to know about it, are you really going to get those bumps in sales figures for each price drop?

        • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday January 13, 2013 @12:25AM (#42572261)

          Unsold copies get shipped back and destroyed (which costs money).

          That may be true for hardcovers, I don't really know. But for softcovers the practice has been to rip the front cover off and send it back, while letting the retailer dump them in the trash. Same thing with magazines. I learned how it all worked as a young teenager when I discovered that once a month, the convenience store near my school bus-stop would load up the trash-bin out back with an entire month's worth of porn magazines, all missing the front covers. What they couldn't legally sell to me, I could now dumpster-dive for free.

          • by takshaka (15297)

            Mass-market paperbacks are stripped and the covers returned. Hardcovers and trade paperbacks are either returned whole or they are marked as remainders and sold at a discount when publisher needs to liquidate stock.

    • by torkus (1133985)

      Some publishers and authors do allow it (see David Weber and Baen)

      However for the most part it's because the publishing industry is several years behind even the travesty of the Music and Movie industries. Despite the extremely public, heated battles fought and effectively lost by both the publishing industry seems bent on repeating the same mistakes step by step. The only thing working in their favor is people 'consume' far fewer books than songs. Most people won't download a few dozen books a month lik

    • by kestasjk (933987) *
      I find that you usually do get the ebook, at least with the majority of technical books I buy.
  • by forgottenusername (1495209) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @06:04PM (#42570171)

    I still tell people it was the only "digital music service" that I really ever liked. I like to buy CDs so I can transcode them into sensible bitrates for portable devices, but have a full on flac when listening at home. It was really convenient to grab a CD, toss it in the player, then have all my mp3s available instantly without waiting to transcode.

    Really a shame that service got buried by the dinosaur music industry. They're slowly learning the lesson; you either adapt to the times and technologies, or you become obsolete and the only role you have is in preventing progress trying to hold on to your fiefdom. Which can't last forever.

  • ... of anyone who "ripped" an MP3 of a CD they already owned? When Napster first came out, I downloaded songs I had physical possession of media of, and kind of wondered if they could. The problem of course was the sheer temptation (all those other titles you DON'T own coming up in search)... but if someone only possessed MP3s they had physical media of, I wonder how they could be found guilty of stealing them.
    • For as long as i can remember iTunes has, by default, offered to rip any CD you insert into your computer. I'm sure the industry rattled their sabers and I'm just not remembering it; but I'm pretty sure that feature was never removed even briefly.

      I realize other software also did CD ripping, but if the MPAA had truly believed they had the law on their side... Apple would've been an obvious target. It makes me wonder how Real might've fared had they'd held their ground on their personal DVD ripping software.

      • Sorry, acronym confusion.

      • For as long as i can remember iTunes has, by default, offered to rip any CD you insert into your computer. I'm sure the industry rattled their sabers and I'm just not remembering it; but I'm pretty sure that feature was never removed even briefly.

        For all I know, in the UK ripping a CD to your computer is not legal. But there will be no prosecution, ever, for various reason. One, no evidence. Two, the police officer arresting you, the prosecutor, the judge, your lawyer, they all do exactly the same thing. Third, the record industry knows that iTunes allows this (and I assume Windows and Linux software as well), so if they didn't want it to happen, did they ever tell Apple or Microsoft or Redhat to prevent it?

      • personal DVD ripping

        That was the whole point of the DMCA: to make key steps in the decoding of DVD information illegal if you didn't have a license. They were doomed.

    • by russotto (537200)

      ... of anyone who "ripped" an MP3 of a CD they already owned?

      In the US? Seems unlikely, since the Diamond Rio case explicitly found that to be fair use.

  • what about resales? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by loshwomp (468955) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @06:12PM (#42570235)

    Auto-rip raises an interesting question about resales. It appears that Amazon is granting downloads for CD purchases (even retroactively, for CDs purchased years ago). If I've since sold the physical CD, Amazon would not know that. Furthermore, I could deliberately game the system by buying CDs and immediately reselling them.

    I know, it's a stupid edge case, and I could already do this by ripping my own CDs today and subsequently selling them, but it's exactly the type of "problem" that keeps the recording industry up at night.

    • by jaymz666 (34050)

      Good question, considering most of the music they added to my cloud account because of this was stuff I had bought as gifts but not marked as gifts when ordering.

      I imagine it's a similar licensing scheme to that of their $25/year match service.

    • by fermion (181285)
      I think it is a this is a stement that a track of music is worth almost nothing, and so value must be added to encourage people to actually buy music. This value is that you will always have your music.

      People always put for the fiction that we used to own the music. I did not own the music? if the album wore out, if the tape broke, if the CD was stolen, I was not able to get that music back for free. At best I could buy a used copy of listen to copy with generational defects. This allowed the music p

    • by SeaFox (739806)

      Ah, but with Amazon's service you can get the mp3's legally without having to use the disc. So you can sell the CD as "new/sealed" for a higher price.

    • by stymy (1223496)
      If you are willing to game the system like that, why not just download the tracks illegally? Besides, resale price of used CDs is usually far below of what you paid for them, as with most things.
      • by c0d3g33k (102699)

        If you are willing to game the system like that, why not just download the tracks illegally? Besides, resale price of used CDs is usually far below of what you paid for them, as with most things.

        You just answered your own question - because it is *legal*, and that in itself has some value. No need to hide where you got a track from, worry about prosecution for illegal downloading or keep your collection secret - Amazon offers proof you paid for it legitimately. And it's not gaming the system because of the first sale doctrine - you have a right to sell the physical CD, but since you paid for the music, the fact that you don't own the delivery medium any longer isn't really relevant.

  • This is great and long overdue!
    Please, can't some tech giant just buy the RIAA and come up with a better model?
  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @06:25PM (#42570337)

    Hmmm... the horse has left the barn. I know: enjoy our new "free range horse" offering... because Amazon cares about what you want.

  • by onebeaumond (1230624) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @06:38PM (#42570417)
    I don't see the value of a free CD with a MP3 purchase, oh wait...
  • by Altanar (56809) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @06:56PM (#42570533)
    I don't know if many people on Slashdot have noticed, but this is *not* an untimely change. Why? The price of many new CD releases is now lower than the price of an MP3 album. When Taylor Swift's "Red" album came out, the CD cost $9. The MP3 album cost $15. This is not an isolated incident.
  • by NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @07:03PM (#42570579)
    You didn't rip anything. MP3 actually had loads of CD's already ripped and on their servers. You put in a CD in your PC, it would get some data off of it(effectively a hash) and then used that info to figure out which CD it was and allow you to stream the rip from MP3.com. So for they'd have a rip of say Led Zeppelin IV on their servers. Everybody that put that CD in their PC could access MP3.com's rip of Led Zeppelin IV and stream it but nobody who used the service was actually ripping their own copy of Led Zeppelin IV and putting it up on the MP3.com's servers.
    • by Omestes (471991)

      Isn't that exactly what Google Music is doing now?

      Not with CDs though, it supposedly will scan your music library, and add it to your "cloud" for free, without actually uploading anything.

      I haven't tried it yet, since I'm a bit paranoid that something that I didn't obtain legally back in college might still be hiding in my library, which will magically flag me as a bad person, so the RIAA can take all my money and leave me in a cardboard box... out of the spirit of fairness, of course.

      • by jaymz666 (34050)

        It's also what Amazon is doing now with their match/cloud player service.

        What they don't have licenses for they upload from your collection.

      • by Legion303 (97901)

        "Isn't that exactly what Google Music is doing now?"

        No.

      • by russotto (537200)

        Isn't that exactly what Google Music is doing now? Not with CDs though, it supposedly will scan your music library, and add it to your "cloud" for free, without actually uploading anything.

        Right, that's Music Match. The difference with Amazon is that they're not scanning anything; they're adding to your cloud library based on what you buy.

        I haven't tried it yet, since I'm a bit paranoid that something that I didn't obtain legally back in college might still be hiding in my library, which will magically f

  • I read about this on the BBC news website (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20972027), missing the first line of the article that said it was US only, I logged into the service to see what I'd bought that was going to show up. Immediately, Beautiful South, Gaze popped up. Strange, I didn't actually remember buying it but it's possible. Then that was it. So I go through my purchases and, like others, there were heaps of popular CDs that I'd bought as gifts.

    Apart from the obvious problem, I put a mess

  • CDs? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @08:39PM (#42571161)

    People still buy CDs? It seems that the MP3.com idea may have saved CDs... tied the license to the CD itself, so you got to buy that to get a legit MP3 license. Instead they kept their heads up their asses for 15 years and the world moved on. Artists: I can get your music for free, at any time of the day or night, from nearly anywhere in the world. I can have your entire album in under 5min. It's easier, the quality is often better, it wont get scratched, it's free, there's no taxes, it's environmentally friendly... Think of a new business model. The universe is against you on this one. Trust me.

  • "Amazon just debuted a new service called Autorip, which grants you MP3 copies of music when you purchase the CD version."

    Grants you? I have a program called "foobar 2000" that has been giving me that power for years.

    Amazon can kiss my ass. Just send me the CD I bought and step aside. Nobody invited them.

  • by MrKaos (858439) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @09:54PM (#42571597) Journal
    Fuck you music industry.
  • For clarification (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Agrippa (111029) on Saturday January 12, 2013 @11:22PM (#42571999)

    2 clarifications for the summary, since I was the 10th engineer at MP3.com and worked there from 1999-2003:

    - We lost to the record labels/publishers not because we gave people access to their music, but because we compiled the music library and streamed it without paying the labels/publishers any royalties. Our strategy was to buy a copy of the CD ourselves, rip it, then claim fair use doctrine when we streamed it to someone else who also owned it. This was a supposed grey area in the law that got cleared up REAL FAST in a media-friendly district court. Services that you see now are paying royalties on what they stream. MP3.com later sued its lawyers that gave the advice on the so-called "grey area" it tried to go through.

    - We where not a Silicon Valley company, we where in San Diego. Perhaps if we where SV we would of gotten better legal advice :p

  • by drolli (522659)

    Are these the physical data carriers i used to buy and rip before DRM-free music stores were available?

    At least for me it wont boost the cd sales.....

  • The problem is not that the music industry is late or that it is flip flopping on what it decides is allowable. It's their stuff and their right do whatever they want with it - copyright.

    The real problem that makes this an issue is the bought legislation that grants the music (and movie and publishing) industries perpetual copyrights. This is the core issue and it must not be forgotten.

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