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Gracenote Sues Roxio Over Switch to Free Song Database 356

macsforever2001 writes: "Those l00z3rs at Gracenote are suing Roxio because they switched to freedb from CDDB. I think I will buy Toast 5 just to support them." Gracenote's press release is informative. Apparently their claims include one that switching to freedb is "violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by offering products that circumvent Gracenote's technological measures to obtain access to an unauthorized derivative of the CDDB copyrighted database."
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Gracenote Sues Roxio Over Switch to Free Song Database

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  • That's odd. I saw a stack of servers the last time that I was at the San Jose Abovenet colo facility, and they were - you guessed it - Cobalt RAQs running Linux. Maybe it's time for Gracenote to upgrade to some "professional servers" themselves. od e_w=on&
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2001 @07:31AM (#230282)
    Hell folks, we control the routers when you really think about it. Perhaps a "do not route to Gracenote" week will humble the fucks a bit. This can be done via firewall or routers so let's do it 60's style instead of bitching on Slashdot...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 11, 2001 @11:19AM (#230283)
    I'm the author of XfreeCD [], a free CD player for Linux. At the time I developed the program I was under the impression that the CDDB database, and the CDs that I contributed were going to remain freely accessable to anyone and everyone. I went through their extensive testing program so that I could support submitting CD track info.

    Now that they have closed access to the database, can I request that all the submissions from XfreeCD be removed from the database? I'd certainly like to do so. My program is under GPL, and so is any data that it generates (if that's possible -- Hell, I wrote it, so I say so) must be accessable to anyone who wants it.

    Brian Lane
    Homepage []

    PS. XfreeCD hasn't been updated recently, and probbly doesn't work with newer kernels or GTK+ versions. I'll fix this when I have the time.

  • by Yarn ( 75 )
    The patent process is intended to reward inventors for releasing their information by allowing them to gain reward for the use of their invention.

    Gracenotes seems to liscense access to the cddb. The terms seem to be: if you use the cddb, you must only use the cddb. No cost for no-cost software.

    This is from memory from when I considered writing a cd player.
  • Then just change the way your data is presented. Stick artist first instead of title, or vice versa. There's only so much you can do with artist/title/track name anyway.

    Forget Napster. Why not really break the law?

  • Corporations and wealthy individuals either have lawyers in-house or have them on retainer. They don't have the option of working for the other side.

    At best, Joe Schmoe might be able to convince and equally high-powered lawyer to fight his case. I suppose in that event J.S. will have a good chance of winning if the case is solid. But there's always a chance for a loss. As long as that possibility is there, J.S. is at a disadvantage.

    And yes, of course he's at a disadvantage in the current system. I'm not trying to justify how things are now, but rather point out how a proposed fix may not be as nice as we'd like to think.


  • Your Nazi-like attempt to censor discussion will not be tolerated.
  • by Stormie ( 708 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:43AM (#230292) Homepage

    The most telling part of that press release was a comment from Dave Marglin, General Counsel for Gracenote: "We spent a great deal of time, energy and money developing the CDDB Music Recognition Service."

    I'm sure everyone who ever contributed info to the CDDB prior to the Gracenote buyout will be happy to join with me in offering a hearty "FUCK YOU !! " to Marglin, and everyone else at Gracenote.

  • It's called a checksum. Big freakin' deal. Like IBM's old XOR cursor patent, they've gone and patented a blatant, obvious, simple idea that others have had before but just never bothered patenting. This patent would have been thrown out if the patent office knew anything about programming. It's like trying to patent Newton's equation for gravity. It's an idea that everybody in the field already knew before the patent came out.

    All CDDB does is generate an ID number based on the following data: length in time of the overall CD + starting time offset of each individual track. The idea is that although CDs don't come with ID numbers on them, the chances are almost nil that two different CDs would have the same exact length, down the the second, and the same exact starting time offsets for each track. So those numbers may be used to create a unique ID for that CD. Why do I know what the format is? Because despite their lies to the contrary, the CDDB info database was DONATED to them by the work of thousands of people on the net who typed in the data when they bought CD's. CDDB doesn't do a lick of work to create their large database. It's a very sound, good idea UNTIL they start claiming exclusive ownership of that information that was vounteered to them. Now when an alternate free competitor does the SAME EXACT THING that CDDB did to get started, cddb gets all pissed off at them for it. Forking hypocrites.

  • It's true, they do have a patent on that. I'm not sure if there is prior art for that or not (although i suspect there is). But even if it is a valid patent, it still doesn't explain why they're suing Roxio instead of freeDB. Any ideas on that one?

  • but he also sent threatening letters to those who were customers of this thief, informing them that they were committing contributory infringement.

    This is a new one on me. I know what contributory infringement means in relation to copyright, but I've never heard it used in relation to patents. What law covers such a thing? Seems to me that if he believes someone is violating his patent, he should sue them. These other companies buying products from his competitor have no way of knowing whether the patent covers those products or not until it is decided by a court, at which point your friend either recovers damages from the competitor for the products it sold, or finds out his patent doesn't cover their products. I don't see how the other companies have anything to do with the dispute. Seems like legal scaremongering to me.

    To me, there should be plenty of examples of prior art for something like this, possibly even an example lurking in a Computer Science textbook somewhere...

    I'm thinking the same thing. Any CS student could come up with a hash like this. The matching algorithm might be slightly tougher, but it's still just a matter of determining criteria and boundaries for the matches. Might take a bit of trial and error to get it working well, but the solution itself seems obvious. I too have a very hard time believing this sort of thing hasn't been done many times in the past.

  • by Lurker ( 1078 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:16AM (#230297)

    Technological countermeasures? What the ring-tailed-rambling fuck is Graceless smoking, and can I have some?

    Prediction: Roxio asks the judge to throw it out as a frivolous lawsuit, and he does...

    Fervent hope: ...but not before bitch-slapping Graceless into the next millennium with punitive damages. This suit isn't merely frivolous, it's malicious. Were I the judge, I'd do as much research as possible to see if I could also add words like "barratry", "malicious", and "RICO" into said millennial bitchslap, and I'd tell Graceless to get the fuck out of my courtroom and never come back until they'd acquired some clue, to say nothing of some manners.

    I'd go a step further: I'd instruct my bailiff(s) to chase the plaintiff and their lawyers out of the room, out of the courthouse, and down the street, hitting them over the head all the while with the largest dildo I could find. Maybe it's just me, but that seems fair.

  • by zonker ( 1158 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:25AM (#230300) Homepage Journal
    let's sue gracenote for stealing the information that we have all given them to create their db in the first place...

    Hollywood of []

  • there's never been a public copy of CDDB available to have been somehow copied by the freedb folks

    Early versions of xcd or whatever it was called included, in the source tar, a copy of the cddb database, and instructions on how to email in your updates.
  • by memoryhole ( 3233 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @06:44AM (#230303) Homepage
    If Gracenote wins this lawsuit, it sets up a very interesting, and dangerous precedent for using the DMCA. What it suggests is that ANY competitor to ANY company in ANY field can be sued similarly.

    Think about it. Say I have a company that sells word-processing software (eg, Microsoft). This lawsuit would suggest that I could sue another company (eg. AbiSoft or Corel) for providing a service that directly circumvents my (Microsoft's) methods of copy protecting. Or say I have a company that sells CPUs (eg, Intel). Say another company provides the exact same, drop-in replacement service (eg, AMD). This lawsuit would suggest that Intel can sue AMD for providing a method of circumventing Intel's copy-restriction methods.

    What this lawsuit basically says is that the DMCA can be used to prevent people from using competing products - especially if the competing products are free! But regardless of the price...

    FreeDB is a separate entity from Gracenote, uses it's own database and it's own servers. In all respects, FreeDB is merely a competing company. According to the DMCA, is competition a federal crime now?

    Perhaps the sticking point is that FreeDB is a "free" alternative. However, this suggests that hostels and homeless shelters can be sued by, for example, Hilton, because the homeless shelters provide a free replacement for Hilton's services.

    This, is truly creepy.
  • If they believe the database infringes then shouldn't they be suing the people?

    Suing an open source group generates bad press.

    Suing a successful company generates investor interest.

    Karma karma karma karma karmeleon: it comes and goes, it comes and goes.
  • Bullshit. When nVidia started up it had patent problems up to wazoo, and look at them now. Roxio == Adaptec, they have a history and this junk is unlikely to kill them. However, my only experience of "Roxio" software was Easy CD Creator which was a pile of poo, so if you were looking for an excuse not to buy shares in them that is a far better reason. I feel sorry for the family members of the guys at Rambus and Gracenote who act like this, can you imagine how they act at Christmastime?
  • Perhaps the same way you can patent the idea of entertaining a cat with a flashlight.

    s/flashlight/laser pointer/; U.S. Patent 5,443,036 "Method of exercising a cat" [] speaks of using a laser.

  • by Genom ( 3868 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @09:20AM (#230309)
    This could set a rather disturbing prescedent...

    If I go to a CD store (Let's say Borders, for sake of argument) with a pad and a pen (or a palm), and physically write down the album title, artist, track titles, copyright date, publisher, etc... what I've done is perfectly legal (although I might get some weird looks while I'm doing it) because this information is publically available.

    Is my list on my pad considered a database? It could be. (a very crude, rudimentary one, but a database nonetheless) If I'd done it on a palm, I'd certainly consider it a database.

    Now, I take this database of publically available information, and type it into/upload it to my computer, and import it into a MySQL database.

    I've still done nothing wrong. I've gone and gathered publically available information, and I'm storing it in an easily searchable format.

    Now, I make a web interface to search it. I can now go to this webpage and search for any artist, album title, publisher, track title, etc... and get any matches that might be in my database.

    Still nothing wrong - all I've done is add an access method.

    Well, I decide that as complete as my listing of CDs is, it doesn't include every CD out there (Borders could have been out of a certain album, or might not carry foreign CDs). So, I make a web interface to allow other people to add the information from the CDs in their collection (or that they've gained in a similar method, going to their local CD shop, and gathering information). I publicize my database on a few mailing lists, my website, Slashdot, etc... and people come to my site, and add their collections.

    Pretty soon, the DB is rather large, and a lot of people are using it.

    Now, Gracenote would like to say that what I've done is wrong. That people can come to my site and get CD info for free, whereas people would have to pay to get it from Gracenote.

    I made mine using publically accessible information, and grew it with information from the public. Nothing in my database couldn't be obtained for free by visiting the appropriate cd store, or contacting the appropriate CD publisher.

    Gracenote acquired a similar, open project, and closed it up. Does that somehow give them a monopoly on publically available information? I don't think it does.

    I'd say this wouldn't hold up in court, and could EASILY be thrown out. I'd agree that it's main purpose was to damage Roxio's reputation, and possibly deplete their resources to the point that they could not stay in business. I'd even go so far as to say that Gracenote KNOWS they have no chance of winning in court - this is a rather ludicrous lawsuit.

    Otherwise, disseminating publically available information for free becomes a crime.

    Conceivably, it could be considered illegal for me to tell my friend the title of track 1 on a given CD - as Gracenote sells that information, and me giving it for free would be "wrong".

    Complete bull.
  • by Howie ( 4244 ) <<howie> <at> <>> on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:31AM (#230310) Homepage Journal
    It's our valuable intellectual property that's underlying all this."

    valuable intellectual property largely built for free, by volounteers donating their time to enter track listings. Don't you get a warm fuzzy feeling adding to the CDDB?
  • by Howie ( 4244 ) <<howie> <at> <>> on Friday May 11, 2001 @06:11AM (#230311) Homepage Journal
    It was originally designed by Ti Kan, the guy who wrote xmcd - the first CDDB-supporting CD player.

    The server software was written by someone called Blue Moon Software (IIRC), and at some stage was at least available-source. You could also download the whole database up to a certain point in time, originally so that you could run a local mirror (it was an entirely volounteer effort).

    They became Gracenote about 18 months ago, coinciding with requiring license agreements and branding (Powered by...) from anyone using their database. It was in Slashdot at the time...
  • A quick google groups search [] (the old deja archive) easily finds info on this older than 1998.

    So if what you say is true, Gracenote hasn't a gangrene infected legal leg to stand on.

    Chris Cothrun
    Curator of Chaos

  • As a minor correction, CDDB doe appear to have Linux support []. Even they are not follish enough to force people to use windows to access their protocol.

    And, yes, Gracenote does not have a chance to win this lawsuit. What they are hoping for is that the people at Roxio will back down instead of taking this to court.

    - Sam

  • i'm not sure about the patent issues; they may very well be (legally, not morally) valid, but this is not copyright violation. freedb is using their own server with their own entries. if freedb were to let users query gracenote's actual entries through a freedb server, then it might be considerable under the dmca, but not as it stands.
  • by Booker ( 6173 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @06:30AM (#230316) Homepage
    Gracenote contacts [].

    But do it nicely. Try not to sound like a raving lunatic.

    Talking points:

    Much of the data, and the interface, were at one point publicly available, so they can claim no proprietary rights.

    You would be willing to support them if they offered better service than competitors, but these attacks on competitors make you have serious doubts about continuing to use their services.

  • by Y2K is bogus ( 7647 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @12:33PM (#230321)
    You are somewhat incorrect. The database was a community project at one time. During that time the CDDB server and database were made available for regular mirroring. When went private, opened up using the latest unencumbered version of the DB and server. Now they have added more to theirs.

    If, in fact, has a patent on the CDDB process, they illegally subverted prior art. You cannot patent a process which is obvious. The REASON this is obvious is because the CDDB protocol (the generation of unique ids) was part of the redbook specification. On top of that they patented a process that was already implemented in software that was released freely, not covered under patents or encumbered licenses. would like for all the work that the original group did, go away. But it won't, it can't, and they don't have a way to stop it.
  • Actually it is in regards to a patent violation.

    But interestingly enough, the the patent was filed in May of 1999. In the US, you can get a patent for up to 1 year after the release of information, so they could have released all the way back to May 1998.

    Wasn't CDDB published before this? Also, wasn't Windows CD player using this (they store it in an ini database I believe) before this?

    It would be nice and ironic to use windows software to show prior art for a patent! :)

    (usual disclaimer, this is just my understanding of things.. IANAL)
  • Although your post was clearly meant as a lighthearted joke, this is as good a place as any to point out that Goodwins law is a piece of intellectually bankrupt deficant.

    It basically boils down to this: "Let's take a widely known event with philisophical, political, and moral implications and lessons which resonate with nearly everyone who has lived any portion of their life in the 20th century, and make it off-limits to any discussion of said topics, regardless of how much light it might shed on a subject, either through direct comparison or juxtupostion."

    Those who embrace the notion are IMHO idiots who can't be bothered to author even the tritest of rebuttals, or, alternatively, are those who are actively trying to engineer the entire experience of the holocaust, with all of its lessons of history, out of the public consciousness. Goodwin's Law indeed. Hrmpf.
  • by gorgon ( 12965 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @07:33AM (#230329) Homepage Journal
    Freedb have in effect written their own version of cddb with the same interfaces, and Roxio are using their existing technology to access freedb.
    This post shows a lack of knowledge of the history of CDDB. CDDB started out as free started out as a way for xmcd (which is GPLed) to recognize the CD that you were palying. CDDB grew into its own separathe project used by many CD players and rippers. The database grew large through the work of thousands of listeners who entered the data for CDs. Then CDDB's developers decided that they could make money off of CDDB, so they formed a company. Then they sold out to Escient bought CDDB []. Escient then started to turn the database against the users. First, they required programs using the database display their logo []. This behavior precipitated the start of a free CDDB [] work alike database, which eventually became called FreeDB [].

    While this was happening, Escient (later called Gracenote), became more and more predatory. They require programs to not allow use of FreeDB [] and they've teamed with Napster to identify copyrighted tracks [].

    Gracenote isn't simply trying to protect their software, they trying to take back what the original CDDB developers gave. And they're trying to make money off of us poor fools who helped them populate the CDDB database.

    So, I say support FreeDB and anyone who fights Gracenote.

    I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations ...

  • by ethereal ( 13958 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:29AM (#230335) Journal

    So let me get this straight: You seized control of a user-generated database, locked the users out of it, forced them to create their own truly free database, and are now suing any company smart enough to realize that supporting the free alternative is a better long-term solution than being dependent on your lame system? The mind boggles.

    And how exactly is freedb a derivative of CDDB? As far as I know everything's been re-entered from scratch into it; there's never been a public copy of CDDB available to have been somehow copied by the freedb folks. I'm not even touching the issue of how CDDB's collection of user-provided track info (contributed under the reasonable assumption that CDDB wouldn't do anything this asinine (Heck, a few years back I couldn't even imagine anything this asinine)) could possibly give them status to sue over the CDDB -- that way lies much teeth grinding and throwing stuff at my coworkers.

    On the bright side, I've got an idea who Microsoft can acquire the next time they need to get more arrogance in-house :)

    Caution: contents may be quarrelsome and meticulous!

  • by mcc ( 14761 )
    What i'm thinking now-- although i've no idea if it would work-- is the idea of this:
    • Gracenote is going around bullying people, starting lawsuits they clearly don't mean to end in anything other than an out-of-court-settlement, and claiming in press releases that freedb is an illegal copy of their product.
    • However, freedb is clearly not illegal, and as yerricde has mentioned above the content from Gracenote's product is used under liscense.
    • Therefore, the FreeDB project can sue Gracenote for slander/libel, as Gracenote is going around and publicly and in the press spreading lies about the freedb product as a way to scare away customers from a competitor.
    Is there any reason this isn't the least bit valid? I don't really think there is.

    The Rambus thing earlier this week was really a revelation to me, and it should have been to most of the rest of the slashdot population, in that, hey! If a company commits fraud, you can actually sue them for fraud! You aren't limited to just sitting around and bitching on public webboards! Isn't that wierd? Why didn't that occur to any of us earlier?

    Btw.. Freedb is, imho, a really stupid name.

  • Gracenote, which boasts that it is the industry standard of digital music recognition

    Pick one: are you an industry standard, or are you a patent-supported monopoly? To suggest that anyone can be both, is an insult to everyone and a perversion of the definition of "standard."

  • I don't know from American Law but don't y'all have something called a class action lawsuit where a lot of people get together to go after someone? Perhaps there would be a case to be made for all the contributors to Gracenotes database getting a share of the profits. If nothing else, at least try to get each individual's work removed from the db and Gracenote is left with nothing...

    *sing* I'm a karma whore and I'm okay....
    I work all night and I post all day
  • by webslacker ( 15723 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:28AM (#230340)
    Intel sues AMD for circumventing their ability to make money from selling x86 processors. Microsoft sues Linus T. for circumventing their licensing agreements designed to protect their OS sales... Marvel sues Penny Arcade for providing free comics that take away from their sales... Ford sues feet for providing free transportation... Phillips sues the sun for providing free light and disrupting their lightbulb sales... Et cetera Et cetera Etc...
  • Actually, Solaris has an x86 version, as do all of the BSD variants (FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD and BSDi). QNX is also x86, and for that matter so is BeOS, which wasn't on the original list.

  • I disagree. Being a monopoly is I believe, and ought to be, having control over an industry. It should not be related to market share. But in agreement, it has nothing to do with your competitors.

    Having an opressively large market share does give you control over that market by definition. If you control 90% of the market, it is very difficult for anyone to break in. It leaves very little revenue for anyone else, which is probably why Linux is about the only thing that has been making any headway against Microsoft.

    I strongly disagree. Microsoft cannot control any industry, despite its best efforts.

    If Microsoft doesn't control their core markets, then I think that nobody has ever controlled a market and there is no such thing as a monopoly.

    They tried to kill Netscape Navigator, and what happened?

    Netscape had to be bought up by AOL and Sun in order to survive? Internet Exploder controls 75% of the browser market? Probably more than that on Windows, as most of the remaining Netscape users are us stubborn Linux (or other *nix) or Mac users...

    NS is still in heavy use,

    If only that was true.

    Mozilla was created (soon to be the dominant browser)

    I hope you are right about that, but as long as Microsoft can force feed Windows onto 90% of the world's desktops, and as long as they can force feed IE onto all of those desktops, then Mozilla will have a huge uphill battle, even if it beats IE in every technical area.

    and Konqueror has gained ground.

    I like Konqueror, but realistically, it is only for KDE users, and they aren't even a dominant fraction of the *nix user base.

    Beyond that, their properitary extensions to HTML were summarily rejected by the W3C and are basically depreciated in the real world.

    Whether that is true or not, and I don't think it is as true as you'd have us believe, it doesn't mean that Microsoft hasn't been very effective at using their OS monopoly to extend into the area of browsers.

    Other markets, for example, the Big One (Desktop OS's). How have they affected/controlled the market?

    In the way that matters at the bottom line. They ship on better than 90% of the machines.

    Can you buy desktop OEM machines with more or less OS choice than ten years ago? More.

    Wrong. 10 years ago you could choose things like Amiga that aren't even around anymore. 15 years ago there were dozens of alternative architectures to choose from.

    They have failed to eliminate choice, and force Windows on consumers. Can OEMs choose new/alternate OS's? Yes.

    Highly misleading. It is only due to governmental anti-trust actions that this is true. Prior to that, Microsoft had forced all the major PC vendors into per-processor licensing or exclusive pre-load agreements that effectively excluded them from shipping any machine with an alternative OS or even without an OS at all. Even now, it is virtually impossible to buy a machine retail without Windows, and more difficult to buy a machine by mail without Windows than it should be if Microsoft wasn't able to twist vendors arms.

    I always think that if you don't like a company, or its New Speak, you shouldn't use their software.

    I go out of my way to avoid Microsoft products.

    Case Example: I hate Larry Elison - I think he's a pompous jack ass.

    The reason I don't like Microsoft is not because I think that Bill Gates and Steve Balmer are jerks, although I think that is true... While Larry certainly wouldn't be my poster boy for niceness, Oracle as a company plays a lot nicer with the industry than Microsoft does...

    Even though Oracle controls a huge majority of the database market I don't use their software.

    I have used Oracle's database, and it is a good product, although it looks like we are going with a competing product for the project I am working on right now.

    I use alternatives. Even though there are fewer db makers, and even though they are very popular, they aren't a monopoly.

    Oracle doesn't come anywhere near 90% of the database market, and they have a lot more serious competition than Microsoft faces in the OS or office suite markets. There is Microsoft MS-SQL Server, IBM's DB2, Sybase, etc. Oracle would also be a lot more dangerous if they controlled the OS platform and development tools markets as well as the database server markets, so it is not really a fair comparison to pit Oracle against Microsoft.

    They can't control an industry (change prices arbitrarily across multiple vendors, products).

    Microsoft does all that, and Oracle comes pretty close.

    That remains to be seen, but remember... if the original premise that MS is a monopoly is false, then everything they did was 100% legal.

    Actually, they've done a lot of thing that are certainly unethical and look to be illegal even for a non-monopoly...

    It all hinges on the monopoly finding.

    One of the problems with the DOJ-vs-MS trial was that the DOJ did a very poor job of pushing forward all of the other dirt on MS. They kept the focus too narrow.

    Bill Gates may be a bad man, MS may be a bad company who makes bad expensive closed software, BUT it still doesn't make them a monopoly in Desktop OS's

    No, but pretty much by definition, 90% market share does.

    How long do you think the government would let GM have a 90% share of the auto market? How long do you think they'd get away with telling dealers that they couldn't sell any competing brands? How long do you think they'd let GM tell dealers they couldn't add any customizations to their cars? Microsoft basically has done all that and worse... I think they get away with it only because the government doesn't understand the computer industry.

  • Crap. Missed a damned closing italic tag... :-(

  • by SoftwareJanitor ( 15983 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @07:18AM (#230344)
    Kind of like Microsoft and Linux. MS is a monopoly, until you put Linux in the picture.

    Microsoft still holds monopoly positions, even with Linux in the picture. Having a monopoly doesn't mean not having any competitors at all. It means having an overwhelming market share. Microsoft has over 90% of both the desktop OS market and the office suite market. Even though there are competitors to them in both areas, they still have monopoly powers and use them in ways that are in my opinion both unethical and illegal.

    Microsoft would like to redefine the word "Monopoly" in such a way as to make it such a narrow term that it doesn't apply to them, but we shouldn't let them do it. We also shouldn't let them get away with redefining "innovation" and other words the way that they do.

    What it comes down to with CDDB vs freedb is that Gracenote is trying to use patent law as a way to try to get a legal monopoly and actually exclude anyone else from being able to compete with them at all. This is actually worse in some ways than what Microsoft usually does. Let's hope that Microsoft doesn't add this dirty trick to their playbook... they already have just about every other one in there... :-(

    So wouldn't CDDB be confinded to the same laws of using their monopoly to snuff the competition?

    You'd certainly hope that was true... But it is starting to look like Microsoft is going to get off with little more than a slap on the wrist... not because they didn't honestly lose their case, but just because the judge said too much.

    I think that if Microsoft can get away with blatant violations of anti-trust law as they aparently are going to, then I am afraid it will be like declaring it open season for every other company to start playing dirty all the time. That is a bad thing for everyone.

  • Perhaps you should direct them toAmishRakeFight, GFY [] as well.

  • Shouldn't he be going after accountants for royalties? They make a living by counting beans, after all, something they owe directly to the Count.

  • . The wealthier individuals and corporations have access to better lawyers, improving their chances for a decision in their favor

    Nope. If the loser is going to pay and you have a case with good merit, a high-priced (and presumably better) lawyer would still take Joe Schmoe's case against Big Bad CorporateCo. No matter what, SuperLawyer is going to get paid; why would he care who he is representing?


  • Very true; I hadn't thought about that. Of course, if you have a lawyer on retainer or as an employee, the lawsuit doesn't cost the company anything (the lawyers get paid their salaries no matter what), so you wouldn't have to pay much ;-)


  • 2. Translation: Someone has discovered that our entire business is based on publicly available information that anyone with enough time and resources could obtain and organize.

    You should look at Lexis []/Nexis []. They are most well known for their legal search and citation tools which use a custom indexing format to number and cite legal documents. IANAL, but from what I understand, Lexis/Nexis is the de facto standard for legal citations and that they used to charge a bloody fortune for access (it appears that their prices have dropped recently, though). (Legal folks; any comments?)

    From what I understand, they've keep a stranglehold on the industry and have quickly killed off all competitors, even though logic would suggest that the US government should provide the same service for free ("What, I have to pay a 3rd party to search documents made by the US courts?!?")

  • by leperjuice ( 18261 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @07:59AM (#230353)
    Perhaps we should be thankful that Gracenote is threatening Roxio with this moronic lawsuit. Why? Because it adds further evidence that the DMCA is easily abused and should be overturned.

    It's similar to the Princeton/SDMI affair []: by using the law to restrict speech, the RIAA have created a situation where it will be very easy to turn the tide of legislative and legal opinion against the DMCA.

    So a few more boneheaded lawsuits like this and we stand a good chance of getting the DMCA overturned. It's a shame that in the meanwhile the people and the courts have to suffer while the lawyers get rich (note; I have no anti-lawter bias, as both my parents are lawyers).

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @07:15AM (#230354)
    Shopping elsewhere is now a circumvention, eh?

  • They cannot sue, because it's a German project which means that US patent laws do NOT apply.
  • It appears that most of Gracenote's bitching is about the "unauthorized derivative" status of FreeDB. They're claiming that FreeDB is using data from their servers, and acting as though FreeDB were still somehow reliant on the CDDB system. Is this in any way true? I like FreeDB, but I can see Gracenote's point if there's actually a link between FreeDB and the CDDB database. started with the last archives of the former free cddb that've been floating aroung. As the archives have been distributed with a GPL'ed program (xmcd) chances are that those archives are under the GPL, too ;-)
    With this initial database, did never rip (or even tries to) cddb's database, got all their entries from usersubmissions.
  • I think Gracenote's sueing Roxio to give their public offering a bad start. Whether their lawsuit has merit or not doesn't matter; Roxio will forever be tainted as "that company that had legal problems," and will be worse off in the end.
  • The patent system by design requires disclosure as compensation to the public good in exchange for a time-limited monopoly on the invention. This has been stated so many times in so many discussions on IP law, and with your two-digit user number you've no excuse for not being aware of it. If you don't know exactly what you're talking about, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. (Taco? Can we get that added to the Important Stuff about comments?)

    What is far more interesting is that the disclosure occurred over a year before it was filed (corporate welfare might have increased this time limit in recent history), thus the patent would likely be held invalid. Gracenote is clearly hoping that Roxio will get scared and settle rather than defend.

    Hey, Roxio, I don't own a Windows machine, but I'll buy a license to Easy CD Creator (retail) directly from you if you guys countersue them for fraud.


  • No, it wouldnt really be _worth_ a patent because you've obviously already thought about the idea.

    The fact that you dont have the faintest clue how to go about it, or that any way you might think up would require the processing power of the entire world doesnt really prevent you from patenting the idea of 'algorithmically analyzing waveforms to determine greatest match with currently available recordings' tho. Because the USPTO would probably grant it anyway and then you can just lean back and sue when someone else does the actual work.
  • I'm pretty sure you can't copyright factual infomation

    That is corect, (UK wise at any rate) however...

    The act of compling the data into the database is protected. So, whilst Gracenote cannot stop anyone else from makeing a database with the same information in it, the can stop someone taking Gracenotes database and selling it on.

    Legally, a database is more than just a collection of data. Which is fair enough, if you've spent time and money compling the DB, you don't want all that effort pinched. However, if someone else puts the effort in, you can't stop them profiting of the results.

    For legal advice, see a lawyer in your own juristriction.

  • That patent was filed in 1999 according to whats there. There is *NO* way that patent is valid, I implemented a program in Java to create the CD ID more than 3 years ago. If they published the information before 1998 they are screwed, they have 1 year after publication in the U.S. to file the patent. (in most countries the publication would invalidate the application immediately.)
  • by jmauro ( 32523 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @06:47AM (#230368)
    Actually you're allowed to copy the phonebook in its entirety. In fact most phonebooks are just a complete rip off of the regular phonebooks. (If you don't believe me check for errors, they'll be similar. And check when you get the alternative phone books, it's always 2 or 3 months after the regular one.)

    You cannot collect names otherwise. Think about it, where is a complete, public-domain copy of the list of number available? No where and the SBC's, QWests, and Verizons of the world have no interest in publishing such a thing. Feist v. Rural Telephone Service Company gave Feist permission and legal protection to COPY the other's phonebook, regardless of the others objections. There was simply nothing they could do. Since a phonebook cannot be copyrighted, there is nothing to prevent the direct copy, (minus the intro and conclusion material, which is copyrighted.) Read this [] to get more information.

    But either way this is not an issue in this case, because both databases were generated independantly and not a copied, since CDDB did everything to prevent a copy of their free and open database from the start.
  • by Platinum Dragon ( 34829 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:51AM (#230369) Journal
    Consider it done [].
  • by rufus t firefly ( 35399 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:53AM (#230372) Homepage
    > This is a brilliant (dumbshit) move on Gracenote's part. Why, with all the attention
    > they've paid to fairness and equitable behavior in the past (screwing CDDB users), you
    > can be sure that this is a case of Gracenote spending time trying to uphold a piece of
    > legislation that is necessary and supports freedom, equality, and ethical behavior (for
    > Nazis).

    I invoke Godwin's law. You lose.

  • by Amrik ( 42170 )
    Gracenote DID NOT spend time and effort collecting their database. It consists of entries contributed by the USERS. All they provided was the infrastructure. Roxio is not using their infrastructure OR their IP. FreeDBs database is constructed from it's own users not from CDDB.

    So Gracenote doesn't have a leg to stand on.
  • Well, I don't think that the actual database is copyrighted... no, you can't do that, it is free to copy...

    However, the algorithm for determining a CD's unique ID to store in the database (as well as look up entries in the database) is patented. I don't know how Roxio could possibly be liable for using an alternate data source and using a patented algorithm to do lookups - when previously they were using a non-copyrighted data source with the same algorithm, and they were in compliance with the law.

    I do think that the algorithm should be patented, though. I just don't like the company that holds the patent. Plus, it's a de-facto standard now, so there should be some sort of compulsory licensing solution for it. Gracenote will still make money hand over fist that way, but they can't squash competition with it...
  • "you GAVE them that information, they can do whatever they want with it"

    No, we gave them a copy of that information. And they should have no say over whether or not we decide to give another copy to freedb, and choose to access freedb instead of cddb.

    It's our data, and we can do what we like with it and access it from whomever we choose.


  • That's partially true. The problem is that people submitted data with the understanding that everything was GPL'd or would otherwise be available to everyone. CDDB has betrayed that trust but closing everything up and charging. Thus I think that some action is required.

    I will admit a possible way that CDDB will get away with that part. Before they closed up the data, the then-current database was available to all [the data that freedb used to get started]. Any submissions made after that time would be considered as part of the new closed system. Leaving out the fact that most people probably weren't aware of the fact that it was now closed.

    All that aside, I still don't understand what Gracenote is really suing Roxio for. As far as I can tell, Roxio kept up with their end of any contracts throughout the life of the license. The license has now expired and Roxio has chosen to use another solution. I can see nothing in this situation that would warrant suing over. I hope it gets laughed out of court.

    Court: "So you're suing Roxio because they chose to use a competitor after their agreements with you expired?"
    Gracenote: "Yes your honor."
    Court:"[snicker] ...ok, well [chuckle] i'll have to bring this up with [giggle] the DOJ. [guffaw] Court is adjourned. [Bwahahahhahah!]
    Gracenote: "Doh!"


  • by weave ( 48069 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:52AM (#230381) Journal
    "Gracenote has apparently made this claim in a weak and ineffective attempt to damage Roxio's reputation."

    True, it is pretty weak and ineffective attempt to damange their reputation Roxio does a far better job [] damaging their own reputation...

  • by DzugZug ( 52149 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:29AM (#230384) Journal
    You cannot copyright a database. Their copyright will not hold up if challenged in court. Copyright is only valid for "creative works of original authorship." No logic ordering of items can be copyrighted. Databases, recipies and phonebooks are all uncopyrightable.

    If you don't believe me see FEIST PUBLICATIONS, INC. v. RURAL TELEPHONE SERVICE CO., INC. The Supreme Court ruled "Alphabetical listings of names, accompanied by towns and telephone numbers, in telephone book white pages held not copyrightable; thus, nonconsensual copying of listings held not to infringe on copyright."

  • That's the same argument my former ISP [] used to justify discontinuing my service when they got a letter from the MPAA and "discovered" that I was running my own webserver.

    They said I was violating their terms of service [], but see if you can find anything prohibiting or even mentioning servers for DSL users. The owner called me up at home and insinuated I was trying to "get away with something" by running my own server instead of paying them for hosting. So, with that twisted logic, they decided to bill me for 18 months of web hosting I didn't ask for or recieve. I called a lawyer.

    Here's my documentation [] on the issue, and, needless to say, if you're in MN, avoid this place.

    The moral of the story is because this is a capitalist country, it is a crime to avail yourself of a free service if someone is willing to charge you for it.

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:05AM (#230390)
    No, it's even dumber than you think: > Intel sues AMD for circumventing their ability to make money from selling x86 processors.

    No, Intel suing Compaq for selling CPUs with AMD in them.

    > Microsoft sues Linus T. for circumventing their licensing agreements designed to protect their OS sales...

    No, MSFT suing Slackware for giving Linux away.

    > Marvel sues Penny Arcade for providing free comics that take away from their sales...

    No, Marvel suing you for reading Penny Arcade.

    > Ford sues feet for providing free transportation...

    No, Ford suing your local shoe store for selling Nike.

    > Phillips sues the sun for providing free light and disrupting their lightbulb sales...

    No, Phillips suing you for installing a sunroof.

    > Et cetera Etc...

    Bottom line: If Gracenote asserts ownership of the database, they should be suing freedb, not Roxio.

    But they can't, of course, because they don't own freedb database. They only own the Graceless database.

    Unless Roxio had a contract with Graceless to use their DB, suing Roxio for switching to a competitor doesn't make sense. (And even if they did, the suit would be for breach of contract, not a DMCA charge.)

    DMCA doesn't enter into it. This is a business decision, made by one company, to stop using a for-pay product, and to start using a not-for-pay product.

    Technological countermeasures? What the ring-tailed-rambling fuck is Graceless smoking, and can I have some?

    Prediction: Roxio asks the judge to throw it out as a frivolous lawsuit, and he does...

    Fervent hope: ...but not before bitch-slapping Graceless into the next millennium with punitive damages. This suit isn't merely frivolous, it's malicious. Were I the judge, I'd do as much research as possible to see if I could also add words like "barratry", "malicious", and "RICO" into said millennial bitchslap, and I'd tell Graceless to get the fuck out of my courtroom and never come back until they'd acquired some clue, to say nothing of some manners.

  • In late breaking news today Sesame Street's Count ha filed a class action patent lawsuit against the world claiming that people from all walks of life are infringing on his works.

    "While counting to one two, I teach kids how to learn to make it in life, yet these kids turned around and made programs which have made more money than I have. What happened to due process?" stated the Count.

    So what's at stake here? Its simple numbers via ways of 0's and 1's combined constructed together form marvelous works earning companies millions. The Count is claiming patents on the numbers one and zero, which would give him sole ownership of the internet as we know it.

    Employees of IBM, Sun, Microsoft, and other heavy hitters have released brief statements claiming to have never watched Sesame Street.

    Stay Tuned
  • You're just fine doing everything that you mentioned above. The catch is that Gracenote holds a patent on generating a unique key for the database. The whole reason why CDDB and freeDB are so cool isn't that they have big lists of song titles it's that your album is recognised when you put it into your CD drive and the correct information is downloaded.

  • And how exactly is freedb a derivative of CDDB? As far as I know everything's been re-entered from scratch into it; there's never been a public copy of CDDB available to have been somehow copied by the freedb folks.

    At issue here isn't the actual data. It's the fact that Gracenote has a patent on the CDDB technology. The slashdot discussion on the topic of the patent is located here [], complete with all the usual /. I'm gonna patent breathing vindictive.

    While Gracenote's behavior in general is pretty sleasy and just generally ugly, they did develop a cool technology and freeDB is just a rip off of that technology. That's still not much of an excuse for acting like this though.


  • by ckd ( 72611 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @06:15AM (#230417) Homepage
    So while they didn't pay for the information, they did pay for the infrastructure.

    Which (as you note) doesn't make this lawsuit any more legitimate; they're complaining that Roxio isn't using their infrastructure.

    And they did develop the database for free; it was originally a GPLed server app that you could download (along with the complete database for use in local mirrors). Escient/Gracenote then bought it and closed it up.

    As much as I dislike Amazon's one-click patent and so on, I must admit that they've done much better things with IMDB than Gracenote has with CDDB.

    Come to think of it, doesn't this give us some reason to donate funds to freedb?

    Yes indeed. There doesn't seem to be any donation info on that I can find, though.

  • by TommyW ( 75753 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @06:11AM (#230419)
    No, he's right... Sort of.

    What they really mean is "Roxio is trying to get for free what other companies are paying *us* for (and we got for free in the first place)."

    Too stupid to live.
  • The real issue - is why are they allowed to copyright their database? It's just a collection of publicly available information. It is not a creative work. If this database weren't copyrighted they wouldn't be able to use the DMCA at all.

    So an example of why this is insidious... the human genome is supposed to be free for mankind to use... but what do you want to be the database that holds the information about the entire sequence will be copyrighted by someone? And anyone who tries to provide a free version will be DMCA'd to death?

    Collections of facts don't qualify as expression to me. Especially just a giant list of cds. Can I copyright my grocery list? How is that different? People will pay to access a database if it provides a worthwhile service. If there is an equivalent database being maintained by volunteers, there is no utility gained by paying the commercial enterprise. And especially when the cddb began as a community volunteer effort, the company that emerged to take it over has no grounds to complain when new volunteers emerge to replace the community service that had previously existed. There was obviously community interest in this before (leading to cddb) and there is still obviously community interest - if this company failed to realize that and based their business plans on the community just abandoning the project (with no particular reason to believe this to be the case) then they deserve the ultimate Darwinian punishment.
  • by Chanc_Gorkon ( 94133 ) <gorkon&gmail,com> on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:40AM (#230437)
    You know, this really irks me. They (Gracenote) posted the whole spec and everything you need to write a app that would read and write from the CDDB. I even had downloaded intending to code a player in VB that used it. Now, if that was patented technology, then why were he specs on the web for all to see??? Makes no sense to me! Also, they make it sound like the paid hundreds of monkeys to put cd's in their drives and type in thousands of entries! Those monkeys were us! We did all of the work, all they did was write the DB code and documented how to write a client. Did gracenote ever release their own product using cddb?? Not the last time I checked!
  • by Chanc_Gorkon ( 94133 ) <gorkon&gmail,com> on Friday May 11, 2001 @07:23AM (#230438)
    Why are they suing Roxio? They should be suing the Free DB folks if they are infringing on the patent. The reason their are suing Roxio is that if competing GPL'd software infringes on a trademark, who do you sue?? The webpage owners? The developers? The hosting company? There's no money in suing the developers. They have none, or it would be very hard to find everyone. Roxio is an easy target who has money. Also, Gracenote kind of reminds me of Apple in this situation. Suing everyone for no apparent reason after they shot themselves in the foot. Well, I dunno if Apple shot their foot, but they still like to sue or threaten everyone who has something or uses something that even looks like theirs.
  • The key difference, though, is that not only do Gracenote and freedb work similarly, but also they rely on the same fundamental algorithm [] for taking the contents table on the CD and generating the 64-bit unique disc IDs which are used as keys into their respective databases. Granted, the algorithm isn't exactly rocket science, but it looks like it was Gracenote who came up with it first.

    (Now, if Gracenote had only patented the algorithm... :) )

    my plan []
  • Oops-- and, as someone pointed out [], it looks like they did. Why this should mean they want to go after Roxio about it, though, is beyond me.
    my plan []
  • Roxio has posted a (very brief) response [] to the lawsuit.


    my plan []
  • by BradleyUffner ( 103496 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:58AM (#230448) Homepage
    "let's sue gracenote for stealing the information that we have all given them to create their db in the first place... "
    Ummm.. you GAVE them that information, they can do whatever they want with it. Sure it's mean and nasty, but that's the way to world works. We should have thought about it before giving it away.
    =\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\ =\
  • by BradleyUffner ( 103496 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:34AM (#230449) Homepage
    In the version of its software released since the licensing agreement expired, Roxio directs users to an alternative music recognition database operated by an open-source group called, which Gracenote says illegally uses its database technology.
    If they believe the database infringes then shouldn't they be suing the people?

    =\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\=\ =\
  • by Galvatron ( 115029 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @08:06AM (#230464)'re upset because someone's trying to make a profit off of something you made without compensating you for it? Almost like... Napster?

    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.
  • by psin psycle ( 118560 ) <> on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:25AM (#230465) Homepage
    "There are 1,800 commercial licensees of ours who pay to access our database, including AOL, RealNetworks and MusicMatch," said Dave Marglin, general counsel for Berkeley, Calif.-based Gracenote. "Roxio is trying to get for free what other people pay for. It's our valuable intellectual property that's underlying all this."

    If they win, I bet M$ tries to use this argument against linux..

  • by yerricde ( 125198 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @06:01AM (#230471) Homepage Journal

    That said, it seems to me that this case hinges on CDDB proving that freedb have simply copied their database.

    The CDDB database was originally released under the GNU General Public License. The FreeDB people originally seeded FreeDB with a snapshot of CDDB from back when it was under the GPL. Because there is no language in the GPL allowing an author to revoke it unilaterally, FreeDB is in the clear copyright-wise.

    Of course, nothing you see on Slashdot is legal advice.
  • by yerricde ( 125198 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @06:23AM (#230472) Homepage Journal

    The lawsuit claims that Roxio is infringing on Gracenote's patents

    Any conforming implementation of the CDDB protocol will infringe Gracenote's patent [] on hashing a CD's table of contents. Look at U.S. Patent 6,061,680 [] and foreign counterparts. (N.B.: Legalese 'record' != vinyl. 'Record' is short for 'phonorecord,' a copy of a sound recording.) This patent is on shaky ground, as it was filed in July 16, 1999, when a working CDDB system (i.e. prior art) was presumably already in wide public use.

  • by jayhawk88 ( 160512 ) <> on Friday May 11, 2001 @06:25AM (#230494)
    Roxio is trying to get for free what other people pay for....said Dave Marglin, general counsel for Berkeley, Calif.-based Gracenote

    OK, there's several ways I could go here, so I'll just list them all and let you all decide:

    1. Yeah! Shame on Roxio for having the business sense to use publicly available material to get an advantage over others! That's un-American!

    2. Translation: Someone has discovered that our entire business is based on publicly available information that anyone with enough time and resources could obtain and organize. Our best hope to defuse this situation is to desperately attempt to associate this with Napster as much as possible.

    3. Competition? What, me worry?
  • ...and detested them utterly.

    I was wanting to write a Java client to their CDDB. Well, they made this impossible in MULTIPLE ways. First, in order to get a look at their API (just the documentation, not even the libraries!) I needed to sign a *16-page* document that enjoined me to do all sorts of ridiculous things like never switch to a competitor's product.

    Now, their original interface, CDDB-1, was a simple and reasonable socket interface. Even though all the clients I'd seen were using their CDDB-1 API, they would not allow documentation for this out under any circumstances, instead forcing new users to use CDDB-2, a DCOM(!) interface.

    When I asked them how I was supposed to use this DCOM interface from Java and my Linux Cobalt server, they said I should be using a professional server (which I took to mean Windows) to do my work. When I indicated that I wasn't going to migrate to a Windows server, could I please see the CDDB-1 documentation, they ceased to reply to me.

    I was completely disgusted with them and can't imagine ever doing business with such people.

  • So the idea in business is now that a company cannot find a better way to do business because you might put someone out of work? That's crazy. Following that logic, if someone had been paying for telephone directories, they would not be allowed to use a free yellow pages CD.

    Sorry, Gracenote, but everyone was using CDDB for free for the longest time and now that people want to streamline their business by not having to deal with your payments, you get upset? I really cannot find a shred of pity for Gracenote. I hope they evaporate like so many other Internet service companies that wanted to be paid for not really providing a service.

    This whole invocation of the DMCA is garbage! If you look at anything in the world, one thing is a circumvention of another. Is the horse and buggy industry supposed to receive compensation from car manufacturers or taxi drivers because they have circumvented their technology to find a better way of doing things? Is Bantam books going to sue the Gutenburg Project because their free database of books impacts sales of their classics even in the tiniest of ways?

    Do they not realise that the free flow of information is what made the Internet the awesome tool that it is and that by trying to take that away they are negatively impacting themselves in the long run?

  • According to Gracenote, "It's our valuable intellectual property that's underlying all this." I beg to differ.

    It is my (and your) intellectual property that underlies their database. I have inputted a couple of discs into CDDB over the years.

    I propose a class action lawsuit to reclaim our IP. I reccomend we sue for five dollars per entry and whatevers left after the sharks get their cut we donate to charity. What do you think.

    If we win the database, we could give it to [], free and clear.

  • by nooekanami ( 192720 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:49AM (#230518)
    i swear, if one more company promises to enhance my: 1. musical experience 2. shopping experience 3. dining experience I am gonna get me a gun and enhance their salvation experience.
  • by onion2k ( 203094 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:32AM (#230525) Homepage
    The article, and supporting material, implies that gracenote are simply sueing because Roxio are using a free competitor. Thats not entirely the case. Freedb have in effect written their own version of cddb with the same interfaces, and Roxio are using their existing technology to access freedb. As Roxio presumably developed the interface to cddb with the of Gracenote and then switched, Gracenote's effort has not been rewarded.

    (This is as I understand it. I might be wrong.)
  • Classic cases in copyright law - you can't copyright the contents of the phonebook. The phonebook is just a collection of publicly available names and numbers. There is nothing that prevents other companies from publishing alternative phonebooks in markets where Ma' Bell already publishes (and we see this quite often, esp. in big cities).

    Same theory here: Gracenote is selling a *Service* - you pay them and they manage a list of publicly available information for you. If you'd prefer, you can spend your own time and money putting together your own version of CDDB and no one can stop you. Gracenote does not actually own the Album and track titles that it dishes out. It only owns the service that it provides to companies who pay for it.

    In this particular case, someone else has entered the market and has decided to do the work of gathering the same info that Gracenote gathers. Much in the same way that (here in NYC) Yellowbook gathers telephone info to publish their own phonebook, even though Verizon publishes one that looks very, very similar. Much in the way Oxford gathers their information to publish a dictionary that looks very similar to Webster's.

    Sorry Gracenote. You're just bitter.

  • "There are 1,800 commercial licensees of ours who pay to access our database, including AOL, RealNetworks and MusicMatch," said Dave Marglin, general counsel for Berkeley, Calif.-based Gracenote. "Roxio is trying to get for free what other people pay for. It's our valuable intellectual property that's underlying all this."

    Millions of people go to public libraries and borrow books - in fact sometimes people who work for corporations go to public libraries and use their information resources to make profit generating business decisions. But you don't see publishers suing them (well not yet) for not having bought our books and having used free alternatives.

    CDDB was created out of the labour of a lot of contributors doing "data entry" of almost all the information. Gracenote seems to contend that the collection of song titles and release titles (not the actual songs and albums themselves) are some kind of "intellectual property".

    Are we to the point where there are lawyers and business people who believe that even the information about the **existence** of a product is part of the product?? Perhaps Gracenote needs to rethink it's idiotic licensing scheme instead of suing companies for using alternative sources of **information**.

    What about our own names? Are they "intellectual property"? If so then do I get to decide who gets to call me by my name and who has to refer to me using a number or symbol? I'd be sure to pick something unpronounceable like the artist formerly know as Prince once did and reserve it for use of silly greedy corporations.

  • by n7lyg ( 219105 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @07:20AM (#230548)
    Is it just coincidence that Gracenote received two patent grants on May 8, 2001? The more important one, 6,230,192 [] concerns using a remote computer to deliver content based on ids derived from CD's, DVD's and MP3's. Specifically, claim 10 of that patent is exactly what freedb does.
    10. A method for associating a recording with output of data on a local computer connected to a network, comprising:

    determining an identifier from information associated with the recording;
    comparing the identifier with records in a database maintained on a remote computer coupled to the local computer via the network; and
    outputting remote data obtained from the network upon verification of access to the recording by the local computer, the remote data obtained via the network from at least one storage location dynamically determined based on the identifier.
    However, this patent is an egregious example of an over-broad patent covering compeltely obvious technology. For instance, one claim involves detecting CD insertion and automatically starting a program!
    13. A method as recited in claim 12, further comprising:

    detecting insertion of the compact disc in the compact disc player; and
    automatically starting a client program within the computer to cause the computer to access the network when the compact disc is inserted in the compact disc player.
    Also, there are 79 claims in this patent! Most of the claims are extremely trivial variations on a theme of delivering a variety of content (pictures, videos, tickets, ads, etc.) based on the ids derived from the inserted media.
  • by Arethan ( 223197 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:25AM (#230550) Journal
    Sue everyone using Linux with WinE because it circumvents their technological measures to make Windows applications only run on the Windows line of OSes??

    This is getting really lame. 2001 is turning out to be the sue-fest year. I'm already sick of it. DMCA needs to be destroyed as unconstitutional and redone by technologically inclined people.

    Having lawyers make laws for technology use is like having my grandmother write her own operating system. Sure, with enough time and effort it will happen, but would it really be any good?
  • by kyz ( 225372 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:55AM (#230554) Homepage
    What exactly have they patented?

    US Patent 6,061,680 [].

    As I understand it (IANAPL), they've patented not only the server-end approximate matching algorithm (which I think is fair enough to patent), but they've patented the way a 'CD ID' is generated by the CD client and sent to the server in order for it to do the search.

    This could be replaced with the client simply sending the CD track lengths to the server, rather than combining them at the client end using a patented ID generation algorithm.
  • by kyz ( 225372 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:31AM (#230555) Homepage
    They can't claim that the database freedb uses is theirs, it was GPLed, and freedb's database is built only with GPLed entries.

    They're damn right about their patents, though. I think freedb should offer a client query method that isn't patented, in addition to the patented method. Therefore, those client authors who don't want Gracenote on their backs can be relieved. Eventually, I'd like to see freedb drop all patented-cddb-request support from their server. We don't actually need it, and it only serves to give gracenote a stick to beat us with.
  • by hillct ( 230132 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:41AM (#230557) Homepage Journal
    The response is vary short and vary concise. The important item is:
    "Roxio believes this unfounded claim was made by Gracenote in response to our selection of their competition as our preferred provider," said Bill Growney, Director of Legal Affairs at Roxio, Inc. "Gracenote has apparently made this claim in a weak and ineffective attempt to damage Roxio's reputation."
    The validity of these statements is bolstered by the comments of GraceNote's general counsel, who says:
    "We hope to engage in productive discussions with Roxio to review and quickly resolve the matter in the best interest of everyone involved. However, our intellectual property is at stake," said Dave Marglin, General Counsel for Gracenote.
    These comments seem to suggest that GraceNote is looking for binding arbitration and a closed settlement - presumably because their case wouldn't hold up in court - rather than to drag Roxio through a long drawn out legal battle, designed to exhaust the Roxio's corporate resources. Sometimes it's more effective to simply damage a company's reputation by announcing that there was a closed settlement and that the complainant is 'vary satisfied' with the result. Legal strategy is an amazing thing...


  • by Uninvited Guest ( 237316 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:44AM (#230559)
    Okay, buying and using Roxio's software and is a start. What about a legal defense fund to help Roxio beat Gracenote? I would give a modest sum to help win this case, especially if it was tax-deductible through some organization such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation []. If some illustrious reader would post that information here, I would appreciate it.

    Sometimes I worry that I'll develop Alzheimer's disease, but no one will notice.
  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:39AM (#230572)
    This is a brilliant (dumbshit) move on Gracenote's part. Why, with all the attention they've paid to fairness and equitable behavior in the past (screwing CDDB users), you can be sure that this is a case of Gracenote spending time trying to uphold a piece of legislation that is necessary and supports freedom, equality, and ethical behavior (for Nazis).

    I hope that the judge looks long and hard at the DMCA to see how it supports Gracenote's claims(unconstitutional), and tells Roxio what they can go do with themselves (Win a big fat cash settlement for legal fees) when he announces his decision at the outcome of the trial (Gracenote is a bunch of theiving pricks).

  • by daddy2times ( 245051 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @01:05PM (#230573)
    I recently had occasion to discover the many, many different artists that have recorded 'He ain't heavy, he's my brother' (I can tell you that there are over 25 -- including the ever-popular pan flute artists). Well, gracenote lists a max of 200 hits. Not enough to get to the more obscure artists because there are so many listed by the popular artists such as the Hollies, etc. I e-mailed gracenote to ask how I could get the complete list of search hits. I wish I had saved their response, but almost word-for-word, they said, "We've had to change our search return rules because mean people [yes! that's correct, MEAN PEOPLE!] have tried to steal our complete database by searching on a single letter" I responded that I thought THEIR database was wholely contributed by the people and not compiled by gracenote. Needless to say, I never got a response.
  • This suit completely defies logic and reason. According to the story, the contract has expired, which is why Roxio decided to go with freeDB.

    A victory by Gracenote would have a chilling effect on business... The precedent set would be this: Once you sign a contract with some company for a license/service, et, it lasts FOREVER... you can't get the service from the best priced (free) alternative.

    Hopefully, this case will go for Gracenote like the Infineon case went for RAMBUS, the convicted fradulent IP lawfirm, they open a can of worms and end up THEMSELVES being penalized.

    Far too many bad lawsuits are being filed by companies looking to get rich, or prevent competition on the back of the legal system. That in and of itself is completely contrary to the intent of the civil legal system, which is to settle disputes between parties on the perponderance of the evidence and the law.

    There need to be harsh penalties, and harsh consequences for filing such suits, which are in effect, little different from blatantly illegal acts such as extortion, fraud, slander, etc.
  • by flakac ( 307921 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @07:22AM (#230602)
    There's a better reason to drop the original cddb protocol on freedb... it was designed for personal use and just kind of grew into a monster being used by everyone. After it hit critical mass, it was too difficult to force the thousands of applications that used it to change.

    The major problems:
    1. Genre is treated as part of the primary key for each lookup. Genre should be an attribute of a CD, and not a key item. (Not to mention the limited list of accepted genres).
    2. Only one CD allowed for each discid/genre. Since the discid is not guaranteed to be unique, this is obviously a bogus restriction. This is fine for small collections, but as the number of CDs indexed grows, the likelyhood of a collision increases.
    3. Screwed-up submit/update/delete semantics. The same process is used to submit and update CDs to the index -- except for submit, you have to increment the entry revision. The cleaner solution is to use seperate mechanisms for submit and update -- there's a reason that UPDATE and INSERT in SQL are seperate.
    4. The database itself is file-based -- *very* non-portable (ever try to unpack 150000+ files into a VFAT filesystem?). Gracenote itself apparently switched to a relational database a long time ago, because they have been "poisoning" the entries sent back to clients with invalid track offsets.
    I could go on, but there's not to much point in beating a dead horse.

    I'd urge all of you to immediately switch all of your applications to use freedb instead. And for the developer types among you, volunteer to help. -Andy Key
  • by krugdm ( 322700 ) <slashdot.ikrug@com> on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:58AM (#230616) Homepage Journal
    Except that Gracenote is suing Roxio and not freedb. The only way this case would have any merit is if Roxio created freedb themselves using information obtained from Gracenote. All Roxio is guilty of is having the common sense to jump off the Gracenote train and to jump of the better (and cheaper) services that freedb offers.
  • by The Ultimate Badass ( 450974 ) on Friday May 11, 2001 @05:29AM (#230632) Homepage

    That said, it seems to me that this case hinges on CDDB proving that freedb have simply copied their database. This would only be possible if it is demonstrated that a substantial number of errors have been duplicated (ie. spelling errors). If they cannot prove this, how can they substantiate the claim that freedb is an unauthoized derivative?

    Furthermore, I wonder what grounds they have for making this a copyright case, since their entire business centres around redistributing the titles of the copyrighted work of other artists, making their entire database a derivative of other people's work. Does anybody know if they have deals with record companies that enable them to operate this service? The article makes no mention of this.

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made. -- Jean Giraudoux